Interview with Yaron Deutsch
What were and are your main musical influences?
It is quite impossible for me to refer to musical influences only, as lt would mean they are detached from other aspects of life that are to my view no less “musical” then what one naturally conceives as music. Accordingly I would say any word by W.G. Sebald, a paint brush by Gerhard Richter, a choreography by William Forsythe or even the retorics of Obama are influential no less then the playing of Segovia or Pollini whom I always look up to.
How did start the idea of your last record “PIERLUIGI BILLONE: Sgorgo Y . N . oO” and why the Kairos label?
Pierluigi Billone is definitely one of the most influential musical figures in my life – to continue the answer from your first question – and probably not only mine. It was then obvious that when a composer of that caliber finds inspiration and interest in your playing and the instrument you play, writing such a massive tryptich of 75 minutes, lt was only natural to further develop the project into a cd, allowing the music a further path in reaching places where it might not yet be possible to present live. For these purposes Kairos was an ideal choice, having a superb team, world distribution and a justified prestige of artistic excellence.
In the booklet you wrote that when you asked to Pierluigi Billone to compose a piece for electric guitar he said: “His answer – given at the doorstep – I still remember well: “If I write a piece for e-guitar, it will be in the spirit of Allan Holdsworth”. I’m a fan of Allan Holdsworth from a very long time but I don’t think there is too much Holdsworth in these scores… where do you think is his spirit?
It is a good opportunity to clarify that there is no Holdsworth in the scores. The story was only an anecdote offering a perspective about Billone’s open mind/ears character who by instinct first mentioned Holdsworth over the common obvious name dropping of Hendrix/Clapton/Van Halen and their a likes. Holdswirth “part” ends there.
What do you think are the best scores for electric guitar into contemporary music?
The words “best scores” I’d rather avoid but if one is intrigued by composers that offer a discovery of the instrument, a new potential sonority (solo or in accordance with an ensemble) or simply a common “fingers on strings” technical challenge, I would mention the works of Romitelli, Dufourt, Saunders (Rebecca), Gadenstätter, Hurel, Momi, Prins, Wertmueller, Czernowin or even and despite only one time writing for the instrument, Beat Furrer’s Linea Dell’orizzonte and its messy but once mastered highly stimulating part, as worthy scores/parts to explore and master.
Why do you think electric guitar still remains rare in the real of contemporary music?
The answer is quite obvious – time, tradition and the fact that only now comes to maturity the generation of composers who grew up with the electric guitar being more present in their coming to being.
How it was teaching at the Internationale Ferienkurse fur Neu Musik at Darmstadt?
Despite not being a fan of the academic mechanism and accordingly the function of teaching (to my humble perspective all knowledge is out there in the recorded or performed music and the written books), I confess to have enjoyed myself tremendously in Darmstadt. Probably because of the no routine pattern that might come with a yearly obligation of teaching in a school and mostly because I had the full freedom of offering a perspective that didn’t comply with any realistic need of final exams or preparing a musician towards his/hers professional life. Accordingly and with the vibrant avant-garde spirit of Darmstadt lt was possible to explore solutions on highly demanding musical performative issues while at the same time attempt at recognizing in each the potential mixture between artistic individuality and the uncompromising art/craft of playing.
What does mean improvisation in your music research? Can we go back to talking about improvisation in a repertoire so encoded as the classic or you’re forced to leave and turn to other repertoires, jazz, contemporary, etc.?
Improvisation – especially in its traditional jazz sense of improvising over known structures, harmonies, standards or even more avant garde aesthetics within the 20th century jazz evolution – has a major part in my language. Still, I strictlly avoid doing so officially on stage since my sincere artistic routes and family heritage go back to European culture and not to the Afro/American one. This understanding grounded me, performance wise – on stage – in the European composed music surroundings but once at home in my studio, I’m constantly (almost daily) working on my improvisational skills as they eventually result a language that allows me – the player – the freedom of expression and the grounds for research without being dependent on the written material arriving. For me, that is as well the exact point – upon arrival of a written part – where my affiliation and interest in improvisation stop.
What’s the role of the “Error” in your musical vision? For “error” I mean an incorrect procedure, an irregularity in the normal operation of a mechanism, a discontinuity on an otherwise uniform surface that can lead to new developments and unexpected surprises…
I assume from your question that you refer to subjective perception of error and its implications. I admit this has not been something I was stimulated by or given a proper comprehensive thought to.
Please tell us five essential records, to have always with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island …What kind of music do you listen to usually?
Probably the most difficult question to answer despite it being so common. So off the sleeve and not only due to musical reasons, I would mention U2’s “Acthung Baby” for being the greatest soundtrack one could ask for his adolescence, Extreme’s “Pornograffitti” for making it clear that playing the guitar is what I want to do in life, Deutsche Grammphon’s release of Maurizio Pollini playing Mozart’s 19/23 piano concerto for its pure beauty, Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 musicians” on ECM that its impact on me when hearing it first time at the courses we had in the academy about new music is so unforgettable and concluding the list I can’t skip Pat Metheny’s “Question & Answers” allowing me the joy of almost being in the same room with three giants (Dave Holland & Roy Haynes joining Metheny here) for having a such a musical time together while not giving to much attention that the recording tapes are rolling.
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
Up a head is a big anniversary box release for Ensemble Nikel with 4 cd’s, 1 dvd and a book summarizing 10 years of action. We’ve been working on this for almost 2 years, being in & out of the studio and by March all this should be out there so definitely the crown jewel on the what’s next list. Performances wise there is a new opera by Chaya Czernowin that will run for 2 months which I’m very curious about, a concerto by Andreas Dohmen for e-guitar, piano & harp for the coming Donaueschinger musiktage edition and just to colose the circle around the reasons of this interview, in a few weeks with Klangforum Wien, a performance of an old Billone Classic (“AN NA”) from 1992 that I always dreamt of learning & playing.
Last question: a few years ago, during an interview with Bill Milkowski for his book “Rockers, Jazzbos and Visionaries” Carlos Santana said, “Some people have talent, some people have vision. And vision is more important then talent, obviously.” I think you have a great talent, but … what is your vision?
I am not a fan of catch phrases or reductionist dialogue summarizing things down to talent or vision but to be polite, I would answer in that respect if one gives a few minutes to explore the work we’ve done with Nikel through the years or the slow, detailed and meticulous work dedicated to Mr. Billone’s Sgorgo triptych one should easily recognize the path and artistic vision/agenda that are in the heart of my work.