May 20, 2024

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Interview with Darren Kerr: Just being honest with the music: Video

Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Darren Kerr. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Darren Kerr: – I grew up in a small southern Arizona town called Ajo (Spanish for garlic). I got into loving music by listening to my father’s Beatles records. I had to be 9 or 10 then. I wanted to be Paul McCartney so I my mother bought me a bass guitar out of the Sears catalog. With in a year I started playing guitar after my uncle gave me his acoustic guitar. I got my first electric guitar from a neighbor kid when I was 12. It was a guitar that someone in his family made. I then got a Honer electric guitar soon after that from my parents for my birthday. When I started high school my music tastes had changed. I was into bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Kiss. When I was 16 I started playing classical guitar. My guitar teacher was from South America. She would teach me classical folk songs from Uruguay where she was originally from. The sound of those song were influential to my playing. Over the next five year I played classical guitar and rock music.

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

DK: – In the beginning I was just copying the guitar sounds and lick of the guitarist I was into, like Randy Rhodes and Eddie Van Halen. In my mid twenties I started writing my own music and playing in bands in Tucson AZ. After the band broke up I started concentrating on classical guitar. I think my sound began to really change and become more personalized and have my own signature sound was after I saw the movie Vicki, Christina, Barcelona. I really like the sound and feel of the music in that film. I researched it and found out it was all influence by Django Reinhardt and Paco De Lucia. I stared composing music in this style from that day forward.

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

DK: – Practicing for me now is deferent then when I was playing classical guitar. Playing classical guitar you need a more regimented practice routine. Now I pick up the guitar when I’m composing a new song or when I hear something that inspires me. Also improvising over chord changes is something I do a lot. I feel improvising over chord changes keeps my mind sharp. It helps me come up with new melodies, new rhythmic patterns and phrases.

JBN: – 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?

DK: – I really like chromatic runs and diminished arpeggios. I use them often. I think it provides a certain tension when I composing melodies. The dissonance in music from cultures is something I try to absorb. I think Spanish and Middle Eastern music have a lot of this. I have always liked melodies in minor keys over major keys. For me, is not what notes sound like, but it’s what they sound like in relation to the chord it is played over.

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

DK: – I think my playing is subconsciously a collection of phrases and patters I’ve absorbed over the years. There is going some coloring from past influences. Fortunately for me I think listening to different musical styles has made my playing my own.

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

DK: – For me the balance is about even. You defiantly need both. If you didn’t have intellect you could not communicate the soul in your music. If you did’t have soul then the whole thing is pointless any. I think just being honest with the music first and the rest will take care of its self.

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

DK: – To a certain extent. I still think you need to be true to yourself and do the music that moves you as an artist first. If the the audience can hear the honesty in your music they will get what they want.

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

DK: – There are so many memories over the There was this one gig I played where the tailpiece on my guitar broke in the middle of a solo. I was able to make it through the rest of the set. I had to use only five strings on my guitar. Another good experience was opening for Peter Frampton. Even thou It was after his hay day but it was still pretty cool.

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

DK: – Jazz has changed so much over the years. I see artist like Zack Sekoff and Taylor McFerrin mixing jazz with EDM. I think the younger generation just doesn’t connect with the old standard tunes unfortunately. I think there is so much to learn from that time.

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

DK: – Music has been there for me in good time and in bad. I have been very fortunate to have music in my life. I have always had a passion for music.

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

DK: – I am all over the place. As far as jazz and guitar, I still listen to classics like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I have been listening to guitarists like Stochelo Rosenberg and Joscho Stephan. They are both fantastic players. Other than that mostly what’s on the radio.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

DK: – Not so much a message for me but a mood. When I’m composing a song I have a mood I’m trying to convey. That is where it all starts for me. My approach to writing is how I want the audience to feel. I always have a movie montage in my head when I’m writing. Maybe I should be doing movie scores.

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

DK: – I would like to go to Paris before WW2. It seemed to be an exciting time in Europe. It would have been great to see the Hot Club of Paris with Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grappelli.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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