k-20160226-ACS_7645Nels Cline /

Julian Lage

Interview: Bernd Ihno Eilts

Photos: Zoltan Acs

In Groningen/The Netherlands, I had the great pleasure to meet and interview Nels Cline and Julian Lage in the Grand Theatre on friday 26 of february – 2016, just some few hours before their concert.  Cline and Lage touring through Europe and promoting their guitar duo recording „ROOMS“ are a brilliant combination, not only soundwise. Nels Cline, 60 years old, named by Rolling Stone as one of 20 „new guitar gods“ and one of the top 100 guitarists of all time together with Julian Lage, just 29 years old, started playing guitar in the age of 5, met Jim Hall in the age of 11 (with his parents) for the first time, became a member in the Gary Burton New Quartet, just to name few highlights and has taken the world of jazz guitar by storm. Both born in California, both living in New York, and both my special interview partners! Please, enjoy a very inspiring and open talk!

k-20160226-ACS_7360Bernd Eilts: Dear Nels, dear Julian, my first question is related to your musical influences. On your website, Nels, I read your influences are wide, but in special you named artists like The Byrds, James Taylor, George Benson, Rory Gallagher, Terje Rypdal, Ralph Towner, Paul Bley, Carla Bley, Marc Ribot and Elliot Sharp, just to name a few.

NELS: Jimi Hendrix is the number one for me, very important. Huge influence is also Paul Bley, I was really obsessed with Paul Bley. And John Coltrane. I played with Marc Ribot in a guitar duo, even with Bill Frisell. I also collaborate with Elliot Sharp and the amazing Fred Frith.

k-20160226-ACS_7403I grew up with my twin brother Alex and we were obsessed with all kinds of art, because our parents were school teachers in the LA City School system and encouraged that sort of things. I think they both had artistic impulses while they were english and history teachers primary. I think that they had maybe a bit of a romantic idea about artists, artistic temperament and vision. So I think, when my brother Alex and I very early on became really interested in so called visual art, they where happy. In those days you could go to the department store and could find amazing and cheap art books, about 6 by 6 little monographs, beautiful printed tipped-in plates. So, very early on we became very interested in not only Miro and Picasso. My brother k-20160226-ACS_7453became very interested in Pop-Art and me also very much in Michelangelo, Albrecht Dürer, and as I progressed in life more I became really interested in the abstract expresionists in a very big way, in particulary Franz Kline, Mark Rothko and very important for me: Robert Motherwell.

I also got interested in the french artist Christian Boltanski and his partner Annette Messager, also a great artist. Also Arte Povera and parts of Kounellis work, and all kind of stuff. You know, it’s just the idea of being open to not maybe over analyzing this kind of thing and get feelings from that. Sometimes this can become very intriguing, but also very direct. And I love Antonio Tapies from Spain, which has something to do with the abstract expressionists as well and Arte Povera. So yeah, that stuff somewhere in the jumble of my conciousness when I’m thinking about sound, I guess, and maybe even composition.

k-20160226-ACS_7479JULIAN: Well, my father is a visual artist. When he was a kid he was kind of a prodigee in San Diego, where he grew up, but later stopped at a certain point, and got really into music, but when I grow up, he always talked about art and art books and the biggest hero in the house was David Hockney actually. And that all defenitely influenced me.

I love Alexander Calder, I wrote a song called „Calder“. I was more into furniture design also, but the art was always in my house and I suppose they influence my music more now than even when I was younger. Because now I’m starting to actually put my attention towards it. When I was a kid I wasn’t as focused as now. I was just peripher aware that there was some cool stuff, but I have a lot to learn about it.

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BERND: Are you also influencend through contemporary classical composers, like Steve Reich or John Adams for example?

