Interview with Robert Erlandsson: If it sounds good and feels right, I’m happy: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz bassist Robert Erlandsson. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Robert Erlandsson: – I grew up in Hedemora, a Swedish small town about 180 km from Stockholm. I listened to rock and pop music, everything from the Beatles to Kiss and when I was 9 years old I got an electric bass from my dad. At the age of 16-17, I heard Jaco Pastorius for the first time. It was a music teacher who played Teen Town with Weather Rapport for me and it completely changed my image of music. Mindblowing! That observation is probably the main reason why I actually started studying music and today 100 years later, music is a full-time profession.

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

RE: – I am constantly working on developing my sound and am slowly but surely starting to get a grip on the whole thing. For me, the goal is to get such an even, powerful and natural sound across the entire register from my instrument, without having to overplay. Of course, I have listened to many bassists and been inspired over the years; Oscar Pettiford, Ray Brown, Dave Holland, Marc Johnson & Larry Genadier to name a few favorites.

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

RE: – I often practice to metronome, different tempos with the beat set to different accents instead of the basic heart rate. When I practice note reading, odd meters or generally difficult rhythmic ideas, I have a habit of always counting out loud to what I play. It has helped me to really understand certain rhythms and where the phrases begin and end at a beat.

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

RE: – Difficult question, to always have a completely own expression is not an easy task, but avoiding the role models’ favorite licks is perhaps a way (ha ha)? Try to be as honest as you can musically and only play what you hear, not rehearsed patterns.

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

RE: – To clear out all thoughts that have nothing to do with music as far as possible. I think it is all made easier by being in good shape and trying to maintain as good a playing condition as possible so that you are at least not limited by the technique when you have to express yourself musically. If I have plenty of time to prepare for a gig, I prefer to memorize the music for the best presence.

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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?

RE: – Niklas Bodin (drums), Gustav Lundgren (guitar) and I have known each other for a long time and played together in many different contexts. But after a jam session about 2 years ago, we thought it was time to start a band that plays their own compositions.

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

RE: – It often weighs on the soul controlling the outcome. When composing music it’s often based on a feeling and writing down a melody that I hear. I’m not much for analyzing. If it sounds good and feels right, I’m happy.

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

RE: – When performing on a stage, I honestly think you have an obligation to give the audience something back, especially if people paid admission. It does not have to mean that you have to play everyone’s favorite song or conjure a rabbit from a hat, but rather involve the audience with small means by, for example, showing the joy of playing on stage. A concert, no matter how good it is musically, is still visual. Many of us jazz musicians should probably think about this ,including myself!

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

RE: – In today’s huge range of music and genres, jazz has a very small space. I do not know how it is in other countries, but if you turn on the TV or radio in Sweden, it is hardly swing music that is played spontaneously. If you are young today and are not already interested in jazz because you, for example, play an instrument or have been introduced, I think you unknowingly need to be as fed through the media with jazz as with all other music for it to be a boom again.

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

RE: – For me, music and everything else in life such as the family is connected. One supports the other and vice versa.

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

RE: – That Jazz became popular music again as in the past J

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

RE: – I listen a lot and love to check out live-jazz, mostly via Youtube. It is often a mix between old and new up and coming artists, but an obvious favorite for a long time is Brad Melhdau so he must be mentioned.

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

RE: – Difficult question, have probably never thought so much about it. I write music based on melodies I spontaneously compose in my head and like at the moment. Have probably never consciously composed something based on a pre-determined message, it is up to the listener to decide for themselves. On the other hand, I naturally get strong feelings from lots of music written by others.

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

RE: – Back in 1964 and listen to the Miles Davis Quintet live – The Complete Concert, Four and more.

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

Where would you go with the time machine?

JBN: – 1940 – 1960 52nd street, New York jazz clubs … to listen Scott LaFaro, too.

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

RE: – I hope that the pandemic ends so we all can return to a normal everyday life, meet friends and play live concerts.

                                                                                                                          Interview by Simon Sargsyan   

Estate -Erik Söderlind Martin Widlund Robert Erlandsson - YouTube

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