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Thread: New Roger Dean interview

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    High the Memory BrianD's Avatar
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    New Roger Dean interview

    During March I had the pleasure to interview Roger Dean about his numerous current projects including an update on the Floating Islands film as well as virtual reality, exhibitions, books, computer games, architecture and his website overhaul Ė you name it and Roger is involved.

    We also talked about his involvement with the upcoming Yes tour but that is for another day.

    Brian
    I understand that the Floating Islands project is awaiting the finalisation of the script Ė when is that due to happen?

    Roger
    We have done two and a half scripts. Iím fully convinced that the script as opposed to the story is very important (laughs) but the person acting as our international sales on this project, someone who has got a lot of experience, said its very good it just needs tweaking. I donít have the experience to judge other than (laughs) seriously Iím convinced I think it needs a major rewrite. David Mousley who is my partner on this feels the same as me and he thinks that we may need to get a small team working on it rather than just one writer but heís been involved in buying and selling his company. A year or so ago he sold his company and now he is buying back part of it so he has been very involved with that and Iíve been working pretty much on my own on this and Iíve decided that what we should concentrate on right now and I think its probably mentioned in my interview as well is that weíve had the opportunity to build three of the landscapes these virtual landscapes and, you know, Yes fans will go and visit these when they are finished. But because we are building them and we are including in amongst them Ďtheí Floating Island, the Floating Island of the title, I feel that it will make a great opportunity to do a brief piece of animation that would be at the standard the film would be at. I say brief, I think very brief, I mean my dream length would be the length of Awaken and Soon put together, which is the two tracks which I would like to use with this, but it is more likely to be the length of say Soon. I donít need to explain that do I as your readers would know what I am talking about.

    Brian
    So the Yes landscapes are based upon works that you have already done or are they brand new landscapes?

    Roger
    No, they are very specifically to do with things I have already done. You know the city in the background of Yessongs?

    Brian
    Oh yes

    Roger
    Thatís one. Its all to do with landscapes on a causeway as a matter of fact. And the other one would be Arches. There will be others as well because, you know, weíre in the process of doing them, but the two big pieces of work are Arches and the city in the back of Yessongs.

    Brian
    The virtual reality that they are being created for is that a specific separate project or is this entangled with the Floating Islands project?

    Roger
    It is entirely separate. Itís a sort of alternative to Second Life. Itís a corporation called VSE Ė Virtual Space Entertainment Ė they are a new company but the people on it on the board of the company and the people working on the development side of it are people with a terrific amount of experience. So new company though it is, its people with a great track record.

    Brian
    When do they expect that their virtual reality worlds will be available?

    Roger
    I donít know the answer to that but Iím hoping that the ones Iím working on will be available before Yes go on tour. Thatís the sort of schedule Iím working on. The way Iím working too by the way just to be (laughs) an old fashioned way, Iím making large models of them, I mean not virtual models, but real models out of wood, plaster and stuff like that. So Iím making them and I make the next stages for those models that Iíd like to be converted into virtual models. But it is quite possible too, because we have talked about this, that some of them will end up as sculptures that will be offered for sale.

    Brian
    I just wanted to ask you one or two more questions about Floating Islands. In the interview that you did recently with Ryan Sparks, you mentioned that there was uncertainty still about whether it was going to be a fully animated movie or a movie that contained both animation and live shots. Is that still the case that there is uncertainty about those options?

    Roger
    There is no uncertainty about how I would prefer to do it. I would prefer to do it as live actors in a fully computer graphics world or mostly computer graphics world. There are some things we could do which would be, as I have said to many people, more like Lord of the Rings than Donald Duck. But there is some, or should I say several, pressures to do it as a more conventional animation. Weíve had several, by several I mean probably half a dozen in total, proposals, offers, and suggestions of partial funding if we do it in animation in certain territories. There are a whole bunch of countries seeming keen to encourage their animation industries by partially financing movies Ė and even Australia by the way.

