Interview with Sarp Maden: All about giving form to energy: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Sarp Maden. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Sarp Maden: – İ grew up in İstanbul, in a family of artists. My father had a diverse record collection of many genres, classical western music, jazz, pop, ethnic etc. So i was exposed to music early on, but didn’t start to play till i was fifteen, which is quite late actually.

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

SM: – İ was interested in rock music when i started and i still have rock elements in my sound. But i worked hard to make it fit in an acoustic environment, having a broader dynamic range, having sustain but less audible distortion. İt is an ongoing process, i try to refine my sound constantly and hopefully it gets better each year.

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

SM: – İ don’t have a practice routine but i play a lot. But if i improvise over a chord sequence with a fast tempo it helps me to keep my chops up. Also that way i can (at least partially) avoid licks and patterns and really improvise. As for rythm, i think it is important to feel the relation of your notes to the beat and being able to place them whereever you want, from behind the beat to the top of the beat and front of the beat. but i don’t practice any specific exercices for that.

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

SM: – İ don’t try to consciously avoid anything. İ can use aspects, elements of different genres to enrich what i do. But i mainly follow my inner direction and do whatever necessary to realize it.

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

SM: – İ try to keep myself physically fit and mentally calm and aware. İt all depends of circumstances really, touring may be tiring, you may have to perform after a long travel, the conditions on stage might not be ideal etc. So you try to keep positive and do your best in all kinds of situations.

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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?

SM: – İ think my sound is constantly evolving regardless of time period. İ am always looking with a critical eye to every aspect of my playing, writing, equipment etc. and change or improve things. All the musicians on the album are friends that i have been playing with since many years. İ mostly give them no direction at all and trust their ability and creativity to come up with parts that will fit the music.

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

SM: – For me it’s all about giving form to energy, expressing states of consciousness through sound. To be a good vessel for that one has to master the language of music as well as (s)he can. You use your intellect to create/build your personal language and this becomes the key to take you to the domain of sound/energy beyond language and intellect.

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

SM: – The audience’s energy is affecting my playing deeply and shaping it even though if i don’t consciously try to give what they want. Being able to reach the audience is very satisfying for me but i wouldn’t  want to change my music in a way that doesn’t appeal to me aesthetically. Hopefully the majority of my audiences are people who like what i do generally.

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

SM: – There are too many, but i’ll tell one that is funny and scary at the same time. İn 2013 i was a guest soloist at the EST symphony project, which was a homage to the late Esbjorn Svensson with the symphonic versions of EST’s music. İn the concert at the of a tune i broke a string and for the next tune i was supposed to play the melody and have an extended solo. The conductor (we have one since it is a symphonic concert with a huge orchestra) was not aware of my situation and started the piece. So frantically i reach my guitar case, take a new string, put it on my guitar and tune it while following the score to catch my entrance. İ was able to tune my guitar and be ready just a couple of seconds before that, but it way too tense for me.

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

SM: – İ think the problem is not all about the capacity of jazz to reinvent itself, it is also about the cultural decline we see in societies all around the globe. İ am afraid the ability to process and appreciate complex art music is declining slowly, the attention span of each successive generation is shorter and shallowness and superficiality becomes the norm everywhere. The standart tunes were the popular music of their era, if you compare them structurally to current pop music it is easy to see the extent of degeneration. So this is all related to the cultural, social, economical and political situation in societies around the world. İf in a society, the percentage of individuals are who are aware, educated, able to appreciate art and able to spend for it is high; i am sure creative minds making improvised art music will answer the demand for new art forms.

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

SM: – İ am not sure if i can squeeze an answer in a short paragraph for this one. İ don’t think having a mental understanding about these things means much. To me it’s all about energy, the ability to channeling, accumulating, shaping, directing forms of energy (or consciousness). İ think Coltrane was a shaman doing this through sound.

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

SM: – Guitar picks that doesn’t disappear suddenly. lol 🙂

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

SM: – All and everything really, but as Chick Corea passed away recently, i find myself listening again to some his albums that i haven’t heard for years and reappreciate his genius.

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

SM: – İ don’t have a specific message, just sharing the joy of creating music is a source of deep satisfaction for me.

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

SM: – İf we rewind a little anywhere in the world was unpolluted and the nature was intact. And i am deeply concerned about the future. İ could go anywhere in time as long as i would be in immaculate nature.

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

SM: – İ don’t have a question for you, just appreciation for the good work you do.

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

SM: – Of course i do it in my own clumsy and haphazard way.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Sevgilisi Sarp Maden çaldı, Şevval Sam söyledi!

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