Jazzitalia - Interview with Kelli Sae And Peter Legat - Count Basic
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Interview With Kelli Sae And Peter Legat - Count Basic
Blue Note Milano, Tuesday, April 22nd 2008 - First Set
by Eva Simontacchi
photo: official archive

Fai click qui per leggere la versione in italiano

Count Basic

In 1977 Peter Legat, the prospective guitarist, composer and mastermind of Count Basic, moved to Vienna in order to study jazz-guitar at the Conservatory Vienna, commencing in 1980 and completing it with excellence in 1985. During this period Peter Legat had already produced 2 albums with his former band "Incognito". When Peter Legat brought his project "Count Basic" to life in 1993, he instantaneously received a record deal. Encouraged by the huge success of his first single „All Time High" in Austria, he flew to London in order to produce his first album. "Ernie Mckone" invited the cream of the crop of acid jazz musicians to the studio to produce the first album "Life think it over". This was when Peter Legat met the New Yorker singer Kelli Sae. She was won over for this first project and hast been a consistant component of Count Basic ever since. Kelli is currently living in New York, working around the globe. She is a very busy studio and live-singer with numerous bands and always working on her own projects as well. Just to name a few, she has also worked with: Defunkt, Incognito, Neneh Cherry, Arrested Development, Skoota, DJ Logic, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Nona Hendrix, Eric Gadd, Tony Rebel, Ben Neil and many more - and has opened shows for music legends such as the late Curtis Mayfield, George Clinton and P-Funk, the P-Funk All Stars, David Bowie, Bootsy Collins, Toto, Living Colour, Bernie Worell, Inner Circle, The Tom Tom Club…

While Kelli Sae is kept busy in N.Y., Peter Legat is always on the run in Vienna. Besides working on his albums, he is a much sought after studio & session player as well as composer, but still finds time to teach guitar at the "University of Music and Performing Arts" in Vienna and lecture at ensemble and songwriting workshops. Together they are the soul of COUNT BASIC, a group of 11 band members who have achieved an impressive number of Hit-singles, collected on their "Best Of" Album COUNT BASIC- FIRST DECADE 19942004

Count B Asic - CoverCount Basic is a project that started quite a number of years ago. How did it start?
Peter Legat: Actually it came together as a project that I had in mind combining the styles of music that I like that are the funky groovy stuff and some jazz influences that I have. I met Kelli in London when we did our first record there, and since 1993 we go on together.
Kelli Sae: So basically, when the project began it was a kind of project that was going to maybe feature a few different singers, but our bond was very strong, we really had a very strong connection just musically and spiritually, and we just vibed as people, so we decided to take it even further and really make it something that would continue on and from there it's grown into a ten-year long passion and labour of love.
P.L.: Five records!
K.S.: Yes! Five albums!

Five albums, and now you're presenting your latest album, "Love & Light".
K.S.: Which we just won an AMADEUS AWARD for in Austria which is sort of a European version of a Grammy, and we were nominated twice in the past, and we didn't win. So this win that we have this time is really really special for us, and feels even more incredible now, after losing so many times!

Where are you going to go now?
P.L.: Actually it was just a small thing, tonight in Milano, tomorrow in Vienna, so it's only a few gigs that we have. But anyway, it's a small thing. We plan some shows in October. We have a small tour coming up with a couple of gigs in Austria, and maybe we're coming back to Italy. We don't know yet.
K.S.: We are looking forward… we are going to play at the Life Ball. Will you come? You should come! It's a great way for us to give back – to play a small part – in such a big event. It's very important for us to give back, and I have to say that that's one of the benefits that I'm really passionate personally about is AIDS and the awareness and trying to make a little bit of a difference in such a growing epidemic.
P.L.: It's the biggest AIDS Charity Ball in the World. So it's like a really big thing. It's every year in Vienna, and it's massive.
K.S.: Everyone flies in from all over the world to do it.

Of course you just came out with an album, but I know how it works…. Once you come out with an album, you're already zooming on something new. Can you tell us something about the future?
P.L.: To be honest, not really, because since Kelli's arrived a couple of days ago, we were talking about how to proceed in the future and we came up with ideas which are quite uncertain at the moment, so to be honest with you I don't want to talk about it now. We have some plans and some directions we might go, but it's not really concrete right now.
K.S.: But I can say, for the fans, the actual fans, that are looking forward to what is going to come next from us, whatever it is, it's going to be hot! You know, I love when we go around the world, it's really a great way to have a look at how people respond and react to the music. For us it's a new territory and a new ground as well, because it's still a new album for us too, so sometimes coming out after you've done a song in the studio for so long and now you're performing it live, it starts to take on a new shape, a new form. And we too are experimenting along the way, you know, kind of like on a big boat and the waves are going one way or another way, and I think playing here in Italy especially is really nice because I know it's a little bit of a more of a reserved crowd, and we usually play with crowds that aren't so quiet… and we're not a traditional jazz band…. I'm talking a lot, I'm sorry!
P.L.: No, I'm totally with you because, you know, usually when we do gigs we never have seated venues, we always have a standing crowd, so they move, because what we do is like a dance kind of groove, so it's different, because this is like a concert kind of situation, where everybody's watching you. That's not really our kind of thing. What we want and what we accomplished when we do our gigs is to make the people move. Only watching is not enough…. You've got to move your body.

Of course, I understand! Yes, your music is tailored to move your body and dance….
K.S.: We're not a traditional jazz band, I mean we may have jazz undertones because there are horns, but we're more like a kind of party music. We like to incorporate and select with party.

Now, Kelli, I would also like to add a few questions for you about your solo project.
K.S.: Well, with my project I'm trying to work on my third album which seems to be taking forever and ever and ever to complete because I'm just working on so many other projects.

And in your project you write your own music and everything, so it takes time.
K.S.: Yes, I'm doing the whole thing, so maybe I'm putting on too big of a coat for my body, I don't know, but I feel like I'm ready for that.

You've got the skills and energy to do it.
K.S.: I'm ready to wear my new coat. It's tough though! I've never done a complete album by myself as a composer, an arranger and a producer. You know, usually I'm working more with other people and we collaborate together, but I felt like the sound that I'm trying to go in right now was having a hard time finding a producer that understood the vision of what I had. Not to say that they were not talented or anything. It's just I really think outside the box when I'm coming up with stuff and more people are a little bit more traditional and that can be a big downfall for me because I dance to the beat of my own drum, so there are going to be people that surely hate it, and people that surely love it. And I'm hoping that there are going to be more people that love it than hate it.

Well, if you do what you feel, you're going to be true and sincere.
K.S.: Yes, and I may not become a millionaire this way, which is fine if I don't like sell trillions albums, but that's all right if you find a group of people that feel your passion for something and they kind of get into it as well. So I've been doing that and I've been working with a lot of people. I just finished working with Paul Simon; I learned so much, and the music was so brilliant and the cast was so amazing! I don't think I ever met a nicer group of people! Thirty-something people that saw each other every day for twelve hours or more without animosity, with love for the project… That may go on a tour as well, which is brilliant. And then I was doing a television show in New York, in the States rather, called the Singing Bee. It's a music TV show like a game show, where you have to guess the songs, and I sing a bit of the song and then you guess. I didn't ever think I would go into television but that has sprouted in me like all these other things that are coming up, all these other things I was not expecting to do, so I've just been really blessed with great stuff!

Count Basic
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