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Franklin Kiermyer: Joy And Consequence

Ian Patterson By

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AAJ: On the EPK video for Further you all use the word "spiritual" to talk about this music, in fact Gonzalez says "It goes beyond music." A lot of the music you've made in your life has been driven by or inspired by this concept, so what does the term "spiritual" mean for you?

FK: Well, the concept—concepts are words. Spiritual is just a word, but I believe Benito is speaking of the same phenomenon—the same experience. The more we relax our habit of grabbing onto concepts or thoughts, the more the heart flows. The essential nature of that heart is spiritual. I think that what we call love is what happens when you really relax. I think love is spiritual.

You have to hone and develop your ability to let go because we are so used to describing things to ourselves instead of experiencing them. That holds us back from being present. It's something we have to work with honestly and with awareness. I need to confront the things that hold me back and open myself to it and learn to let the barriers fall so I can share it. That to me is what spirituality is. It's love and it deepens and grows by sharing it.

AAJ: Do you think that somebody who doesn't believe in spirits or in deities can appreciate this music to the same extent as somebody who does?

FK: I don't think belief systems help. I think they generally get in the way. Deities aren't real. The spirit is not something real. These are constructs of the imagination. That is what essentially the deity is. If you travel back to the source of your imagination with your eye of wisdom you'll see there's no beginning to it. That openness is the deity—the spirit, but it's not a 'thing.' All systems are fabrications—musical or non-musical. This is proof to me that we are all essentially the same and we're all essentially free—perfect.

We have to use words to communicate—systems of transferring ideas using sound—just like we're doing now, so what words do you use? I know I am not the only artist struggling with these terms. What do you say? I want to share my heart with you? Every word has baggage. Some people don't say "spirituality," they say "spirit." Or they say "soul." They are all allusions and they're all illusions.

The point is, how does the music feel to you? Even more importantly, what does it do to you? Not what does it sound like, or even feel like, but what does it do? That's the whole point of this.

AAJ: Focusing on one particular aspect of this continuum; there are similarities between Further and Solomon's Daughter, most obviously the similar styles of Sanders and Lawrence; is the ecstatic element common to both these players essential in the perusal or creation of the spirituality—or whatever you want to call it—in your music?

FK: It's a good question. What I think you're pointing at, what you're calling the ecstatic quality in this music, is a product of a few essential things that the musicians bring to the moment. The most important element is faith —faith in two things: one is faith that if one does let go what comes forth is the point—the fruit; the second faith is that one can actually do this— that one can allow oneself to be open like that. I don't even care what instrument a person plays. It's that faith that can make the music great.

The other important quality is intention. One has to identify that opening up is the goal and be clear that the purpose of convening is to allow that to happen. When we come together, the purpose is to cause this to happen and to share this experience. Some people might say that the purpose is to make the room vibrate, some people might say it's to open up to that ecstasy or awe, but how you describe it is not really the point. The faith is so strong that the purpose is to share that faith.

AAJ: There are obvious ties linking all the musicians together and linking them to a quite specific tradition...

FK: That tradition, that's what I'm trying to say. It's that faith and openness and passion. It's music as a spiritual path. That is the tradition. In terms of musicians who have been models of that for me there are many; some more and some less. In the society and time that I've grown up in John Coltrane and his quartet shine as a prime example of this. The reason for this is not that these people became so great at playing a style or tradition or even that they developed a tradition further. It's who they were and became as individuals.

It's not that they became the best purveyors of a language. There is something deeper going on. The reason these musicians and bands are so powerful is because what they're opening up to in themselves is really primary—really essential. It transcends a style or a vocabulary or any tradition. In my experience, that vibe is not cultural or tribal or temporal. It transcends all that. It's original, as in coming forth from the origins. I think that's the point.

So it's really about individuals. That's what's hard for a lot of musicians to come to terms with, I think. The continuum is just individuals. Not devoted to what's been done before, but devoted to the same thing—this experience—and that is the experience of what we are essentially; that openness and freedom. It's less of a style and more of an uncovered nakedness. That nakedness is the courage. That's the faith.

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