NELS: Steve Reich’s music is widely imitated in all its ways and runs the risk of making people feel, that it is somehow done before, but he was the first doing this music. I saw Steve Reichs musicians playing in the 80s with „Music for 18 Musicians“ and „Clapping“ for example. With this ensemble he played in those days where they all rotated around the different stations. It was absolutely rhythming and a very inspiring performance, but it was k-20160226-ACS_7547also very communistic, you know, because he was there with all of them and they were all wearing black and moving from place to place, but the sound was absolutely perfect, perfectly balanced, and in that way it was inspiring as any music that I was listening to in that time. I think I am more aware of so called Modernism, than I am about contemporary work out there, this point, and I am still trying to absorb all those great guys like Ravel and Bartok, (JULIAN: Who?) Satie and God Strawinsky and all those guys. And I love some of these american composers that everyone kind of talks about, but I don’t think a lot of people really listen to them all that much, like certainly Charles Ives. But Carl RUGGLES became very important to me around the 70s and 80s, like in „Men and Mountains“ and „Sun-treader“, pieces like that. From my friend Eric B. I learned so much about music and he used to call this „Music of  unreliefed tension“. (Julian laughs). And he didn’t like it. (JULIAN: Yeah, he didn’t like it).

NELS: But I always felt so incredibly absorbed in that music and I always felt like I knew when the last chord was the last chord (JULIAN: Really?)

NELS: Yeah, because it’s literally endless that intension, but when he hits it, you know, it can’t go any further, when you hear that chord. Anyway, I love Carl RUGGLES and also Barber became important as well. (JULIAN: I like Barber).

NELS: But he was a little more recognized, but now I don’t know if anybody even thinks about these american composers so much. And there are tons of tons of stuff going on in contemporary music that I am not aware of it. But I’m sure, there are all kind of amazing things happening. I’m friendly with the composer in New York, Nico MUHLY, also Julian knows. I think the way he is moving forward from the innovations of Philipp Glass and Steve Reich and also his love for Benjamin Britten, who is another favorite of mine, is a fantastic kind of personal hybrid of these influences and so he is somebody I really admire.

k-20160226-ACS_7615JULIAN: Well, my favorite composer of these days is Thomas ADES, a british composer, who is defenitly considered a contemporary post chamber and his work is always so advanced, sounds like Beethoven, so melodic, so intellectual and so warm and in this way I have so much attention for it too, and I think he to me sums up my favorite parts of …. with the architectional stuff of Beethoven. And I just like his exhaustive power that can only happen in 2016, so he gets my vote.

k-20160226-ACS_8364NELS: Also a little bit his way like Christian Wallumrod as well, (JULIAN: Yes, it’s true) because he is someone I really really admire his music a lot but its unlike any reference to Beethoven, it is like we call early music, (JULIAN: Yeah, exactly), and the sonic and orchestral innovations of the impressionists in the arts. He is more in the terms of Morton Feldman, because of its sonic, I don’t know how to describe it, it is beautiful, it is my idea of beauty really, when it’s something like „Coptic Light“ or „Rothko Chapel“ and some of the piano works, and some of the small I guess they call it chamber works. And I haven’t heard everything, you know, but it is something I really relate to in terms like  … to create sonic worlds. And not so much melodic development or rythmic propulsion. I like that a lot, because I like sound that maybe is not exactly pitched or in perfect temperament or whatever. (JULIAN agrees).  Fast, freed, virtualistic melodic invention or something like that makes me nervous. (JULIAN laughs). Gimmicks!! (WE ALL LAUGH).

k-20160226-ACS_8256BERND: When I heard your recent album „ROOMS“ I felt like watching a movie, like something that really touches you in the middle of your real soul. That free feeling, that you always like to have, and that was transported forward and forward to create that kind of feeling in your life, you always wanted to have. It was a big inspiration. If it looks like a movie for me, it also can look like a painting, a landscape for example.

JULIAN: Absolutely, a good point! No one really talks with us about this, about art.

NELS: They only want to know what kind of strings we use,

JULIAN: which is really important too, but that’s Top Secret!…. we all are laughing!!

