June 25, 2024


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Interview with Kristjan Randalu: If soulful music is naive then it might not work: Video

Jazz interview with jazz pianist Kristjan Randalu. An interview by email in writing.

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

Kristjan Randalu: – I was born in Tallinn, Estonia, back then officially the Soviet Union. My parents are both professional classical pianists so I was surrounded by music from the very beginning.

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

KR: – Talking about sound in a jazz context usually refers to one’s individual musical language, at the same time a big chapter for me is the actual sound on the instrument.
Soundwise on the instrument my father has definitely had an influence on me – to make the instrument sing. For the personal language I always felt that I was following the method of exclusion, not to include random influences and take musical behaviours for granted.

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

KR: – I have a specific routine of technical exercises which are based on Cortot’s and Brahms’ material. My colleagues know these inside out as I usually use the first minutes of a soundcheck to go through these…

Rhythmically I usually create patterns or an ostinato figure in one hand and experiment with varying groupings in the other.

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

KR: – As I mentioned earlier the process of exclusion has been a conscious approach for me.
If you don’t want to hear yourself playing any cliché lines then better not practice this kind of material.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

KR: – If possible I try to divide the day into two sections. Ideally there would be time to take a nap and start the evening fresh with focusing on the performance only.

At the same time very often the most stressful and awkward circumstances can result in unexpectedly good musical experiences. This has probably something to do with letting it go.

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

KR: – Both areas need to be stimulated. If soulful music is naive then it might not work, if music sounds only constructed then there is also a problem.

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

KR: – I think we are in general talking about a segment of music here where the primary goal is not to figure out the audience’s wishes – at least not commercially speaking. At the same time it’s important to be aware of creating musical expectations and to be able to control of whether fulfilling these or not.

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

KR: – It was during a concert in Algiers, we played a hall which was on basement level. The drum solo had just started, accompanied by a vamp. Suddenly there was a power outage, the room went completely dark, the amps did not work anymore. The band kept on playing. Eventually we had to take a break and it took a while until the electricity was back on.

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

KR: – Jazz is not defined by the standard tunes of the past alone – it’s the creative music of the moment. The issue is not limited to jazz, it’s the question of the importance of culture in the society and general musical education on a very basic level.

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

KR: – This is obviously one of the very basic questions. I think it’s important to ask these constantly and see how the answers start to change over the course of time.
At this point I try to focus on gratitude and cherish all aspects life has to offer.

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

KR: – At this point I really hope that the technological developments from CD to mp3 to streaming will eventually resolve in a model in which the creators are also compensated for their work.

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

KR: – Bodek Janke, my friend and long-term colleague just finished a production (Song2) which involved numerous overdubs and guest musicians who joined after the basic tracks had been recorded. So it might sound ego-centric for the moment as I’m also involved but I’ve been listening to that music numerous times lately.

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

KR: – I appreciate the abstract element in music so I will definitely not give the one and only explanation of a message. We as individuals are obviously at different stages in our lives and hopefully music can touch each of us in a personal way.

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

KR: – That’s a difficult question – we have the tendency to idealize certain aspects of other eras. Basically any time before mechanical music playing devices. Just to experience the wonder of sound and not be overwhelmed with constant background noise.

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

KR: – What is your main motivation to do these kind of interviews?

JBN: – To find out which musician has intellect and which doesn’t have.

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

KR: – Stay curious and cherish the challenge.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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