segunda-feira, junho 21, 2004

Interview with Izzi Dunn, the british born cellow player who managed to marry the contemporary beats of hip-hop and soulful nu-jazz with unexpected string arrangements in a brilliant "not-so-debut" album. A "Big Picture" definitely worth taking more than a look at, next Saturday, live at Convento do Beato, in Lisbon. Por|Inês Marques

1. Classically trained cellist, singer, songwriter and now even producer, since you were the main responsible for everything in this “Big Picture”. Did you ever stop to think how significant you are?

Oh my God..(laughing).I’m blown away by that! No, actually I think I haven’t. Maybe because when you’re playing and making your music yourself you kind of have to rely on yourself. All I’ve been doing all this time is simply keep on playing and making my music and mainly learning. I’ve been learning all this time, and especially now, with the process of making my actual first album. Producing it was simply the way it felt right, the way it happened, and I was lucky enough to be so involved in it. I was very happy working with other but I suppose I had to go on with it on my own. Still I have done quite a few collaborations on the album, I intend to keep on working with other people and I enjoy it a lot. I gives you a great chance to grow. It’s just that most of the time I have this clear vision of how I actually want my music to sound like and that is something I can only achieve exactly with my own music.

2. Although this is your debut album, it’s hardly the first time you haver worked in music. Why did you choose to remain in the “background”, colaborating with other musicians, untill now?

Actually I don’t think I’ve chosen it. It just kind of worked out that way. I started out working as cellist, playing with other musicians and bands and it was sort of a naturall and unplanned evolution which gradually lead me into trying out different things and rythms. I began writing more and more music and not only string music, but with words, with lyrics as well...So I guess it was a natural kind of progression, it wasn’t that I chose it, I kind of moved into my own music in a natural way but I still want to collaborate with other people.and go on doing strings and arragements for them. So I guess I’m as lucky as I can be because I get to be a little bit of everything.

3. Was it a way to “search for signs and directions”?

Yeah, definitely. I mean, the lucky thing is that most of the people that I’ve worked with are not only different but also extremely talented, so all of them have taught me something. And most of the people that I’ve worked with in this album, my album, are also people that I’ve worked with, done strings for, before, like Manuva and Mi Uan. Therefore I’m not only quite used to them but it feels really nice to have the chance to share my first album with them.

4. In the “Big Picture” you had the opportunity to be the one who invites others to work with you, instead of being the invitee. Besides people whom you had already worked with, like Mr Manuva, does the album include any new-comers?

Most of the people are people with whom I had worked before. The string player that I’ve worked with in the album is a girl that has played wih me throughout the years, Mi Uan and Manuva are also people that I’ve done a lot of strings for and with, Kylie Chasen is also a gauy that I’ve worked with for a few year now. They’re all people that I know from West London or are in bands that I’ve playeds with, done strings with or sessions so it is really nice because I met them through doing their music and then have kind of gone on into writing my own music or doing my own music but with them as well. So when it comes to newcomers I think there actually aren’t any. Still most of them have got their own projects. I think I am the newcomer. But it feels rather weird to get to invite other instead of waiting for them to invite me. I’m still not used to it. I still have to pinch myself and go: “Oh ok, it’s my turn, I’m actually the one who sings and this is actually my music”. But they’ve all made it easy for me, since most of us have known each other for long. They’ve all been really giving and great about it. So I’m just building great relationships and I’ve got a wonderful band and hopefully I’ll get to do some mor work with them for my next album as well, to write and play with them. It’s just a great bunch of people that I’ve got around me and that really makes it possible for the album to turn out like this, so natural. I’m constantly growing and learning things every day.

5. Does it make you feel rather “misfit”?

Well actually I believe that now I’m feeling like less of a misfit exactly due to the people that I’ve got around me and I think that music was about a time when I was thinking about how ilogical it is for people to try to put music in different boxes, to catalogue musicians in terms of styles. And in that way, I’ve always felt like a misfit and I think it is axtually rather nice to be one.

6. What do you believe to have influenced you the most: growing up with an opera singing mum and an entertainer father or having worked with artists like Moloko or George Harrison?

I think it’s a real mixture of everything. It’s all of them put together because I think it’s just waht makes you who you are, the music that you make. All those things have an influence on you at some stage in your life, in the way you live and lead it. In my case I grew up in a music family and I had lots of music around me all the time, no only classical but also a lot of Jazz, since my dad loved it. Then there was school, the cellow and afterwards all the sorts of people that I’ve worked with and whom are all so differente, musically speaking. So I’m really lucky because the spectrum of musician that I’ve worked with is really broad and that allowed me to incorporate many differente styles, rythms and beats. You don’t realise at the time how deep it is the effect it has got on you but now I see how important it was to my growth and my music. I guess I’ve been trying to get it out all the time but the words were just no getting out the way I wanted them to, and now I believ I’ve finnaly found my own way of expressing myself through both rythm and words.

