Phlox Interview von Mai bis Juni 2009

Die gute Nachricht: siehe Ende des Interviews. Die schlechte: mittendrin. Phlox hatten vor "rebimine + voltimine", ihrem Granateneinschlag in die zumeist recht verpennte Jazzrock-Szene bereits zwei Alben eingespielt.
Erwähnt Nichtgründungsmitglied Pearu Helenarum, von Gründungsmitgliedern und anderen Bandmusikern abgesegnet, in einer der interessanten Antworten.
Album Nummer drei ist es, das zeigt, was geht. Wer lauten, hart rockenden Radikaljazzrock in progressiver Komplexfülle mag, darf sich die Platte nicht entgehen lassen - und vorher ein paar Statements des jetzigen Klaviaturisten erlesen.

- When do you have found the group and what was the intention in the beginning?

Phlox was formed during the winter of 1999-2000 by Kristo Roots and Raivo Prooso, and a few other blokes who left soon after. There wasn’t any grand masterplan, as far as I know. It just grows along a fairly natural course.

- What was the musical style you want to play and how it has changed and developed over the years?

Anything goes, in some sense. We reached a stage of almost total chaos at some point, but as noise tends to get boring after a while, composed bits crept back and got more and more elaborate just to make it more interesting for ourselves.

- What are your inspirations, how do you have found the musical style of your own and the band?

By keeping our ears open, listening to a variety of different music, from classical Indian or Japanese music to African, Inuit or Tuva folk, sound experiments, jazz. As the case is with some of us, music schools also probably helped a bit.
As for specific influences… In mid 90s our friends created a small scene for “selfmade” (i.e. non-academic) instrumental music with lengthy impro bits - Tarvo Kaspar Toome with “Megan”, Tikas brothers with “BF”, Mihkel Kleis and “Luarvik Luarvik”. Phlox was the fourth addition.
The main foreign influences are undeniably the Cantebury scene, especially Soft Machine, Magma, Coltrane, Zorn, a lot of contemporary French jazz like Sclavis, Ducret, Collignon, Emler.Also birds and whales singing, public transportation, harbour and factory noises, cats, insects, all sorts of ethnic, electronic, experimental, contemporary classical music etc.

- How is the situation in Eesti today with music of this kind, there are new and young bands and fans? And how was it in the history and past, was there bands and fans of Heavy Progressive Jazzrock Fusion music in the 1960s, 70s until today?

At the moment there is actually a huge new wave of young instrumental prog/jazz rock/avant garde bands coming up. Some classically trained and jawdroppingly professional, although some of them are only 16 - most prominently Jakob Juhkam and Valter Soosalu; others formed by young gents just having a laugh. Due to all this, the size of the audiences and stages at these events has somewhat inflated recently.
And yes, people have been playing this sort of music here all the time since early 1970s like anywhere else. The only low period was in early and mid 90s, the era dominated by Euro-disco, underground raves and godawful rock, when Megan and BF played to unprepared audiences that sometimes had slight difficulties understanding what was going on. But from earlier decades there’s been a long list of prog and free bands - Mess, In Spe, Kaseke, Ruja, Tunnetusüksus etc.

- Who is composing the songs, how do you develop the arrangements, how growing your ideas to songs? Do you work it out in band sessions or is anybody bringing in perfect and finished ideas/compositions/arrangements?

Mostly the compositions are completed at home, before rehearsals, either by Kristo Roots, Madis Zilmer or myself. Lately we’ve even developed a habit of providing an mp3 with full arrangement, recorded with a midi keyboard or programmed otherwise, to go with the notation. Some minor structural changes might come up in the rehearsals, but mostly its home-cooked.

- Do you discuss the heavy style of your sound or is it THE thing (like ours) you want to hear and play the songs all in the band?

We don’t talk too much about it. Certainly the result is a compromise, as there’s six of us and the tastes are different. We definitely do not try to specifically pursue this or that genre and if there is something that can be called “our sound”, it has developed only because it is terribly difficult (and somewhat unnecessary) to completely reinvent yourself for each tune.

- Do you play the songs live the same way like on the CD? Do you play songs from other/old bands of this style in concerts?

More or less, but they may change over time slightly, we might cut or add some bits, mix different tunes together.
We play covers very rarely. But we are a part of a mad orchestra of roughly 50 people, called the Estonian Bad Dream Big Band, featuring most of the MKDK bands on stage all together, a choir of about 20 people, harps, violins, singers, sitars, and most importantly a brass section with a few professionals who play in symphonic orchestras or bands, joined by more than ten guys who can’t actually play the horns, but still blow loud as hell. With that absurd line-up we play covers of each other’s music. And one Brigitte Bardot song.

- How was getting the contract with MKDK records and the contact to the, and the support of the Eesti Kultuurkapital?

MKDK Records is not a proper record company, it’s a bunch of old friends, part-time musicians, artists, people from media-photo-film world etc. It is registered as a non profit organization. We’ve always just been a part of it, no contracts involved. The MKDK logo on the CDs is more like a unifying umbrella, which gives the potential listener some idea what to expect (although besides fusion and free jazz, MKDK also releases acoustic experiments, sound art, fake cowboy rock and so on).
From a financial aspect, each musician or group releases their material by themselves. Still, one important bonus is the possibility to record with the piles of vintage equipment at “MKDK studio”, which is actually the BF rehearsal room in the medieval basement of Kanuti Gild dance theatre, with Heikki Tikas from BF as the sound engineer.
As for Kultuurkapital - like any government institution, they don’t explain much. For bands it’s a small sum, sort of a token of recognition, that just about covers the cd-factory bill, nothing more.

- You’ve got one album with 9 songs out. Do you have more material for a second CD? How does sound your other songs, if you have it? Is there any chance to release it for the public?

Yes, next one is coming soon. The recording process is almost finished, but mixing will be done after the summer. The overall sound seems more or less the same, the main difference being that this time a lot of material was written by our drummer Madis Zilmer who definitely has his own way of doing things.

- Do you’ve got a fanbase? How are the reactions to “rebimine + voltimine” in Eesti and worldwide?

We got a surprising amount of reviews from around the world and almost all of them are more than supportive. In Eesti the overall situation is also pretty good, especially with the renewed interest in that sort of music - it has actually reached a point where we recently played on a separate “Prog stage” at an urban indie festival with countless hords of teenagers for audience. This would have been totally unheard of just a few years ago.

- Is there any chance to see you playing live in concert outside of Eesti, maybe in germany?

Of course, if somebody has enough energy to organize it. So far, the closest we’ve come to Germany is France, where we have had a couple of mini tours. But we did always go through the Berlin airport...

- What are your next future plans?

We’ll release our 4th album (counting our first two tiny scale releases "Fusion" and "Piima"), play some gigs, travel a bit, probably. Then hopefully we’ll compose some more and record the 5th.