Interview with Gildas Le Pape: I don’t like routines when it comes to music: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Gildas Le Pape. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Gildas Le Pape: – I was born in 1981 in Rennes, France. That’s also where I grew up. When I was 9 years old, I got the opportunity to try guitar lessons at school after the classes. I liked it, even though I didn’t listen actively to music at that time. Rapidly, my interest for the instrument grew, as I discovered bands like The Beatles, Ramones, and AC/DC. I was also interested in classical guitar, and learned to play quite advanced pieces, without really knowing how difficult they were for me.

JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

GLP: – I have a quite unusual profile I think, so I need to explain bit. When I was a teenager, I was playing mainly extreme metal, mostly rhythmic guitar, while still being opened to other styles like classical guitar and flamenco. Later on, I discovered guitar heroes and “shredding”, which got me into a more detailed approach of my playing, and also opened my ears. Then I got into jazz through gypsy jazz, and these were my first steps into the world of improvised music. I was 22/23 then, which is pretty late! Then I got interested in standard jazz and fusion through some guys like Bireli Lagrene and Serge Krief, because they were incorporating a broad spectrum of influences into their playing, and I wanted to do the same as them. The fusion thing made also a bridge with the shred guitar that I had been working on some years earlier.

In 2007 I got the job as a guitar player in the metal band Satyricon, after an audition. It was my teenage dream job, and I moved to Norway. We were really busy touring for several years, so the jazz thing was mainly on pause during that period. In 2013 I quit the band, and focused back on Django, bebop, and here we are now…

So, my “jazz sound” has developed over quite few years actually. I’ve always been interested in mixing bebop and Django-like vocabulary, as well as some blues and more modern elements. I think I understood this as soon as I met Serge Krief for the first time, in 2005, that’s the way he played back then. I also made a point learning a lot from saxophones and trumpets, to avoid my lines and articulations sounding to much “guitar”.
When it comes to the general musical approach on my new record, it is of course gypsy jazz from the 2020s, and I think we can hear several influences from the non-jazz world. Jazz bores me easily, I guess that’s why I try to make things a bit more entertaining, for me at least.

JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

GLP: – I’ve used some time on technique when I was a bit younger, I worked in a very structured way at the time. And that gave me later access to several dimensions of guitar playing. When I got into jazz, things turned messy, and I was never able to work in a very structured manner, partly because of the fact that I was following demanding studies at university (unrelated to music), and didn’t have time to develop a patient approach. I was learning a lot of vocabulary, in a rather unorganized way I think. I got there I am now thanks to the fact that I learn quickly, and through different cycles of “cleaning” my flaws. But now that I have more experience, I think it’s easier to work in a meaningful way.

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

GLP: – I’m not preventing this at all. I like to have diverse influences in my playing. I’m a multistyle guitarist and have no intention of hiding it. I think that’s a plus compared to a certain fraction of jazz musicians, that only know jazz and can only play jazz.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

GLP: – I don’t have routines, I don’t like routines when it comes to music. I adapt to how I feel on the moment: sometimes, I’ll play for 1 hour before going on stage, sometimes I’ll just do whatever else, and grab the guitar at the last second, just to check it is in tune.

Today I am back to studying some of my favorite guitar players, which I haven’t done for quite some time!

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

GLP: – On a good day, both communicate smoothly and there can be really exciting results, which are a reward for the whole work process, and some of the best things that can happen as a musician. On a bad day, both can be totally unable to come in contact, and that’s probably one of the most frustrating things I can experience.

I mean that you need both and them to be well in tune.

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

GLP: – I have very exciting memories from big shows as a professional metal musician, but one day wouldn’t be enough to tell them. I also have excellent memories of “kitchen table jazz jams” with some of my favorite musicians and friends, but they are classified!

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

GLP: – That’s a good question. I see these songs as a sandbox where you can play as much as you want for as long as you want, unless you don’t like sand of course. And sometimes you might just want to go for a hike instead.

JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

GLP: – This would be the distribution of streaming subscription fees to artists from each user according his/her actual activity.

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

GLP: – Right now I’m listening to music that I was listening when I seriously got into guitar playing, when I was 20 or so. Mostly very distorted guitars!

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

GLP: – The perfect balance between intellect and soul is something that needs to be worked on. And have fun!

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

GLP: – That’s a really cliché thing to say for a musician in my style, but I’d really be curious to see Django Reinhardt play more than the 60 seconds of footage we have today.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

File:Gildas Le Pape Djangofestivalen 2019 (223759).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

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