7. When did you feel that you “were ready for this”: an album of your own?

I don’t think you ever feel like you are ready it was just that I’d been writing for quite a while and I came to this point where I had a lot of music and a lot f songs and I wanted to turn them into something of my own, to put together an album. And it has taken a while to get through to these specifi musics, since there were a lot of songs that didn’t make the album and in which I believe in, just like any other artist does, but I think that in the first album, even more than in those which might follow, it is quite a big deal to put it all together. It’s really hard to have to decide which ones make it and whice ones don’t.

8. Did you release it “searching for a piece of sky”, your piece of sky?

I think so. Not that I’ve been kind of hybernating or doing things which don’t suit me, musically speaking, but I think that when you are in your own world doing your own music you don’t really know how it’s going to affect or make a difference to anybody else. You just make music that you like to make and I think that is actually the only way to make music to do something that speaks to you , that makes sense for you. So in my little world I’m making my little music in search for my little piece of sky and when I look outside and find out that other people like it as well it is really, reallly gratifying.

9. After having already caused a stir with your Ep “Betcha” you surprise us once again with an album where you marry the contemporary rhytms of hip-hop beats (Underwater) and soulful nu-jazz, among many others, with the classical sounds of your cellow and elaborate string arrangements. Do you see music as a “big picture” where there “ain´t no recipe”? No styles, just harmony?

Yes I do (laughing) . That is exactly it! I do very much so because I feel very strongly about music not having boundaries, there are so many people that have a name for it, that label it. I think music is about sounds, taht having a fusion of different sounds, different inspirations, different arrangements, is very important. Unfortunately in today’s big corporate multinationals it is very difficult for people no to fit into some kind of previously existing sound box or label. I just want to make the music that I want to do, which feels right for me, and I want to encourage other people to do the same, to do what they want to do and not worry where it does fit or no. No to be afraid to be, just like I say in my song, a misfit, and just keep on taking in different influences and making music. All the travelling and all the places that I visit just inspire me to go on making more and more music, and I hope that can be the same to other people. The only recipe is just to make whatever feels good. It’s like a journey. You just have to keep on trying things, experimenting, and therefore I must keep reminding myself that I mustn’t be scared to go places that I’ve never bee before. You have to go to those places in music. You have to try to find better ways, different ways to express what your feeling, because music should come from there, and we hardly feel the same thing twice. Each sensations is always different, and that’s exactly how it should be with music.

10. After the great reviews the album has been getting in and outside the UK what kind of picture do you expect to find in your gig booked for later this month in Portugal?

Well, I dont’ actually know because I never expected it to go international like this. But then I never expected to be a singer as well. All I want to do is to simply get on stage, have a great time and hopefully see some smiling faces and some people dancing and enjoying it. Taht alone will make me very happy. If I can see that picture in my head that will be lovely. That’s just one of the things about travelling to different places and meeting differente people, you never now what quite to expect. Besides that I guess I just want to get to see at least a little bit of your marvellous city since I’ve already heard so many wonderful things about it. I just regret that I can’t stay longer.

11. And what about the public, what can kind of picture can they expect to see, both on and off stage?

I can just say I’ll certainly be one of those smiling faces and that I’ll give it my best. I just hope that somewhere along the line, and that is always what I try achieve, the songs that I sing will have some effect and that people will enjoy them. That’s all I can hope for and I’m sure, judging by all the people that I’ve met on the phone so far and during the interviews that everybody’s definitely lovely. Therefore I’m certain that we’ll all have a great time. I have a really great band and I’ hoping you’ll just get an example of how we usually are on stage, and that is usually rather inexpected. I like to do different versions of my songs so you’ll probably hear a lot of different versions, always with a lot of energy, and I just hope you’ll all enjoy it.

12. Now “tell me a story” about your future plans. Having finally released an album on your own, do you intend to keep on doing it solo or does that remains, like one of your songs, a “question mark”?

You really just blow me away with those questions. This is so good for my ego (laughing) I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, since it has worked so far, doing it on my own with a label who understands and respects me. I think that is the most important thing for a lot of artists and musicians, to have people around that not only believe in them but also let them have the time to grow and do their thing, who don’t force them into anything or any labels, let them make the music they want to make. A lot of music corporations don’t give you such freedom and I’ve been lucky enough to have found one who lets me do that, and if I can go on doing that I’ll certainly keep in this track and do my next album with them. Still it might be a completely different work. I don’t know where my music and all the influences I absorb are goingo to take me, buth either way, fortunately it’s working like this.

13. If you could choose anyone in the whole wide world to work with who would it be?

Well, I love Prince, Chaka Khan...But it’s an endless list. There are thousands of fantastic people I would like to work with, or maybe even just get to sit in a room and watch them go about their own work. I think that that would even be more exciting for me, that maybe I would learn more, just by watching musicians like Bob Marley recording with The Wailers. I love to watch other people make their own music because you’re always learning something. Of course if I were to be lucky enough to work it them that would be great, but just being around them would already be sort of a dream come true. But I’m pleased with what I have, and the people around me have gave me great education.

Dale is in da house!
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