Members: Mikas Bøgh Olesen, Jakob de Place, Dieudonne Koita, Sory Dao, Mads Voxen, Kassim Koita
Interviewee: Jakob de Place
Nationality: Malian & Danish
Current Release: Sira Kura on Subterrania
Recommendations: The record Axiom by Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah. And Nahawa Doumbia with the album Mangoni.
If you enjoyed this interview with the Faratuben, visit their insightful website, which offers just about everything you ever wanted to know about them. They also have a facebook page as well as an instagram-profile.
When did you start writing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
My first influence with music was Earth Wind and Fire. I started playing drums at the age of 10. I had a ghettoblaster in the cellar were I would put on these tapes of Earth Wind and Fire (which I thought at that time, was The Beatles). I got so attracted to the groove and the horns, and it just made a psysical impact on me. I knew that record by heart!
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I think it is natural to learn a language by copying. Like you do when you start speaking, you are copying your mother and father you know?
The transition is fluent and constant, as you are constantly sucking in your environment, I don't believe that something called ”originality” actually exists. Everything comes from something and we all stand on the shoulders of our masters. To say when it is my own voice and when I am copying is hard to say - and in someway also irrelevant.
What were some of your main artistic challenges when starting out as an artist and in which way have they changed over the years?
I don't think there were any challenges when I started playing, or at least, I didn't consider them as challenges. It was all just for fun.
Challenges come with expectations, and the expectations came later on in the process, when things got more serious.I think naturally there was a technical boundary that had to be passed on the drumset, and now the challenge is more to understand the music, or to have a meaningful approach towards the music.
Tell me about your instrument, please. How would you describe the relationship with it? What are its most important qualities and how do they influence the musical results – and possibly even your own performance?
My relationship with the drums is very close. It is the drums that make the people dance, so I am very grateful to have that power.
Tell us about your studio/rehearsal/work space, please. What were criteria when setting it up and how does this environment influence the creative process? How important, relatively speaking, are factors like mood, ergonomics, haptics and technology for you?
The rehearsal space is very different depending on where we are in the world. In Mali, we often practice in a bar called Bazani, which is very open. People come and sit and listen to the rehearsal, some even comment on the music! I love that openness towards music. That it is not something secret, but a part of the now and the world. In Denmark, it's more a sort of traditional workspace with speakers, 4 walls, etc ...
Mood is everything! Music is communicating feelings, and it is communication.
How do you make use of technology – and in which way does it influence your music?
The technology that I use the most is my iPhone. It is a genius media because I can record everything, which is a privilege. It influences my music in a way, cause I can always analyse myself and what I am playing.
In music, the collective is often more than the sum of its parts. How do you see the role of collaboration for your approach and how do individual members contribute to create something new and bigger?
I think that the answer is already in the question. The sum is indeed bigger that its parts.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I do not have a fixed schedule, but there are things that I do throughout the day, that are very important to me:
I have to practice my instrument.
I have to check my e-mail and messenger to book concerts and other relevant things for managing my groups.
Rehearsals with people.
A normal day for me, has these 3 things. They blend automatically. You never know when you get that message that you need to respond to quickly, but I would like to get better at being offline and have ”office time”.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
When we created Sira Kura (the debut album of Faratuben), we were together for one month, writing the music, arranging, eating, sleeping, recording and drinking together. It was a complete experience. We were together ALL THE TIME. I think you can hear that on the record. That closeness.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
The ideal state of mind for being creative is to be open and aware. No expectations and maximum focus in one. And then most importantly, listen. Listen to what the others are playing. Listen, very carefully.
Distractions are things like bad sleep, hangover, girlfriend-trouble, stress induced by work, all these things that you need to be able to let go when you want to create.
How is playing live in front of an audience and in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
When you record you can always do it again, and then you listen to what you play, so you can get analytical about it. ”I play too hard here, or to soft or i'm dragging or i'm running”. These small adjustments can make you achieve a better result. Live is more of an energy and a connection with the audience. If you get too analytical you lose the moment - and thus, the attention of the audience.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'songwriting' aspects? How do you work with sound to meet certain song ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
I don't understand the first question. The ”sound” aspects? Isn't all music sound?
Sometimes you feel a sound can write a song. That the idea is indeed already encapsuled in this little fine grain, like a name can kickstart a whole swirl of emotions for a writer, just by a name or a sentence.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
The connection between rhythm and dance/movement is ancient and has applied to all human civilisations throughout time.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
In Faratuben we sing about political and social injustice. I think you can say other things in songs that you can when you just speak. It becomes easier.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I don't agree on the premise of this question. I do not believe that the basic concept of music is still intact. Or, what is the basic concept of music? Is it melody and rhythm? It has changed so much through time, and is still changing.