BERND: Julian, I heard you are teaching in Boston and Berkely.

JULIAN: Yes, that’s right. How about you, Nels?

NELS: No. I never had any teacher and I don’t know how to teach. I just don’t know that much about how to teach. I’m still really learning. You know, I’m an old man here.

(JULIAN: Yeah yeah yeah…).

NELS: But often people ask me to do a workshop and I like to try to do that, it’s a big challenge, I don’t have an academic background or a well school background in guitar. I didn’t learn theory and how to write music. I don’t have any systems and I don’t have any answers really, but I do incourage young musicians to learn how to listen and play at the same time and just to be able to really hear.

As an improviser you have to be listen to everyone you are playing with. And a lot of younger musicians and maybe even older ones they pretty much just read the music and then listen to themselves or one of the other both. I don’t know, if they’re really hearing everything. I just try to make sure people are hearing. Because that’s the only thing that ever works for me but also I think that’s how we share the experience of improvisation, fully, by, you know, it’s a term deep listening. I don’t want to say deep, I guess it says that I really know what I’m doing. But sometimes I do. It doesn’t matter how deep it is, but I think it’s attentive listening. You know, or: cute listening as well. What I’m trying to do! That’s what we do while we’re playing! That’s one of the most beautiful things about our duo. It is that what we do and that’s why so many amazing things happen, I guess, allegedly by accident. If you believe in that.

BERND: These are the most beautiful moments you can have!

NELS: It’s incredible, it’s rich.

JULIAN: It’s incredible.

NELS: It’s rich and it seems to be exhaustible, what I wasn’t sure when we started touring like now, you know what I mean?

JULIAN: Absolutely.

NELS: But we are suprised every night and delighted and frankly.

JULIAN: Yeah, that’s true.

BERND: You tour now since when?

k-20160226-ACS_8201NELS: This tour is now running a little bit longer than one week. It is a 19-day-tour. It is just about how many days you can handle or the world can handle us, I don’t know. You know, I tour all the time and in a way it is always too much like that. But I love playing!

BERND: Recently I heard you had kind of health problems through too much touring in the past, how is that now?

NELS: Well, I think the problem I had in the past was a kind of inner burn-out and being sick of myself. And also I had physical problems that won’t nessecarily related to touring but just related by playing and maybe not doing the right body movements and having that, an neck injury I even didn’t know I had and that kinds of stuff.

But now I tour all the time. That’s the only way I can survive and I also love playing! I would like to stay a bit more home than I do, and write some music I guess, but I am not very disappointed, that music does not getting written. Or watch a movie or something. NELS and JULIAN laughing.

BERND: You are also listening to other music while touring?

NELS: Of course! Other music is inspiring! Movies are inspiring when they’re good.

JULIAN: That’s true, you try, you know?

NELS: Even moments are inspiring. Could be anything. Fluid can be very interesting!

JULIAN: That’s fair, we are in Europe.

NELS: And it just does not mean it has to be fancy, it is just the idea of, someone’s caring enough to create that of experience for you and you share it with other people.

BERND: Are you afraid about accidents could happen to your body and equipment while you are on tour?

NELS and JULIAN: Yeah! Sure!

k-20160226-ACS_8210NELS: I was never careful before. And I have to be careful now, because I am older now, am 60 now.

JULIAN: It’s the same here, absolutely.

NELS: It is not that an issue, I am not wining about it. But it is a so called job.

JULIAN: Exactly. I think it is good, I mean, what I keep learning, because I had hand injuries and other issues from touring and also from recording and also from writing, I hurt myself more by myself than I have often in front of other people. But things that sounds good to me usually feel good and usually look good too. I know it sounds a bit corny, but all my favourite guitar players like Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgommery, Jim Hall are such a grace, they move so well. You don’t even have the hearing what they’re playing. So, I am certainly inspired of to feel good and look good as a guitar player and to sound good. That’s a life form, pursued. And yeah, there are things you a worried about, but you know, you keep playing, you just do your best….