    Brian
    I was thinking along those lines

    Roger
    As a matter of fact, at this moment we are talking to an Australian company about doing a big chunk of it and maybe setting up an Australian animation company. That is one of the options we are investigating right now. The others are in the Far East or Canada. So (laughs) the issue might be that you can do an animation company that does it without animating the figures, just the backgrounds. That would be my ideal compromise. But I can see that because this is a first film and you know itís now several years and itís about time we got it made. Providing we donít have to compromise on the look of it and the story, I think I will compromise on the technology.

    Brian
    What is, at this point, your ideal timeline for it to be completed?

    Roger
    One of the things that I have learnt, from the outside looking in, in the past few years, no matter how real something seems, it ainít necessarily so. (laughs) And in talking to people who have made films, they say what we are going through is absolutely normal. I have to say on the positive side, weíve never had a complete blank. Weíve never done a presentation to someone to say Ďthis isnít for usí. So that has been very encouraging. What we are having to do then is learn from people saying they want to do it. How to make that a real commitment rather than just words. I mean no one says no in this industry. (laughs) You have to learn that prolonged yeses may yet mean no, I donít know.

    Brian
    When you first introduced the idea in I think it was 2004, you were talking then about how you were hoping it would have some Yes music maybe especially made for the project to go along with it. Is that still part of the plan if it comes to fruition?

    Roger
    Well, all members of the band have spoken enthusiastically about doing that. I have no reason to doubt that. Thatís definitely what we would like.

    Brian
    In your vision for this, would that be new music or redoing of old music? Or both?

    Roger
    Well itís a very interesting debate and a complicated answer I am afraid. My ideal scenario would be that there would be certain songs that would be completely new. Of course there would be some classic pieces. There are scenes which we have been working on that we have definitely associated with pieces of Yes music and Awaken and Soon are two examples that I have already discussed with you. I would say that my ideal scenario would be that we include quite a few of the classic pieces. Now the question then comes do we look at classic recordings or do we re-record? And I can see both points of view very well. I can see the strong desire to go for the classic recordings and I can see several very good arguments for re-recording. The arguments for re-recording are that the band will earn more with it. You know how ever much you love the originals Ė a good example is Tales from Topographic Oceans Ė no matter how much you love the album, Yes simply play it better now. They play it with more fluidity, more nonchalance and more sureness of touch. Thatís my opinion and I imagine there are millions of Yes fans out there who would think I am an idiot (laughs) Ė they probably do anyway! But I will say at this point the arguments are about equal for dealing with the classical recordings or new recordings of classic pieces. I would definitely like to see more material as well. Other things too Ė would you go for a studio recording or live recording? The energy of listening to Awaken live is such that I would always prefer it. But then itís full of imperfections that I know frustrate the band and I just donít hear them.

    Brian
    Itís always amazing how the band hears things that worry them that other people just donít see thatís there.

    Roger
    Yes, one has to accept that. I mean, I can see it from my point of view there are things about a picture that irritate me and I want to get it right and somebody is saying ĎBut it doesnít matterí. (laughs) Thatís nice that it doesnít matter but it still matters to me and I want to do something about it. So I think one has to go with what the band want to do.

    Brian
    Going on from ĎFloating Islandsí, one of the things that fans have said to me in the last year or so has been the lack of updating about the project on your website has left people uncertain about where it stands. The website seems not to have been updated for a while, is there a plan to work on that?

    Roger
    Yes, some time after Easter we are going to have a complete overhaul of the website for a number of reasons, part of which is that this year there is so much happening and we need the website to reflect that. The other is it would just make a lot more sense to carry radio interviews and things on the website. I do them all the time but we donít put them on the website. You know, I guess Iíve got maybe a dozen interviews that have been on film as well as dozens like you and I are doing and that I did with Ryan Sparks that just donít make it to the website. Thatís silly and we have got to change all that. And also as I say this is a very busy year. Iím working on this virtual world and Iím hoping that I will be doing a lot of stuff for the Yes tour, certainly working on the graphics already.

    Brian
    Do you mean the programs and things like that?

