Interview with David Helbock: We have a good balance between intellect, feeling and soul: Video

- in INTERVIEWS, VIDEOS

Jazz interview with Austrian jazz pianist and composer David Helbock. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.com: – When you improvise, you know where you’re going. It’s a matter of taking certain paths and certain directions?

David Helbock: – It depends. I also like to improvise completely free as well and then sometimes I don´t know where I´m going. Actually the best moments happen, when you don´t think at all – so it´s more a feeling – I feel where I´m going more than I know it. Of course when I´m playing compositions and arrangements like on the new album – then I take certain paths and I know for example that the melody will come again in the end and stuff like that – but still there is a lot of freedom involved.

JBN: – Do you ever get the feeling that music majors, and particularly people who are going into jazz, are being cranked out much like business majors? That they are not really able to express themselves as jazz musicians?

DH: – I think it´s hard to learn jazz at a school and then become a „music major“ and then go into the real world and play jazz. I just think schools only work with systems that they can apply on many students and jazz does not work that way – there is no real system to learn jazz, it is very individual – Everybody has to find his own way – I think that is the key musically. On the other hand I think it´s good if students learn something about the music business during their studies – so they are prepared for the real world later…

JBN: – What about somebody who is really gifted and puts together a band and just gets upset to the point of quitting because of the business aspects-the agents and the clubs?

DH: – I can of course understand that. It´s hard dealing with all the business aspects and I can understand if some people just don´t want to do it. But people are also very different. Some try to deal with clubs and agents themselves – others find actually an agent who is doing that work for them. Also I think it´s very important that you realize that the jazz community is very small and we are all in the same boat. Musicians, Agents, Clubs, Labels, Teachers and so on. It´s mostly not about money but more about passion – so we should all work together…

JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

DH: – I don´t think you have to. All experiences in your life are influencing and coloring your music. And that´s fine. I think it´s good to meditate once in a while and ask yourself „Why am I playing this music?“ But still I think there can be many answers to that question. And that´s ok. I don´t like the attitude that for example „I´m only playing for myself“ or „I´m only playing for the art“ or „I´m just playing for the audience“. I think all of this can be ok – you just have to find a good balance within yourself…

JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

DH: – You have to find your own balance. I maybe sometimes think a little to much about music and I have all kinds of intellectual concepts and then for me it´s good to surround myself with people who maybe play just more like they feel without thinking to much about it. I think that´s why I like to play with my trio „Random/Control“ so much because we have a good balance between intellect, feeling and soul within the band.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

DH: – Again here – you have to find a balance. I´m certainly thinking more about my art and how to express myself than thinking about the audience. Otherwise I would not do jazz music, the music I love – but rather pop or „schlager“ (that´s how we call it in austria) and that´s the music most people want. But I don´t want that. I want to challenge myself and also the audience but still I like to play with my own and also the audience´s expectations. That´s also why I like this current solopiano project. People recognize the melodies, but then I do something completely different with them, something nobody expected and then for a short moment I play the melody like it is and so on. Give the people something they can grab on and then take them with you on a ride to your own musical world…

JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

DH: – One of my most memorable shows I played that come to mind was the „Eurojazzfestival“ in Mexico City a few years ago. Not only was that the biggest show I have every played (8000 people in the audience) but the whole trip to Mexico was great and I met my future wife there on that tour. So that show really changed my live 🙂

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

First of all it´s not a matter of how old a composition is, if you play it fresh with new ideas it can still sound fresh. Bach is still fresh if you play it good. So is Duke Ellington and other great composers. But of course we have to look forward and mix all kinds of new music from contemporary classical music to pop and hip hop into our playing. But I think jazz has always done that anyway…

JBN: – And lastly, being a teacher, do you find it difficult to write music yourself?

DH: – I´m not really a teacher. Once in a while I give some masterclasses and workshops, but I don´t teach on a regular basis. I think as a young musician you have to play as much as possible (and I still consider myself young 🙂 but I´m sure I will get a teacher later in my life and I want to pass on some of the stuff I learned. I don´t find it difficult to write music – I have done it so much, it´s just more like breathing or drinking water than work. Something I just do.

JBN: – How important is it to you to have an original approach? Can you comment on the bridge between being a musician and being a composer?

DH: – For me there is no bridge or let’s say there should be no bridge. I just like that process of creating something new. And it does not matter if that is a new improvisation while playing or a completely new composition or a new arrangement – for me that all feels great as long I´m creating – which is the basic force of the universe anyway – creation. You don´t have to force your original approach, that sometimes can also mislead you – but you also don´t have to listen to people who tell you „you have to learn this and that first…“ – just follow your heart and take ideas from really different music that you like and love and mix it together – and forget the rest – that was always my way and I think in the end you have an original approach automatically…

JBN: – Do you have an idea of what it is you’re trying to say or get across? Is it an idea or is it just something that we feel?

DH: – You can analyze music intellectually, which is fun, but not all. You can just feel music and feel emotions like happiness, anger, sadness and so on – which is great too, but not all. I think there is another level of listening to music – maybe a more mystical way. Music can touch you deep inside and words can not describe that. That´s what I´m looking for…

JBN: – What do you see for your extended future? You know what you have going on? You have life?If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

DH: – I don´t know. I have many ideas in my mind – musically and also concerning my life. But I think it is better to not have to many expectations and just go with the flow and take what´s coming and do the best with it. Not that I always can do that, but I try. Change one thing? I don´t know. Maybe that Miles Davis and Prince would have really worked together… 🙂

JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

DH: – At the moment: very meditative piano solo music composed by G.I.Gurdjieff. Also some David Bowie and Prince. Also some Beethoven.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

DH: – I try to find that place inside myself and others where music can touch us in a mystical way that word can´t describe.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

DH: – I would like to meet J.S.Bach and take some lessons with him. Maybe study and live with him for a year or so…

JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

DH: – How do you feel about all these questions? I think most of these questions are questions that can apply to everybody’s life not just to music.

JBN: – Thanks for answers. Maybe you are right, but our questions about jazz and musicians, who has intellect and intelligence, and how you communicate with the media. 

JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

DH: – It was I nice interview. A lot of questions that you don´t usually get – and that makes me think about stuff about my music that I don´t usually think about. So I think I can use some of this already and just keep going. You know – an album is just a snapshot of how you are at that moment – I´m working on myself and hopefully in a year or so with my next album I will be a different person – hopefully…

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Image result for David Helbock

Facebook Comments