Greg Hunter
Greg HunterBorn in 1965 and brought up in West London, Greg Hunter started making music at the age of nineteen. Beginning his musical career with the purchase of a keyboard, he started playing in bands and doing gigs at festivals, and at the age of twenty-two begun working in a recording studio as a tape assistant. Whilst an engineer at Steve Levine's studio he met the Orb with whom he then went on to work with for several years.


The Orb has been a major influence that Greg is all too ready to acknowledge. Having leant his hand to the studio work and remixing of their first two albums, the ambient influence and creation of electronic experimental music has continued throughout his career particularly in relation to his development of Alien Soap Opera. Greg's multi-talented studio expertise has earned him the reputation of prolific remix engineer and led to his collaboration with artists such as Paul McCartney, Crowded House, Killing Joke, Youth and Juno Reactor. His work with Youth and the Dragonfly record label laid the foundations for the trance element in his music that he continues to develop and expand, and also led to his fateful recording session in Cairo. Due to record vocals in the chamber of the Great Pyramid with Killing Joke, Greg met Amir Abdel Magid in a recording studio in Cairo. Amir is an Egyptian classical musician, producer and arranger of some renown in the Middle East. Due to record after Killing Joke he went in early to see just what had possessed the English band to come to Egypt. Listening in Amir liked what he heard and this musical appreciation was mutual as Greg later sat in on AmirÙs session. The day before Greg was due to leave Amir asked him to mix a track. Excited by the result they decided to work together on a more permanent project. Greg returned to Cairo soon after and the duo worked solidly together for three months sowing the seeds for Alien Soap Opera and Fifth Sun. These projects came to flower over the course of the following four years as Greg moved between London and Cairo. In 97 they were finished but financially things were difficult, as neither of them had a recording deal. Fortunately this was the year that MELT2000 label boss heard a tape of theirs played to him by Sheldon Isaac and in his own words, "it simply blew my top". In line with the MELT concept of the fusion of organic and electronic musical elements Trunz signed them, but due to contractual and financial formalities it is only now that Alien Soap Opera and Fifth Sun have seen the light.

The musical backgrounds of both Greg and Amir complement each other perfectly, and Fifth Sun and ASO reflect this with the former essentially driven and produced by Amir and the latter by Greg. Fifth Sun is more of an Arabic pop album; song based and enriched with the sounds of violins and traditional instruments whereas ASO is more influenced by the Western electronic ambient vibe. ASO is predominantly instrumental with digital experimental sounds providing the sonic support for expert soloists playing over the top. Oriental musicians and Arabic chanting evoke the mystical atmosphere of the Middle East whilst the trance component emerges as various tracks are masterfully constructed to raise some dust on the global dance floor. GregÙs travels were also spent touring and doing live gigs with Amir and his orchestra. Whilst there he also learnt to play the oud, adding another instrument to his musical repertoire which consists of keyboards, guitar, drums and bass. In 1999 he played the oud at a gig in The Tabernacle in Ladbroke Grove, West London along side Indian classical musicians and the support of fellow Orb member Kris Weston. GregÙs attraction to Egypt is essentially his love of Arabic music and as he explains, "I think a lot of it is the quarter tones (the notes halfway between semitones, which were written out of western music at the time of Bach). They don't get used so much in Western music. I got to know the music when I was out there but I've always liked it. The instrumentalists here in the west don't really study their instruments, well, they do to a certain extent, but I met people out there that had spent ten years learning their craft. Also I think Arabic singing is technically a lot more difficult than western singing - musicians study it. Over here, you've got people in the charts going to number one who can't sing. That doesn't really happen much out there. You've got to be a good musician to do it." Greg is one of the few Western musicians who have managed to infiltrate this ancient and highly respected musical tradition, establishing contacts well earned by his dedication and time spent out in Egypt, as well as his knowledge of digital contemporary technology. Immersing himself in the traditional Arabic music scene GregÙs experiences have proved invaluable for his artistic inspiration. His interest in indigenous and ethnic knowledge however is not solely confined to this area of the world, as one can see in titles such as Fifth Sun. The name derives from the Aztec Mayans who believed in different suns ruling our celestial hemispheres. "We are at present in the fifth sun", elaborates Greg. "Each sun lasts for 26 thousand years (1 sidereal year) in which we have 108 lives. The different suns reflect the changing phases of our evolution as we move towards the seventh sun, the age of enlightenment. There are three Mayan precepts - dissolving the ego, practicing alchemical sex, and teaching others, all of which are necessary for mankind to enter the next dimension in 2012. The evolution of GregÙs music is strongly influenced by this interest in mysticism and light work. The latter involves working with the vital life force centres of the body and spirit known as chakras. Combining tribal drumming with instruments such as the sitar actually has a physical and metaphysical effect as Greg explains, "Indian classical music gets your crown chakra going and tribal drumming stimulates your root chakra. So when you get those two things together you create a circuit between your crown and root chakra. This wasn't planned at the time, it was more intuitive, but looking back and listening to the music I can tell that that's what's going on." The holistic effect of sound is something he is now developing more keenly. His latest project with Pops Mohammed, South African musician and self-appointed protector of indigenous music, is called Third Strand, and the album to be released in May 2001, 'Lotus Blossom'.In Greg's own words this latest offering, "is essentially a healing album." The name 'third strand' represents the extra strand of DNA that mankind is developing, in preparation for the next major stage in mans evolution of consciousness said to occur in 2012. 'Lotus Blossom' also features long time collaborator Amir Abdel Magid and blends traditional instruments, tribal chants, ethereal electronics and contemporary world jazz. Robert Trunz introduced Greg to Pops whilst in Johannesburg and they begun recording in PopsÙ kitchen. They then invited Gloria Bosnan, a famous South African opera singer to do some jazz singing on the album, as well as Susan Hendricks, a traditional sangoma healer who contributes vocals and chanting. Greg then took these tapes to Cairo and recorded percussion, kowala (flute) and oud with Amir and Egyptian percussionists. The tapes were then flown to London where Kris Weston added the guitars to complete a truly global cast of musicians.

Third Strand epitomises the term fusion, embracing eclectic sounds and styles from all over the world, driven by a strong desire to heal through sound. Greg has also been working for Survival International (a charity dedicated to protecting the rights of indigenous peoples) producing tracks for a compilation album, 'Tribal Futures' which was released in November 2000. The track Finely Powdered RainÙ features Cape Town group Trans.Sky who have recorded the music of the Himba Tribe from Namibia - currently endangered by a huge dam project on the border of Namibia and Angola. His other recent collaborations include work with Amampondo, Madosini, Achisa, as well as contributing to Juno ReactorÙs latest album Shango. Greg mixed a number of soundtracks with Juno Reactor for the film MATRIX Released and Revolution. GregÙs technical expertise also extends to the cyberworld of the Internet and he has recently created his own website: "It's a music exchange platform for people to post their music and listen to other stuff free and also it will feature info on Arabic scales," Greg explains. "The net is definitely going to change the way major labels deal with music. Hopefully, it will loosen their hold on the music industry". This faith in the web is commonly shared by many music lovers and musicians who are fed up with the profit based emphasis of the music industry and looking for a way to produce music outside of the conventional channels. From Orb to Alien Soap Operas, Mayan cosmology to healing, cyberworld to otherworld, GregÙs diverse talents and eclectic tastes have produced some of the finest ambient music to have emerged in the last decade. He continues to create a dynamic fusion of traditional Middle Eastern and African music with contemporary digital beats exploring percussive panoramas and instrumental innuendoes, experimenting with and ever expanding the sonic spheres.