Sebastian Scotney spoke to Terje Evensen about Tape to Zero, a jazz festival held in Oslo on 3-4th April.
Sebastian Scotney: How long has Tape to Zero been going on?
Terje Evensen: Kjetil Husebø, a Norwegian pianist, producer, label owner and live electronics engineer came up with the idea of putting on a festival back in autumn 2010, and the first version of Tape to Zero was arranged 19th and 20th of May 2011.
SS: And what’s the theme / uniting principle?
TE: With Tape to Zero, we are presenting electronic and acoustic projects from a range of different musicians. The main idea is to present both familiar and unfamiliar faces on the same stage, with fresh projects, a unique musical expression and often new collaborations. A good example of the fresh aspect of the program is Kjetil’s new ambient electronic project “Skyggespill” – which has its première at TtZ this year.
Tape’s program includes both the experimental and the challenging, as well as more accessible and melodic works. We aim to have something for everyone and anyone who has an open ear.
SS: What does the expression ‘Tape to Zero ‘ actually mean, where does it come from?
TE: Tape to Zero is taken from the old recording studio language. Back in the day when they used tape machines, they had to degauss the tapes before recording new material. To make sure nothing old was leaping through.
In a way that’s what we do, we clean the stage so new music and new collaborations can happen.
SS: Is it all digital or do you use real tape too?
TE: I think during last year’s festival, Splashgirl with Stian Westerhus had some analogue stuff going on, but not sure if there were any tapes involved.
But if we can trust Deathprod’s last twitter message, there will be some tapes involved in his and Biosphere’s commissioned work this year. Excited!
SS: And you have directed it from the beginning in 2011?
TE: Yes. Kjetil and I have worked together on this for four years now. We do everything from booking, promotion, economy, applications, social media, to being festival curators, do the grocery shopping, hang up posters, etc. And it is very important for us to be present throughout the whole festival!
SS: And how has it changed in that time?
TE: As arrangers we have had a natural development since day one. But the biggest change might be the program. We started off with four and five concerts each night, which we felt was just a little bit too much music to handle for one night. So we have downscaled it to only three acts each night, which is perfect.
I think we have a very brave program this year, better then ever, which I’m very proud of, and the quality of every single act is stunning. We have also teamed up with the lovely actress Elisabeth Dahl to lead the audience through both evenings. To have a good and informative introduction before each act makes a big difference.
SS: You have strong connections with the UK, how did that come about?
TE: Graham Collier heard my Trio back in 1997/98, and came up to me after the gig and recommended Royal Academy of Music, where he was head of Jazz at the time.
It took me a while to decide, but I moved to London in 2001 and ended up at Trinity College of music for about a year. It was a short stay, but the connections I made and the impact it has had on my career has been massive.
SS: Tim Harries and Martin France are important colleagues for you?
TE: Yeah, Martin France was my tutor at Trinity and it didn’t take long before we started to work together. I met Tim Harries through Martin’s band Spin Marvel, and my relation with Tim has developed throughout the years, and now we are releasing a duo album this autumn on Kjetil’s label «Optical Substance Productions».
SS: And you also run a studio?
TE: I started to work in a studio called Stereo, which was next to Bugge’s Room back in 2003, when I got back from London. I moved out of Oslo a couple of years ago, and I now have my own studio, Abstract Goat, where I’m working at the moment on a few commissioned works as well as producing the new Eyes of a blue dog album.
SS: You have invited a guitarist from Peru this year?
TE: Yes, and I’m very excited about this. After Tape to Zero we are also doing a tour here in Norway with the great bass player Terje Gewelt.
SS: You’ve worked with him for a long time?
TE: I met Andrés Prado back in 2001 in London, and we played a lot together all around the place and sometimes with guests such as Julian Argüelles and Steve Waterman.
I haven’t seen him since our 6 week tour in Peru back in 2003. Last summer I felt it was time to finally get together again, so invited him to Tape to Zero as well organized this little tour. I’m looking very much forward to it.
Sebastian Scotney: Thank you for inviting me to the festival, by the way – what is the final concert this year?
Terje Evensen: This year’s final concert is very special and Tape to Zero is proud to present this newly commissioned work by and with Deathprod (Helge Sten) and Biosphere (Geir Jenssen). They are both pioneers in ambient music!