Interview with Helle Henning: As long as we both know: Videos, new CD cover

Jazz interview with jazz vocalist Helle Henning. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Helle Henning: – I grew up in the city of Hamlet called Elsenore east Denmark. My father was a drummer when he was young and he has presented a lot of jazz and bigband music for me when I was pretty young. I also recorded songs together with him and my sister. We sisters both played guitar and sang. It was so much fun.

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

HH: – For me developing my sound has been a journey. I have both been listening to a lot of singers – especially male singers and in terms of improvisning I have listened to many old singers from Brazil like Tania Maira and Flora Purim to find another sound that the traditional american scat-singing-sound. But above all this the most important thing has been to write and sing my own tunes in my own way.

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

HH: – I work a lot with my feet and subdivisions. And all the time finding a good balance between mind, heart and body.

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

HH: – It’s an illusion not to get influenced by all the music you listen to, and we should be cause its such a gift and inspiration to open up to music and people around us. But still everything will be running through my musical veins and comes out like me. I have periods – especially when I am writing new tunes – where I don’t listen to music at all, just trying to be in my own musical bubble, to not get disturb.

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

HH: – I work off course with my voice being in shape, but mostly with everything that’s presence means breathing, listening, body and lyrics

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2020: <As Long As We Both Know>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.

HH: – I really love the simplicity of both the songs and the playing on my new album, also the fact that even though its a jazz album there is almost no solos and that makes each song stay stronger. For me it feels like nothing has been forced to go in a certain direction and that we all simply were following the flow of the music. The musicians on the record was selected because each of them sounds and plays amazing and delicate in their own personal way. They also made a trio record together which has got just the vibe me and Nikolaj Hess were searching for.

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

HH: – I see myself as a singer and songwriter. When I sing it’s mostly my soul I express – but when I am writing songs it feels like a good combination of soul and intellect.

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

HH: – When I play my concerts I don’t focus on giving people what they want – I give the audience what I got. I dont wanna manipulate with peoples feelings.

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

HH: – By writing new jazz songs with lyrics that they can relate to.

JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

HH: – Wow thats a hard one. I guess I play music because it forces me to be extremely present, and it feels like – if not THE meaning – then one of the meanings with life.

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

HH: – That all the great jazzclubs and concerthalls will survive this long and hard COVID-19 time, so we can still have a diverse scene afterwards.

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

HH: – These days I listen to a lot of new Danish folk songs just written and published.

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

HH: – My wish is to make peoples life bigger and connecting with their own emotions, through my music.

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

HH: – Sometimes it could be fun just for a moment to go back time to Copenhagen in the the 60-ties to get the experience of how it was to live at that time, but honestly I am so happy for being right right now.

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

HH: – In which way does my songs move something for you in your life?

JBN: – Your music is both present and timeless …

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

HH: – I feel so lucky and happy for spending my life in the music world. Everyday I do what I love the most, I feel so lucky.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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