Interview with Ramón Oliveras: My music has not a polical message: Video

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Jazz interview with jazz drummer and composer Ramón Oliveras. An interview by email in writing.

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

Ramón Oliveras: – I grew up in a very musical family where everyone could play an instrument. From 5 to 10, I started a long journey through different instruments like piano, cello, guitar, jembe, flute, etc until I finally was old enough to pick up the drumsticks. This was love at first sight!

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?

RO: – I struggled with most other instruments at the beginning, but with the drums, everything was falling into place. Perhaps I was rhythmically talented, but there was also an emotional component of being really good at something. And  it was logical as a child to work harder in the field I was already getting recognition. 🙂
I had many different teachers when I studied drums, but the most influential on me was Kaspar Rast (who is playing in Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin). He teached me to play with gravity, listen to the space between notes and to put your ego back and only play what the music needs.

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

RO: – I started out in many different bands and I tried out almost every musical style there is. But at some point, I decided that I want to play more in my own project to develop an original sound not only on the drums, but also a band sound together with other people.

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

RO: – I found out some time ago, that I can’t practice concentrated without getting myself a creative task. So most of the time, I practice by working on beat libraries, solo compositions or rehearsing songs with my bands.

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?

RO: – I’m interested in the subtle shades of consonance and dissonance I don’t want to focus on one or the other. All music I like have this tension between light and dark, which I’m also searching in my projects. Overall, I’m more inspired by scales and linear writing, because then the harmonies develop themselves automatically out of the material.

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

RO: – My band Ikarus has a special line up with two singers (male and female), and a rhythm section consisting of piano, double bass and drums. Together with my composition style, this results in a very unique sound, which is not easy to be colored in a bad way. I even like to get inspired by artists from different fields. Like two songs of our first album Echo are formally inspired by left-field electronic artist James Blake, and e.g. the first track of the new album is influenced by the Swedish band The Knife.

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

RO: – I remember one moment, which is typically Ikarus: We worked very hard to get every piece in the best possible way on the album and found great solutions. But at the sound check of the first gig we played the day after the studio session, the pianist Lucca Fries already wanted to change some things up again because he wasn’t satisfied anymore. This is also one core idea of the band: The music is in constant flow. The pieces we recorded on the album will possibly sound very different in half a year.

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

RO: – For me, jazz is more a state of mind then a historical thing. It’s the freedom to mash up different styles and influences to an original music, be creative with it and constantly developing it further.

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

RO: – I would like to change the music business and how the radios and streaming platforms work. It’s very difficult nowadays to hear new music if you don’t search for it. This results in a very narrow musical experience of most people. Whis is very sad, because there is more interesting music to discover today then ever!

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

RO: – I’m listening mostly to electronic music and working on my understanding of synthesized sounds. I’m very inspired by the possibilities there and how to get these in an acoustic setting.

JBN.S: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

RO: – My music has not a polical message. It’s more of an experience, which gets you in another state of mind and plays back with your own mind and body. Because the singers don’t sing text, everything is still abstract and can be filled with your own imagination. I like this very much.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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