Interview: Ola Milena & Roger Price on their new music as ‘Blended Generations

Between multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ola Milena and writer Roger Price, a new musical collaboration has emerged in Blended Generations. Theirs is a story of a meeting of different backgrounds; Milena’s being steeped in classical music and performance, while Price’s journey to writer and creator of lyrics came post-work life in the information technology industry.

The result of the twosome’s collaboration has come in the Hope Sweet EP – six tracks full of soul and packed with lyrical poetry that has come from a dynamic forged from a mutual appreciation for music sharing and story telling, and a joint desire to create and share.

Both Milena and Price take us through their new venture ahead of Hope Sweet‘s launch in Melbourne later this month.

Congratulations on the release of your first EP – how does it feel to be at the point of sharing this music with other people finally?

Ola: Great. Hope Sweet is such an uplifting work of music and word. It feels great to be able to share it.

Can you explain how the dynamic between the two of you, as musicians, has grown or developed as a result of the making of this EP?  

Ola: The Blended Generations collaboration is an interesting one. Roger and I come from very different backgrounds, and completely different generations, yet we have grown to become friends and great discussion partners. We tend to cover some deep topics about humanity, morals, the state of the Earth and others alike, during our meetings and writing sessions.

It’s great to hear the point of view on topics that I ponder about of someone that could be my grandfather. It isn’t often these days that people with such a great age gap get to spend so much regular time together, let alone work together on a creative project.

Has the initial vision you had for Blended Generations matched up with the musical unit you are today? 

Ola: Blended Generations has gone through a very organic growth. At the point of our initial meeting we really had no expectation or even a plan. The vision for the project formed as the writing process developed. With such a beautifully crafted EP at hand, created by so many talented, incredibly sought-after artists, I don’t  think we could have dreamed of a better result.

How are you anticipating the launch show at Dizzy’s this month; I know it’s a special room to perform in

Ola: Its very exciting to be able to share our creation with our audience in a live setting. Personally, I’m also looking forward to opening the night with my original solo project Little Petal on a grand piano, the sound of which is quite rare amongst the Melbourne music venues.

What has arranging for these lyrics and stories taught you about how music can affect any person, of any age and any background? 

Ola: Music is universal. It is a language that transcends all the boundaries. Hope Sweet is a collection of songs that truly has no target audience. It is a record created for anyone, at any age, any point of their journey, who is ready to feel elevated, uplifted. To me, that is the true beauty of this piece of music and I feel very happy that I had the absolute pleasure of contributing to the creation of such a positive, stunning artwork.

Can you tell us about your songwriting process for this EP – was there any type of vulnerability you felt in putting your story into lyrics?  

Roger: The process for me was not so much about songwriting, but more about putting ideas and experiences into a rhythmic form. From the beginning I envisaged these ‘poems’ more as lyrics to a song. At the time of first writing – some years ago – I didn’t have a musical collaborator.  After having developed a number of different lyrical poems I decided it was time to find someone who could write music around them; which was when I was blessed to discover Ola.  Of the lyrics I had written to that time, only one set – “Searching for Perfection” – survived to become part of Hope Sweet. Drawing on Ola’s experience, my writing process evolved. The theme of ‘hope’ also emerged early in our collaboration, so the other five songs in the EP were written after Ola and I began our joint project.

I have reached a stage in my life where I am quite comfortable with who I am. Part of that self-understanding is accepting that there are parts of me that I need to change or modify – many in the area of how I deal with other people. But I now recognise that at any and every stage of life it is essential to absorb new information, review its meaning on yourself and change accordingly. I hope I will be able to learn and adapt throughout the rest of my life.  So I didn’t really feel vulnerable in writing often quite personal lyrics – notably “Another Guise”. My wish is that others might find some comfort or joy through the songs that we created.

What does 2018 hold for Blended Generations; where do you hope to go from here, if Hope Sweet is to be a great launchpad?

Ola: 2018 will see creation of a second record by Blended Generations. This next one is a concept album that explores the idea of ‘Truth’ and it’s changing place through a span of a life time. This time round, we have a goal in mind. It’s  very exciting to see how we go creating something with such a strong concept. Both Roger and I love challenges. Narrowing our scope and focusing on one idea has already given us a lot to keep our creative brains ticking.

Hope Sweet is to be launched at Dizzy’s Jazz Club in Richmond on November 26th – for more information, check out the event page, here.