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Dominic Duval: Follow Your Melody

By Published: October 4, 2010
Nightbird Inventions

AAJ: How does an artist of your scale seem to emerge out of nowhere, only 15-20 years ago?

DD: The records have to be at the beginning. Without having a product to represent your music, it is very difficult to get work. One year I sent out 50 demo tapes, and got back 52 rejections. One guy hated my music so much that he felt he needed to reject it twice. These recordings are like keys to a door, which opens up other doors for you. I can't stress that enough, about being able to look back at the things you've done on record and being proud of them, and thinking that you've done something worthwhile. It just took me a long time to do that. And you asked me that question—"Why it took me so long to record?"—that's probably why. I didn't do a lot of recording when I was younger because I just didn't think I had enough to say. I hadn't yet created music I wanted or needed anyone else to hear.

AAJ: You started when you realized that you were ready.

DD: Honestly, that's exactly what happened. One day I woke up and I said to myself, "I have been anonymous way too long." I've always thought this attitude was not serving myself or my music very well. "Maybe I am fooling myself I thought?" I just had to step out onto the scene and show the musical world what I was about... To take my chances and my lumps if need be. I think it's one thing to know what you are doing is important, and believing that you are an important musician/artist. It's another thing to actually have other people, people in the industry that you respect, believe you are just that. Now, you know not everyone will always agree with you, and that's OK, we can work on those that dissent. They're right, as freethinking music fans/ critics; I expected that, to some extent. My advice to myself is to be able to take verbal comments, criticism, good or bad. All criticism is important, even though you may not agree with the content at the time it is written.

Finally, for all you new critics out there: in my music, I offer a whole new way of playing the bass and making music with it. Forget the standard way it's been done for decades—a new twist for you to read about and ponder. I didn't think I had enough to say in my earlier musical development; nothing worth documenting or recording, anyway. I feel this was the direction of my journey, and that's about it.

AAJ: Your solo bass recording Nightbird Inventions was a more than convincing indication that you'd reached the state of artistic maturity. It simply couldn't go unnoticed.

DD: Nightbird was my attempt of taking the bass into a different sonic realm. One of the ways I accomplished this was by using different effects that were uncommon to the ear—and to the bass. A lot of thought and preparation went into that recording—not the actual recording time, but finding new techniques to achieve those effects, to get the right sound out of the instrument. To discover how to produce these new sounds, especially the "nightbird" sound.

AAJ: What really amazes me is that your bass solos are very abstract and melodic at the same time. I think that Nightbird is one of the most outstanding bass solo recordings ever.

DD: It's great that you like it. But let me say this: instruments don't make music. People make music. Their lives, their struggles, their loves, their hates, their prejudices, and their creativity—it's all there. Some people would disagree with that thought, but I think you have to have a basic fundamental understanding of music and be able to play it with reasonable clarity. That ability allows you room to play outside of a form. You have to be able to play inside to go outside, I think? Take John Coltrane for instance, I believe he recorded the Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1962) and A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) within months of each other; yet' tThey sound in contradiction to one another, stylistcly speaking, but Coltrane could work in both areas equally and at ease. They are both classics, which I listen too often to this day.

For me, it was never just about the bass. I don't play the bass. I play music. It's about making music with other people or making music by yourself. All music needs to have a theme or anti theme, for it to be complete. I think my solo records have a musical foundation, as well as abstract value—not just random sounds, although that too can be a theme, no theme at all. To work in the abstract is to strip an idea to the core. To squeeze the essence out of the music or idea. That's not me, but the great Bill Dixon
Bill Dixon
Bill Dixon
1925 - 2010
, who said that.

The main focus of all instrumentalists, whether they are bass soloists or ensemble players, is the sounds one hears coming from the players. I enjoy many types of music, and they all have that one thing in common—they either make you wanna dance or sing or think of a point in time that is somehow relived. It should, at least, have those qualities. I also think music is the best way for me to achieve a solid artistic presence, between me and the listener. To be able to affect others through my work is my main goal.

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