June 13, 2024

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Interview with Monika Kabasele: I’m not sure I can deliver people the emotion: Video

Interview with jazz singer Monika Kabasele. 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. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Monika Kabasele: – I grew up in Greece, in a small city called Alexandroupolis. I got interested in music since my very childhood and started taking classical piano lessons at 6 years old, while music and singing was always present at home. I started taking singing lessons at the age of 16 while participating at amateur groups of rock, pop and soul music. When I moved to Athens to study Greek literature (2016), I started playing with professional jazz groups from Athens and got discovered by a drummer called Sera Bellos. During my first professional concerts I understood that music was an environment in which I was feeling secured, creative.

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

MK: – After finishing my studies of literature and musicology in Athens, I moved to Paris because I wanted to develop my sound, meet more musicians, and study at a conservatory. Right now I’m a student of the Conservatory in Paris, where I’m taking lessons of jazz singing with Sara Lazarus, while making projects with musicians from all around the world (Greece, France. Austria. US). Living in Paris and having a varied and elevated musical environment, helped me in many ways, such as technically, artistically, and also concerning inspiration.

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

MK: – I’m working on many different exercises of vocal improvement, ear training, harmonization, arrangement etc. These exercises change during the years and are developing. Some basic stuff for voice are breathing control, long tones, intonation, scales, rhythm, chords. But the most important thing for me has been ‘playing concerts’ and having an audience, to be confronted with the reality of being a musician and having to charm an audience, play a varied repertoire, making promotion, communicating with musicians and creating new sounds.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

MK: – Of course I’ve changed. Everybody is changing or I hope so. I guess I’m growing up with music. I’m working on my confidence, on the way of arranging music, on the dialogue with musicians I’m collaborating with, on being a leader or not, on taking care of human relationships and professional relationships. I also learning to negotiate and to say ‘’no’’ when something doesn’t fit me.

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

MK: – I think both are important and goes together. I started music only with instinct or ‘’soul’’ but when you want to be a professional musician you have to learn to communicate quickly in the same language, so I had to learn music also intellectually. Then it gets more difficult to enjoy music in a simple way, because you have to think of the arrangement, of your instrumental capacity, of other musicians, of the public etc.

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

MK: – The way an audience responds at your concert and reacts at your music is very important for your music too. So this is definitely a two-way relationship, because with no audience there would be no concerts. I’m not sure I can deliver people the emotion they long for, I guess I’m delivering my emotion or my ideas on living and being an artist, but some ideas or emotions can be common and talk to people. I hope my compositions could one day inspire or touch a larger audience, but I feel lucky already with the reactions I receive.

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

MK: – The thing with jazz is that even if some tunes are old they are still played by young musicians because it represents a way of communicating, it’s a kind of language. When we improvise in the chords of a jazz standard, we create something new being inspired from the music someone composed longtime ago. So this Is a way of tradition melting with contemporary music. Although I think jazz musicians have also to compose their own music. Maybe a way of getting people interested in jazz today is to play this music in a more contemporary ways, using electronica devices, changing some chords, be yourself more than trying to be a musician of the ‘20s.

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

MK: – I think music represents a kind of religion for passionate musicians. Everybody believes in something, religious or not, and much musicians believe in music, which is a kind of prayer too, because you give your soul to music and sharing your spirit through it. Music is something sacred for me, and comes above all, except family and friends.

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

MK: – I would change conditions at the jazz clubs for young musicians. I would change the way politics and society perceive music, and I would make something precious of it, something which is being respecting from people as it offers a spiritual experience or an emotional relief.

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

MK: – I’m listening to Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Bobby mcFerrin, Jazzmeia Horn, Betty Carter, Michael Brecker, Kenny Wheeler, Rita Payes, Elina Duni, Leila Martial, Isabel Sorling and also pop musicians such as Stromae etc.

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

MK: – I would love to go to the US, because this is where jazz was born. I would love to go to Porto, because Portugal is a sunny country with gentle people. I would love to go to Brazil, because music is on every street and they have a great musical tradition. I would love to go to Congo, Senegal, South Africa, to be closer to my father roots.

JBN: – So far, it’s been me asking you questions, now may I have a question from yourself…

MK: – What is your goal between this project?

JBN: – One of our goals is to discover intellectual, intelligent musicians, which unfortunately you are not, because you do not know how to work with the media. And those who are ready to share their modest means with those who do something good for them, cooperate with us, perform at our European festivals and receive high royalties.

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/

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Monika Kabasele/Grecofuturisme - The Key - YouTube

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