NELS: You can’t worry about it.

JULIAN: It’s like anything else.

NELS: It’s like living. In New York we are worrying because it’s gonna flood. They are pumping millions of gallons of water out of around Manhattan every day keep it from flodding. Looking at Los Angeles there could happen a major earthquake happening just every second, but you can’t live with that. You just have to live.

JULIAN: It’s true.

NELS: I know denial is a powerful force also, but at the same time. We are not unconsciousness, we just all do this.

BERND: I have a question about your songs of this album „ROOM“. All these songs have titles. But you are not singing with your voices. So, if these songs had lyrics, what kind of lyrics would they have?

JULIAN: Great question!

NELS: I can explain the titles and I can speak for my pieces. „The Scent of Light“ is a line from a poem by the iranian poet HAFEZ from centuries ago basically and it just strucked me, as I was reading it. And this piece was called „The Scent of Light“, we just called it „Abstract“, because there was a series of tiny compositional elements with suggestions consequently of how to improvise or instructions of how to improvise. So, it’s basicly a suite of events, building up to this kind of dramatic and textual rythmic kind of explosion. And so I thought the „Scent of Light“ is kind of a good way to, is kind of a reflection of movement, because from complete stillness to absolute hyper speed, how they are almost the same at that point and the only trace, if you could have a trace, what would be, is a smell,

JULIAN: Ahhhh…

NELS: „The Scent of Light“ is one of the most sober ideas I ever came across and basically it’s just a sort of a blanket abstract thing the floor on the piece. But it’s not random choice. It is a very melodic piece, so it have to be a very fragmented, something impressionistic and fragmented…… it could be E.E.Cummings.

„The Bond“ is a love song for my wife, that could be some really beautiful happy lyrics.  „Freesia“ is just a little lovely piece that make’s me think harmonicly maybe of Brazil, some place where it is warm. „Freesia“ is an african flower and I searched endlessly for a title for that piece, it didn’t mean anything exactly, but it might reflect the mood of it, so it could be something breezy, I hope not, but that probably would fit the best, and it’s almost a blues for Jim Hall, so it would defenitely not include lyrics in that one.

JULIAN: Defenitely not. WE ALL LAUGH.

NELS: Hey Julian, what about „CALDER“? NELS singing…. A-lex-ander – Cal-der…  (Very funny moment).

JULIAN: Well, my mom send me a replica of a Calder mobile, and it’s above my desk, so I look at it at home all the day. But it is so funny, I don’t, I am one of these awful people, who doesn’t understand lyrics, like, when I hear a song, that someone is singing, I can’t understand the words, I’m not even selling myself short.

NELS: I was the same way growing up, I never gave a damn, what the lyrics was, I was only interested in the sound, and the content of whatever felt like a sound, if it had a sort of sonic signature, then I was snag, you know, what I mean? When somebody tell me, lyrics are so cliche’, or whatever, and I was: what? I care more about it now, that I’m older, because I play in a band (WILCO), where lyrics are important. And I have to figure out what Jeff Tweedy is singing about, so people are obsessed with words, look at RAP-music, they can memorize torrents of words, but I was never specific orientated in this in music. Even we are both readers and we apprechiate writing…. .

Bernd: I also liked what you, Nels, said about the music of your album „ROOM“, you said this is not conceptual music, this is emotional music.

NELS: This is how I think about my favorite work, musically for myself, because I have a combination of informel musical reaction, which is based on assesments, opinions and feelings about rythms and melodies and chords and sounds and all that stuff, which is very personal, but other times, i guess, when I’m going to the next level with it, I have an emotional reaction as well, so I aspire to that. So, when I feel something, and I’m working on a piece and I’m feeling something from it, I defenitely go with it. But a lot we (JULIAN and NELS) do, is not discussed, we just play. There are no rules, we like to play the music well. But in my heart there are feelings about what happens in certain kind of pieces and I love to try to find out, what they are. It’s all just a magical combination of things, that are hard to put together. JULIAN: That’s right, absolutely.

