I have a note I made to myself some months ago concerning a thought I had had after listening to a rather forbidding, inaccessible (well, to me anyway) jazz album (no names, let’s keep this polite). Just before wrestling with this audio closed door, I had been listening to something really fun and funky, music with its portal well-trodden and its gates thrown wide (no names, no bias).
The note reads:
Jazz that thinks about the listener and jazz that doesn’t.
I remembered it when reading a tweet on the recent John Cage anniversary. It was a quote from Cage:
“As a young man I harbored the populist idea of writing for the public. I learned that the public didn’t care…”
I remembered it again while preparing an email interview with another young man: Staffordshire-born, Birmingham Conservatoire and Copenhagen Rhythmic Music Conservatory graduate, Loop Collective member, Jazzlines Fellow, pianist, composer, band leader and now creator of an album on the Loop Collective label, called Ruins, Dan Nicholls.
So I asked:
Do you make music for yourself or for other people?
And this is what Dan replied:
This is one of the most important issues to me as an artist. It’s very easy to become wrapped up in your own world – especially seeing as such personal and individual music as jazz runs the risk of being very egocentric and inward looking – and to forget that there is an audience who are giving you their time and energy and paying for the experience.
Too many jazz concerts feature something that is either totally disconnected from the audience, gratuitously complex and alienating or presented in an apologetic nature, none of which interests me or the majority of people.
Since I started trying to see the music more objectively and listening to the views of less experienced audience members, I began to see it, as well as hear it, differently.
I now feel strongly that my music is primarily for the audience and, whilst keeping my artistic integrity and being uncompromising with my material, I hope to be able to communicate my ideas and present my music in a way which invites people in.”
Now there’s a good reason to go out and buy Ruins immediately!
For more equally valuable answers to other daft questions, read a full interview with Dan Nicholl’s here.
Finally – do you make music? Who do you make it for? Add a comment to this post. It would make me very happy.