    Roger
    Yes. And Iíve got the opera opening in August where I am doing the sets and my daughter is doing the costumes. And Iíve got my new book coming out in September. And Iíve got a major exhibition in San Francisco in September, and Iíve got one in Tokyo which I donít have the final dates for and one in New York that I donít have the final dates. And I have a touring exhibition in Europe which I thought was to start next year but it looks like it might start this year and that might, though itís not actually settled yet, include pieces of my architecture which are on a truck, so people can walk in and walk around it.

    Brian
    There is a lot of stuff there as you say; can I just go through a few of those individually just to get a bit more information about some of them? I understand that your daughter did the costume design and you have done the set design for the Puccini opera. Is this the first time that you have worked with your daughter in this way?

    Roger
    Yes

    Brian
    That must have been an exciting situation to come up like that?

    Roger
    Yes, I was surprised that she would do it.

    Brian
    Do you mean work with the costumes or work with you?

    Roger
    (Laughs) Yeah, work with me. You know weíve sat in the same studio for all her life and sheís been working on my paintings, whether I have asked her too or not, since she was old enough to hold a paint brush. The painting I did for Union, which was a 6 foot by 4 foot painting, she painted the whole background when she was about 2 or 3. All random marks but she covered the whole of the 6 foot by 4 foot canvas. I didnít think she would, I thought that she would make a few squiggles and that would be it. She covered the whole canvas and I left all of the marks she made and you can see them in the painting now. Iíve used them as texture. Obviously she wasnít painting a picture but I have left them as texture in that painting. So my experience of working with her has been that we share the space but she has been incredibly resistant to me actually teaching her. If I had the temerity to suggest that she do something, it would be seriously fought (laughs). When they asked me to do the opera, they asked me if I would do the costumes and the sets or just the sets. Before I said what I would want to do I said that I would think about it because I was very happy to do the sets. The costumes actually looked like a much bigger job. There are only three sets but there are over a hundred costumes. And I talked to my daughter about it and said would you be interested in helping on this. I didnít imagine that she would have time to more than help out. Then she said she would. In the end she did it all and I had no involvement in that. It was a big job. As I say there was close to a hundred costumes required whereas only three sets.

    Brian
    You mentioned that the opera is being staged in August. Whereabouts is it being staged?

    Roger
    Torre del Lago which is where Puccini lived and itís near a town called Viareggio and thatís near Pisa, itís about 10-14 kilometres from Pisa.

    Brian
    Is this the first time that you have done a set design for an opera?

    Roger
    The answer to that is odd. I have worked with friends who have produced operas before but this is the first big opera I should be saying.

    Brian
    One of the things that you mentioned coming up is the Dragonís Dreams book. Is that the book you mentioned a year or so ago that you were hoping to come out about a year back?

    Roger
    Yes

    Brian
    Can you tell us what is actually going to be in that book, what work of yours is included in this particular volume?

    Roger
    Well, itís all new material of course. When I did ĎViewsí it was done 6 or 7 years after I left college and I put pretty much everything I had done into it. Then when I did ĎMagnetic Stormí, I hadnít done a lot of new paintings but I still filled it with stuff Iíd done. But this book would have to be five times bigger than those two put together to put everything in because its 25 years since Iíve done a book. A lot of material has been done in that time. So the book unfortunately doesnít have everything that I have done in it. It has a lot and I have pretty much all of the important things but there is a surprising amount that I am not putting in it. It will be 224 pages, whereas the other two were 160 pages.

    Brian
    You mentioned to me in one of the previous interviews that you planned to re-release the other two books with it as a sort of packaged set. Is that still on the cards?

    Roger
    Well thatís what I wanted but the publishers want to do them one at a time so that the Dragonís Dream book will come out in September and I think the next one Views will come out in 6 months and then the next one 6 months after that. Thatís my understanding at the moment. Weíre also going to release some of the Album Cover Album books we worked on too so they look as if they are going to fill up a program of books. I am going to do other new books. I need a separate book on architecture and I really want to do a book on creativity. Iíve been asked so many times because I give lectures on the subject to put it in a small book. I am quite keen to do that so that will come out within a year or 18 months.

    Brian
    I donít know where you find the time to do it all!

    Roger
    Indeed (laughs)

    Brian
    There is so much variety in that work as well, thatís what intrigues me with what you have been doing and plan to do this year. Itís not just the one field, itís so many different fields.

