March 4, 2024

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Interview with Jordan Robinson: Expand your horizons a bit and you will find what you have been missing out on! Video

Interview with guitarist Jordan Robinson. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Jordan Robinson: – I was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1998. I have lived here my entire life. I know the city inside out and I absolutely love it. There are few places I would rather live. The music community is lovely here. I have always been interested in music from an early age. I constantly had songs stuck in my head and would hum melodies to myself. I first began to play the guitar around 2010. It started to become my main source of enjoyment over the years, as my musical intuition and technical skill developed simultaneously. My main source of musical inspiration during these years came from harder styles of music such as rock, grunge, punk, and metal.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

JR: – My sound is a combination of the many influences I have accumulated over the years. It’s a reflection of how my musical interests have changed over time! My first musical inspirations came from pop, funk, hip hop, and cinematic/video game music. I have not explored in the past to give myself a broader understanding of the bigger picture in music! I don’t try to sound like any one artist in particular. I am more or less a combination of all the artists I have been exposed to in small and large ways!

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

JR: – Technical exercises and creative exercises are two separate things. Much of my technical practice has been focused right and left hand development (scales, arpeggios, sweeps, legato, hybrid picking, pentatonics, downpicking, 3 note per string, 2 note per string, chromatics, blah blah)… these exercises are almost always practiced with a metronome. However, I can only do these for so long before I get bored! Creative exercises are much more along the lines of what I practice nowadays. I enjoy creating chord melody arrangements of songs. I enjoy improvising over chord changes from all styles. I enjoy taking motifs and seeing how they can be transformed into new contexts. I enjoy composing music for different instruments. I enjoy finding new rootless voicings for obscure chord scales. I enjoy playing around with quartal harmony. The key is to be creative with the possibilities. Music is an endless rabbit hole!

JBN: – How do you keep stray, or random, musical influences from diverting you from what you’re doing?

JR: – It certainly ain’t easy! Over the years, I have begun to understand where my musical strengths lie and what sort of music I enjoy composing. The result is the music that I have released into the world! I still work on other styles of music frequently – but my main focus is in the realm of instrumental progressive jazz rock fusion. It just makes me happy to listen to! I will never get tired of it.

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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

JR: – In music, intellect allows you to make decisions based on the knowledge you have accumulated to make educated ‘musical’ choices. You use your ear to listen or your eye to read, analyze what is happening, and make a decision based on what you have observed. It’s very methodical in certain senses. It sounds like a technical exercise. Creating musical lines and phrases instead of approaching music from a purely theoretical perspective is what separates intellect and soul.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

JR: – Emotion and music go hand in hand. We want to people to FEEL when they listen to our music. It allows them to connect with the music, and to an extent, us, the musicians behind it.

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

JR: – We need new ‘jazz standards’ in the modern realm of music! One that includes jazz and popular artists from the past 20-30 years. It’s important to acknowledge the past, but even more important to see how music has developed as a result of the past. Jazz music is not the same as it was in the 1940s. To get young people interested in jazz, there needs to be more of the jazz language in modern radio music. Introduce more physical instruments, minimize the amounts of production and embrace human elements, use extended chords, add creative uses of chromaticism, embrace vocal AND instrumental music, and don’t be afraid to get spicy! These are the sorts of elements that need to be more frequent in modern radio music to introduce the youth to elements of jazz music.

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

JR: – You need to do what makes you happy. Music is something I can always come back to that brings me happiness. It makes my spirit full of joy. There are other things that bring me happiness too. The outdoors, photography, education, video games, family and friends, etc. I keep a healthy balance of all these things in my life. To me, the meaning of life is to be yourself, live life the way YOU want to (without negatively affecting others’ quality of life), and be happy. It’s really that simple as far as I am concerned!

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

JR: – I wish the general population was more open minded to new musical styles. Most are so set in their ways and refuse to listen to anything else than what they like. I’m looking at you country folk, metalheads, hip hop homies, and jazz elitists (and others). Expand your horizons a bit and you will find what you have been missing out on!

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

JR: – More recently, Roy Hargrove, Joe Hisaishi, Mac Miller, Sungazer, Decapitated, and Joe Pass.

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

JR: – Ultimately, I am happy with the timeline I’m living in. BUT – to answer the question, I would be heading to the 1980s. Being a part of the development of metal music would be something truly worthwhile to witness! You’d probably findme in a hair metal band of some kind hahahaha.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Note: You can express your consent and join our association, which will give you the opportunity to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals in Europe and Boston, naturally receiving an appropriate royalty. We cover all expenses. The objectives of the interview are: How to introduce yourself, your activities, thoughts and intellect, and make new discoveries for our US/EU Jazz & Blues Association, which organizes festivals, concerts and meetings in Boston and various European countries, why not for you too!! You can read more about the association here. https://jazzbluesnews.com/2022/11/19/us-eu-jba/

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