June 17, 2024


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Interview with Ada Brodie: My music is like slow food: Video

Jazz interview with jazz singer Ada Brodie. An interview by email in writing.

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

Ada Brodie: – I grew up in Aachen, Germany. Our house was full of antique instruments, as my father worked as an auctioneer for string instruments and all sorts of music supplies. My brother David, a prodigy child, played the violin, but I was much more interested in the Ibach Upright piano in our living room. At age three, I started reaching it with my hands.

JBN: – 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?

AB: – When I was 13, I went to see a local big band concert featuring three different school big bands. One of them was just brilliant. Consequently, I decided to apply for this school and left my old high school just to participate in its band. The conductor was a young teacher who also played the trumpet excellently and actually conducted with one hand while playing. He realized my potential and asked me to sing as a soloist. Also, I learned a lot from Sabine Kuehlich, a German jazz singer and winner of the Montreux Shure Jazz award. I also took lessons from lovely Kristin Korb, a double bass player and singer from L.A. and got the chance to participate in workshops with jazz greats Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton and Mark Murphy. What I love about the jazz vocal? Its freedom, delicacy and intimacy! Lady in Satin by Billie Holiday is still probably one of my favorite records of all time. But I am also a huge fan of more bluesy vocalists like Etta James or Nina Simone. And I also appreciate the style and vocal complexity of Billie Eilish!

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

AB: – I would consider my sound somewhere between jazz, blues, soul and pop. I do have a bit of a sweeter, lighter tone – so I worked a lot on chest voice and bringing more depth to my sound. Another thing that I found out: I am a lot better when playing the piano simultaneously. It just feels so natural to do both.

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

AB: – Thank you! I was trained a classical pianist, so rhythmical playing/offbeat playing is definitely not something I learned from a young age on. I think, one thing that helped was listening to groovy bass lines within songs, even pop tunes. Then trying to play them on the piano. Then thinking of some nice changes for the right hand. Then singing.

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?

AB: – I do think that the right amount of dissonance or tension is very important to a song. I do use some jazz chords, but try to avoid standard jazz voicings (or at least, I do not use them all too frequently). My favorite tension is definitely the #11!

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

AB: – Of course, disparate influences are coloring my music! However, you’re also right. I do have a certain sound and idea of what Ada Brodie should feel like. That’s why I didn’t wait too much writing a second album.

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

JBN: – Unfortunately no intelligence or soul

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

AB: – You definitely should have a gate-opener. Something simplifying. But just meeting the needs of the audience? That’s more like a product, not a piece of art.

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

AB: – Yes! The best things happen when mistakes are made or the studio session is over.

That’s more like a general tip, but I wanted to share this with you most of all.

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

AB: – I think it is time to write new standards! That’s why I sat down to write „The Grand Tale“.

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

AB: – Music can touch something very deep inside of us…much more than a book, a movie, a theater play. And I think this is a fascinating thing. There is something in the math of music that seems larger than life. Suffice it to say this…

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

AB: – Please, stop the 808 drum machine :D.

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

AB: – Yesterday I listened to Laura Marling, the new Jamie Cullum album and „Sanssouci“ by Rufus Wainwright. Such a nice tune!

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

AB: – Most of all: to reduce the pace, I guess. To focus more. To be more expressive, to go more in depth with your thoughts and emotions. My music is like slow food, I guess. I try to give the listener much more flavors on their tongue.

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

AB: – Somewhere between 1965 and 1975. What a time for pop culture!

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

AB: – If you had a theme song, what would it be?

JBN: – Thanks for answers. It be about the bad musicians …

JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

AB: – This interview helped me a lot to reflect on my development as a musician! And I think I just found a nice line for my next song… 🙂 Thank you!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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