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Jeff Gauthier: Fiddling with the Future

By Published: June 30, 2008
AAJ: Four years ago you did an interview where you were asked what you would like to see happen over the next five years. You said you'd like to be less involved with business, and more involved in creating your own music and performance. How successful have you been with that?

JG: Not very successful. Business still takes up far too much time. I have great people like Josh helping me out. It's my constant struggle to be able to find the time to practice, and to find the time to write. I'm very proud of the music that I have put out over the last five years of my own, and at the same time my output probably would have been more. I don't think the quality would have been any better, but having to juggle everything and wear all these hats takes time. I'm also very proud of all the music I've been able to produce and put out of other people.

It's always been the concept of representing a community, so in that respect, I feel like I'm doing my job. I could probably be doing a better job representing my own music, but that's my own personal struggle.

AAJ: How much do you play?

JG: I try to practice everyday, an hour would be great, two hours would be fantastic. It really depends on what's going on. It depends on if I have gigs coming up, I also do some orchestral work still. I'm still playing with the L.A. Master Chorale. I've given up some of my other orchestral gigs just because I've wanted to focus on my own music, and the business of running a record label is taking up so much time.

AAJ: Do you get any time to compose?

JG: It usually has more to do with deadlines. I get ideas and I write them down, and I collect ideas. Then when a deadline comes up, like, 'oh my god I have a recording session coming up in two months,' then I'll sit down with the ideas. I try to think in terms of the whole, what is this album trying to say. Then, I'll take the ideas and try to develop them into structures that fit what I'm trying to say with the album.

I had an interesting thing happen with this album, House of Return. I've been playing with these guys for so long, and Nels and Alex and I came from a collaborative ensemble called Quartet Music where everybody composed the music, but it was mostly Nels and Eric Von Essen who composed the music.

I knew there were a couple tunes of Eric's I wanted to include, and Nels said he was going to write a tune for the piece. I knew that, so I had four tunes I had to write. I started working on all these tunes, and then Nels called and said, 'I've got another tune.' And then Alex called and said he had a tune, so I actually had the luxury of having too much material for this record. I ended up setting a couple my tunes aside, and just going with what I thought was the stronger material representing the group vibe.

AAJ: Are you still running

JG: Yes, Indie Jazz is the part of the company that makes a little bit of money. The idea behind Indie Jazz is that there are so many great independent labels doing music that's a little bit off the beaten path. The same vibe as Cryptogramophone, Nine Winds, pfMentum, Pi Recordings, there's all kinds of great little labels out there that don't have great distribution, and it's getting harder and harder to get good distribution these days.

So, the idea was to get a website together that would sell music by all these great labels, and sell Cryptogramophone music as well. People coming to look for Cryptogramophone music would see this other great music, and people coming to look for this other great music would find Cryptogramophone. It's been good in that it brings a little money into the company, it's establishing communication between all these labels. It's a little bit more work than I'd like, but then I also get introduced to a lot of great music that I probably wouldn't have heard otherwise.

AAJ: Will the Goatette tour behind the new record?

JG: I'm hoping we'll have something here in LA, and I'm think we'll have a little something at Yoshi's in the Bay Area. Still trying to figure out where we'll play here. Ever since we lost the Club Tropical [long time home of the successful Cryptonight concert series], it's been hard for me to find the right venue for my group primarily because we need a good piano. We don't always play loud, most of our stuff is on the more sensitive side, but we do get loud sometimes. We'd love to play at Cafe Metropol, but we really can't because of the volume issues there. It's difficult to find a place with a good piano where people will come out and hear us that isn't too expensive to rent.

The scene in L.A. has changed a little bit and I've been slow to adapt. I really miss the Club Tropical and the series we had there for three and a half years.

AAJ: Will Cryptonight rise again?

JG: I've got my eyes on a couple places. There's one place in development that's a theatre where they're going to be doing indie rock concerts with a little coffee house opening within it. I'm talking to them about the possibility of doing something there. We've been looking around. I'm sure there's a place out there for us, we just haven't found it yet.

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