Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Philipp Schiepek. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Philipp Schiepek: – I was born in Dinkelsbühl, a small town 180 km from Munich. My father plays bass and played in many music groups so I got in touch with music very early.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the guitar? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the guitar?
PS: – When I was 12 I discovered the music of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai and so I wanted to check out all the “Rock-Guitar” stuff. I learned a lot from my first teacher Guiseppe Consentino. When I was 15 I got more into jazz and classical music and decided to study jazz and classical music at the University of Würzburg and Munich, Bavaria with Peter O´mara, Jürgen Ruck, Michael Arlt, Axel Hagen and Paulo Morello.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
PS: – I love the sound of acoustic guitars. I try to produce a clear, natural and puristic sound. The guitar should be able to act dynamically and not be overplayed too hard. I listen to a lot of music and that inspires me. Many guitarists like Lage Lund, Julian Lage, Billy Bean influence my sound a lot.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
PS: – During my time at university I was very interested in the rhythm studies of Ari Hoenig. Today I’m learning a lot through the pieces I´m asked to play as a sideman in various projects. I also compose some etudes with a focus on polyrhythmic exercises. And of course exercises with the metronome to learn to keep the tempo.
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?
PS: – Currently I am very interested in “new” voicings and making them exciting through voice leading. I like the idea of playing “beautiful” that´s why I try to resolve most dissonance to a clear sound. But you need dissonance to create an interesting sound so you don´t sound too corny.
JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
PS: – I think different influences are good and can inspire you. But you should try to stay focused on some goals you want to achieve.
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
PS: – I think I need my intellect to study and try out new musical ideas. But on stage I play and tell stories from the bottom of my heart.
JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
PS: – You should never forget about the audience. You don’t have to please them, but you have to include them in your considerations.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
PS: – Every gig is different. I am very happy to be able to play with many different projects last year. By playing with other musicians I learned a lot about myself.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
PS: – I love standards and think the melodies of these pieces are timeless. There is also a lot of contemporary jazz music written that is worth checking out and that can get you interested in jazz.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
PS: – It would be great if it would be easier to present my music on different places around the world.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
PS: – Lage Lund, Seamus Blake, Bud Powell, Monk, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Johnny Cash
JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
I hope my music makes the listeners happy, thoughtful and inspired.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
PS: – 19th century. Talk to Fernando Sor about his approach to guitar.
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
PS: – How did you get in contact with jazz music and what was your inspiration to start such a nice website about music?
JBN.S: – Thanks for answers. It was almost 20 years ago, then there was a group on Facebook and now it is eating, and the website was early 2010.
Interview by Simon Sargsyan