    Roger
    Well, yes it is. The only things that I have talked to you about are projects that to some degree have been nailed down. A lot of it, the new book, Iíve got a lot of work to do in the next few weeks to get it delivered. The work for the virtual world, the exhibitions involve work that I have already done.

    Brian
    The travelling exhibition in Europe, you mentioned that it was possibly going to start this year, what parts of Europe are it heading through?

    Roger
    The curator of the exhibition, his name is Jonathan Paul, he says only it will definitely start in Germany. I donít know anything more than that at the moment.

    Brian
    And do you know approximately how long it will travel for?

    Roger
    It might be a year, it might be several years.

    Brian
    Thatís a pretty long period so there are plenty of opportunities for people in Europe to catch up on it somewhere.

    Roger
    Oh Yes.

    Brian
    And I presume that when the website is updated there will be information about where to catch it on the site?

    Roger
    Yes, as soon as we have firm dates we will do that.

    Brian
    The other exhibitions that you mentioned in San Francisco, New York and Tokyo are they the same exhibition travelling to those sites or are they actually different?

    Roger
    They will be completely different. At the moment fortunately I have enough material for three simultaneous exhibitions. The only area there will be overlap will be limited edition prints but the paintings there is enough for the three.

    Brian
    That makes even more complicated for you to follow those exhibitions around as well. You will attend the opening for each of those?

    Roger
    What I normally do is agree with the gallery or the museum for a few days so when I went to do that show in the Glebe gallery in Australia, I had three formal days when I would be there and it was publicised that I would be there on those three days. And thatís quite a normal way. I mean I might be there much more but you know thatís more informal. In San Francisco they have a tendency to ask when I am in the vicinity and they will ask me to talk to clients when I am there but thatís not the same as formally announcing that I will be there.

    Brian
    We would certainly love you to bring your exhibition down here to Sydney again because that was such a lot of fun in 2003 when you came.

    Roger
    Yeah, Iíd love to do that too. Iíd definitely love to do that. One of the other things that I havenít mentioned to you yet is that Iím hoping that, probably not this year but early next year to start building some houses. Iíve been working with a good friend to build some houses on Hawaii. Now there are a number of things that he has to sort out about planning but I think in broad terms I will be doing three or four houses in Hawaii and Iíve got some requests to do a hotel and we are still working on other bigger projects where planning is delaying as much as, you know, the problems that we are having with the film. So all those things are still going on in the background, itís frustrating how long things take.

    Brian
    Yes, especially when you have got to get approvals and things for planning. Are you planning to build anything in Australia?

    Roger
    Well I talked to Robert (Forbes) about a few schemes and he has had a few ideas. I know nothing that is currently alive in Australia. Ask Robert, he might know.

    Brian
    (laughs) Robert has always got ideas!

    Roger
    I think probably thatís it. I think that whatís happening is that he sees possibilities and follows them up.

    Brian
    Very much so

    Roger
    I am very grateful for his support and you know weíd like something to happen.

    Brian
    As you are probably aware we are working on trying to convince Yes to come back down here in this tour. I donít know what chances there are of that but if we are successful we would try to have it happen again with Yes and yourself.

    Roger
    That would be terrific fun; I really enjoyed it that last time. I love Australia, amazing place.

    Brian
    Do you remember that you went out with Robert for a day in the Blue Mountains?

    Roger
    I do remember

    Brian
    He took some photos and one of our friends, Lew, touched up the photos to make it like ĎFloating Islandsí in the mountains Ė Robert probably sent you a copy of that.

    Roger
    He did indeed.

    Brian
    We are planning to use that touched up photo as a cover of an album we are putting together with our own memberís music.

    Roger
    (laughs) Please save me a copy

    Brian
    Will do when itís finished, we are working on all that at the moment. It looks really good. It captures the ambience of Australia and also itís got the obvious reference to your work. But its still in the early stages, a bit like you were saying, itís still got all the touch up stuff to do yet.