Bernd: You, NELS, told once, something beautiful, that you are a jazz-tourist.

JULIAN: Is that beautiful? (laughs, we all laugh!)

k-20160226-ACS_8334NELS: Julian is not a jazz-tourist.

JULIAN: I don’t know.

NELS: Well, you know, how to play that stuff. I’m a fake jazz-guy. I just like jazz. And so I approximate jazz purely. But it’s not in my life, my life-study. If you gonna play it right, you gotta get really really clar into it. And I was always just trying the right original music and improvise and pretty lazy, so I didn’t master the songwork. In a while that has to do with the fact, that when i was coming up, there was much less apportunity academicly for that kind of study. And I searched for it in highschool  and I did not find it. In fact i found something, that almost crushed my instinct, my desire play, what was a terrible terrible guitar teacher. He didn’t know anything, pretended like he knew things. And so I didn’t learn anything from him, nothing. Except that I became crippled in other ways and resistant to search things like reading  music that I wanted to learn from him, that he had this rediculous torture system for and I wish I had been more, I guess what, militant in my stands and just said like: dammed, I’m gonna do this! Or whatever. I don’t think I have this, you know, i always wonder how these young guys coming out of school now, there are so many people learning jazz in school, and it’s kind of hard for me to believe, they all love jazz like love it, love it, love it. Like it’s for me, this is my life-study. Because I just don’t hear it in the culture. I’m not hearing much of jazzinfluence in the culture until the last few years why I’m hearing something like „FLYING LOTUS“ (he is the grand-nephew of the late jazz pianist Alice Coltrane, and her husband saxophonist John Coltrane), where I’m hearing the influence of Herbie Hancock, or of Weather Report and all this kind of music on, like a post hip-hop club music thing. And that to me is a very beautiful thing! But that’s not like Tin Pan Alley, you know, it’s not an old sound, it’s a new sound.

JULIAN: Right, right.

NELS: So, I don’t know, I’m a jazz-tourist. Hey man, just be an artist.

Bernd: About composing is my next question. Are you composing together?

JULIAN: Not typically.

NELS: We arrange together.

JULIAN: We arrange together. We bring in songs that are more or less ready, and we decide how to orchestrate it, what to add, this is like that. NELS: We did this piece „RACEY“, what is a great example of, and also „ODD END“, is a great example of coming up with what I guess was me as a composer, with those ideas, but they were just fragments of something and I was showing to Julian and ask: hey, what do you think of this, and he was like: oh, what is that, and then, with the next theme he was like a counter part and I said something like: I had this idea, that maybe we could go to the envy, and it goes like this: ….. hey, what’s that, what do you think of this part, like, that’s cool! And we play it, and it’s not quite finished, and in the case of „RACEY“, I had these two, three ideas that came together and I said: I have this melody but i didn’t have it really worked out, it’s just something like this. And Julian played a harmony to it and i was like: wow, I just should remember what i play, so, it’s never been written down.

JULIAN: Right.

NELS: It’s just done in 5 minutes. So, yes, I instigated those ideas, but I didn’t have the idea that I was coming with something finished at all. It was just a concept for something to bring in, that would be a springboard for sort of type improvisation.

JULIAN: Right.

NELS: And I was like a swing mind, that I thought was

JULIAN: Supercool.

NELS: Kind of cool and maybe amusing and fun. You know, not too serious. So, sometimes there is not life there, but we finish it together, like question and answer. Sometimes I have ideas and Julian have really good opinions and impressions and that kind of stuff, like I take a suggestion and we change things. This is why we say, we arrange it together. What that means, is change.

Bernd: What do you think about living in this life now, in this crazy world?

NELS and JULIAN are laughing.

NELS: Hasn’t it always been crazy? Bernd: A little bit more today. JULIAN: Everyday.

