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Esbjorn Svensson: Requiem

By Published: September 1, 2008
AAJ: This can be a very hard question or a very easy question, depending on how much one has thought about it. What is the meaning of music? Why do we do this?

ES: I think music is a way of being, it's like being kind of a god, to create a universe, to create time, to create the stars, and to create an end. When you start playing, the world, the universe could be beginning, and it could be filled with anything, and it lasts as long as the music lasts. When the music finished, that is it. It's a specific time that you create within time, within our reality; you create another universe with the piece of music you're playing. We are kind of creators, all of us when we are playing music or are listening to music. That's one way of looking at music. I don't know why we need it. I mean I don't know what human beings are at all.

But I think, that the frustrating thing with music, from one point of view it's so concrete, you can hear it, you can point out different parts of it, you can really feel it. For me at least, music is very concrete. You can divide it into small parts, you can look at in so many ways, but you can't touch it. Where is it? What is it? What is it that is creating all these emotions? Sometimes is seems to be alive. I'm thinking like at first, it's to create a universe within a universe, a new world, a new time, every time you play.

AAJ: What is the meaning of performing, what do you think it's doing for the people who are listening?

ES: It's always so hard to say. I try not to imagine at all what music could do to people and what it should do. There is no right way or wrong way to interpret our music, because you always hear it from your special, personal view. We don't play music as we think people would like to hear it, we only play music the way we want to hear it. We're starting always with ourselves, the three of us on stage, we play together, we try to connect, we try to play music that we really like. If that works, I feel that we create energy that goes out into the audience, then the audience is able to pick it up in his or her very personal way and get something from it. This creates energy that goes back to the stage, so it's very much about energy. It goes back and forth between the performer and the audience. But it's never, ever, at least for us, a concrete message. You can't say that you heard this music wrong, it's never like that, it's always up to the person who is listening.

AAJ: Right. What do you think the message is? What is it about?

ES: It's about communication. It's about listening. Not talking. It's about being able to hear something, and really listening. Through listening, you really communicate with whomever you are communicating with, the musician, the audience. That's something music really can teach people, to listen. Because what I think what we lack in this world as human beings is communication. Why we are not able to communicate is because we're not listening enough. We're too much concerned with ourselves and our own thoughts and about what we want to say instead of just listen.

AAJ: Where does improvising come from? Where are you when you are improvising?

ES: The process of improvising, when I do it, when I think it works best, it's very much like meditation, when you try to not to think in a concrete way. If you meditate, you are concentrating on breathing, trying to turn off your thoughts. When you improvise, it's the same thing; you're not sitting there thinking. When it works, you're totally into the music, you're totally into the now, the flow, and the thoughts and the brain are turned off. You're an instrument for the music, the music is passing through you, because sometimes, when that really works, I experience it as I have no idea what I'm playing or where I'm going and how I'm doing it. It's just like you're letting somebody do something through you. For me, the optimal way of improvising, it's a fantastic experience.

AAJ: Do you meditate?

ES: Yes, some private meditation. I'm not educated in any way. I'm very interested in philosophies around the world-I'm reading books, I'm experimenting, let's say. Like I always did with music, I experimented with music, now I'm experimenting a bit with meditation.

AAJ: You mentioned a second ago, somebody is working through you when you improvise—who is that somebody?

ES: I don't know if I am connected with something else, something bigger, it's just so fantastic that I have to experience it. It's probably a part of myself that is...maybe it's my Self in contrast to the Ego. I don't know. Where the ego is very much concerned about, very much worried about things, thinking about how things will turn out, this is right, this is wrong, blah, blah, blah, what will people think about me? The Being is myself. The Being is not concerned at all with what is happening, it's just in the Flow.

Selected Discography

e.s.t., Leukocyte (ACT, 2008)
e.s.t., Live in Hamburg (ACT, 2007)
e.s.t., Tuesday Wonderland (ACT, 2006)
e.s.t., Viaticum (ACT, 2005)
e.s.t. Seven Days of Falling (ACT, 2003)
e.s.t., Strange Place for Snow (ACT, 2002)
e.s.t. Good Morning Susie Soho (ACT, 2000)
e.s.t., From Gagarin's Point of View (ACT, 1999)
e.s.t., From Gagarin's Point of View (ACT, 1999)
e.s.t., Winter in Venice (ACT, 1997)
Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Plays Monk (ACT, 1997)
Esbjörn Svensson Trio, e.s.t. Live '95 (ACT, 1995)
Esbjörn Svensson Trio, When Everyone Has Gone (Dragon, 1993)

Photo Credit

Top: Fotobrew

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