Eivind Aarset - "Painting Pictures"
Eivind Aarset, a prominent protagonist of the new generation of Scandinavian guitarists is involved in projects like "Marilyn Mazur´s Future Song" and Nils Petter Molvaer´s band. Aarset also worked with Bugge Wesselthoft and virtually all other prominent Norwegian musicians. In February this year, he played with his own trio "Éléctronique Noire" at the A-Trane in Berlin. The clubby atmosphere made this event something very special ...
Carina Prange talked to Eivind Aarset before the concert.
Carina: To find a definition for your music is difficult, perhaps impossible - would you agree that it is a kind of electric jazz with ambient, underground and D&B-grooves;? How would you put it in own words?
Eivind: I think that definition is at least as difficult! As far as I know, the record-company in Germany - I saw the advertisement in a music-magazine - calls it "Ambient Trip-Rock". I thought that was sort of ... - yeah, I could relate to that. It has a lot to do both with club-music as it has a lot to do with rock. But we also are constantly improvising all the time - so it is at the same moment a sort of jazz ...
Carina: The A-Trane is a small club - is that o.k. for you? What kind of people would you expect to see at your concerts? Do you make concessions to them?
Eivind: Yes it is a small club, we´ll see how it works. It´s of course music that could suit a bigger club with a bigger PA, but it can be also nice to play in a more intimate situation. As for the audience - I´m not thinking so much of it when I create the music. I do it in the way that is comfortable for me. - The record company - Bugge Wesseltoft - wants to keep something like a "straight profile" in that everybody should have the same ingredients. My music suits that - it is not that I make it to fit, but it does. So it´s o.k.
Carina: There's the statement, that your music would not know any limits, any rules and was free of traditional backgrounds. Is it really possible to invent something new without your own social background being involved - your own "evolution"?
Eivind: I think that it is not possible really to "decide" to create something new. And therefore I don´t think my music is, like "really" new. But maybe then I combine elements in a slightly different way, in another than there has been done before. But to me it would be very pretentious to speak of "new", because I owe a lot to a lot of people: both people that I played with and also people whose records I listened to - musically good people.
Carina: Nils Petter Molvaer and you - who is more influenced by the other? Do you think Nils Petter also makes the way free for the kind of music you do? How does the creative process evolve when you work together?
Eivind: Nils-Petter and I, when we play together and record together, it is a very easy process. He has a very open mind with his compositions - he writes some themes, maybe some chord-changes. Besides that it is pretty open - because it is also his approach that he "creates" the songs by picking different musicians that contribute to them. So that also becomes a part of composing and the music. One thing is right: it has been a door-opener commercially for me, because Nils-Petter has been a huge success, but also musically it has been very helpful for me, because playing with him has changed the way I play - maybe made it more special.
Carina: Your guitar-style is unique - how would you describe it yourself? How dependent is what you play on the effects and the special sound you use? What is the piece of equipment you wouldn't want to work without?
Einvind: My guitar-style - it is like a mixture of rock and improvised music ... - Also I am listening to other instruments, not only guitarplayers - that can be very helpful, too. I am very into sounds - so maybe I am also quite influenced by keyboardplayers. Then, to be compared to Miles Davis, maybe "Bitches Brew" is rather strange - also very flattering. Although Miles has been a big influence on me I wouldn´t dare to compare myself to him. Guitarists that influenced me are Terje Rypdal - like most of the other northern guitarists of my generation - David Thorn and of course Jimi Hendrix.
The effects and the special sounds are part of my instrument, because I am working with some other things I use all the time. When you look at me play, it can seem pretty strange, because sometimes I am not really playing the guitar - just turning knobs. But I don´t think about it so much, I just do it - because I have worked so long with these effects that it is sort of intuitive, what I am doing.
Which piece of equipment I wouldn´t want to be without? - That´s the WahWah-Pedal, my Volume-Pedal and the Digital Delay, the DD5.
Carina: Oslo's underground jazz scene - please tell me a little bit more about it! How does it organize itself, how often and in what constellations do the musicians play together? The possibilities for rehearsal and being on stage - are there enough clubs?
Eivind: Norway's Jazz Scene basically is a very small scene - that makes it more open so you can cross the borders between different musical environments. Now in Oslo, there is one very important club that is called "Blå". It is a scene there, which encompasses free-jazz, modern contemporary classical music and DJ-playing. They have a kind of "modern jazz-profile", which is very broad and they do a lot of experimenting with different things. They have live-music there every night. So it is a very important club, I would say.
In Oslo there are pretty good rehearsal-possibilities as well. A nice scene. - And there are also some record-labels I´d like to mention, which are doing good work: "Jazzland" has been very important, and there is "Rune Grammofon" - which is now distributed through the contacts of ECM - which has published a lot of really exciting music.
Carina: Your music transports a kind of sometimes "dark" feeling. What importance does feeling in music have for you? Electronic and live instruments - how does that go together, how do you find a balance?
Eivind: I think it is a measure of focus. When I make the music it should transport sort of a "picture" - that is what I´m looking for. It means trying to avoid getting "technical" - technical in the sense of guitar-playing, technical in the sense of working with the sounds and technical in sense of working with the chords. I try to avoid all that. I certainly can do all these things and they are a part of it, but I try to focus on something that you shall see in your imagination - so the feeling is absolutely important. And to me the electronics help to "paint" the kind of picture I want to have.
CD: Eivind Aarset´s Éléctronique Noire - "Light
(Jazzland 014 741-2, Jazzland Rec. 2001)
Jazzland Records im Internet: www.jazzlandrec.com
Fotos: Frank Bongers / Carina Prange