June 21, 2024

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Interview with Tomi Nikku: The musical world needs to be safe for everyone: Video

Jazz interview with a bad musician, as if trumpeter Tomi Nikku. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Tomi Nikku: – I have grown up in a musical family. Although she was not a professional musician, my mom sang in a choir and also played piano and flute so I got to hear a lot of music while I was growing up. I started playing trumpet at the age of 8 but it was in my teens when I really got interested in all sorts of black American music and improvising. That was because they had this annual Big Band Festival at my hometown in Imatra, Finland.

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

TN: – I guess evolving one’s sound is a never ending process and I think I’m just getting started at it. My practice routine is heavily based on Bill Adam’s ideas about practicing and I spend a lot of time just playing long tones and striving for the ultimate trumpet sound I hear in my head. I think the vocabulary and melodic and rhythmic ideas just comes from what I have been listening and experiencing. Transcribing has been a part of the process also.

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

TN: – I already mentioned the practice routine by Bill Adam. That’s a big part of my routine and I believe in having a systematic way of taking care of the fundamentals. I’m trying to do every exercise as musically as I can so usually I try to involve some rhythmic variation in my practicing. I also think that mental practice and listening music are great ways to improve musical abilities when you are not actually holding you horn in your hands.

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

TN: – To be honest, I’m not sure if I understood the question correctly. But I don’t really try to hide any influences I might have. I believe that the things that have the strongest influence on me, will somehow effect my playing and my music. So, really, I just try to be open for new influences and ideas and just try to be honest in what I do.

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

TN: – I take care of my chops, so I always warm up before I play. I also try to avoid unnecessary playing before the gig so the shorter the soundcheck, the better..!

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

TN: – That’s a good one! In general, I appreciate both, but for me, I have to hear the soul to enjoy the music. I think in my music both are present, but it changes from time to time how much intellect there is compared to soul. In my composing process the piece usually starts with an idea that is more about soul than intellect, but during the writing I might be more analytical and use my music intellect toolbox, so to speak.

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

TN: – That’s also a good thing to think about. I haven’t thought about it so much but I don’t necessarily think too much about what the audience wants to hear or try to please the audience. But of course I try to present my thing and my music so that the audience will get the most out of it. For example I try to pay attention to the setlist to have the big picture feel right.

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

TN: – The pandemic has messed up the gigging life so some of the memories feels so distant now.. crazy! It was one of the first jazz club gigs this year and it felt so great to play for the live audience in a such a intimate venue. It felt real.

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

TN: – I think live music is the key. We have to get young people to see the gigs. No matter if the music is from the 1920’s or 2020’s – live music is the real deal and people will realize this when they experience it.

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

TN: – We’re getting on to some deep stuff! There are probably as many answers than there are answerers but I feel like I understand what Trane meant by that. I think you can really feel when someone is doing what they’re meant to do. Personally I think if you’re willing to find your spirit, you have to be honest to yourself and really, how naive and syrupy this might sound, follow your heart.

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

TN: – The musical world needs to be safe for everyone. That’s it.

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

TN: – Lately I’ve been listening a lot of Kenny Dorham. Also a lot of some contemporary cats, especially Joel Ross, Immanuel Wilkins, Gerald Clayton, Ambrose Akinmusire and Marquis Hill.

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

TN: – We are in this together. Let’s listen, learn, discuss and love.

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

TN: – If I’d have to take a time machine trip, I’d travel to Stockholm, 7th of May in 1995 to see the final of ice hockey world champs when Finland won their first gold medal! But for real, I have to quote my friend, bass player, Nathan Francis who said ”I would take a time machine trip to right f*king now”. And I couldn’t agree more. No matter how shitty things feel at times, it has been even shittier back in time. I wish we would have handled the globe and the climate better though…

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Tuure J. Makinen @ Tomi Nikku | The soloist Tomi Nikku plays… | Flickr

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