Take Five With Thomas Steffen


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Meet Steffen:
Ctrl-Alt-U is a project from Thomas Steffen. Born in 1965, Steffen has been a drummer since he was 13 and has studied music science. Steffen has worked in different bands, projects, and film music for Dance 3D Filmfest Barcelona in 2013.

Drums, guitar, bass, sax, trumpet, and others.

Teachers and/or influences?
Wolfgang Eckholt was my drum teacher. I have been influenced by Miles Davis, Erik Truffaz, John Coltrane, and Stan Getz.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I was 13 and I had to wait another year to get a drum set from my parents; they gave me bongos first and I played them for a year.

Your sound and approach to music:
I love the lo- fi vibe. I like music from the moment. Make it and feel it—don't edit it too much.

Your teaching approach:
You must have sounds and pictures in your head. I learned to improvise while looking at silent television shows— it works.

Your dream band:
I would love to work with electro-pop musician, Schiller. I like his way of chilled out electronica combined with singers.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
I had to play during a book launch—four hours driving to the venue and back—but by the time I played my slotted time, the audience went outside for a smoke break.

Favorite venue:
Hundertmeister Duisburg, which is excellent. Today it is called the Grammatikof.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
pure (Self Produced, 2013). It is rough and was quickly recorded.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Charly Antolini, Knock Out (Jeton, 1979).

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
I am always ready to play.

Did you know...
That I studied music science and made my exam about Mozart, Bruckner, and the architecture of organs

CDs you are listening to now:
Erik Truffaz, In Between (Blue Note, 2010);
Erik Truffaz, El Tiempo De La Revolucion (Blue Note, 2012);
John Coltrane, A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965);
Nils-Petter Molvaer, Re-coloured (Boutique, 2001);
Miles Davis, Doo Bop (Warner, 1992).

Desert Island picks:
Miles Davis, You're Under Arrest (Columbia, 1985);
Cameron de la Isla, Paris 1987 (Mercury, 1999).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
On one side we see the dusty church of jazz listeners dressed in black who expect nothing because the best happened a long time ago in their minds. On the other side we have a lot of good musicians working hard that have lots of ideas that cannot survive because the listeners are in the church of dust.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Clubs, sessions, and festivals with open stages.

What is in the near future?
I'd like to start a one shot studio—analog and ready to record every time. No editing, just one shots and the album with different and exciting combinations of musicians.

What's your greatest fear when you perform?
To lose my pants—there is no fear, it is fun.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
"Ascenseur Pour l'Echafaud" from Miles Davis or "Sugar Man" from Rodriguez.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

By Day:
Public relations consultant.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
Bongo player.

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