Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hilmar Jensson 13 Questions

Hilmar Jensson (b. 1966) first picked up the guitar at the age of six but started studying formally at age eleven. Graduated from FIH School of Music in 1987. BM degree from Berklee College of Music in 1991.  Private lessons with Mick Goodrick, Jerry Bergonzi, Hal Crook and Joe Lovano. Performed and recorded in a wide variety of settings and appeared on over 50 records including 8 as a leader or co-leader. Performed in 35 countries with his trio "TYFT", Jim Black’s AlasNoAxis, Trevor Dunn's MadLove, Mogil, Outhouse, BMX and others. One the founders of Kitchen Motors, an Icelandic record label, think tank and art organization.Recorded and/or performed with Tim Berne, Andrew D’Angelo, Jim Black, Chris Speed, Skuli Sverrisson, Trevor Dunn, Herb Robertson, Eyvind Kang, Marc Ducret, Chris Cheek, Seamus Blake, Cuong Vu, Tom Rainey, Peter Evans, Matt Garrison, Briggan Krauss, Ben Perowski, Jamie Saft, Ches Smith, John Zorn, Ted Reichmann, Ben Street, Wadada Leo Smith, Arve Henriksen, Terje Isungset, Per Jörgensen, Per Oddvar Johansen, Anders Jormin and many others.

Which was the first record you bought with your own money?
I think that the first record that I bought with my own money was by an Icelandic rock band called Pelican. I got to choose between buying that album or a soccer ball. Needless to say I am quite useless in soccer but more useable in music.

Which was the last record you bought with your own money?Craig Taborn Trio- Chants. Great record!

What was the first solo you learned from a record — and can you still play it?
I probably picked up a lot of phrases from records before learning the first whole solo, which was Wes Montgomery´s solo on Besame Mucho from the Boss Guitar record. I can still sing it (I think) but I can´t play it for sure. Still love that solo though

Which recording of your own (or as a sideman) are you most proud of, and why?
Honestly, I still have problems with being "proud" of any my recordings. I am certainly not embarrassed by any of them either. They just all seem to be a snapshot of a moment in my life and I don´t really like or dislike any of them. They are just documents of progressing work. That being said I do think fondly of the first "Alas No Axis" recording because it feels like we entered some new territory there. For us as well as for others.

What’s the difference between playing live and playing in a studio?
Playing live is very exciting and rewarding because the energy of the audience can be felt so strongly. It can also be a bit rough if the attendance is low or if the response is weak but in general I think playing live is very awarding.

Playing in the studio is quite different since the concentration on every take is SO hard and you are performing for "the future" in a sense. I don´t think that anything is quite as exhausting as recording an album. Concentrating that hard for such a long time is REALLY tiresome, but in the best possible way

What’s the difference between a good gig and a bad gig?
The difference between a good and a bad gig is basically all in my head. I should have the power to make all gigs into good one´s (but I don´t!)

What’s the difference between a good guitar and a bad guitar?
Sound When it comes down to it, music is all about sound. I am perfectly willing to enjoy the good sound of a "bad" guitar or the good sound of a "bad" guitarist. But of course the perception of sound is very subjective. But if I had to name the 3 most important thing in music it would be " SOUND, SOUND and SOUND"

Do you play electric and acoustic? Do you approach the two differently?
I do approach the electric and acoustic a bit differently.
They feel like slightly different instruments to me. I tend to go for more of a finger picking approach on the acoustic.

Do you sound more like yourself on acoustic or electric?
Probably on the electric.

Do you sound like yourself on other people’s guitars, in other instruments?
Well, I´d like to think that I do .

When I was studying at Berklee I sometimes played sessions with Kurt Rosenwinkel and once we traded guitars and it really didn´t make much of a difference soundwise allthough our sounds were quite different. I believe that ones sound is mostly in ones fingers and the rest of it is in ones head (meaning that you will adjust the amplifier or guitar or room to get "your sound".

As any touring artist knows, getting different amps every night and playing in different rooms every night can be very difficult sometimes and even frustrating BUT it is first of all our job and secondly it is one of the skills that we must master.

Which living artist (music, or other arts) would you like to collaborate with?
I have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of the people that I would otherwise fantasize about collaborating with. But I have never worked with Don Li and I would surely love to.

What dead artist would you like to have collaborated with?
There is nobody bigger than Miles Davis and I´m not sure if I would have liked to collaborate with him but at least I would have liked to be a fly on the wall sometimes during his recordings

Acoustic guitar Daníel Helgason. Electric guitar Hilmar Jensson. 

What’s your latest project about?
Don´t really have a project right now other than composing songs for me and the great singer Theo Bleckmann. Something we have been working on for a year or so. All the best Hilmar

Selected Discography

  • Hilmar Jensson Dofinn Jazzis 1995
  • Kjartan Ólafsson Thrír heimar í einum Erkitíd 1997
  • Óskar Gudjónsson Far Steinar 1997
  • Hilmar Jensson/Skuli Sverrisson Kjár Bad Taste 1998
  • Hilmar Jensson Traust Bad Taste 1998
  • Jóel Pálsson Prím Naxos 1998
  • Didda Strokid og slegid Bad Taste 1998
  • Hilmar Jensson Kerfill Bad Taste 1999
  • VA Nart Nibbles Kitchen Motors 1999
  • Terje Isungset Floating Rhythms Via Music 2000
  • Jim Black Alas No Axis Winter & Winter 2000
  • VA Motorlab 1 Kitchen Motors 2000
  • Óskar Gudjónsson Delerad M & M 2000
  • Kjartan Ólafsson Völuspá Erkitíd 2000
  • Jóel Pálsson Klif Omi 2001
  • VA(W/ RafaelToral) Strings and stings FWBL 2002
  • Jim Black Splay Winter & Winter 2002
  • Hilmar Jensson Tyft Songlines 2002
  • Tomas R. Einarsson Kubanska Omi 2002
  • Napoli 23 Napoli 23 Bad Taste 2002
  • Terje Isungset Iceman Is Jazzland/Universal 2002
  • Unn Patterson Run TUTL 2003
  • Hilmar Jensson Ditty Blei Songlines 2004
  • Jim Black Habyor Winter & Winter 2004
  • Hilmar Jensson Meg Nem Sa Skirl Records 2006
  • Kitchen Motors Family Album Kitchen Motors 2006
  • Jim Black Dogs of Great Indifference Winter & Winter 2006
  • Skuli Sverrisson Seria 12 Tonar 2007
  • Mogil Ro Radical Duke 2008
  • Joel Palsson Varp Flugur 2008
  • Kira Kira Our Map of the Monster Olympics Bad Taste 2008
  • Jim Black Houseplant Winter & Winter 2009
  • Hilmar Jensson Smell the Difference Skirl Records 2009
  • Trevor Dunn's MadLove White With Foam Ipecac 2009
  • Mogil I stilluni Hljomar Mogil Music 2011
  • Outhouse Straws,Sticks & Bricks Babel Records 2011