May 22, 2024

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Interview with Shinya Fukumori: Music should guide you, not you guide music: New video 2018

Jazz interview with jazz drummer Shinya Fukumori. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Shinya Fukumori: – I was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. It’s the second biggest city in Japan after Tokyo. Osaka is known for its own cultures, and it’s a very unique place. It’s the center of food and various kinds of entertainment. The city has a big energy, so growing up there was a lot of fun. And I believe everyone there is proud of being from Osaka, it’s that kind of city.

My dad was an amateur musician (drummer) when he was in collage, and his love for music never ended. So there was always music in my house. My dad would play CDs from Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Grand Funk Railroad… all those guys from the 70’s. At the same time, he would play an acoustic guitar and sing some Japanese folk songs at home. My brother and I were always listening to music with him, and we were already singing songs from Deep Purple as little kids. Then one day when I was 6 years old, my dad and I started taking violin lessons together, and that was the beginning of my life with music. Not to mention, my mom has always supported me to play music too.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up your musical instrument? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose your musical instrument?

SHF: – Like I said before, I started playing violin when I was 6, and then I also started playing piano and took some lessons later on. I think it was around when I was 13, my brother bought an electric guitar, and I would borrow his guitar and try out some chords and play songs like “Stairway To Heaven” from Led Zeppelin. After all of that, I got a drum-set when I was 15. It was probably my dad’s influence, it felt so natural for me to start playing drums. For some reason, I always knew I would be a drummer and be good at it before I had even started. In addition, I was listening to a lot of Deep Purple, so it was Ian Paice that really grabbed me into the drum-world.

My first teacher back in Osaka was great. He knew how the body really works and he showed me good techniques using the body the right way. After I moved to the States, I studied with Keith Umbach at Brookhaven Collage. He pretty much taught me the ABCs of jazz drumming. After that, I was at University of Texas at Arlington for a while playing in a big band every day under Tim Ishii, who is a great saxophone player and a great teacher. I learned so much from him. Another teacher I would like to mention is Ian Froman at Berklee. I only took one semester of lessons with him, but he really changed my view of playing drums. Furthermore, listening to music is probably the best teacher you got.

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

SHF: – I don’t believe “sound” is a consistent thing, I believe it keeps moving and evolving in a certain direction under its own circumstances. It’s not really like I have tried to find and develop my own sound; that’s not really how it works. Listening to a lot of music and just fully living your life can really shape your music and sound.

For me, Ian Paice, Elvin Jones, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Jon Christensen were very influential at times, but in the end, you just have to accept who you are, then you automatically have your own sound.

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

SHF: – To be honest, I have no practice routine or exercise I use.

But one thing I believe that is very important is to really work in your head in different levels. I’m not sure if it only works for drummers and not for other instruments (or maybe just me), but once you learn how to move your body right, you can imagine yourself playing in your head. But very important, you really have to make your brain tell all your nerves as if you were actually playing the drums. At the same time, you preciselyproduce sounds in your head. If you can really play in your head flawlessly, the chances are you could also actually play it on the drums. If this is possible, you can do this anytime, anywhere you are. But you really have to be sensitive all the time about all the sound you are creating with your own body. And then you also find something new while you are playing the drums.

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

SHF: – I like all kinds of harmonies. It always depends on where it’s coming from. Sometimes, minor chords can sound happy, and major chords can sound sad. That’s all what was played before. So, the flow of the music is very important; where it’s coming from and where it’s going. And I hope people can hear harmonies and chord progressions in my drum playing as well.

When I write music, I try to keep my harmonies simple so that my fellow musicians can add their own characters and tensions on top of it. Plus, I would like to leave some room for listeners’ ears; they can add their own favorite colors in that space.

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

SHF: – This is very tough. I was very busy with my own production, so there are certainly some albums I wanted to listen to but haven’t yet.

But out of those I heard, “Caipi” by Kurt Rosenwinkle really stands out. It sounds very new and original. I really like the mood and the musical balance it has. How the music enters and leaves the room, just fantastic.

