Interview with Hannes Dunker: The soul may be the more essential one: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz drummer Hannes Dunker. An interview by email in writing. 

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

Hannes Dunker: – I grew up in Braunschweig. A small town in the middle of Germany. My father used to listen to a lot of progressive rock music. Genesis especially. I grew up with this music and I still love it.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the drums? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the drums?

HD: – I always had a strong relation to drumming. When I was a kid I loved to play drums on anything I could get my hands on. That’s when my parents decided: this kid should have some drum lessons. So I got lessons with a teacher in my hometown. But most of the time I was just playing around with the drum kit myself. The most important teachers to me weren´t drummers I would say. Lessons with piano player Julia Hülsmann had a strong impact on me. Talking about composition and sound in general. Another one to name is Alex Sipiagin. I had the chance to study with him in the Netherlands. He taught me a lot.

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

HD: – When I was younger I wanted to play as fast and as much notes as possible and now I get more and more the feeling that one single sound, for example a cymbal or one chord, can last for quite some time without getting boring. So the older I get the less notes I play.

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

HD: – I used to play along to records a lot and I still do this. Trying to play what the drummer on the record plays or just playing over it. Other than this, I work on pretty basic stuff. Singles, doubles, rolls, some rudiments.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

HD: – There is not one answer to this question. I generally prefer simplicity over very complex structures. Not too many notes at once for example. However, this is probably more of a general direction rather than a static rule.  And yes, I like harmony. Without getting to cheesy I hope. I always try to add something a little odd to it.

JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

HD: – I don’t think there is anything wrong with other influences. They can be enriching and help you develop yourself. Nevertheless, it is important to stay focused on ones own sound.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

HD: – Both are part of music. Although soul may be the more essential one. Intellect is important in order to create new ideas and to provide a direction. But without soul your playing will sound weak. It adds something to the music the intellect cannot.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

HD: – I don’t think any artist should change his work to please the audience. I will not play differently because someone asks for it. But I totally believe the atmosphere that we and the audience create together changes the way we play in a subtler way.

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

It would help to make Jazz more accessible to a young audience. For many people jazz is something complicated and weird and hard to listen to. I guess there should be some early education programs. Show kids in kinder garden how much fun it is to improvise.

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

HD: – I can`t tell anything about the meaning of life but I think making music and making music together with other people is always a spiritual thing. Something that is about a connection to some inner part of yourself and a very special and deep connection to your fellow musicians.

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

HD: – Live music should be a bigger thing again. There should be more live music that people can listen to and it should be easier for the musicians to make a living out of making music.

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

HD: – Lots of different stuff. One thing I always come back to is Bobo Stenson´s Trio. An all-time favourite. Beside this, I discovered this singer songwriter, a guy named Alan Hampton, who I listen a lot to these days. Maria Rita, the singer from Brasil. And some electronic music as well. Jon Hopkins for example.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

HD: – To listen to John Coltrane´s quartet live in New York in the early 60ies for once. That would be amazing.

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

HD: – What made you start your website jazzbluesnews.space?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Love for jazz and blues …

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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