May 22, 2024

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Interview with Klaus Waldeck: The need a strong emotional bodywork … than you can add a little dose of intellect: Video

Jazz interview with jazz producer, composer Klaus Waldeck. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Klaus Waldeck: When I was at the age of four, I always wanted to become either a great conductor (practising to classical music my father used to listen to on his record player) or a violinist. My mother insisted I should learn to play the piano first, hoping I would forget about my initial plan -)-, which anybody who ever had to listen to a beginner practising the violin will probably understand. That is how I ended up playing the piano. However, I finished taking piano lessons when I was at the age of fourteen.

JBN.S: – You became a music producer in the field of electronic music, how has playing the piano influenced your work as a producer or composer? 

KW: – When I started to get into music again, it was during my late twenties. I have to admit that my skills on the piano were rather limited at that time, but it helped me to get my musical ideas into the box. For me the piano was more a tool for composing really, rather than me playing an instrument. But that began to change gradually, when I became interested in the sound of old jazz recordings that I used to listen while collecting material for my „Ballroom Stories“ album (2007).

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

KW: – When I began to release music in the mid 1990ies, it was all about hypnotic beats & grooves with some layers of dub effects. The style of music was referred to as Trip Hop. I was inspired by acts like Massive Attack or Portishead.  In 2004 I met the young Jazz singer Valerie Sajdik at a wedding and together we developed and produced a project called Saint Privat. Thinking back that was probably my first step towards more jazz oriented music. The album was inspired by piano legend Eugen Cicero with his „Rokoko Jazz“ on the one side, but it also had a healthy dose of Antonio Jobim inspired bossa nova guitar – which opened up my harmonic & rhythmical universe. However I would say these records („Ballroom Stories“ and „ Rokoko“) were jazz – influenced or „jazzy“ more than strictly speaking jazz.

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

KW: – At the age of forty-eight  I began to take piano lessons again and bought myself a grand piano and an upright piano for my studio. I began to understand that playing a certain instrument also had a big impact on the kind of composition that would result (e.g. if you play the guitar your compositions would be quite different from those of a piano player)

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

KW: – I am a big fan of diminished chords! I prefer minor over major and I prefer tensions rather than dissonance. For me the choice of harmonic patterns is an emotional decision.

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

KW: – That is not always easy. And frankly, sometimes I dwell on a dark mood and get something out of it too, a certain feeling of longing and melancholy. So sometimes music can function as a remedy against desperation, oh I just realised that was not the question…. hahaha, you were referring to „disparate“. Well that too can be a challenge. Take the track listing of an album for instance, it should be coherent, but not boring (see below).

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

KW: – For me the balance would be 25/75… So first you need a strong emotional bodywork … than you can add a little dose of intellect. It definitely does not work the other way around.

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

KW: – The relationship between audience and artist can be quite delicate at times. My so far most successful album „Ballroom Stories“ has been listed in Wikipedia as one of the prototype albums of the Electro Swing movement. When I released it in 2007 the term Electro Swing has not been invented yet. So for me it is an honour to be considered a key figure of that particular genre. However I never considered „Ballroom Stories” as strictly speaking „Electro-Swing“, because there are a lot of other musical styles on it, such as Tango, Dub or Blues. And also, it became clear to me that my audience expected more of the same type of music, which blocked my creativity, because I was trying to make a follow up in the same style, only better…. That of course turned out to be a dead end street and I got stuck somehow. So I was looking for a way out of that dilemma. Since I had a couple of Italian tracks recorded by then, I thought that I could side track the public and release something unexpected (i.e. my spaghetti western album „Gran Paradiso“) and my audience would happily follow. Well I certainly succeeded in part 1 of my plan (i.e. unexpected), but unfortunately the Electro swing crowd would not have any of it. However, I still think that „Gran Paradiso“ is a great album…Anyway… to make a long story short: With “Atlantic Ballroom“ I was free again and my main focus was to concentrate on a good track listing as opposed to a coherent style. The irony is that by trying to achieve that, I somehow ended up with a very coherent album. The track listing took me 7 weeks and a lot of songs did not make it into the final tracklsiting.

But to answer your question: With „Atlantic Ballroom“ I gave the audience at least a little bit of what they wanted. Also the way music is distributed by streaming services, makes it almost impossible to fight against the almighty power of algorithms…which unfortunately also tend to making you stick to a certain musical genre rather than giving you the freedom to playfully experiment with your audience.

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

KW: – When I recorded „Make my Day“ in 2003 I used  – back then fairly recently purchased  – pieces of equipment, a mic pre amp in combination with a valve microphone. I am not a sound engineer, so sometimes these things can get a little out of hand with me. Anyway with Joy Malcolm being pregnant at the time of the recording (giving birth to her son James only days after the session) singing at full blast I not only managed to let her sing into the wrong side of the microphone but also the recording gain on the pre amp was set way too high so that the vocal recording was completely distorted. We ended up using these recordings anyway in the finished mix and learned that a bit if distortion on the vocal track won’t do any harm (Mercedes Benz used the track in a commercial, so the sound must have been all right).

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

KW: – I think the way forward would be to catch the spirit of Jazz rather than thinking of Jazz as a particular type or style of music. Also what I find quite interesting in that respect is that when I let my children (age 16,13,7) choose the music on the car stereo with their cell phones connected to some streaming service, I am surprised how many really old tracks, also Jazz tracks they have in their current playlist, such as Otis Redding, Louis Armstrong or Bobby Hebb.

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

KW: – Well I would not go that far. Certainly music is a major part of my life. I would say the spirit of life can be found in many things apart from music. But to define the spirit is hard. For me it has to do with handing the world over to the next generation. Given the current state of the world, we have not been very good at that, have we?

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

KW: – I would change the way streaming algorithms work.

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

KW: – I recently rediscovered Mulatu Astatke the great ethiopian jazz composer … and through my eldest son, I discovered Echo Arms.

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

KW: – I would head for the 1960ies and I would choose Paris as destination.

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

KW: – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Happy New Year and Merry Christmas !!!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Klaus Waldeck

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