Other albums I really enjoy listening to from 2017 are Goro Ito’s “In the Shape of an Abandoned Cloud”, Ralph Towner’s “My Foolish Heart”, and John Abercrombie’s “Up And Coming”. Funny enough, they are all guitar players, and all great ones.

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

SHF: – I’ve never really cared about such things before. Everything comes naturally to me, and I want to leave it that way. Music should guide you, not you guide music.

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

SHF: – So many, just so many. Every playing situation is different and special on its own. Plus I don’t really hold on to the past.

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?

SHF: – Ha, I’m the one who needs advices. All I can say is, stay focused.

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

SHF: – It is a business already.

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

SHF: – All. All the experiences I’ve had are very important to me. Without those, I wouldn’t be here now. Therefore, every chance I get to play is valuable, and I take it very serious.

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

SHF: – I think a lot of young people are already interested in jazz nowadays, at least around me. But if we define jazz as an art form, we should keep creating something new, and we shouldn’t depend on standards too much despite how important they are and how much you can learn from them. We need to create new standards and originals.

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

SHF: – I don’t like to think about the meaning of something that already exists. I don’t even know what music means to me yet.

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

SHF: – I’m not really good at planning, so I never plan and think about the future so much. I just want to enjoy whatever that comes to me.

I’m not so sure what brings me fear or anxiety at the moment, I think it changes often. But the great thing about life is there is time; time passes. Even no matter how big the fear or anxiety is, time passes and heals all wounds. Tomorrow is another day, I stay positive.

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

SHF: – Nothing at all. If there are challenges in the musical world, that’s the fun part of it. And accepting challenges always helps you create new music. At least I’d like to believe so.

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

SHF: – Like I said, I never plan things. Planning is boring in my life. It will just come itself, and I’d like to be surprised.

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

SHF: – To me, there is no difference, music is music. If you want to categorize music, then yes, there are many similarities. But today, music is very diverse, and every song or piece of music has its own character. So, we should just enjoy music without so much information. Music should speak for itself.

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

SHF: – I still listen to those albums I mentioned above often. Also I listen to new music from Takashi Nakagawa and Hiroshi Yamaguchi, the Japanese musicians who wrote “Mangetsu No Yube” together, which is on my album.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

SHF: – Very simple. 4 piece drum-set; 18”x14” bass drum, 12”x8” tom, 14”x14” floor tom, and 14”x6,5” snare. It’s all Sonor SQ2 maple drums except the snare is a Canopus Zelkova. I actually own two Zelkova snares; one in Germany and one in Japan, I really love them.

And I only use two ride-cymbals; right side is 20” Zildjian Constantinople Medium, and the left one is 21” Zildjian Special Dry Ride. And the hi-hat is a combination of a very old Ufip (top) and Avedis (bottom), both 14” but the top one is slightly smaller. I picked them up very cheap in New York, but they really sound great together.

I want to say my sticks are very special. There is a great stick maker in Kyoto called Stick Chops. Every stick is 100% handmade. The quality of the sticks is really amazing. And there are so many kinds of woods that Stick Chops carries, like you have never seen before. So, my sticks are precisely custom made and very special. I use mostly maple sticks, but sometimes I use yellow-heart and aodamo sticks too depending on the room. I also have zelkova and olive-wood sticks, and they are so unique and have interesting sound, which I love. And my sticks are finished with special Japanese lacquer.

Brushes, I use Regal Tip’s Ed Thigpen model. Actually Ed Thigpen demonstrated how to use them right in front of me. I really like the wires and the wood part of the handle. I also use Ed Thigpen plastic brushes.

And I use Rohema mallets.

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

SHF: – I’d definitely like to go back to the 70’s like a lot of people probablywould. I was born in 1984, so I didn’t get to see all the great rock concerts live. I would love to see Deep Purple “Made In Japan” live in 1972. Also Grand Funk “Live Album”, I’d kill to see that live.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Shinya Fukumori

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