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Interviewing Stefan Pasborg

Stefan Pasborg soittaa rumpuja

What’s happening? 

I’m doing great actually. 😊 Can’t wait to perform in Tampere together with UMO! It was a fantastic experience to play with them back in 2019. This concert will be the first time I’ll perform my “Ritual Dances” album with a bigband since I released the album on the american label ‘Sunnyside Records’ in Feb. 2022, and I’m really going to enjoy that. Especially in the fantastic Tampere Jazz Happening ! – one of my all-time favorite festivals ever. Always such a superb atmosphere and seriousness sourrounding the music in this great festival!

My past year has been pretty OK when you consider the aftermath of covid… I have been playing a lot with my own bands like Ibrahim Electric, the duo with Gambian kora-player Dawda Jobarteh, and the band Magic Spirit Quartet with a.o. Moroccan guimbre-player Majid Bekkas. I just got back last week from Morocco from a magical tour of concerts with that great band. And I have made a new trio with finnish sax player Mikko Innanen and French hammond-player Cedric Piromalli, with which we have toured a bit in Denmark, Finland and France.

And then I have actually also made my very first score for a feature movie… and it is a Finnish movie called “Hit Big” (in Finnish: “Hetki lyö”) by the director Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää. The premiere will happen in Helsinki in November, and it will also be featured at the great film festival “Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival” this month.  So yeah, I’m pretty excited about that too.
This month I have a lot to do in Finland!

You got you first drum set as a three year old toddler from your godfather Alex Riel, a very well-known Danish drummer with whom you have also played and recorded.  What would you have become if he had been an author, a lawyer or a neurosurgeon, or even a trombonist – my question being: how much of our lives, even artists’ life is based on coincidences. And if so, how do you decide what of these you are going to follow / should follow?

Haha, really good question… I am 100% sure I would have been working with some kind of physical expression. My mother was a ballet dancer as well as my stepdad and my other godfather (I have 2 godfathers, the other one being the Danish ballet- legend Erik Bruhn). Who knows, perhaps I would’ve been into dancing… On the other hand, the dancing never really interested me 100%, only the ballet-MUSIC… sooo I guess I’m at the right place. Then again, when I was 13 years old I was the topscorer of my junior-football-team in Copenhagen so perhaps the drums ruined a perfect football-career, haha, who knows.

Four years ago, in 2018, you released a series of six recordings which were only available as vinyl EP’s — no streaming, no downloads, not even on CDs. And you had a point: not to fetishize vinyl as such but to remind and underline that access to music is nowadays way too easy, that both music and musicians deserve time and patience – and should also get paid, of course. What kind of affects has this easy access had on music so far, both on personal and on general level? And: is there a way back to ”deep listening”?

It’s a really, really tough question… because on this matter, I am not feeling very positive. Really… I’m afraid that the streaming-culture has a serious and very strong impact on the devaluation of music. Especially the non-mainstream music, and on music which is difficult to put into small boxes. There’s no real and good answer to this question. But yeah, I do think that we are losing a lot of finesse and details around music as an ‘art-form’ with the streaming-culture.

The patience in the listening process’s are fading, the info and small details about music are lacking, the ability to give music as an actual present is not there anymore with streaming… and so much knowledge about albums and musicians is also fading through streaming. I feel music as an actual product is devaluating, and it makes me quite sad. Furthermore we see more and more artists who stop being really creative and instead musicians are trying to create music to fit the playlists, which means that we just get a lot more of the SAME kind of music over and over again… I strongly believe that serious music like f.ex  jazz and classical HAVE to find much better and respectful platforms than f.ex. Spotify and the rest of the streaming-services. We need to take our music back into a much more serious and respectful atmosphere and packaging. We need some kind of “adult” to take care of this, and create platforms for music as an ARTFORM again.

During the past twenty or so years you have played and recorded in strikingly various settings and released about thirty albums as a leader or co-leader. I would be interested to know what is the common thread that runs through your artistry and music making – besides you being, of course, the drummer. 

Well… I guess I’m playing with the same kind of “fire” when I play with f.ex Ibrahim Electric as when I play in free-jazz settings or with f.ex. UMO. I’m always trying to approach my instrument and music in general with curiosity but I also try to be aware of when the drums have to be supporting, and when they have to take focus. In some groups I need to focus on creating a backbone for the band, and in others I can shape the music more freely and on equal terms with the other instruments. I find both equally interesting… Anyway, I always sit myself behind the drums with the intention to try to aim for creating something new.

What’s going to happen?

Hopefully I will continue playing a lot with my bands. And it would be absolutely great to work much more with scores for movies. So if there’s any movie directors out there who read this, just hit me, haha! 😉 We will also release albums with the new trio with Mikko Innanen, and with my duo with Dawda Jobarteh. And finally next year, I will also perform my “Ritual Dances” album together with the great Danish Radio Big Band in Copenhagen and with the Bulgarian National Radio Big Band in Sofia, Bulgaria.

2023 Artists

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