June 14, 2024


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Interview with Eyolf Dale: Still, life is so much more than music: Video

Jazz interview with jazz pianist Eyolf Dale. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Eyolf Dale: – I grew up in a medium sized Norwegian town, called Skien. There was always music at home, my father played the piano and my mother sang a lot. Since we already had an old Bechstein grand piano at home, the choice of instrument wasn’t that hard. Or, it never felt like a choice, I just started playing when I was around 6 years old – and took piano lessons from the age of 7. The interest in music was from the beginning centered around creating and improvising, so I never had any classical training and was fortunate to have teachers that taught me chord progressions etc. When I “practiced” as a child, it wasn’t really practicing, it was always about playing, and fooling around with ideas. My father had a MIDI studio with an old Atari computer and synthesizers – so this studio became my main playground from a very early age until around the age of 16

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

ED: – My sound has always been there I guess, but things changed a lot when I made a decision to put all my focus on the piano, and stay away from synthesizers. I found that a piano made me play more musical, with natural breath, dynamics and more natural phrasing. I never could do that with synthesizers, the Fender Rhodes or any other instrument. It was a liberating choice. Meanwhile, quite late actually, I really discovered classical music. Or more specific, the sound of the piano when good classical pianists play. This was a life-changing discovery, and made me investigate timbre, depth and the inner dynamics of my own playing.

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

ED: – I have a lot of etudes and exercises that I’ve created through the years, most of them based on improvisation and the idea of contextualizing my musicality. Rhythm is very important to me, and I guess it’s important to all jazz people. Everything has a rhythm, and even if you try, it would be hard to avoid rhythm. Therefore, it’s hard to generalize and to say what’s important and what’s not. Even so, I would say your inner rhythm is the most essential thing. So, these days I actually try to avoid metronomes, and to find the beat within the body instead.

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

ED: – I prefer the right harmony and the right pattern in the right moment.


JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you of 2017 year?

ED: – Tigran Hamasayan “The Ancient Observer”.

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

ED: – When I was younger it was clear to me that the soul, or heart, in music was a separate thing from intellectual aspects. Today, I’m not so sure. As human beings we always rely on both simultaneously, and for most people it’s hard to separate what’s what when we make decisions; something has to feel right to be the preferred choice, but we also reflect on the consequences. In music, I believe it’s the same. We need to understand, to a certain point, how the music is put together in order to play with it, but all of that isn’t worth much without the right gut feeling.

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?

ED: – The business part of living as a musician is always a challenge, as most artists main focus is the artistic, obviously. But I have a few guiding rules that helps me in most cases: Be prepared. Be on time. Do a little more than what’s expected. Play music for the right reasons.

JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?

ED: – My most significant collaboration has been with my dear friend and colleague André Roligheten. We met in our teens and went into the jazz world together, and we’ve also toured all around the world with our long standing duo Albatrosh. He’s probably the musician that has inspired me the most.

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

ED: – Do what many young jazz artists do these days; create new standards!

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

ED: – That’s a big question. But, music is something I do, and something that’s rooted in core of my body. Still, life is so much more than music. Life if people. Life is friends and family. Life is seeing the sun rise. I’m not trying to be very poetic here, but my point is that my music (or anybody’s music) hadn’t been worth much without a lived life to tell it.

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

ED: – Musically I’m more into being in the moment and to listen to where my music wants to go. I’m hoping to explore more things as time goes by, and to always be curious. My fear is to lose that curiosity.

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

ED: – I would remove the word talent and the, in my opinion, unhealthy focus towards finding talents. My experience is that talent is a very small percentage of a personality, what really matters is one’s genuine interest and ability to work with and play with that. Both alone and together.

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

ED: – My next big things is touring in Europe with my octet, Eyolf Dale’s Wolf Valley. Besides that, I’m working with a new commissioned piece for myself and a large classic string orchestra that will be finished in 2019.

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

ED: – Yes, obviously.

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

ED: – I listen a lot to classical piano concertos, and find it utterly inspiring to explore how the great composers created long dramatic lines.

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

ED: – New York, the jazz scene, around 1960. That would have been something!

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

ED: – How to do that in jazz?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. The play is good and honest.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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