May 23, 2024

Website about Jazz and Blues

Interview with Sven Jungbeck: It even makes things easier when you don’t take it too serious

Interview with guitarist Sven Jungbeck. An interview by email in writing. – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take of? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Sven Jungbeck: – I grew up in Dormagen, Germany. My Mom plays piano and guitar, she got me into music. When I was 13 I decided to be a musician, I thought I’d be a rockstar, until I saw a concert on tv: The Rosenberg Trio live at North Sea Jazz. That got me into acoustic guitar and the music of Django Reinhardt.

OUR US/EU Jazz and Blues Festivals 2023

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

SJ: – When I studied music in Arnhem ( Netherlands) none of the teachers was really into Django’s music. I wanted to sound like that, but gypsy jazz guitar is special in many ways and there was no one around to show me, for example the idiomatic chords that are different from the typical jazz repertoire and the right hand technique. So I sticked to the contemporary jazz things they taught us. In my second year, a younger student came up and he was into Django’s music. His teacher showed him some stuff. That’s when I really started to develop my sound. Youtube wasn’t invented back then. So we had to rely on ears and more experienced players. Today you can find everything online.

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

SJ: – I always try to practice things I can use directly. Phrases, songs, grooves. But back then when I started I did all the common things, like scales, arpeggios and stuff. Today I tell students, that it’s important to get to play as soon as possible. I sticked to those scale routines too long. A mistake often made, I think.

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

SJ: – I had a break, lasting 6 years, where didn’t really play a lot of jazz music. I got into folk and alternative country and played mandolin and dobro a lot with the band. We didn’t tour any more and was lucky that Joscho Stephan called me a few weeks later to join his trio. So I was back in gypsy jazz.

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

SJ: – It’s like a language I think. You need to know how it works. When you speak it, you can say whatever you like. But you need your vocabulary and stuff, but it doesn’t matter how you get it. Concerning the balance, it depends on the day. Sometimes you flow, sometimes not. In that case you better have some good songs 😉

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

SJ: – I’m grateful for it. The audience is what you play for. No matter if you do free jazz or stadium rock, you gotta respect the audience. I play really a lot, like 130 gigs a year. I remind myself every day, that this evening might by daily buisness for me, but it’s special for the audience, a special moment. That makes me happy. If I have a bad day or I’m sick, I try even harder to give my best.

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

SJ: – With a good set. I play Django’s music, but mix it with originals, pop song adaptions, we even play a Madonna song. Variations in groove and dynamics are good in any music. And play for the people and not only for yourself, I guess.

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

SJ: – I’m pretty normal as a guy. I love music, but it’s still just music. It even makes things easier when you don’t take it too serious, I think.

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

SJ: – The time between the get in and the show is way too long. 😉

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

SJ: – Chris Thile, Antoine Boyer, Julian Lage, still Django Reinhardt, Oscar Peterson and the Beatles.

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

SJ: – I would like to go to Rome when they build the colosseum. I just can’t believe they did that without modern technology. 😉

Interview by Simon Sarg

Note: You can express your consent and join our association, which will give you the opportunity to perform at our Jazz and Blues festivals, 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.

Jungbeck May

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