Interview With Roman Matin
By: John Douglas
"A wonderful new talent with deep feeling", - said legendary
when she heard Roman's music for the first time, and the famous Tom Waits'
saxophonist Ralph Carney exclaimed: "At last, an original voice!"
Matin is a Russian guitarist and composer whose name is just beginning
to become famous for the American and European audience. The creator of a truly
unique style of playing the guitar, the holder of the original beauty of sound,
marked by famous musicians and thousands of listeners, Roman released a new album
For Electric Guitar" in May, 2008
on the Russian label RoDC.
of playing is a synthesis of jazz improvisation and academic music; his polytonal
and polyrhythmic technique in combination with the lyrical and nostalgic mood music
has won the hearts of listeners and the new album promises to be a famous one among
the American music enthusiasts.
his composing work as the author of music for films, and proved to be a talented
and distinctive jazz musician with the passage of time.
The Music of the Russian guitarist was highly appreciated by such classics
as Airto Moreira,
Charlie Haden, Pauline Oliveros, Lenny White, Alphonse
Mouzon, James Spaulding, Stu Goldberg, Ned Rothenberg,
Tommy Emmanuel, and multitude of young European and American musicians.
Let's try to find out what Roman tells about his musical thinking, plans and
The American audience not sufficiently familiar with
Russian music and musicians. Therefore, I would like to ask: how strong national
roots in your creative work, or do you believe yourself to be cosmopolitan in the
Rather, I consider myself to be cosmopolitan. I believe that music is international
thing. I was brought up learning the art of various countries and peoples. Of course,
Russian culture, including its popular segment also influenced my vision.
So, I would like to move again to your vision right away.
I remember the words of Paul Metzke about your music: "Excellent classical / compositional
approach to playing jazz guitar". One can see deeply thought-over parts simultaneously
with the liveliness improvisation in your playing. Whether your art is still more
composition or improvisation?
My main task is to reach the integrated impact which is a synthesis of composition
and improvisation. I want to avoid some academic dryness on the one hand, as well
as stamps and clichés which are the part of improvisation on the other. It is rather
difficult for me to judge, but I think I am a jazzman in the modern sense of the
It is known that you give concerts rarely. Do you prefer
recording in the studio?
I think that it is impossible to play the same way twice. I strive for an ideal
sound I can make, and the best conditions for me to achieve it are in studio. I
am a perfectionist - in this way, I agree with Glenn Gould. Meanwhile, the very
atmosphere of the show is so to say alien to me. Perhaps quietness and loneliness
is the main atmosphere to create music for me.
people pay attention on your unique sound. Frankly speaking, it is very curious
for me to know what technology is created so emotional voice, or it might be a secret?
(Laughing) No, it's not a secret. In my records I use Fender Custom Shop 1953 Telecaster.
It is my main and favorite guitar, I recorded my last album on it. Sometimes I use
Gibson Les Paul Standard, sometimes Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster. Among the
amplifiers I prefer Marshall of the JCM 2000 series.
Your pieces are short and quickly followed; one part can
last for only a few dozen bars. Maybe you have been influenced be the creativity
of the minimalists?
Yes, of course. Minimalism is close to me in its spirit. I bow before Werben's brevity,
I like most Steve Reich among the minimalists. Taking it to account, I would like
to create a sense of the endless flow. I am encouraged by Wagner with his endless
musical interlaced. I call my plays toy ones... I probably composed them for the
princesses from the fairy tales... (smiles)
Roman, maybe you have any artistic postulates or the principles
about which you can tell some words?
One of the basic principles is for me - I would call it – the opportunity to create
a sense of live music speech. Yes, for me it is live, it tells about something in
every musical phrase. It not just creates my mood, but it tells me something, tells
me different stories of sadness, joy... every nuance talks very much about.... from
this flows my jealous attitude to clean musical language. One note - for me it is
already very much. I see very important task in saying anything concisely. I am
afraid to say what was said once again.
Possibly in connection with this Anthony Coleman, the classic
of modern improvisation music, called your creativity "a kind of Satie-esque"? Sati,
probably had influence on you?
Of course the Great classic left a mark on my vision. I always bow before Sati's
laconism and his stunning expressiveness and elegance.
Roman, and what other artists have had the greatest influence
on you? Your own style is so original that I simply do not know whom to suggest.
A great number of artists left a mark on my perception. I love Bartok, Stravinsky,
Shostakovich, Cage, Webern. But, of course, not only academism serves as an inspiration
for me. The creative work of
Lester Young (Woodville, Mississippi, 27 agosto 1909
– New York, 15 Marzo 1959), Duke Ellington (29
aprile 1899 - 24 maggio 1974), Weather Report, Tom Waits,
touch me and I admire them. For me, music can be everywhere, being great it says
by human speech, this speech is sent to the heart; I just feel it or do not feel
it. The musical genre or the school is irrelevant for me.
You mentioned genre, in its connection I would like to
note that in my opinion your creativity is difficult to be attributed to any genre.
Maybe you can describe its style position?
Not at all. Only its own style exists for my music. Actually, I think it so often
happens that genre in many cases creates clichés and stamps, making a recognizable
sound. But I am only encouraged by the location of the notes in time. It is difficult
for me to say, what "genre" is produced. I do not think about it, I only want to
tell a story and to do it beautifully, when I play I fully absorbed by the process.
I just want to talk about your inspiration. Please tell
me, what things besides music inspire you to write? Perhaps this is literature or
painting, or maybe other kind of art?
To tell the truth, the art of music absorbs me almost entirely. Perhaps only the
landscapes and nature inspire me. And sometimes it is movies. And in the movie I
found the mood is the most important and interesting thing. For example, the post-industrial
atmosphere of the films of David Lynch inspires me greatly. And, of course, their
inexhaustible humanism. I remember when I first saw "Elephant man" I was astonished.
And therefore I understand films synthetically. Humanistic idea, black and white
ribbon, industrial noise - all this creates a mood for me. In my own music, I try
to create a synthesis like that.
May be the hiss and clicks of vinyl records are one of
such "synthetic" ideas? Please, tell more about your views on it...
Yes, to some extent I feel melancholy for the era. For me the post-industrial era
is in general the melancholy that pierces my soul. This is the melancholy for the
time when the criterion of "beauty" meant so much... Maybe this gives me the sense
of spirits or something. As I always wanted to create the effect of convincing speech
by my playing the guitar, sometimes I vary the rate for several times in one play,
increasing or slowing the pace of narration. I would like to achieve simplicity
and naturalness in the synthesis of folk music and electric sound of industrial
era. For me synthesis is a very important task. I admire the sound of Bartok's folk
plays performed by the author recorded in 1920-s -- 30-s. There is an immediate
unique creation of the cultures and times. I do care a lot about our modern, so
to say, "industrial" look at something primeval.
I must admit, that I find your "synthetic" view very interesting!
After that I don't even want to touch upon some "landing" aspects. But still I would
like to ask about choosing solo guitar as your amplua. Maybe there is recording
with a band in your plans? Although I remember Benny Russell's talking about "the
whole orchestra under your fingers".
We say in Russia "If one want to make God laugh at you - tell him about one's plans"
(smiles). I try to find my voice in solo performance nowadays. I want indeed to
use all the ability of my instrument to create polyphonic sound, to hold the bass
line at the same time. The guitar for me is a kind of voice. It is a piano. It is
an orchestra! (smiling).
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Publishing Date: 02/01/2009