Interview with Eric Binder: Every day I hear new music … Video

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Jazz interview with jazz drummer Eric Binder. 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?

Eric Binder: – For me, improvising is truly that, it’s improvised. In my practice, I never work in a way that will make me sound contrived. I practice technique, facility, fluidity, and I do a lot of listening. That allows me to truly be in the moment when I perform; to really improvise. I want what happens on the bandstand to be completely organic. What we play has to always serve the music. Additionally, we play with others to have a musical conversation; call and response. Think about it this way, what if you went to talk with friends but you had a script you had to read from. How awful would that conversation be? You would have predetermined responses without knowing what the other person was going to say… it’s like being asked, “So how was your day,” and responding “I prefer oranges to apples.” It just doesn’t make sense. A lot of Jazz musicians get in this habit of learning “licks” and just regurgitating them meaninglessly. The ideas Blakey, Elvin, Tony, etc. played were their interpretations and reactions to what was happening in the music…with the rhythm section, the soloist.

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

EB: – Honestly, it’s listening for me. My spiritual connect to this music is knowing where it really came from. Jazz is a Black artform and we must never forget that. The struggles, inequalities, oppression, etc. are the foundations for this music. You can’t truly understand or respect this music unless you understand where it came from. As a white musician playing Jazz you MUST understand this, and RESPECT it. Jazz was always protest music. As a white musician, if you are not on the frontlines supporting the current racial inequalities, then you are just gaining from the cultural appropriation of Black creation.

Today, I am continuously writing and working on myself. There are plans for a second record with this lineup so keep a lookout!

JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

EB: – I think my sound is always evolving. Every day I hear new music, new artists that inspire me to try new things. I am always learning, studying, and working to be the best version of myself that I can be. As I was writing this music, I had Walter Smith’s sound in my head. His experience with chordless trio was also a huge plus. Also, I have always loved Petros’ sound and feel. The trio worked really well together and there was instant chemistry which was beautiful.

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

EB: – To an extent. It also depends greatly on the gig. If I’m playing a cocktail hour or cooperate event, the audience is obviously my priority. If I’m playing an actual show, I don’t feel the need to please the audience as much. They are there to hear me and what I do, so I am going to be true to myself and my vision. I have nothing but respect for everyone, but I play music for me, not for anyone else.

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?

EB: – Being original is one of the most important things for me. Having your own sound, and own voice is HUGE. So many musicians get hung up trying to sound like someone else. I am me, and that’s all I will ever be.

Being a musician and composer go hand in hand, especially with improvised music. To improvise is to compose, on the spot. You are taking your knowledge, practice, and experience, and creating something in the moment. Composing to me, is just a refined version of improvising; the ability to go back and edit.

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?

EB: – My one and only goal with my music and playing is to me people feel SOMETHING. When I listen to music, no matter what it is, I feel certain emotions. Those emotions, depending on the music, can be happiness, sadness, anger, inspiration, sorrow, etc…. I want to touch people with my music.

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?

EB: – I plan to continue along my path. Work hard, stay humble, and create. I have many plans for things Id like to do, but I am riding along the path that life creates for me. You can plan all you want, but life has a way of taking you where you are meant to go.

The biggest thing I would change is the lack of respect for music and arts. Musicians and artists work harder than you can imagine and we live in a country (the USA) where we are seen as glorified hobbyists. Music and art need to be funded and treated equally as any other job. I know friends in other countries who make their living playing jazz gigs. They have health insurance and other government funded initiatives to make it possible to support a family…Grants to clubs that have live music. The USA is so far behind in this respect.

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

EB: – These days I am still just trying to get through all of the incredible music of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. There is a lifetime of music in each of these decades. To me, these three decades are foundational in really learning, and understanding this music. I also love the improvised music of today as well!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Eric Binder - Istanbul Mehmet

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