Name: Jens Düppe
Occupation: Drummer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser
Recent release: Jens Düppe's The Beat is out via Neuklang.
Recommendations: It is too hard to prioritise and choose two things. Anyhow I’d say:
Silence (book by John Cage)
"Das Musikalische Opfer" (J.S.Bach)
If you enjoyed this interview with Jens Düppe and would like find out more, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram, and Facebook.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I began composing and forming my own projects during my music education at the music high school of Amsterdam.
I was always influences by different styles of music. In these times it was acoustic jazz music especially (especially music with the American drummer Brian Blade) or different projects by Brandford Marsalis, electronic music like the group PLAID and Aphex Twin or Boards of Canada and classical minimal music like Steve Reich or Arvo Pärt or Luigi Nono.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colors. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
For me it is more that I live that moment inside the music and I dive into it. My mind is fully taken by the sound and rhythms and I am in a kind of parallel universe.
Same happens when I perform music.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
I see my career as a slowly but steadily rising curve. I am a fully self-made musician who was never grabbed by an institution like a major label or a major producer and pushed hard to accelerate my career.
Going this path slowly and straight automatically made me develop a personal voice in my playing and writing. Winning prizes like the WDR Jazzpreis or the nomination for the ECHO Jazz helped a bit to accelerate on that way.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
Identity grows while creating and reflecting your own work. This circle needs to be completed many times and makes your identity as a player and compose stronger and stronger. But it takes time and there are no shortcuts since it means: to compose music, record it, play it, compose again, records again etc.
Doing this and discovering your own voice and identity gives you more and more trust in yourself and this feels very good.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
Learning to trust yourself and what you really like in music and art. And the dare to realize it.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
I can not say what "timeless art" is - not at this very moment. I am grateful that I could work and play with so many great musicians in my life, playing and learning many different styles of music.
I try to be free in allowing myself to be inspired by all musical sources inside of me. This is what I do, especially composing for my new solo project where I play piano and drums at the same time.
Let people in 1000 years judge what kind of music it was that Jens Düppe composed.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
When I was very young I was put into contact with instruments like the flute and the piano and the Glockenspiel. Then I decided to learn and study the drums and jazz music.
I try to get as much diversity of sounds in my playing. I try to see the drums alway as an instrument which can not only tell rhythmic but as well melodic stories.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
I wake up, mostly still tired and in a bad mood.
Then I have lots of coffee, open the computer and do business like administration or booking. I go to my rehearsal room and practice, compose or prepare music.
In the evening I go home and continue doing business work or do other research, go to play a concert or go out to listen to a live concert.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
Except being busy with one piece of art to really understand it, my main inspiration is it to get to know and in contact with as much different music as possible.
Therefore I create and let create playlists by different online platforms and alway trying to discover new small musical ideas from all that music and try to adapt it to my playing and composing.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
I am used to doing both.
For my quartet I mainly compose everything myself and we finish developing the music playing together. In my interdisciplinary series of music we develop concepts and music all together from the beginning on.
I think this mix of doing both makes you a completer artist.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
I think creating music is a reflection of the circumstances of the very moment you live in (society, political system etc.). So making and creating music or art helps one deal with one’s general life situation.
It is more about trying to understand it than trying to influencing it. But still, it is an important and strong tool for dealing with life.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
Music is art is philosophy is dreaming. You need to dream a situation first before you try to prove or dis-prove it (like black holes, parallel universes etc.) Art helps dreaming.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Creativity is a state of mind, doesn’t matter what you do or create. It is only a question of complexity.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our eardrums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
Talking about transmitting something is more complex than just considering and talking about the sender and the recipient.
The most important aspect for the quality and success of a transmission is the MEDIUM which is used to transmit something. Which intentions the sender has transmitting his message.
When it comes to music, one could ask: which behavior does the musician choose for transmitting his music or art? Does one use words and speech to help transmitting? How is your body language and your visible behavior? How does this fit to your message? Is the message somehow hidden or more directly understandable?