Billboard interview - Sting Feels Holiday Spirit With 'Winter's Night'... Sting's 'If on a Winter's Night...' may feature holiday-inspired songs, but don't call it a Christmas album...
November 20, 2009 

Sting's "If on a Winter's Night..." may feature holiday-inspired songs, but don't call it a Christmas album. "The whole season is much broader than that," he says. "Winter is about inspiration and imagination."

While culling source material for "Winter's Night" - which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 139,000 copies since its Oct. 26 release, according to Nielsen SoundScan - Sting found inspiration in everything from a 14th-century carol ("Gabriel's Message") to traditional lullabies and poems. He also collaborated with a host of musicians from the British Isles and performed with the ensemble at England''s Durham Cathedral in a concert that will be broadcast Thanksgiving night on PBS' "Great Performances" and released Nov. 23 on DVD.

How did you decide on the concept for "If on a Winter's Night..."?

It was during last winter that I decided I would do an album based on the season. It has this kind of gravitational pull toward one's roots - the family home, the cradle or church - but a lot of people face it without any of those things. The sadness of not being able to go home is probably encapsulated best in "Christmas at Sea," which is based on a 19th-century Robert Louis Stevenson poem about a sailor who is sinking off the coast and realizes his home is on the cliff top. He's pulled toward home, yet he's in terrible danger. That sums up the ambiguous feeling of this record. It's not entirely happy, and I also avoided symbols that I think have been overused, like Santa Claus or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

What was it like recording with such a large group of musicians?

My first instinct was to look for traditional musicians from north of England: Kathryn Tickell, who plays the Northumbrian pipes; her brother, Peter, who plays the fiddle; and the Melodeon player Julian Sutton are all from my hometown. We started recording in my house in Italy last January. We sat around the kitchen table with the fire on, huddled up with coats and scarves and explored these songs together. It was like method recording - it had to be cold for us to begin this thing.

Many of the songs on "Winter's Night" are deeply rooted in Christian themes. Did you have to reconcile your own agnosticism with recording nonsecular material?

I was brought up in the church, and the Christian story is part of my background. At the same time, I can't really accept a lot of the elements of those stories as articles of faith. I think there is one true unassailable religion, and that is the human ability to tell stories - to make myth of why we're here and what we do. So I put those Christian stories next to pre-Christian stories. I treated them with a great deal of reverence and respect. But again, I'm not singing articles of faith; I'm singing magical stories.

Your daughter recently said in an interview that your practice of tantric sex is just a myth. What's the real story?

People get very silly about what tantra is. It's using your normal life as a devotional practice, which includes breathing, walking, eating, being and making love. All of those things are practiced consciously, and that's really what it's about. Music is my tantra. It's my way of saying "thank you" to anything, whatever it may be.

What was it like reuniting with the Police through last year?

We tied up a lot of loose ends with the last Police tour. I was glad I did it, and people were very happy to see us together again. They came out in droves to see us play. It was an exercise in nostalgia, but we don't need to keep repeating that. I need to be doing something new all the time.

Would you like to make another concept album?

I don't know, we'll see how this one does. It's an interesting way of working, collecting or writing material around one theme rather than just writing songs. But if you said to me, "Are you going to do spring next?" No, that would be far too expected.

© Billboard by Monica Herrera


Nov 18, 2009

Gaiam and Trudie Styler Create DVDs in Tuscany... The programs are filmed on location at Il Palagio and feature music from Sting's #1 classical album of 2006, ''Songs From the Labyrinth'' plus extensive bonus material...

Gaiam, Inc., the leading distributor of lifestyle media and fitness accessories, are producing a series of mind body fitness DVDs with Trudie Styler, the actress, producer, and environmental campaigner. She will be joined in DVD workouts that combine elements of yoga, Pilates and ballet with traditional exercises by celebrity fitness trainer James D'Silva, who trained as a ballet dancer in his native Goa. The programs are filmed on location at Il Palagio, the Tuscan villa Styler shares with her husband Sting, and will feature music from Sting's #1 classical album of 2006, 'Songs From the Labyrinth', plus extensive bonus material...
Nov 17, 2009

Sting (with Dominic Miller, Vinnie Colaiuta and David Sancious) to perform at the AboutUs Festival at the Chacara Do Jockey in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Nov 22...

Sting and Jason Mraz, amongst many other attractions, mark the 2009 edition of the festival, that happens on November 21st and 22nd in Sao Paulo at the Chacara Do Jockey. Sting will perform on November 22...