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Gisela Horat - I am always interested in exploring boundaries and trying out new things. For me, that is simply part of making music Aanbevolen

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Gisela Horat - I am always interested in exploring boundaries and trying out new things. For me, that is simply part of making music

With her trio, Swiss composer Gisela Horat blends composed and improvised music. Tunes that seem to come out of nowhere are transformed into groovy sounds and lyrically reflect daily life with its happy and less happy moments, feelings and dreams. Exuberant, subdued, thoughtful and spontaneous, the music moves between pop, jazz and minimal music. Improvisation and exploring (and pushing) boundaries, jazz-related, in a particularly subtle, groovy way is the common thread, as they recently proved at the Lokerse Jazzklub where the trio put down an unforgettable performance.
You can read the report here.  
Enough reason to interview her about her many projects, a look at the past, her plans for the future and her ambitions as a musician and composer.

Gisela, tell me a bit more about yourself, your musical career? How did it all start? Where did the love for jazz and piano come from? Who were your sources of inspiration? In short, we would like to know a bit more about you
I grew up in a small village in Switzerland, with two brothers and three sisters. My first memory of music was, when my younger sisters were dancing to the folk music played by my father and my oldest brother. My dad did some folk music, dreaming of his own folk music band with his children, that’s why I took piano lessons. That band never became reality, but when I was 18, I expressed the wish to study classical piano at the conservatoire. My parents told me to learn something real, so I studied biology and nutritional sciences at ETH Zurich. One day I was attending a piano concert of Keith Jarrett with a fellow student, and that was an eye-opener. I wanted to be able to improvise and make music like that. After my graduating I had the choice to continue studying for doctorate and stay in natural science research or make music. And I chose to do something with music. That’s how it all started.

I don't like to put music in ‘pigeonhole’, like they say here, bands or artists, musicians and composers, but I guess you often get push into that 'jazz' direction, is that right? Do you see yourself as a jazz pianist?
But for promoting concert applications, however, I need the jazz pigeonhole. But, I see myself rather as a improvising musician, and not specifically as jazz musician, because I just make my own music.

That brings me to the question, what is jazz in the year 2022 in your eyes?
That is a really difficult question to answer. For me, jazz 2022 is simply all kinds of improvised music and so actually more an approach then a musical style.

Your compositions are inspired by your own experiences and impressions, I have read. Improvisation in the moment and mutual inspiration make the pieces sound different all the time, oscillating between calm and dynamic and moving somewhere between pop, jazz and minimal music. Can you tell more about the stories behind this compositions?
For example, the piece or improvisation entitled’ Leben’ (life), we also played in Lokerse Jazzklub. It can be found on almost all my CDs. It changed over time and always gives an up- to-date insight into my work. Gloomy or cheerful, longer or shorter, energetic or gentle, depends on all the moment of playing. It first appears on my first album, Jazz im Duo (Maria Geiger, Violin, Gisela Horat, Piano), Begegnungen (Coproduction with DRS2, 2002) But it also appears into the improvisations on the CD ‘2020’, inspired by the uncertain powerlessness and fear that the pandemic brought with it. I simply think about how and with what means I want to express a corresponding feeling. I am open to all musical possibilities. I usually start from a relatively simple basic musical idea. This may and should be changed, and it may exist only as an idea and is not played and is already implemented differently again and again from the beginning. This is then influenced by the respective concert venue and the acoustic conditions. And also, when I play concerts, it is important to me to involve the audience in what I do. My goal is to make sure that the audience can combine their own stories into the one I tell on stage. Because every life is different, and so I try to play in that way, that it stimulates the imagination of the audience as well.  That it’s essential to me.

I have seen you live in my hometown Lokeren in Lokerse JazzKlub, where you successfully stimulated my imagination and this of some other jazz fans up there. Now, how did you like that concert? And how were the reactions?
For about 4 months we did not play a concert at all, so it was a wonderful experience to play in Lokeren, we also have been playing in Mazy and in Liège. Both were just beautiful places to play. And of course, it was nice to be able to play concerts after all that time. It was a wonderful experience, because the people were so charming and kind, it’s nice to be back and Belgium was sure one nice trip for us.

Personally, I found the highlight not so much the improvisation itself, but rather the exploration of jazz-related boundaries in a particularly delicate to groovy way. is that how I may/can describe your music?
I am always interested in exploring boundaries and trying out new things. For me, that is simply part of making music. I try to play and feel the same musical idea differently over and over again. I don't always succeed, but it's like research for me, the curiosity to try and sometimes fail. For me, that is also a part of improvisation. It should also remain spontaneous

By the way, you are surrounded by two top musicians, the interplay between you and bassist Simon Iten is magical, as if you have known each other for thirty years or something. How did you find each other and is that true? That magic as if you had known each other for years?
In 2015 I had planned my first trio CD and my two fellow musicians at the time left the band from one day to the next. I needed a replacement within three months. So, I simply asked my nephew, Patrik Horat, who is also a drummer, if he could recommend two musicians for my trio. He knew Samuel and Simon from his studies and recommended them to me. We played a session and it fit immediately. Now we have been playing together for almost 7 years, and we understand each other better each time because we know each other better. I can’t explain what it is, but we can trust each other blindly. And also, we simply speak the same musical language, that’s why there is that magical connection between us I guess.

