Interview with Janno Trump: Trump in Estonian means something really strong, something that will always help you when you’re in trouble: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz bassist Janno Trump. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Janno Trump: – I’m originally from Estonia, from a small village called Aruküla. I grew up in a family of musicians – my mom and dad were (and still are) music teachers, mom is teaching music theory and dad is working as a freelance musician, songwriter and composer. As long as I can remember, my life has always been full of music, but me and my two brothers have never been obliged to study music, it has still been our own choice.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the bass guitar?

JT: – When I was 6 years old I started to study accordion actually. But in early teenage years I realized that this may not be a best instrument to play in a band with. So when I was 11 or 12, my dad started to lead a youth band in local music school and suddenly I found a bass from my hands. I can’t say that it was love at first sight, because I really wanted to play guitar or drums in the band, but those were already taken by the other guys. So bass it was. But after some months I already felt good with bass and after one year I realized I’m playing the most beautiful and substantial instrument in the world.

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the bass guitar?

JT: – My first bass teacher was my father who showed me the basic notes on the bass. For the next 5 years I studied it by myself and after graduating high school I went to study bass to the Tallinn Music School of G. Ots, where my bass teacher was Raul Vaigla. He’s truly an inspirational person and still one of my “bass heroes”. And some years later I got to study at jazz department of Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, where Taavo Remmel, another Estonian bass giant, was a teacher of mine.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

JT: – I think the sound of a musician is a mirror of what is he or she mainly listening to. I mean if a sax player sound like John Coltrane, it’s obvious that he or she has listened a lot of Trane’s records. It’s the same with me. My sound is a mixture of my main idols – Jaco Pastorius, Richard Bona, Pino Palladino and Janek Gwizdala. I’m playing a lot of very different kind of music, for instance in the same week I sometimes have pop, jazz, latin and funk gigs. For me it’s vital to blend my bass sound to the band and make the whole group sound solid. I mean, it’s awesome if you can play some Jaco’s chops, but if you’re playing some pop tune, it may sound ridiculously out. So if you’re playing in a pop group, you have to play with a sound that suits to pop music and keep nice and steady bottom. How to develop your sound – record and listen to yourself. And then make some conclusions. Do you like how you sound? What can I do to sound better? How does my sound sit in the mix of the whole band? These are the main questions. And if you can find all the answers, you’re on the right way.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

JT: – It depends on a day. Sometimes I just grab my bass and start playing or jamming along with my favourite music. From the other hand, sometimes I may spend 2 hours for just warming up and playing some technical exercises.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

JT: – I use everything that sounds good to me.

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

JT: – The music industry has gone pretty tough and the competition between young vocalists and instumentalists is pretty strong. From my point of view there are 2 main aspects of being a great musician: firstly you have to be a great musician of course, have some really good skills in what you’re doing. But secondly, and I think this is even more important, you have to be a nice person. You may be a first-class virtuoso on your instrument, but if nobody want to have you in his or her group, because your way of behavior is just unacceptable, then you won’t reach far. Try to get along with everybody and you can see the doors opening for you J

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

JT: – Everything’s a business nowadays, at some points jazz as well. The hardest part is to get into this jazz business, it may take years. If we’re talking about smaller areas and markets (Estonia for example), you can get to the business pretty fast, if you’re a good musician. But getting out of your home area and starting to make this “jazz business” out there is much more complicated. You have to have some connections to get outside. Making money with jazz is doable, but it expects some bigger market. Estonian jazz scene is very small and making money here only with jazz projects is difficult.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

JT: – I think those standard tunes that are half a century old, are not the first jazz tunes that one will hear. Nowadays jazz have blended to very different music styles – rock, hip-hop, pop, rap – and probably these styles have kind of transitional impact to the listener who’s about to discover jazz music. An average teenager doesn’t know, who Miles Davis was. But if he or she is listening some funk/soul artists that Miles has been playing and recorded with in his later years, then it’s possible that this person will find “Kind of Blue” one day.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

JT: – Yes, music is the spirit. The music that I write is instrumental, without any words. You can’t hear some story’s or ideas from there, but you can imagine. And I’ve put all my life philosophy into my music, everybody can listen it. There’s my spirit that tells you the story.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

JT: – My expectations for the future are related mainly with my own group Trump Conception. We just released our 2nd album and we already have some new ideas. One day I’d like to tour around the world with this group and that’s the dream that keeps me going. I don’t like to think about my fears, I find it unnecessary.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

JT: – In spring and summer 2018 I’d like to gave some concerts outside the Baltic region, to spread our music to wider areas.

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

JT: – Of course there are, like I said, nowadays jazz consists of very different styles of music. Sometimes it’s hard to say, where jazz ends and folk begins. It’s one part of the intercultural encounters.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

JT: – My idols: Jaco Pastorius, Weather Report, Yellowjackets, Herbie Hancock, Return to Forever, Jacob Collier, Snarky Puppy, The Brecker Brothers, Jukka Linkola, Chaka Khan, Prince, Michael Jackson, etc..

JBN.S: – And if you can ask your last name helps or hinders you?

JT: – For 25 years I lived with a knowledge that my parents have given the coolest name ever (Trump in Estonian means something really strong, something that will always help you when you’re in trouble) and that’s why I wanted to name a band after my own name. Suddenly this name got a totally different meaning some years ago and it became the most hated word in the whole world. I’ve thought about changing my band’s name several times after the last presidential elections of United States, but have still decided to not do that. Once a good friend of mine told me that “don’t worry, there’s no bad publicity” , and I think he’s right. The preconception may not be the best, but the fact is that the name draws people’s attention.

JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?

JT: – My setup – Mayones Comodous 5; Marcus Miller V7; MarkBass amps. Elixir strings.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

 

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