Nils Petter Molvær interview
5th october 2007 – Reggio Emilia
by Luca Vitali
I caught up with at the Nils Petter Molværr at the Valli Theatre
during the sound-check while he was still check instrument and show. The sound-check
was rather drawn-out because not only is it a multi-media show and the sounds and
lights need to be synchronised, but it is also because it is a still very new show.
Another reason lies in the fact that it is a "solo" performance which is very arduous
for him (at the end he called it a challenge) because on the contrary to what you
might think, when playing long acoustic parts with a musical base line underneath,
the slightest sound defect stands out a mile. Finally, after marvelling at the splendour
of the interior of the Valli Theatre and taking some photos, he joined me for the
What is the inspiration for your sound; it is so original,
where does it come from?
I think it comes from… trying to search for a voice which I can feel related
to and in that there are some sounds that really move me, like the sound of the
voice itself, of course, but also North African musical instruments
like the Ney flute or the Armenian Duduk and the
Indian Flute,, they have this sort of… I don't know, of oxygen
in the sound, the breath that it has, that is an inspiration.
How was an album like Khmer born?
It was over a period of three or four years so I started to work in the
studio on the off-time with this producer Ulf WO Holand who was very
important in the making of Khmer. Then I got this commission piece, and I
thought ok I'm gonna build on what we have been working with in the studio. Then
we performed it live at VossaJazz in Norway and then I went into the
studio and finished the recording. Then it was done…..
After Solid Ether you decided to leave ECM; what pushed
you to taking this decision?
It was a couple of things, but the most important reason is that I wanted
to own my own music, I don't want to give away the rights for the music. I wanted
to do licensing deals. And Ecm don't do that. So that's the main reason.
Also some disagreements on the Remix part…I mean.. there were remixes and they were
asked to be on some really big samplers, and Ecm turned them down
without even asking me what my thoughts was. I found it quite provoking. So I decided
to leave ECM.
How important to you are albums like "Remakes" and "Recoloured"?
They are important.,…especially Recoloured, because it was
the first Remix album I did. I gave the sound material to other artists, and they
choose a completely different direction than the original. That was opening up the
songs to different approaches. I mean, possibilities you have a sound, because at
one point when you do this, I have to choose the direction and other artists choose
different directions and then I found it really refreshing and quite inspiring actually.
Eivind Aarset and Rune Arnesen have been
your trusted travelling companions so far, will they continue to be so or are you
thinking of changing?
Well I have actually changed, so I changed in the way that I'm a sort
of… I want to a do a lot of different things, like "solo ER". I have
a duo, I have a trio with me Eivind Aarset and Audun
Kleive and there is another trio with me and Eivind Aarset
and Thomas Stronen, which is a drummer (Food, Slow motion
quintet, Parish, etc.), and there is a trio with me and DJ Strangefruit
and Jan Bang. So (I really, I would like to) but then
we have the big band, but that band is sort of not playing so much any more we do
some gigs now and then. I felt like I need to try different things because we have
been together for eleven twelve years so, but I mean, we'll see what happens
I mean the main thing is now a trio with me Eivind and Audun
Kleive. Even though me and Audun are going on a tour in November as a duo,
just drums and trumpet and probably some computers and stuff.
Do you record an album with this duo or trio?
we'll see, I am just finishing an album now which is a compilation of film music
which is pretty, (it's), I mean is always difficult I mean I thought it would be
easy just pick-out something but then I want to extend some tracks and add some
things because it's film music …and then the movie is the soloist is like the main
player in this sense. I was extending them a bit and played a little bit more and
made it more like, at least some of the things, more music not only film
music, but I hope to finish in 14 days and I think that maybe it will come out just
after Christmas something and then there's a new one where I probably will add Audun
and… but still I want to sit in my studio and I like to sit and make things on my
own… HaHa (laugh) also then I sort of add things if it's needed or I feel
like it' s needed
In 1992, you played in "Night Caller" today you are
in "in Between", what is your link with
Is it just a collaboration or is it something deeper, more important?
Rita is an old friend from a long time I thing she's a wonderful
player and composer. And a beautiful warm…nice person. I actually played with her
down in the south of Italy in August this year.
In Roccella Ionica in Calabria?
Yes, very nice, but very different from what I usually do, more jazz, but I liked
it and. I think she writes very nice and it's very challenging for me to go into
these things. I think Rita is beautiful, a great great player.
What can you say about Italian musicians?
Oh horrible, HahaHa (Laugh a lot), no no no, I think the Italian musicians
I know are great.
is a great trumpet player and of course
I also collaborate with the guitar player Eraldo Bernocchi on some
projects SOMMA. This included also two Italian singers Raiz, and Lorenzo Esposito
Fornasari, and Petulia Mattioli on live visuals. All of them great artists. I also
like the band Zu.
they was in Bergen
Oh, yes with The Thing, yes.. yes, I played an ambient concert with their
bass player and Eraldo and Petulia in Siena this summer. Nice musicians,
but I don't know very much about underground scene of Italy…. I hardly know about
underground scene in Norway anymore because if I'm not touring I'm stay mostly home
with my family.
