"The images I had when I composed Seven Falls were romantic,” notes Marshall. “Seven Falls is symbolic of where my wife is from in upstate N.Y., where--early in our relationship--we already knew that we would spend our lives together.”
Such a romantic notion may not surprise Styler’s fans; it’s exactly what they love about him and his music. Like a glimpse into his life, the music of Marshall Styler is unapologetically passionate and heartfelt. Rendered first by hand “on a little piano in the house as they come to me,” the tunes eventually evolve into left- and right-handed parts. At that point, Styler heads for his home-based studio, where they are recorded and honed on one or several of Styler’s seven synthesizers, some of them quite dated. Renowned music reviewer Bill Binkelman once detailed the process, writing, “Unlike many synth players who are always searching for the very latest technology, Styler feels he creates a unique sound by using a combination of piano, modern digital keyboards, and older classic analog-based synthesizers. ‘I love the warmth and feel that some of the early synths create, and some of those sounds are only available on that original equipment,’ explains Styler.”
Marshall Styler is a composer and recording artist based in Austin, TX. He is considered one of the premiere New Age musicians specializing in instrumental keyboard music featuring melodic piano; he’s humored by the fact that he’s also been called the “King of Texas New Age.” Perhaps best-known for his Red River Trilogy of albums inspired by places around Texas, that collection introduced Styler’s uniquely melodic music to thousands of fans around the world, and paved the way for albums like Jericho, The Twilight Concertos, A Face in the Clouds, and his latest work, Seven Falls, releasing in Summer 2009. (http://www.marshallstyler.com)
While Styler’s most recent music is broadly considered New Age, Styler is an ex-rocker. In 1967, he formed the psychedelic group Lincoln Zephyr, which once opened for Jimi Hendrix. He then became founder, lead singer and songwriter for the renowned Rochester, NY Rock band, Duke Jupiter. The band had two charting singles and seven albums to their credit on Mercury, Epic-CBS and Motown between 1973 and 1986. However, in the mid-1980s, he began to feel limited by lyrics and began composing instrumental pieces. Sometime along the way, he wrote an instrumental valentine for his girlfriend that would change his life. Kate, who later married Styler, loved hearing the piece as much as he enjoyed writing it, ultimately leading him to try composing a totally new type of music. With that change went the move to Austin, Texas, and, after a bit of time there, he released Camden Road, his first instrumental album compiling live performances on synthesizers.
With Marshall performing and Kate putting her marketing expertise to work selling CDs, the music slowly evolved into a family business, Styler Music, now based in Austin, TX. Styler continued to listen for the music as they went out on the road, exploring their new home state of Texas. Throughout the mid-late 1990s, they played at fairs and festivals, and set up the keyboards outside of favorite music and gift shops, valuing the folks they met along the way. Styler admits, “Some of my best customer feedback was found by just enjoying a chat with a fan outside a gift shop in the tourist town of Fredericksburg, TX.”
What emerged was the phenomenal Red River Trilogy, which struck a note with fans around the world, selling over 500,000 copies. He explains, “I began my three-CD trilogy in 1995 with the recording of Bluefields, followed in 1996 with Mockingbird Station, and rounding out the project with Red River Crossing in 1998. These compositions reflect my impressions of the people and places in Texas I have come to know and love since crossing the Red River for the first time in 1986.”
The emotion Styler feels in his life, both joy and sadness, clearly translates to the music itself. His follow-up album, Jericho, came in the midst of family health challenges. While it is technically a collection of soft, melodic piano instrumentals with harmonic accompaniment, using acoustic and synthesized layers of other keyboard sounds, Styler has described it simply as “a prayer for all of us.” AMAZING SOUND REVIEWS reflected that deep emotion in its review, saying, “Marshall offers us his mastery at creating a work full of beauty and romanticism. Jericho is a work that cannot leave any listener unmoved.”
Adversely, his next release, The Twilight Concertos, reflects his joy for life. It has been described as peaceful when times are stressed, uplifting when it's time to celebrate, and comforting when it's time to relax. Of this recording, Binkelman wrote, “The Twilight Concertos was a hit with me and I believe it will be the same for lovers of romantic new age keyboard music. I solidly recommend it.”
In 2005, Styler was moved to compose a piece called " A Face In The Clouds" It was based on the story of a young boy who saw his fallen father’s face smiling at him in a cloud formation as he flew to Hawaii on a benefit flight for the families of survivors of the 9/11 attack. The album took another two years to finish, but was well worth the time. Italian New Age magazine said it was "among the most beautifully orchestrated pieces Styler has ever conceived and recorded," while Binkelman professed, "It reminds me of how good electronic keyboard music can still be when it's written and performed by someone who knows what he's doing."
A Face in the Clouds was long in production, but Styler notes it was only finished a matter of weeks when the muse came to him again. Of Seven Falls, he says “usually I need some time to reflect and recuperate after I've finished an album, which is usually a two to three year process, but with Seven Falls the music started coming to me pretty quickly. In my mind, Seven Falls seemed to be writing itself. I just went with it and let it take me where it wanted to go. I've never made an album this way, and it was a little scary. I worried that if I stopped to think about it, the magic would disappear; in fact, I didn't even listen to it until it was finished. Listening to it now, It sounds like a culmination of what I've been striving for in my music – for the listener to feel what I felt writing it, and for the music not to overwhelm the emotion. Based on what I hear from my listeners, that emotional element runs quietly and deeply throughout my music."
Amidst these prolific periods of travel, creativity, and performance, Styler has also managed to produce an album of Christmas classics called Silent Night, as well as, Dreamaker, a relaxing visual music DVD with pictures from renowned photographer James M. Innes choreographed to Styler’s music. Innes and Styler enjoy a longtime collaboration with images for Styler’s album artwork and website. Clips from the DVD have become popular viewing on YouTube.
The love that is apparent in Styler’s music is present throughout his everyday life. Quick to share a laugh and a story, Styler also recognizes the frailty of our humanity. He and his wife, Kate, lobby for patient health care coverage rights, recently appearing on both national U.S. News & World Report, and Austin’s local NBC news. Having survived his own bout with skin cancer, and witnessing his wife’s continuing battle with breast cancer, he truly embraces the motto that is found within his CDs, “Nothing is worth more than this day.”
With the release of Seven Falls, Styler is looking forward to connecting with his beloved fans again, both in Texas and around the world.