    Roger
    I am sort of ambivalent about this. A few years ago I was working with Kai Krause who developed some amazing pieces of software that were add-ons to Photoshop and he did invent a few that made it possible for people to do logos like me with a few clicks of a button. Iím not saying that I think that this is wonderful

    Brian
    (Laughs) Well we are not planning to do that!

    Roger
    The software makes things that once took so much effort, easy.

    Brian
    Thatís the amazing thing it opens up creativity to a broader range of people doesnít it.

    Roger
    It does, yes, itís definitely interesting. I mean, it allows us to do, you know in thinking about the story for this film; the locations in a way were obvious. The story within the story is something we have been thinking about for 35 years. But the opportunities for not just be it in characters, back stories and parallel and intertwining subplots but to really develop and bare the whole culture is just a fascinating thing and itís great fun doing that. You know language and even designing money and postage stamps and things like that. Weíve looked at all of that and it is just so much fun doing it.

    Brian
    I mean itís almost endless where you go with it isnít it?

    Roger
    It is almost endless and it means though that you can develop characters in depth and you know build real lives as well as real personalities. I donít mean Ďrealí real but I mean give them serious credibility and depth. And I am very desperate for it to happen Iíve got to tell you (laughs).

    Brian
    It sounds like it; I mean itís tantalising to consider how close it is in a certain way.

    Roger
    Well itís close in some ways. It always comes round to money in the end. We did lose some money and if we hadnít done that, this would have been a complete non-starter but we raised enough to take us to the point where we are all fairly convinced that a lot of effort and weíll be there. It might not be, it might be that it needs two or three or four serious efforts but each time one does it oneís got oneís fingers firmly under the rock. (laughs) Itís impossible to let go now.

    Brian
    I guess in a sense thatís where the website becomes so important to continue to generate the interest and the reality that the project, and other projects, is still alive.

    Roger
    Yes, and I think Iíve learnt that I should make a much bigger contribution to the website. Itís going to have to be quite different to how itís been. It will be good too, good for me.

    Brian
    I donít know if you have noticed that Yesworld is having a big makeover.

    Roger
    I have noticed because Mike Tiano has been on my case about giving him some graphics (laughs).

    Brian
    I was about to ask you that

    Roger
    There is no way that I can not notice.

    Brian
    I think in a sense that Yesworld needed a makeover for a bit of time as well. It seemed to me that it was a 90ís type of website and just getting a bit behind the times.

    Roger
    Itís one of those things that itís a great deal of constant attention, itís like keeping a diary, which incidentally I do, but I need to keep much more of a working update. We are setting up the protocols for doing that.

    Brian
    Iím on the editorial panel for a website so I certainly know how much attention these things need. Itís a bit like a daily newspaper, unless you are looking at it every day you are missing out.

    Roger
    Yes, and it sometimes seems to me that, for example, the updating on the movie thing, that whatís been missing is the excitement that we have all felt with some investor coming along and say ĎHere, Iíve just got the thing you need financially, do this that and the other and the money will be there.í And then 6 months later weíve done all these things and itís not happened. And the disappointment. I mean the website doesnít reflect any of those ups and downs, and the truth of the matter is that any project we put together is just full of those ups and downs.

    Brian
    I think the other important aspect is the interactivity thatís often needed with these things to allow people to contribute and to interact with you.

    Roger
    Yes. As you know its not just Yes Iíve just done Phoenix for Asia.

    Brian
    Thatís a great design that you have done for that.

    Roger
    Well thank you kind sir.

    Brian
    I saw it for the first time about a week ago on the Asia website. I was really impressed with that, it captures the phoenix symbol so well. I think the black colouration with the symbol just grabbed me as soon as I saw that.

    Roger
    Actually thatís interesting because the week before they did that we thought the painting was going to be the cover.

    Brian
    And the painting is on the inside?

    Roger
    Yes. Iíve also done a whole bunch of stuff for Tetris. I suppose I should tell you about that the next time we talk.

    Brian
    That would be good Ė thatís the game that has all the shapes pouring down, is that the one?

    Roger
    Thatís the one, yes. I think it is probably the biggest selling game of all time isnít it?

