Interview with an impolite, dull, unhuman, drawn creature, as if singer PD Martin. 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?
PD Martin: – I was born in Wetteren, a town in East Flanders, Belgium. When I was 13 years old, a friend of mine introduced me to AC/DC and to this day that is still one of my favorite bands. A few years later I was at a local blues festival. There I got struck by the way the guitar player could speak to my soul. Like I knew exactly what he was saying although I couldn’t put it in words. That’s when I fell in love with the blues.
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I played in a punkband when I was sixteen. In my twenties I played in a bunch of rockabilly bands. When I got thirty I felt it was more than time to take things a bit more seriously. I learned how to sing, took my guitar playing to the next level and started my own blues band. PD Martin was born.
A big part of my income I get from music now, but whether I‘ll be able to make a complete living out of it, the future still has to tell.
JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?
PDM: – I never restricted myself to one style of music. When I’m playing a certain style, my playing will always be influenced by the other styles I play. For example, when I’m playing blues, I find myself throwing in licks I got from playing rockabilly and bluegrass.
JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?
PDM: – There are 3 main exercises that I like to do: Playing with a metronome to practice my rhythm. Listening to other players and figure out what they do. Recording my improvisations and listening to them to evaluate and improve my phrasing
JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so, why?
PDM: – Yes, very much. I’m living much more consciously than I did in my twenties. That certainly reflects in my music. That also counts for the music. I used to make good copies of other songs, but lately they reflect more and more my own creativity.
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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
PDM: – For me, the soul is the source. The intellect is the tool which translates what bubbles up from the source into music. That’s also why I don’t believe A.I. could ever really replace human songwriters. It lacks a soul.
JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?
PDM: – I can’t read what an audience feels or desires. What I can do is open myself up completely while creating and performing and invite people to do the same. When that happens, anything is possible.
JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?
PDM: – My interest in jazz was mainly aroused by blues guitarists who incorporate jazz influences into their playing. One of my favorites is of course robben Ford.
I don’t see it as my job to educate young people, but there are also many jazz influences in my music. If I can pass on the interest in this way, I am happy to contribute.
JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?
PDM: – I have searched a long time for the meaning of life, but where I looked, I did not find it. In recent years I’ve let go of that search. Here and now I make music and my spirit seems very satisfied with that.
JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?
PDM: – I’m kind of nostalgic for the time when talent was given a fair chance anyway (if that time ever existed ????). I notice myself that to know the right people, and to have the right social media strategy is often more important than your creative content.
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JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?
PDM: – An artist that I really like and discovered recently is Cory Wong. Especially when he’s playing with The Fearless Flyers. And that’s how I learned about Mark Lettieri and later Snarky Puppy. Artists like that make the future of music look brighter for me.
And then of course there’s my favorite, Tony Joe White. I discovered his music when I was 18, and still put on his records very often.
JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?
PDM: – I would go to August 27, 1990. I would kidnap Stevie Ray Vaughan before he gets into the helicopter. Go and have a coffee with him, then do some jamming together and then ask him what he thinks of our album ‘Soulbeat Incarnate’.
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Interview by Simon Sarg