About the Band

Name: Six Elements
Established: 2008
Styles: melodic Progressive rock, symphonic rock, art rock

Members: Michael (Misha) Shengaout

Participants and Significant Session Musicians:
Stanley Whitaker – vocals

Jeffrey McGahren – guitars
Dave De Marco – See Dave’s site here.
Marc Norgaard – See Marc’s site here.
Current Affiliations: Stanley Whitaker – Oblivion Sun; Dave DeMarco – Crack the Sky
Previous Affiliations: Stanley Whitaker – Happy the Man, Pedal Giant Animals; Dave DeMarco – Oblivion Sun, Battery Apple.
Albums: Primary Elements (release date March 5, 2012)
Highlights: Heavy use of woodwinds (clarinet and flute); inspirational lyrics (Kipling’s poem “If”); the songs in the album are organized using the oriental concept of the Five Elements.

Our story

by Michael (Misha) Shengaout


If you can meet the Triumph and Disaster and threat those two imposters just the same… Stanley Whitaker knows a thing or two about life’s ups and downs. One moment you’re up with the major label contract, another moment you’re down, struggling to make ends meet in L.A.; then you’re up again, putting out new albums, playing in front of thousands of screaming fans at progressive rock festivals—and then you’re down again, battling cancer and facing the unknown.

Stan was recovering from his cancer treatments when he got a call from bassist Dave De Marco, his former band mate from “Oblivion Sun”. Dave told Stan about some session work he was doing for a band in Atlanta. “The band’s vocalist didn’t work out and they’re looking for a replacement. I think you’re a good fit,” he said. Stanley wasn’t sold on the idea at first; the music was not as adventurous as that of his previous groups. But when he took a look at the lyrics, everything fell into places. He realized that the words and music of each song were chapters of one big story of life. Not surprisingly, Stanley wanted to be the one singing it.


If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you… He can do it all: name every key and note in a five-note jazz chord; play brilliant guitar and good keyboards as well as several other instruments; write a score for a string quartet in under an hour and come up with three different transitions from F-sharp to B-flat in under a minute. But do his years of training even matter? Were these years a total waste? You don’t need all this training to play at church or with another cover band. Those were the only opportunities coming his way… Sometimes trusting yourself when things look dark is very difficult.

As Jeff was sorting out his existential questions, he received a call from his brother Matt, a lawyer. Matt said: “I met a guy in court. He said he was working on an album and needed help developing the guitar parts. I think you may be what he’s looking for”. After years of disappointment, Jeff was skeptical. This was probably another one of those “I’ve got a great idea for an album” band with a lot of big talk and about three chords scribbled on scratch paper. After talking to the guy for an hour on the phone, he still wasn’t sold. Jeff realized that this was a serious thing when the guy dropped by his place; the first thing this fellow did as he walked into the room was open his bag and pull out… no, not a piece of scratch paper with three chords scribbled on it. He pulled out a thick stack of sheet music with a full score for each song on the album. There was a separate score for each instrument. This was definitely serious!


If you can dream and not make dreams your master… We walk through our lives dreaming of all kinds of things. About halfway through, we realize that most of these dreams won’t come true. That’s when disappointment sets in–sometimes known as the “mid-life crisis”. Some people emerge from this crisis with the new luxury cars, others with the new spouses. After spending a year sorting himself out, Misha emerged with his new dream—he wanted to write music.

He knew that he might be onto something good when his daughters, 5 and 3 years old, ran into the room where he was doing a playback of the music he had just written and asked him to play it for them. Once he started playing his melody, they started jumping and dancing to it. Then they demanded that he play it again. And again. And again… That was the best compliment from the world’s most demanding critics.

But Misha didn’t want to write just any music. There were a lot of ideas that helped him to find a new taste for life – the philosophy of Plato, the psychology of Karen Horney and Victor Frankl, the sociology of Erich Fromm, the poetry of Rudyard Kipling, the ancient oriental concept of the Five Elements that he learned from his wife. He wanted to make music that would bring these ideas to life and be a testimony to their transformative power. He had a new dream now and the name of this dream was “Primary Elements”, the first album of his new band Six Elements.

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