    Brian
    I donít know, Iíve played it. I suppose most people have if you have ever been near a computer game. Itís pretty addictive.

    Roger
    (Laugh) Itís very simple!

    Brian
    Exactly - so what designs have you done for that? The backgrounds?

    Roger
    I did the logo for them in 1995 so thatís 13 years ago but it hardly shows up because they have allowed all the sublicenses to redo their packaging and right now we are taking a new policy I hope in that we are going to control the design look, make a much more stronger brand name of it.

    Brian
    I mean I think that I wasnít really aware that you had done the original Tetris logo way back in the 90s

    Roger
    Well I think thatís part of the problem. Because for every copy of a Yes album sold, Tetris has probably sold a hundred games and it should be better known and I think itís this question of making a much more insistent management policy towards maintaining a brand identity. They have been rather gentle towards their sublicenses and they have all done their own version of it.
    Balance the thoughts that release within you

  2. #2
    Moderating Yesfan True Believer's Avatar
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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    Excellent interview, Brian! Just read it on the Yesfanz newsletter.

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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    Great interview Brian...

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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    well done Brian !! great great work

    Please pass on our thanks to Roger from all his mates down under

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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    Thank you so much for posting this, Brian!

    I can't wait for the movie, and of course, to see what he's done for the tour. I'm betting on backgrounds like the ones Rick had for Return in 2006. Did he hint about anything that's not in what you posted?
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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    Quote Originally Posted by Melissa View Post
    Thank you so much for posting this, Brian!

    I can't wait for the movie, and of course, to see what he's done for the tour. I'm betting on backgrounds like the ones Rick had for Return in 2006. Did he hint about anything that's not in what you posted?
    We've been talking quite frequently over the last few months so much has been covered including the tour.
    Balance the thoughts that release within you

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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    Great stuff Brian.

    Nice wee teaser about the tour too. Keeps us guessing.
    C

    "Do you want to cruelly and thoughtlessly wrench apart God's own United Kingdom which stood up against the Nazis in WW2 and be cast into utter darkness without heat, food or light forever and have to worship Alex Salmond like he was Kim Il-Sung? Do you? Do you? Eh? Because if you do you're just letting Hitler win. Plus your football team will still be rubbish, you'll make the Baby Jesus cry, and this little kitten will drown. And that's a fact."

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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    Nice Interview !

    Can't wait to hear what Roger has in mind for the tour !

    And the Yes landscapes sound cool. I would love to see that when its done.

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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    Films do sometimes take a long time in development… I’m glad to hear that’s still in the work… the models sound cool… could they be used as, say, stage set pieces??? I hope the book happens - he’s been promising one for 20 years…

    Thanks so much, Brian!
    Yesshows attended (26): 4/84, 1/88, 7/91 (x2), 8/94, 8/98, 10/99, 8/00, 8/01, 8/02, 10/02, 4/04, 5/04, 9/04 (x2), 12/08, 7/09, 6/10, 3/11 (x2), 7/12, 4/13, 8/14, 8/15, 11/15, 8/16 || Yes member gigs: Steve solo í00 [w/GTR í86], [w/Asia í92, í07 (x2), í09, í12] | Jon solo '14 | Jon & Alan charity gig í99 | Alan drum clinic í89 | Bill drum clinics í83 & í85 [w/Crimso í95] | Patrick solo í98, í11 [w/Moodies í86 (x2), í88] | Rick solo í03, í09 | Geoff [w/Asia í92, í07 (x2), í09, í12] | ARW 10/16

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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    A very enjoyable read..........

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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    Quote Originally Posted by relayeire View Post
    Films do sometimes take a long time in developmentÖ Iím glad to hear thatís still in the workÖ the models sound coolÖ could they be used as, say, stage set pieces??? I hope the book happens - heís been promising one for 20 yearsÖ

    Thanks so much, Brian!
    Roger did say the models were separate to the stage set......but I hope to have full details soon.

    As for the book - September - I can hardly wait.
    Balance the thoughts that release within you





  12. #12
    Other Skylines Suntower Asking's Avatar
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    Re: New Roger Dean interview

    A New Roger book will be awesome !

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