June 24, 2024

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Interview with Erik Honore: The world isn’t open to its complexity: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if guitarist Erik Honore. An interview by email in writing.

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

Erik Honore: – I grew up in Kristiansand, Norway. It’s a rather uninviting place, especially from September to May when the sun is only up for an hour or so and we’re snowed in most of the time. But these harsh conditions provide you with a lot of time to rehearse.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the guitar?

EH: – My uncle, the guitarist Bård Hoksrud, played in a local mariachi band when I was a child, and his small, red guitar caught my attention.

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the guitar?

EH: – First my uncle taught me, mainly mariachi standards. Then in my teens our family moved to Los Angeles where I took classes with Steve Vai and Derek Bailey for a while. That was helpful, although a bit confusing. But the main reason for my progress was my tenure as a rhythm guitarist on tour with David Bowie’s band, under the artist name Carlo Salomar. Bowie sometimes had to take on board young, aspiring musicians as “interns”, this was a part of his parole requirements after a couple of run-ins with the law. So despite his reluctance, playing in Bowie’s band did the trick, combined with my discovery of transcendental meditation – a practice that is crucial to me, as it is to David Lynch, another fine musician. And copius amounts of green tea. What made me choose the guitar? I think I’ll turn that question around: What made the guitar choose me?

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

EH: – First a sturdy breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Then I do around three hours of tapping and shredding exercises, mostly to loosen up my fingers, interspersed with the aforementioned transcendental meditation. After a light vegan lunch, this routine is repeated, before I record in the afternoon or perform in the evening. I see this process as becoming one with the guitar: Sensually bonding with the wood and steel to give birth to music.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

EH: – During my apprenticeship with Steve Vai, I first had to copy his technique to the smallest detail, before I was allowed to develop my own pattern structure. I started with the straight open-hand strum on each open G–C/G move, plucking with my hand positioned over the neck, performing near-harmonic “slap-points,” to ease the transition between the techniques.

Then I deconstructed these techniques using my own variation of open tuning, which I’ve named “closed tuning”. This combination of frantic finger techniques and incomprehensible tuning demanded a totally new type of notation that I’ve named “derailed graphic notation”. The details are too complex to describe in a short interview, I’ll be releasing a book about it next year called “Eat, pray, shred”.

JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album: <Unrest>, how it was formed and what you are working on today. Next year your fans like we can wait for a new album?

EH: – The guitar sound is definitely what I’m most happy with. If you didn’t know better, you would think that this isn’t a guitar at all, and that I am not a guitarist. And yes, there’s a new album out on Crowdpleaser Records next year, the Hubro label’s more commercial offspring. It’s a compilation of Christmas carols arranged for solo guitar, in neo-mariachi style.

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

EH: – I have just one piece of advice: Choose your instrument and stay true to it. Respect it, don’t try to turn it into something that it isn’t. To me, that lifelong love is my 1959 edition Gibson Les Paul.

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

EH: – Probably not, if you mean guitar jazz. The world isn’t open to its complexity.

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

EH: – Mainly by not performing the standard tunes, I believe.

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

EH: – I think I’ll quote the Norwegian mountaineer and philosopher Christian Tybring-Gjedde, who spent much time meditating on these questions. He always said: “Health is the greatest wealth, the greatest contentment, such as solitude is the best relationship. To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes – is that not to deny humanity, but embrace it? No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever.”

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

EH: – That electronic instruments and “musicians” with laptops will take over the music industry.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

EH: – To further develop my guitar technique and break new barriers of speed and complexity.

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

EH: – Yes. But they’re too subtle to go into here.

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

EH: – I try not to contaminate my integrity by listening to a broader spectrum of music. Purity is essential. So I mainly listen to a few other guitarists, like Steve Vai, Derek Bailey, and Bård Hoksrud. And to recordings of myself playing.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

EH: – My trusted 1959 Gibson Les Paul, one-piece mahogany body, flamed maple top fitted with rosewood fretboard – always plugged directly into the Tandberg Sølvsuper (a classic Norwegian 48 track analogue tape machine).

JBN.S: – And if you want, you can congratulate jazz and blues listeners on Christmas and Happy New Year.

EH: – Merry Xmas and best wishes for the next year, everyone. Stay in!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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