Who are musicians you have never worked with but with
whom you would most like to, Norwegian and not?
Sure, I mean…I would love to work with Brian Eno…and..
If you have?
Yes … Joni Mitchell…probably many…Brian
Blade…Stian Westerhus the guitar player of
Puma. So yes there are many, many things………..I feel like I can work with……
there are some people I really would like to do something with…a Japanese koto player
Michiyo. I don't remember her last name (Michiyo Miyagi),
She is a fantastic Koto player and hopefully next year I'll see if there is any
project and she wants to participate. But otherwise I mean I have played with many
great musicians…I'm blessed…I'm lucky.
Will you go in studio with Bill Laswell and the Material
or will just continue playing live?
I don't know. With Material I just been a guest for some weeks, but me
and Bill had band last year, no this summer. We talked about doing
a tour in South America, maybe Japan. So I'll go over to New York later this month
and I'm gonna meet them and speak to them and see what to do because
it was really really nice, it was very fun and we will probably maybe go in studio
I don't know, maybe record a concert and maybe just put together something from
this… I don' don't know we will see.
Any other future projects?
Yes, the commission piece for Stavanger culture city 2008 the theme is some of
the light houses on the south-west coast of Norway.. there are many light houses,
because the coastline is really rough and rugged. So we gonna try to play the concerts
out there and that will also probably end up as a record. Then I have also another
commission piece for a Festival in Norway, film music for German film and many many
things… I just have to figure out and then try to move some things to 2009 because
it's very very full.
What part do electronics play in your music? Do you
compose with computer, keyboard or on the trumpet?
Oh, it depends. I use the computer of course and the software as a mixer to record
things in… and I just put it on and start to improvise. then I find small parts
I want to use,and build it from there. I'm looking for colors… so sometimes I play
and then I'm using the electronic plugins afterwards to extend the timbre of the
sound or to change it completely …or to find a sound that I like and try to find
it and try to get the sound to fit together organically. Or I can use an
piano to compose. I don't have any rules.
How important is your instrument? Did it take you long
to discover it? Or maybe it doesn't make any difference an Eclipse or any other
instrument, the important thing is the energy and feeling on the night and the band?
What I feel is the most important is the mouthpiece for me, because I'm used
to that….so that…. I must say though, that of all the trumpet I've been trying and
have tried the Eclipse is my favourite … and when I tried it I was like woww!! so
I contacted them and I went over to the factory and so the one I have now
is put together from different sizes, different parts of trumpet have different
sizes so it's …I mean.. when I tried it was I felt it was like made for me… and
so I didn't let them do anything with it I didn't let them put any lacquer on it,
so it's really a raw instrument.
I very much enjoyed the gig at Bla with Supersilent,
how was it playing with them?
it's challenging because they are…. It's always like this, they are a band and they
play together for ten years and they have their…thing they have their place in the
music…everyone has their place…so for me it's about, to try to go in and not play
not too much, so that was how I approached it, and it was real great fun, fantastic
musicians.I like them a lot.
You was very nice too, because you had played different
phrases. In the past I had listen you on Lars Danielsson or other's album and you
played your typical phrase on other's music, instead with Supersilent was different,
Oh yes yes, thank you very much.
Electra album, you played drums programming; is this a new passion, like with Henriksen
or was it just a one-off?
Well for me it was a one-off, but I program a lot of drums….but it was
done very quickly. I just took a loop and I run it through a… (I hadn't heard it
for a long long time).. I run it through a random step shifter and a delay and then
I just write on the delay ….. done very quickly so it wasn't like, I was sitting
…it was … Yes…
Is there a question that everybody always asks that
you are really fed up with answering?
No, I mean some questions are very difficult to answer and people ask
them a lot and that made me think so…for instance when people talk about why this
music comes out of Norway that kind of music.. people ask it so many times and I
had to start thinking about the reason and to reflect about that and I found at
least one answer which I think is relevant… So I mean of course if it's like really
stupid question, but that doesn't happen too much. I mean it's often very nice people
and I think it's ok to do interviews.
Is there a new talent that you would like to mention,
someone that you think will have a great future as an explorer like you (not necessarily
a trumpet player)?
Well, yes…..i think for instance the guitar player Stian Westerhus
great player. Very interesting man. I think also there are some…let me think …...I
think a guy like Håkon Kornstad, but he's probably already pretty
"big", Mathias Eick is a great player…
Oh this year now he explode, now plays on new album
of Manu Katchè
on Ecm and is near to exit with his new quartet on Ecm
Yes, I think he's gonna be great and he is already great so. How do you
say these things …. I really don't know …there are some but they are already traveling
and playing….. I like Susanna (Wallumroed) and Morten Qvenild…the
piano player very very good and also his trio In the country… very beautiful. Then
of course Sidsel Endresen. She's my favorite. There are also some interesting
bands, like Lightning Bolt, you know this band??
No I don't...
HaHa… Drum & Bass music
No no, Americans I think.
Many thanks for your time.
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Publishing Date: 11/11/2007