Bernd: What about the music you compose. Is this kind of reaction on the life/world, we have to deal with? Is it something like a protest maybe or an advice for others?

JULIAN: Not conciously for me. I think, without even trying, you know, as musicians, you represent your time, you represent your preferences, your aestetic decisions and what you like and what not. So far I can’t say, this is about that, and this is to fight this. Honestly, when i hear things I wrote 5 or 10 years ago, I was really in a certain place and a certain time. And a certain context, that allowed me to write that music. But it is usually not the time that I’m really protesting (or fight). I think, maybe it is a little bit more simple, just to be practicle, I think that when writing music, or making a record, it is really important for me to know what apportunities being created by me writing a piece. When I write a song, this song gives us the opportunity to interact as we are. It’s a very shortsighted goal, that’s good. I like it very simple and very pragmatic. And that’s, what I think about that.

NELS: Basically I feel like, my most honest responds to the world is to do something personal.

JULIAN: Exactly.

NELS: And I had my base and lifehouse playing with Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra at the westcoast in the 80s, and I very strongly believed in that music. There was a lot of protest music in the 60s, but, that’s  said, as I got older, I do feel, like it’s not my job, to change anybody’s mind about anything. My job is to be myself, and at the same time that really change comes from within anywhere, it’s just a control mechanism, trying to convince somebody, to do something, they should or should not do, which I think is a kind of totalitarianism or fascism. But, that said, I have a very very lucky position in life, which is, that I am able to do music of great sound and nuance, like I do with Julian, and I also did music, that felt and deals in psychic extremes and I try Rock and Roll, so I had this sort of theatrical commune experience, and I can play music, that is kind of improvised any day of the week. I can just take my toy megaphone and I’m just screaming in my guitar and I do! And why do I scream in my guitar? Because it feels good and also because of I’m sometimes, not when I’m playing, am not angry, because I’m actually thinking about something far, more veigh, but also ineffable. It is a cosmic force, that’s in play, when you play music. It’s not just to sing a song about rats and trashcans, so I’m just not thinking about that kind of day-by-day stuff, but I’m in another space. But it feels good sometimes even hear somebody’s scream, if it’s in the right context. So, I’m lucky, I can do that and I can be pretty angry, you know, I am not happy with the way things are in the world, and I’m not feeling great, when the police were killing my heroes in the 60s and 70s either. So, my believe in the law and certainly in government and all these things that aren’t exactly what they appeared to be pisses me off! But I’m not political active particulary, because I really really just love to play and I feel like that’s my thing. And by keeping it veigh enough that everyone can approach it, and make something out of it, what they want, and it’s theirs, I feel like really changes are happening. And that’s what safe me! This is what we call ART. This idea, that people out there expressing themselves and I’m feeling and getting it. And then I can go and do something. And my life is enhenced. So, if I can be part of that and I have been, then I’m lucky to be alive. And around all these amazing people. It’s great! And every once in a while there be assholes get you down. Then I get pissed off. But it’s not what I am about, I’m not about being pissed off. I don’t want to represent that. That’s not me.

Bernd: Just in general, what is the Nels Cline Julian Lage sound in this project?

JULIAN (and NELS): It’s just two guitars. Really simple!

Bernd: What is the genius about Nels Cline?

JULIAN: OMG, this is not fair, in special not before the show. But, with all my favorite players, would it be Jim HALL, NELS or who else. One quality they all have, they are so committed to the music and the relationship to it. It makes you, the person playing with them, so much better. It lifts you up, you know. What I first had when I was playing with very strong players, really professional players, I always thought, they want to embarress me, they would show me, how good they were and I would suffer somehow, that I wouldn’t be good enough, but what makes people great, that they make other people great. All the time you just play the show, you were lifted and pushed and you’re not even thinking about the genius of one person or not, you are just part of the stay way better, you just feel better than you felt before. And Nels has that in spades, he is able to fore that he’s very generous with that ability as an improviser, as an composer, as an orchestrator, as an accompanist, as a soul. So, there is really no limit. He’s a very classical true genius in the essence and I’m grateful for that.

