May 24, 2024

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Interview with Stéphane Galland: Intellect is a great tool: Video

Jazz interview with jazz drummer Stéphane Galland. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Stéphane Galland: – I grew up in a small city of Belgium called Huy. My mom is a big classical music fan, my dad used to play guitar and sing occasionally, my sister is a classical music pianist.

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

SG: – I got fascinated by a drummer during a live concert and decided I wanted to learn to play drums. I started with classical percussion, discovered and started playing Jazz when I was 11. My teacher was very open minded and always encouraged me to do what I liked. Then later, I did some summer jazz seminars. My playing now is a mix of many researches and discoveries that I did throughout my career.

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

SG: – My sound evolved a lot when I did a summer seminar in Belgium with drummer Dré Pallemaerts and Joe Lovano. I realized at that time how important and specific is the sound of a musician. There is some magic in there. After that I decided to experiment playing on the worst drumsets possible. I would play on a really bad drumset instead of bringing mine to the gig for example. Because I wanted to develop the sound, that it comes from me first. I got interested to the specific qualities of the drums and cymbals much later.

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

SG: – I like to explore different technical approaches. Not just one “school” of drums technique, but mixing, trying them all. Then I’m also working a lot on more unusual subdivisions of a beat for example, to explore different feels, enrich the rhythmical language, develop a new vocabulary.

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?

SG: – My approach to harmony is mainly intuitive, so I’m using my knowledge from what I heard in my life. From one very simple idea come clear harmonic patterns to my mind, and I’m just searching until I can transcribe them exactly how they are in my head. I think dissonances are just tensions, and harmony is the balance of tensions.

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

SG: – There is so much information everywhere, once you start doing what you want to do, you’re just selecting the influences that you want. So by just looking for what you really love, and what you really believe in, you’re preventing any “disparate” influence I guess…

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

SG: – Intellect is a great tool. It’s the perfect tool for example to integrate new concepts, new approaches, that might not feel naturel at first. It allows to create keys to open the door to the feel, which is essential if you want to make music. Soul is unlimited and can express anything in this universe. Intellect can help to express the soul better. It can also do the opposite, and completely block the expression of the Soul. A tool is just a tool, so it depends how you use it. But intellect is a magnificent tool when you use it well.

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

SG: – The question is: what do they want ? People are individuals, all people are different. If you want to give people what they want, you’re going to be frustrated. The best thing an artist can do is being him/herself 100%. Then, I believe it’s important to understand how to deal with the fact that most people are not “trained” like a musician, or they might not be familiar with what you’ve been doing, practicing, integrating for years. That means that most people coming to a concert want to get something that can feed their souls, and I believe it’s important to try to understand how most people can access what we musicians want to share, so that it’s not hermetic to them. In that sense, I’m thinking a lot about how my music can be perceived by people that had no specific musical education, but are just sensitive to music, art, and want to feed their souls. I want the people to feel welcome, even when the music is in a way very complex, or very original, unusual. I always compare complexity to a flower. A flower is so complex that human beings, with their amazing technology, are still not able to create a real flower. Yet when people see, think of, smell a flower, complexity is not what comes to mind. I want it to be the same when I’m working with new concepts of rhythm, I want them to be like a flower, like water, like natural elements. That’s why I take time to integrate new stuff by deep practice.

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

SG: – Too many. It’s hard to select… I feel blessed having played with so many amazing musicians from all over the world, and from different musical backgrounds. For 7 years I played with my oldest band Aka Moon in a club in Brussels called the KAAÏ. We would play every Wednesday and each concert was memorable, I had so much fun. And on the other hand, a new album/DVD by Ibrahim Maalouf “live” in Paris at Accor Hotel Arena in front of more than 17000 people is just released now, on which I play drums, and it was so much fun to do as well. Whereas you play in a small club or big stages doesn’t change the fun you can get, but the playing is different. Because of the proximity of people, or because of the huge number of people, it makes you play different. But I cannot say that I prefer one or the other.

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

SG: – Jazz is not about Standards. To me that’s a living music, meaning it takes all influences, whether it’s hip-hop, electronic, classical, traditional, metal, rock, you name it. So Jazz can be the hippest music. We just need to keep an open mind, and let this “living” approach to music free. And have fun, to combine fun with art, research, beauty, richness.

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

SG: – John Coltrane is to me the most influential musician. He reached some places that are out of this world. But the question here is so vast… I think, as human beings, we’re a part of a higher consciousness, a higher knowledge, and by connecting to this, we can reach something out of the ordinary. Our ego, that (we think) needs to feel alive, is also blocking us to connect to that higher consciousness I guess. Music is an amazing way to connect with this.

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

SG: – I can change things in the musical world, like anybody. And that’s what I do by doing what I believe in, by opening doors. We should understand how everyone, and every little thing we do has an influence, and can change things. So if we do what we believe in, that’s the best way to change things accordingly. What I bring through my music, and my playing reflects what I want in the musical world. The energy is there, without a need for specific explanation.

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

SG: – Different things. I like to check what’s new, to have an idea what’s going on in music, mostly Jazz and Classical. In the morning, I usually listen to classical music or traditional music, from the Balkans, from Africa, South America,… I have no specific artists that I’m listening right now. I’m just checking different things.

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

SG: – Different places ! First I would go back to 1965 and go to a Coltrane gig, that’s my favorite period of his historical quartet. Then I would love to see Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt perform, I’m so curious. Then I would go and check the master of all, Johann Sebastian Bach. Still unbelievable to see how far ahead he still is.

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

SG: – Yes but how are you going to answer? I’m curious to know your background and how those questions came to your mind. Are you Armenian ? I love Armenian music, on my previous album “LOBI”, I’m playing an Armenian song called Aparani Par.

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Yes, of course, I am armenian. I am very pleased to know about it. Aparani Par: In my opinion this song is from jazz great pianist Vahagn Hayrapetyan or Tigran Hamasyan? You can write a response in the comments or by E-mail address. I am journalist since at 1993 and jazz critic since 2005. But why you did not want to cooperate with our websites, I do not understand. Best regards, I am Editor in Chief of this website …

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Stéphane Galland

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