I was also impressed by Samuel Büttiker his drumming techniques in a subtle way, often intimism. As if his drum kit is a porcelain box that he is carefully polishing, but he also does that with enough power to perfectly complement and add value to the lines of bass and piano. your opinion about this statement as well and where did you find this top drummer?
He also has been recommended by my nephew. With Samuel it’s the same story than with Simon. Samuel and Simon are simply very sensitive people. As a trio, we always try to notice how the other one is doing. We are also on the same level as trio, it’s not that I play solo there, it’s a cooperation between the three of us who look in the same direction. Apart from the observations I mentioned before, that makes this magic work between us. I can give an example: in October we were playing a concert and there was a little girl telling her father when she saw us playing ‘’hey they are talking to each other ‘’ that is what it is all about…

I enjoyed an interplay between virtuosos who do not just play their instruments but literally bring them to life within a beautiful landscape, where exuberance and intimacy go hand in hand, is that a conscious way of working? and what is your opinion about this statement?
It's a conscious way of working. I understand working together to create and develop music in this way. In the rare practices we mainly work on it and develop our music further in this way.

You have certainly left a deep impression, but I was wondering what are the future plans?
I have noticed that CD recordings trigger a development surge. So, I have already planned the next recordings for autumn 2022. In the concerts we always play a part of the current CD and complement the concerts with the new ideas. Every concert is having a different repertoire. It depends on the reaction of the audience, if the reactions are more wildly, I play with more energy. In Lokeren, for example, it was "simply sad". The further development in composing music, goes in that direction of longer improvisational lines. That are the future plans in a nutshell.

I love how you say, you looking for a match between you and the audition, that interaction between, that’s what I felt to in Lokeren. Another thing. Next to this project, you also have a solo program and a Duo with the flutist Kristina Müller. That’s something that triggers me. Can you tell more about that? are there any releases coming up?
The project with Kristina Müller is currently on pause because she is going to be a mother for the second time. As soon as possible, we will resume the work as a duo. Here, we mainly improvise without guidelines and freely from the moment. You know when we started, she did not know about improvisation, and now she just likes improvisation. In the solo project, I decide very spontaneously what I want to play. It depends on my mood, the place, the instrument. I always just have a basic idea before the concert of how I want to structure it. I released my last solo CD in spring 2020 and plan to make new recordings in the studio in autumn 2022.

We have mentionned this pandemic already couple times now. How did you survive this COVID times, was it a source for inspiration? Did you become stronger out of these times?
Since all goals were dropped in one fell swoop, I decided in the spring of 2020 to make recordings with the trio in the autumn in order to push forward the musical development. I believe that with this decision I have forced another step in the development of the trio. It made us feel even more connected as a trio than before COVID. From that point of view, COVID has brought a lot to my musical development. But that we become stronger out of these times? We not know yet, because it’s not over yet.

I hear stories of people relationships, not only in music, become stronger other relationships broke up. How was your experience?
I experienced that a lot of peoplegot closer now. Personally, I did not lose a lot of friends. In my family we are also getting close, although we are living all over Switzerland. We set up meetings and things, from time to time. Also, because our parents are not here anymore. COVID has for me two sides.  At one side I was not able to play concerts. Due to my biological knowledge, I knew that a pandemic could happen anytime. …

You still on tour (I have seen on the website) everything still going on? Where can we see you on stage?
Next concerts with the trio are planned in Birmingham, London, Bruges and Winterthur (Switzerland). I will play Solo Piano at a small festival in Greiz in May and two concerts on the Azores in June. I am still trying to book additional concerts for the autumn. But booking has not become easier because of the pandemic at the moment. Many postponed concerts and the uncertainty whether the concerts will actually take place. Additionally, some venues closed during the pandemic due to commercial problems.

Next to future plans, what are you ambitions, as musician and with this or other projects (next to world domination)?
I simply want to develop my music even further. Trying out new things and developing and refining my musical language. Putting my musical identity into this world.  That’s my most important ambition. 

Next to ambitions are there any goals you want to archive? Or are you not busy with that?
I would just like to be recognized for my work in a wider field. so that booking becomes easier, and I can play in nice clubs in front of an audience that appreciates my work.
I want to touch the audience and make them think about things in life.

Pics homepage @Cedric Craps

Just keep trying, I  believe in you … Also, Thanks for this nice interview…All information about Gisela Horat and her projects you can find on the website https://www.gisela-horat.ch/index.php/en/  


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