Bernd: What’s the genius about Julian Lage?

k-20160226-ACS_8256NELS: I think everybody knows but what they didn’t know is what he can do when we play together, he is so free and spontaneous and also so sonicly aware of sonorities, that don’t have to have any kind of justification, others than (that) they exist in the moment. And how beautiful! Like we just found out we like the same sounds without talking about it.

JULIAN: Right.

NELS: But obviously Julian has incredible ears, amazing tone, the richest technique and deep knowledge, okay? There are many people that have that out there in the world, even I think there are not many who have his technique. But the technique can be cold, amazing technique can sound cold and machine like in the service of expression, of self expression, deep feeling and excitement in the moment, this combination of real musicality, but also a kind of burning, of fire. And it is fire, that just smoulders in your heart, and that’s true.

JULIAN: Thanks!

NELS: In a fact we are able to play together the way we play was not discussed, it’s just natural. So, we just have to honour it, whatever it is and I just feel like it’s one of the most enjoyable things and most important things that everybody wants to do.

JULIAN: Likewise, absolutely.

NELS: And I think that interestingly it’s possible, that a lot of people, who admire what I do, are perplexed by this and people, who admire, what Julian does, are perplexed by what we do. But anybody, who knows us, is not.

JULIAN: That’s true. That’s cool!

NELS: We do it, as long as we can.

JULIAN: Exactly.

Bernd: So, the future will continue with you both together?

JULIAN: We have a new record, that we are writing.

NELS: We are just going to keep this up! We are doing a duo and quartet performance. We talked about a quartet since we first got together: someday we maybe find a duet with a rythm section, just to be different.

Bernd: With an orchestra maybe?

NELS: So, we’re gonna do it. That’s an amazing idea! Specially we can orchestrate some of these accidental polychords.

JULIAN: That would be cool!

NELS: But yeah, we are gonna play with Tom Rainey and Scott Colley. We are also doing an acoustic completely improvised show as well.

JULIAN: But it will be totally different than „Worlds Fair“, that’s defenitely another world.

Bernd: „Worlds Fair“ has been recorded in a different way.

JULIAN: I know, I know!

Bernd: We can hear the sound of the space, the studio.

JULIAN: Everything! It was so deliberate.

Bernd: What kind of recording situation was that?

k-20160226-ACS_8384JULIAN: It was in a studio, a good one in New York. And it has a lot to do with replicating the old BBC recordings, old like SEGOVIA recordings,

NELS: He is obsessed of them.

JULIAN: I am totally obsessed, I can listen to them all day long! They are really noisy, the microphones are really close and there is not a lot of reverb. It is almost like an iphone recording, kind of compressed, so, that was the concept, specificly it’s all based on microphones called Sony C 37, that Hendrix singing sound was in „All Along The Watchtower“. They sound like a female singing like. For acoustic guitar in specifically a mahagony guitar, that mine is, it is exactly in the frequency range that I want. Most of the solo guitar recordings sound a bit like in a church, with a more resonant character and this is kind of the opposite. It’s very close, very mid rangy, just very deliberate. It is all old radio style. There are in total 9 microphones on the record and they keep going further further away. So they are 2, 1, 2 and probably like 12 feet away. And there are microphones that are pointing the other way, even I’m playing here, and that’s a big part of the sound too. It’s all very deliberate.

NELS: That’s wild! I had no idea about that microphone setting!

JULIAN: Yeah, and you don’t put them all on face, with one another. That’s the other trick too. A lot of them are out of face, also deliberate. It’s fun, right? You just have to find the stuff you like! And you do it! That’s it.

Bernd: It sounds warm and just great! Thank you very much for your time!!

NELS: By the way, he doesn’t use new strings!! (Both are laughing).

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Many thanks to Barbara Achatz and to Ryan Marian!