25 februari 2008

Interview met Kreg Viesselman

De Amerikaanse singer/songwriter Kreg Viesselman overweldigde mij enkele maanden geleden met zijn plaat The Pull (zie mijn eerdere stukje op Chenque Around The Globe). Ik word dan altijd nieuwsgierig naar zo'n artiest en zijn visie op zijn eigen liedjessmederij. Dus ik heb contact met het gezocht, wat resulteert in dit lange interview.

Kreg blijkt een uiterst sympathieke man te zijn, bereid om enkele vragen die ik hem stelde uitgebreid te beantwoorden. Hij woont sinds enkele jaren in Noorwegen en probeert van daar uit meer aanhang in Europa te verwerven, iets wat nog niet echt van de grond komt. Aan de muziek kan het niet liggen, die is wonderschoon. Het is waarschijnlijk voor hem eerder wachten op het juiste moment en de juiste plaats. Wie weet horen we binnenkort een nummer van hem onder een commercial en breekt hij door, zo gaat dat tegenwoordig met meer artiesten.

Dan nu het interview, ga er maar even voor zitten want de man heeft interessante uitspraken:

You painted the beautiful cover of The Pull yourself. Do you consider yourself more a painter or a musician?

Thanks! I am glad you liked it. I have never been asked that before. I guess I consider myself to be both, among other things. At the moment, however, I am expending most of my creative energy on songwriting. But in truth, I probably have more natural ability as a visual artist. When I was in my early twenties, I sold a fair few of my paintings. I sometimes wonder why I didn't continue down that path. Maybe it's because once a person begins to try to make money from something that would otherwise be a pastime, the nature of the pastime is fundamentally altered. Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if I switched the two (music and visual art) around one day.

And what is main the difference between the art of painting and songwriting/performing to you?

I think they are very similar.The one main difference is that the way in which the art is displayed. You can hang a painting on the wall for people to look at and then hide in the bathroom or go for a walk. With performing, however, you have to be there for people to experience the thing created. It's not just the lyrics or music, but also the performer that becomes the work of art.

The perfect song can be bombed by a bad performance. Other than that, I can't see much difference from a creative perspective. Both are forms of expression, whether representational, abstract, or otherwise. I get roughly the same feeling when writing or painting.

How does an American singer/songwriter end up in Norway (not one of the most logical places for an artist to move to I would say.....)?

I guess I never thought about whether or not moving to Norway was logical, but I like it here. It's nice to spend a good bit of time in Europe, learn another language, and have access to the rest of the continent. It must be said, however, that Norwegians are pretty logical people.

What is the Norwegian or Scandinavian music scene like?

I am not really sure, to be honest. I haven't played here very much. I get the sense that it is a bit more closed than, say, The Netherlands, which is famous for seeking out and patronizing lesser-known music from abroad.

What is the difference with the United States concerning the music scene?

The U.S. is just so big, and there is so much competition for what opportunities do exist. In my opinion, Art in general isn't viewed as absolutely essential to a well-rounded life in American culture the same way it is in many parts of Europe.

Your cooperation with the African musician and kora player Boubacar Diébaté on The Man Without A Care shows your interest in world music. How did this collaboration take place?

I have always loved many different types of African music, and for some reason, at the time I wrote that song, I knew it asked for some traditional African accompaniment. The kora seemed natural, due to it's own history and place in West African music.

Boubacar and I met through my friend and producer Evan Reeves. He seemed like the obvious candidate. Luckily, he agreed to do it. The fact that Boubacar is a griot from Senegal now living in the U.S. far from home just added another layer of meaning to the song's lyrics.

I remember after I wrote that song having felt as though I had written the first song of mine that noone else could have written, if you take my meaning.
Boubacar's participation only added to its authenticity, especially when we asked him to sing and he just belted out those beautiful lines in his mother tongue. After he translated them to us, I was certain he understood what the song meant, and I was also certain I couldn't have found anyone more fitting to contribute to the song. That kind of understanding is what makes some albums sound so real, while others merely sound like a studio.

Do you have future plans to do this kind of fusion with other world artists?

I have no plans, really - about any thing creative I do - other than to keep creating. I may collaborate with artists from cultures other than my own in the future, but I am not interested in doing fusion for the sake of fusion. For me, it has to have a purpose. It has to have 'heart'…not just a bunch of noodling around on exotic instruments all at the same time. To me, that can get kind of academic...and I am no intellectual.

I'm surprised to see how little known you are in the singer/songwriter world. How come? I mean you only got a 1000 songs scrobbled on Last FM (just to compare, another Scandinavian singer/songwriter like Ane Brun has over one million of songs scrobbled on this site)?

I really don't know. It could be because I have had virtually no publicity. I have no idea who likes my songs, or why, or how to cultivate the interest that exists out there into legions of loyal fans. Perhaps it would be easy if I noticed some demographic trend. But I get responses and interest from people of all ages, genders, countries, etc. who find me one way or another. I reckon at some point I will meet somebody out there familiar with the music business who gets what I am doing and knows exactly what to do with it. That'd be great, as I would rather that someone else worries about that kind of stuff. Either way, there is probably some
niche I will eventually find myself in without trying to force it...for better or worse.
Ane Brun has been scrobbled 1,000,000 times?!? And I always thought she was such a nice girl. Then again, she is living in Stockholm. They say Stockholm is the Rio de Janeiro of Scandinavia. I hope her grandmother doesn't find out. She's very talented, and deserves what ever successes she gets.

What are your future plans as a solo artist?

At the moment, I have a boatload of new songs. I am hoping to record them and get them out into the world to the people who will enjoy them. The next album will most likely be very different stylistically from "The Pull"… more spare, more melodic.
I am also hoping to accompany each song with it's own artwork. Almost like a little book of illustrated short stories that work well together as a collection. Other than that, I'd like to be able to tell people 'I am a songwriter' when they ask me (unoriginally) what I do for a living, without having to follow that up with, 'No, really...I am not joking'

What are your long term ambitions as a musician?

I want to keep writing songs and performing them. I want to improve. I would like to perfect my own sound over and over again, and then abandon it just as often. Then, when I am finished, I would like to be able to look over everything I have created - from song to song and album to album - and see how all of my contradictions, tangents, and shifts of personality make perfect sense when looked at from a distance. As for now, any sort of cohesiveness or underlying theme completely eludes me.

P.S. Thanks for taking the time to interview me. If this doesn't get me scrobbled on a more regular basis, nothing will!

(einde interview)

MySpace Kreg Viesselman

Website Kreg Viesselman

2 opmerkingen:

Anoniem zei

Leuk interview Chenque!

Zoals je weet heb je mij ook overtuigd als fan van Kreg. Nog voordat ik zojuist op je site kwam had ik Kreg al in mijn CD speler zitten. Leuk om te lezen dat hij naast het maken van fantastische muziek, ook nog een hele aardige vent is.



Joost Festen zei

Jan, Fulco en andere liefhebbers!

Luister ook naar Kreg's debuut album dat te koop is bij CDBaby.com. Die is ook heel erg de moeite waard!
Ik kan bijna niet wachten tot deze man weer wat nieuws uitbrengt.