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Karsten Vogel & Robin Taylor: The Bird and Bear of Danish Fusion

By Published: April 30, 2008

AAJ: So you do have a jazz connection?

RT: Well, my roots were very much in rock. I never had much contact with the jazzers, even though I was a hardcore Secret Oyster fan. I think, in those days, there was much more respect between different musicians—they were so much fewer, and the barriers between styles didn't seem so high.

Karsten Vogel: I suppose I have always been on the edge of the rock world, though when I met Robin I had more or less given up live work altogether. I was involved with some radio programs and other compositional work.

RT: And remember the studio is my main workplace. I have never been touring.

AAJ: So your basic methods of working are different?

KV: I have always been composing—that's how my bands got started, with material I wanted to perform and record.

Karsten Vogel / Secret OysterRT: Yes, we have that in common. I had a long break after my own initial efforts, which I sent up to Danish Radio for broadcast on an experimental music program in the early 1980s. But I picked it up again in the 1990s, working with a young Danish musician Jan Marsfeldt. We really started Taylor's Universe together.

AAJ: And you have slowly built up an audience?

RT: One of my main sales areas is Russia, not that I see any of the revenues though!

KV: I have been fortunate to find a younger audience to some extent lately. And one shouldn't underestimate the value of the female audience too. Quite a proportion of my audiences nowadays are women. Maybe it's just that women basically find the saxophone more appealing. I'm sure I get more contacts from the women audience members than you, Robin!

AAJ: And the Internet has been a major boost to your promotion?

RT: Definitely. I am hardly known at all here in Denmark despite the gigs. But there haven't been too many of them, and the business seems to be getting tighter all the time, besides.

KV: For Secret Oyster it has been the other side of the electronic revolution that has given us the boost. Laser's Edge (the US record company) were very keen to re-release the LPs, but only if they could produce the highest quality recordings. And that led to Ken Golden helping us arrange gigs in the USA in 2007.

AAJ: Do you have different inspirations nowadays?

KV: Well, I would say that biological changes in a person do affect your thoughts patterns. As a youngster there seemed to be so little music being produced that was really good. Now there is so much music to listen to, but so little of it seems to be good enough. I am nowadays far more selective in my listening.

My private life is easier too, now. In those days, in a band like Secret Oyster, I was playing for a living, but also playing for the future—to stay in the band! It was such a competitive group, and a competitive period of life. One was always wondering what to do just to be able to continue and survive in the business, always playing for the future.

Karsten Vogel

Nowadays I can play for the gig itself. I don't have to worry any more about the future. I suppose it's in that way more meditative. It's maybe a privilege of being older. On the last album I think I have actually managed to produce eight bars that I really feel proud of. For the first time I can say that since I started listening to Charlie Parker there is something on one of my discs I am really pleased with—eight bars of it!

RT: My role is different. I am not a solo instrumentalist, so actually contacting and working with other musicians is the last phase of the process. I see the whole album as a creation, and each one has been so different. I suppose that I hope my best bars extend over the whole of the last album, Soundwall. My career has been so different from Karsten's, but it's very rewarding to think of my work being considered on the same level as his. Maybe I should consider that I have actually "made it" now.

Selected Discography

Birds of Beauty, Mean Old Men (Calibrated Records, 2008)
Taylor's Universe, Soundwall (MOBCD, 2008)
Taylor's Free Universe, Manipulated by Taylor (MOBCD, 2006)

Taylor's Universe, Oyster's Apprentice (MOBCD, 2005)

Peter Friis Neilsen/Taylor's Free Universe, On-plugged in Elsinore (MOBCD, 2003)

Visit Robin Taylor and Karsten Vogel on the web.

Photo Credits
Karsten Vogel: Saul Panzer
Robin Taylor: Courtesy of Robin Taylor

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