Achillea Music Design In Review Spotlight

by Dan Cowan

Listen to any of Jens Gad's productions, from his co-production work with multiplatinum selling group Enigma to his ambient-tinged solo efforts, and you'll instantly know that you're in the presence of a true artist. Gad is a master at crafting and bending moods to fit his will, populating his spacious dreamscapes with haunting vocal textures and plenty of inventive instrumental sounds.

Jens Gad in studio
Jens Gad and Luisa Fernandez in Gad's studio.

Since he joined Sequoia Records for his U.S. releases of Achillea and Jen Gad Presents, he has released two solo albums: The Nine Worlds, (which was released under the project name Achillea), and Le Spa Sonique, as Jens Gad Presents. This January, Gad will be releasing his second Achillea album titled Amadas Estrellas.

Gad, who has been interested in music since his childhood, always gravitated towards synthesizer and keyboard-based music. One of his first brushes with working in the big leagues came when he was commissioned to write songs for several projects produced by Frank Farian. Gad's involvement with Farian, led to a pop/dance group called Q, which he created with his brother Toby, and later to his working with Andru Donalds and Sandra & Michael Cretu of Enigma.

"Working with Cretul is an experience in its own, really I'd say he found an extremely human way to work with computer tools... 1 really enjoyed our common production times, it was like being in a laboratory trying to invent new sounds and combinations every night," he says.

Although Gad has been doing solo work since the early '90s, his output got a boost when he formed his studio on Ibiza few years back. It was there that Achillea was born. The sound of Achillea is in some ways similar to Enigma, especially in terms of its mellow, sensual energy, but at the same time uniquely Gad. "It's beautiful to have all these music genres with literally no boundaries, so every idea could be turned into a song," he explains. "It was a natural step that at some time I'd go on my own."

The Nine Worlds, his Achillea debut, featured the singing of classical vocalist Helene Horlyck; in fact Gad used her vocals as centerpiece around which he framed his immersive sound atmospheres. The album was dreamy and ethereal with an undercurrent of mystery, which made it an instant favorite among retailers.

He went in a slightly different direction with the equally popular Le Spa Sonique, which was completely instrumental and specifically designed for chilling out and relaxation. The album offered a sublime blend of piano, guitar, synthesizer and ambient rhythm. Balanced perfectly, the album was quiet enough to be beneficial for a spa, yet trendy enough that it could easily find a home in a lounge. For his latest Achillea effort, Amadas Estrellas, Gad uses the exotic vocals of Luisa Fernandez as a focal point on the album. "It was my passion to use my "second mother language" Spanish (after living in Spain for 15 years) in a music project. The connection with Luisa came very easy, as she's playing freely with that beautiful sounding language she speaks, sings in all colors," he says. "I built the music around Luisa's Spanish language fragments and stories. We even used a traditional prayer on the last track that I really fell in love with."

Beside the enchanting vocals, the music had an added dash of rhythm this time around, with the exotic flavor of the flamenco guitar woven into the mix. Whether it be future work with Enigma or increasingly fascinating solo projects, Jens Gad's experimental spirit and unfettered creativity will continue to entrance listeners. "My future will happen on two lanes, " he says. "the calmer, atmospheric direction with many different chill-out projects and guest artists; and the pop direction - working with vocal talents and trying re-invent pop music."

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