Photo credit: David Choi
Jazz violinist Matt Holborn has been interviewing other jazz violinists and releasing podcasts of their conversations. He has just released the 12th interview, with the highest-profile interviewee so far, Jean-Luc Ponty. Matt explained the background to Sebastian:
LondonJazz News: Where are you from originally? From a musical family?
Matt Holborn: I was born in Hull but moved with my family to Edinburgh at 10 years old. My dad plays a bit of guitar and my grandfather plays jazz clarinet in Hull.
LJN: When did you start playing jazz violin and was it gradual or a sudden lightbulb moment?
MH: Well I learnt violin at school when I was little. My grandfather taught me how to solo over and play the chords to a blues on guitar and I sat and practised that for a while. The lightbulb moment came when I realised that I could just find those same notes on the violin and that I would be able to get there a lot easier because I can already play the violin to some degree. My grandad also gave me some Django and Stephane CDs and told me all about them when I was about 15/16. I remember getting it a bit wrong and thinking that it was Stephane who only had two working fingers!
LJN: Were you a fan of other podcasts or what led you to set up The Jazz Violin Podcast?
MH: I love listening to podcasts, I like long in-depth interviews that don’t have much direction or production involved so you can really hear people’s ideas properly. I like Adam Buxton, Joe Rogan, Russell Brand and Chris Howes’ The Creative Strings podcast.
One thing that spurred me on to create my own was a long drive back from a gig. I was in the car with a drummer/producer friend of mine and he was listening to a super nerdy one about microphone preamps or something. I remember being really bored by it so I went about trying to find a podcast that was super-specific to my tastes and interests that would bore my friends. I realised I would have to make it myself…
LJN: Whom did you do the first one with, and did it all go smoothly or were there things you learnt that you’d better not do through doing?
MH: My first was with Tcha Limberger. Tcha is a natural orator and has so many amazing insights about music it basically didn’t take any prompting from me. I was lucky there because I was quite nervous. It did teach me that it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but also to make sure you are prepared with some questions to keep things relaxed.
LJN: Have you interviewed someone already whom you consider an idol? Were you reduced to wobbly-kneed fanboydom??
MH: One of the really exciting ones was the most recent, episode 12 with Jean Luc Ponty. He is a total legend and has shaped the world of jazz violin a great deal!
LJN: Is there someone you’re dreaming of interviewing and it hasn’t happened yet?
MH: I’d really love to interview Regina Carter because she is amazing and seems to have some great stuff to say about music. The only thing is that she just did an interview with Chris Howes for his podcast Creative Strings (an amazing podcast that covers everything from ‘jazz violin’ to ‘rock cello’). I thought it best to wait a little before I asked her.
LJN: Is there a violinist from the past you wish you could interview and what would you ask him or her?
MH: I’m really sad that I never got to interview Didier Lockwood. When I started the podcast he was still alive and in the back of my mind was the idea that at some point I would ask him. He was one of the first violinists I heard that played in a more ‘modern’ jazz style and inspired my playing a lot at one time. He always seemed like such a nice dude and was a great teacher I’m told. I would have asked him how he developed his unique left hand.
Photo credit: David Choi
LJN: Do you do them face to face or Skype or what?
MH: I started off always trying to do face to face. This meant that it was a lot more difficult to find time as I’m always interviewing busy musicians and my life gets quite manic too. A large portion of the interviews I do now are over the internet, I use a great website called Source Connect.
LJN: Do you have an idea how long the podcasts should be or do you just let it happen? How long are they normally?
MH: I don’t set a time limit – as I said I’ve always enjoyed long interviews as it gives the person being interviewed the chance to relax and then get their views across as intricately as they want to. The fact that we can transmit huge files over the internet in seconds has made this possible now; I feel the age of the 60-second soundbite is over! The episode with Christiaan Van Hemmert is nearly 2 hours long!
LJN: Two hours?! What went wrong/right?
MH: Ha, Christiaan is one of these musicians who has lots of opinions about learning and doesn’t have a problem with chatting. Basically, we were having a good time and didnt realise the time!
LJN: As you have developed the project, has a common thread emerged in people’s stories?
MH: I think the common trait it seems that all jazz violinists have a desire to resist convention. It’s still a slightly uncommon instrument in jazz. Most violinists I have interviewed have recalled moments when the realised that the orchestra wasn’t for them or that they wanted an outlet for creativity that the classical music world didn’t quite give them. Another common theme has of course been hard work but there was no surprise there!
LJN: Practical question – please give us a list of /links to your individual episodes
Ep 1- Tcha Limberger
Ep 2- Chris Garrick
Ep 3- Scott Tixier
Ep 4-Christiaan van Hemmert
Ep 5- Ola Kvernberg
Ep 6- Daniel John Martin
Ep 7- Alexandre Tripodi
Ep 8- Joanna Gardner
Ep 9- Zach Brock
Ep 10 Jason Anick
Ep 11 Tim Kliphuis
LJN: And where do we find the newest one with Jean Luc Ponty
MH: There is a taster on YouTube (below) and the whole interview is HERE!
Some episodes of The Jazz Violin Podcast have been sponsored by Ithaca Strings