Keyboardist and composer Aleksandra Takala weaves a rich tapestry of sounds together to create music deep with feeling in her debut album, Visions & Emotions. Part of her instrumental palette includes piano, strings, brass horns, guitars, including a koto, bass, percussion and effects, woodwinds, plus voices both angelic and haunting. Her music is a full-bodied instrumental presentation ranging from New Age, to occasional ambient and neo-classical.
Takala’s background includes years of singing in choirs and as a duo with guitar accompaniment. She also has a college degree in classical music theory, performance and composition and has followed this with private tutoring in studies of electronic keyboards, music computer programs, and the current technological aspects of recording, including mixing and mastering. Takala also hosts a 4-hour weekly radio show on Sonoma County’s KOWS radio station devoted to 60+ years of swing, rock, soul, R&B, and new age music.
“Although I have been writing and recording music for decades,” Takala explains, “Only recently have I felt ready to release my first album. I have a large backlog of compositions in varying stages of readiness to make future recordings closer to realization. I have been involved with music all my life in one-way or another. I was born learning the lyrics sung by my four sisters’ favorite artists. “I’ve always been an avid listener”, Takala says. “It is exciting to take personal art created over the years, and send it out to the world. The music comes from my soul and reflects a lifetime of experiences. I feel certain that listeners will tap into the content of the music even without lyrics.”
Takala explains, “While I am composing, the music comes singing out of my fingers. I tend to converse with myself a lot. This is also a form that my compositions take on. It may start as a question, followed by an answer. In other songs a statement is made, followed by a reply.”
Aleksandra is a born and raised Californian. “There came a point when it was impossible to hear myself think in the city, and I knew it was time to ‘get outa Dodge’. I think the Universe agreed, because within one month of visiting Sonoma County we were in escrow. I listened to my intuition, and said to my husband, John, that we get ready to move soon. If we hadn’t, we would never have found this perfect place surrounded by redwood trees. I have learned so much by simple observation here, and I clearly see that it is imperative that we give our planet the respect and care that it deserves.”
Takala started listening to music at a young age and the age of 12 things began to happen. She had a girlfriend who taught her some classical pieces on a horribly out-of-tune spinet piano, but she practiced anyway. She started writing poetry, began singing in the school choir, and went to see the infamous rock-musical stage play “Hair.” “I absorbed all those nuances of a critical moment in music: Crosby Stills and Nash, Simon and Garfunkel, the Moody Blues, Jimi Hendrix, The Hollies, Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, The Beatles, John Lennon, Elton John, Gentle Giant and above all Pink Floyd, my fave”.
Aleksandra married a guitarist/composer when she was 21, writing lyrics and singing with him, sometimes just the two of them at weddings and parties. Because of his influence, they explored fusion, jazz-rock and progressive-rock. “I was introduced to bans like Genesis, Mahnavishnu Orchestra, Jack Bruce, Yes, and Jeff Beck.”
“I began playing piano at 25 years of age, when my Aunt Mable (the same one who took me to see “Hair”), gave me her player piano that didn’t even have a full 88 keys. I began lessons with a little old lady in Sierra Madre for $6.00 a week. She was a great teacher of classical music. At the end of a year with her, I composed my first song, (which I am now turning into a musical). I now needed a full size piano, so I traded the player in for a beautiful studio upright with a shiny black finish”.
“I figured that if I was composing already, that a two year music program at my local JC would be my next goal. I was right where I belonged, and I kept on composing. Now I sit at my KORG Triton Workstation, and the next thing I know five hours have passed in the blink of an eye. This IS my passion.”
“By the way, Aunt Mable died thinking she never accomplished anything…NOT SO!! We never know the impact we have on those around us, so just do it. If you ever tell yourself that it’s too late to start, then you need to give yourself a new story. ‘If you build it, they will come.’ If you’re still breathing, you are not done yet. So get on it, whatever IT is”.
“I gained a huge appreciation for classical music… Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Grieg and the rest. I wrote a classical suite for my final, both pieces I wrote for college received ‘A’s’ ”. Alek recorded some rough demos of her music and gave some of them to sci-fi author Ray Bradbury who was very encouraging. “Classical music still leaves a great influence on me, but in the Eighties and Nineties I also began getting into new age music, seeing bands like Shadowfax, and guitarist extraordinaire, Michael Hedges, and listened to Windom Hill Label artist on Nirada Collections.”
She is not sure she would have taken the road of composition had it not been for the marriage that did not work as she thought it should. “I didn’t know it then, but he was heading me in a direction I wasn’t even aware of at the time. I made some lemonade from that”.
Takala spent the next few years in spiritual groups, meditating, and reading inspirational books. “I wanted a different and better life. I was preparing myself for future relationships. Thanks to all of that prep work, when I found the right partner, I recognized him. John has been, and still is one of the main reasons that I have managed to come this far. His help, love, and support are invaluable, and he’s a real left-brained genius too. He is the photographer, creator of the physical packaging, and CD designer of Visions & Emotions. I couldn’t have done this without his help.”
In addition to her journey of self-discovery, Takala also began an intense path of study of music technology including synthesizers, electronic keyboards, samplers, computer music programs and other software to allow her to more fully realize her musical visions from composing all the way through arranging, producing, recording, mixing and mastering. “Oh yeah, I’m not a left-brained person, I’m totally right-brained creative. Yet everything I work on today is a computer of one form or another. I still remember back to the time when I thought ‘I will never need to learn to use a computer, I’m too old to start, and besides it’s too hard for me’ ”. Alek started with a small laptop, and a keyboard tech teacher 15 years ago. With John’s guidance and Tim’s teaching, my left-brain is still working for me helping me release all the right-brained creative projects awaiting completion. But this right-brainer has certainly come a long way to actually release a good work of art, and it’s out there being played on radio, thumb drives, and CDs world wide. “WOW!”
“I turned to creating new age music because this genre is especially good about imparting feelings and pictures to the listener, be it is joy, hope, love, sadness or spiritual uplifting. It is what comes out when my fingers touch the keyboard, and it leaves interpretation up to the listener.”
Her CD's -- In My Own Time and Visions & Emotions -- and digital download tracks from those recordings are available at online sales sites such as Amazon, iTunes, eMusic and many others. The music also can be heard (and this artist can be followed) at many major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Google Play and more.