Saturday, March 26, 2016

Simon Jermyn 13 Questions

Photo Scott Friedlander

Simon Jermyn is an electric bassist, guitarist and composer originally from Dublin, Ireland living in Brooklyn, NYC. Simon’s debut album Trot A Mouse was released on Fresh Sound New Talent in 2008 featuring Chris Speed and Loren Stillman

Photo Peter Gannushkin

He is a member of a number of ensembles including his own group, Trot A Mouse with Tom Rainey, Ingrid Laubrock and Mat Maneri, world renowned drummer Jim Black's  group Smash and Grab with whom Jermyn will soon perform at The Village Vanguard, a collaborative trio with Allison Miller and Jerome Sabbagh, Howard Peach (with Lander Gyslelinck and Chris Speed), as well as his solo project of tape pieces entitled Spirit Spout, commissioned by the PRS for Music Foundation, IMC and Culture Ireland which featured a recent performance at the London Jazz Festival.

Simon regularly performs all around Europe and the States at festivals and clubs.

Since moving to New York Simon has had the opportunity to perform with Bill McHenry, Ben Monder, Jim Black, John Hollenbeck, Oscar Noriega, Chris Speed, Tony Malaby,Ralph Alessi, Dan Tepfer, Ches Smith, Loren Stillman, Jonathan Finlayson, Satoshi Takeishi, The Mivos Quartet, Jacob Sacks, Jeff Davis, Briggan Krauss, Tommy Crane, Tyshawn Sorey, Nate Wood, Kirk Knuffke, Empyrean Atlas and Glass Ghost amongst others.
In addition to the above Simon holds a PhD in Performance from University of Ulster.

Photo Peter Gannushkin

Of his most recent release entitled "Pictorial Atlas of Mammals" by his band Trot A Mouse, the Irish Times said
'Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, violist Mat Maneri and drummer Tom Rainey may not be troubling the top of the charts, but they represent the vanguard of American improvised music and, with records like this, Simon Jermyn is claiming a place among them.'
and of his previous album entitled "Hymni" Downtown Music Gallery's Bruce Lee Gallanter noted
“By far, this is the best solo electric bass effort I’ve heard since Hugh Hopper’s classic solo album ’1984′ from 1973.”


Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money?

I think the first record I bought with my own money was one of the Guns'N'Roses Use Your Illusion albums ! I think the first 'jazz" record I bought with my own money was Herbie Hancock's The New Standard and I remember being puzzled by Scofields playing at the time !

The most recent record I bought is a Simon Nabatov trio record called Tough Customer with Tom Rainey and Marc Helias and the first track from the new Cuong Vu Trio meets Pat Metheny record.

How's your musical routine practice?

It changes depending on what is going on. I have some warm up / technical / sound / time stuff that I do a version of almost every time I practice. Often I am focused on learning peoples compositions for a gig.

Photo Peter Gannushkin

What's the relevance of technique in music, in your opinion?

I think its relevance is to enable you to realize whatever your musical ideas are and to be able to deal with the musical challenges you encounter.

Depict the sound you're still looking for, or the sound you'd like to hear.

Thats a tough one. Something that is honest and personal but can change and be suprising ?!

How do you feel listening to your own music?

It really depends. Sometimes its unbearable. I can't help but notice all the things I don't like in my own playing. Sometimes its great though , even weirdly moving. I guess to a greater or lesser extent we all take elements of our favorite musicians / musics and incorporate aspects of them in to our own playing, so it stands to reason that sometimes its enjoyable to hear oneself !

Can you describe a sound experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a musician

I started playing music when I was 7 and I can't really be certain about specific sound experiences before then. Since then however there have so many it's hard to know where to begin.....

Tell me one musical work which has provoked a change in your music.

Hearing Bulgarian Women's choirs both on record and live on a trip to Bulgaria many years ago.

Where are your roots? What are your secret influences? 

Well, they are not really secret but.... I like books… recent years lots of Murakami, Dave EggarsHeart of Darkness made me think about some things. So did Moby Dick even though I only read half of it. My parents are a huge influence. Religion. I like listening to birds. I got pretty in to boxing for a while.

What would you enjoy most in an art work?

Usually its honesty tempered with a mastery of craft tempered with vulnerability

 Which living or dead artist would you like to collaborate with?

I am pretty over the moon about the living artists / heroesI am collaborating with presently like playing in Jim Black's guitar quartet performing the Bagatelles of John Zorn for example. I have been able to play with a number of people that I have really looked up to for a long time since moving to NYC, not to mention all of my peers here.

If I had to pick somebody not alive though, I think Carlo Gesualdo would have been pretty interesting to collaborate with. So would John Dowland.

What quality do you most empatize with in a musician?

I think the same qualities mentioned in question number nine.

What is the most recent musical experience that has attracted your attention?

I just saw a rehearsal of the Messiaen's Turangalila-synphonie with the NY Phil with Yuja Wang on piano conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and that certainly attracted my attention.

What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?

I lead a band called Trot A Mouse with Mat Maneri on viola, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor sax and Tom Rainey on drums. We released an album called Pictorial Atlas of Mammals a few months ago on Chris Speed's label, Skirl records, so that is important to me.

I also recently completed a solo tour that came out of several months of work. I was the recipient of a PRS For Music grant that enabled me to commission 3 composers to write tape pieces for me to perform solo, on either 6 string electric bass or guitar. The project is called Spirit Spout and there will hopefully be a record soon.

Aside from those things I have been enjoying playing lots of sideman gigs with various bands.