Jazz interview with jazz drummer Alex Louloudis. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.com: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Alex Louloudis: – I grew up in Drama, Greece. It seems like I always had a thing for sounds because my mom’s stories from my childhood always include me with some kind of stick or drum in hand banging on it. My family owned a drum set and when I grew up a bit I started playing on it. At 9 years old I met some musicians, a lot older than me, and started playing on their band. At that age I had my first professional gig.
JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
AL: – I feel like my sound is ever evolving because every musical situation calls for something different, something unique. Now, to be able to do that, having my sound work in any given situation, I had to study the history of the music I’m called to play, and be proficient on my instrument. That proficiency comes from practicing the basics. Once you have mastered your basics you are free to do anything you can think of on your instrument and it will sound right.
JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
AL: – The one thing I do is go through my practice routine, where I sharpen my basics. The routine includes the execution of rudiments the way they were taught to me by my mentor Michael Carvin. I do sight-reading exercises, polyrhythmic exercises, and free improvisations on the drums. The second thing I do is listening to records.
JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?
AL: – One has to start being very observant of their playing and know their influences. Start to consciously eliminate the impulses that are driving one to play something learned or dictated by ones muscle memory. Instead of relying on things learned or muscle memory, one should start amplifying the unique ways of executing music that come naturally to every person and are different for every one. I believe that there is always going to be ‘’coloring’’ from ones influences, however, when the creator starts embracing their own idiosyncrasy then the music becomes more personal and unique. To quote Abbey Lincoln ‘’..and all for just a moment the music that I am…’’
JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?
AL: – To quote Ntozake Shange ‘’I live in Music’’ so there is not much to prepare for. I am always thinking about music and always play music in one way or another. On the setting of a live performance, when you get into that creative zone things work on their own, you are super focused and have incredible stamina to do all kinds of things.
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JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?
AL: – My sound most definitely evolved during my time performing with various artists. I feel that every person has something to teach me, and it’s up to me to decode their teachings; I feel that being a good student has enabled me to learn from any person I shared the stage with. The same goes to say about my friends playing on this album, I have yearlong relationships with them all, and have learned a great deal from them all, and the reason I chose them to play on this record is because I was very confident on the fact that they will play my music the way I was hearing it.
JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
AL: – I think that every style or tradition and every composer or performer in any style or tradition will have a different answer to the question. The way I see things, music exists on the fine line between conscious and unconscious or intellect and soul if you will, and at any given time can lean toward the one or the other side.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?
AL answer: The goal, always, is to give people what they want as long as you can give them what they want. Every performance happens in a context and both the audience and the artists are obliged to understand what they are about consume and produce.
JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
AL: – There are great many, but the most defining ones have to be hearing my mentors perform or talk.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
AL: – The key, I feel, is to give young people the correct information about Jazz. Jazz is a way of doing things; it is structured but very liberating at the same time. Who wouldn’t want this way of thinking and acting to be applied in the way our societies work?
JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
AL: – I guess the spirit can dictate your life, give it meaning, that was the case in Coltrane’s life. From what I can understand the spirit is the accumulation of things about ourselves that we have under the control of our conscious logic and those that are controlled by our feelings, our impulses, our urges, our intuitions. The spirit is ever present and used. When it is used to create art it’s workings manifest in sound, image, or language and those sounds, images, language take up a whole new meaning because they are produced by the work of the spirit; both creators and audiences are drawn to those products because they are appealing to their own spirits.
JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
AL: – I’d have liked a world that has a wider pallet of aesthetics.
JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
AL: – Charles Mingus, Eddie Palmieri, Oliver Lake, Zakir Hussain, Oum Koulsoum, Celia Cruz, and many more.
JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?
AL: – A message of justice, justice for all the oppressed people in the world, a message of true equality, where no culture is considered superior to any other, and no person is perceived in a stereotypical way because of their race, gender, ethnicity and so on.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
AL: – I would go to the Village Vanguard in the 1960s and listen to the Coltrane group in as many different configurations as possible.
JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…
AL: – I would like you to give your impressions of the world as it is using music as your main mode of perception.
JBN: – Please every day read my website !!!
JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?
AL: – I am glad to be able to present my music, listen to music, and talk to you Simon. Thank you!!!!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan