Jazz interview with jazz singer Margeaux Lampley. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Margeaux Lampley: – I grew up in Oakland, California and started dance and performing classes quite young, in addition to piano and theater. Apparently, the director of my first school complained to my mother that I sang too loudly!
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the jazz vocal? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the jazz vocal?
ML: – I was drawn to jazz because of its inventiveness and freedom. In jazz, you can really be yourself. I never felt like I fit into a specific category, so in jazz, I invented my own… In addition, I love the traditional jazz repertoire. Many jazz standards come from American musicals (Cole Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, Rodgers & Hammerstein…) and from a young age, I was passionate about musicals. In terms of teachers, I studied with classical teachers for technique, but I would say that it was performing with excellent and encouraging musicians and singers that really helped me to gain confidence develop my repertoire and progress. I must say though that I am still learning and hope to continue to progress!
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
ML: – My style over the years has evolved largely due to the different types of projects that I’ve been involved in (electro music, pop, soul, gospel …) and their influences. I have worked with quite a few wonderful musicians and other singers who have inspired and helped me to find my own voice. Performing with the 100 Voices of Gospel not only added more strength and depth to my voice, it allowed me to discover other styles of singing and be inspired by different types of voices.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
ML: – I usually stretch and do yoga or a bit of sport in the morning before starting vocal warmup exercises. I try to be consistent, whether or not I have a concert or studio session, just to strengthen and maintain my voice. The 100 Voices of Gospel really helped me with rhythm. Our repertoire includes songs and rhythms from all over the world, including the Caribbean and various countries in Africa. We dance and sing a lot; you need to have good rhythm to be able to both at the same time!
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
ML: – I can’t say that I really have a preference for specific harmonies and patterns… I’m pretty open to most music.
JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you of 2017 year?
ML: – In 2017, one of favorites was Rémi Toulon’s new album Adagiorinho. I also enjoyed Gregory Porter’s Nat King Cole tribute, Ahmad Jamal’s Marseille, Cecile McLorin Salvant’s Dreams and Daggers, Tigran Hamasyan’s An Ancient Observer, China Moses’ Nightintales, just to mention a few.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
ML: – Music is pure emotion from your soul, your intellect helps you to translate it.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
ML: – Hosting the jam sessions at the Café Universel in Paris, great ambiance, great people, my first real foray into the world of jazz.
JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?
ML: – They all have brought me something different and lasting. I would have a hard time choosing one!
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
ML: – When a song is well written, it will touch you, even if it is half a century old. I have taught old jazz songs to kids and they loved it. The kids love our jazz versions of Michael Jackson’s hits for example, and the songs are over 30 years old. What needs to be developed is the access to the music for young people, perhaps as part of the school curriculum and/or creating concerts catering to them. This is what we do at the Sunset Sunside; the concerts are always full and the kids really enjoy themselves!
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
ML: – Good question! But the answer requires a long conversation!
JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?
ML: – I am always looking to go to the next level, whether in music or in life, learn something new, discover a new world, a new sound, an enlightment. I don’t expect anything, but I leaving myself open to finding whatever I’m supposed to find. As for fear and anxiety, it’s a part of life, but I try not to let it rule my life. The wonderful thing about music is that it always calms me and brings me back to my center.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
ML: – What if music could really solve our world’s problem … no more hunger, war, exploitation, hate…
JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?
ML: – I have a couple of projects in the works. Very exciting! I will keep you posted.
JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?
ML: – It would be nice if we could just call music “music” without a label… I’m not an expert but I believe that the term world music was initially used to emphasize the ethnic, folk or traditional inspirations in certain music. It was also a movement that was about breaking down cultural barriers. In jazz, we borrow ideas from everywhere to enrich the music, so some works categorized jazz may have a world feel. For example, on my album, our version of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean has an afro-jazz feel. And I think that jazz has always been a music open to all, so similar to world music, it breaks down barriers.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
ML: – A little of everything from jazz to gospel to French music to Beyoncé and Drake! And of course, a lot of Michael Jackson!
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
ML: – I would love to see Duke Ellington at work!
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
ML: – Where does your love of jazz come from and why did you start this site?
JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. The love to jazz and blues since from concerts, and the website we started in 2007, after when our Jazz and Blues Facebook group had more than 70, 000 readers, now more than 78, 000: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JazzSimonBlues/
Interview by Simon Sargsyan