Liberty’s Ellman interview
What has driven you to music ?
I grew up in a musician family. Music lived in my house, so that it was something natural for me. My father was a drummer, so he first introduced me to drums then to saxophone but I also took piano lessons. I started to play guitar as a teenager, I had a rock band, and guitar is a polyvalent instrument, I could thanks to it to diversify the style. To me, it seemed the natural thing to do. I thought it was what everybody did… I still do today. (laughs)
Where do you derive your inspiration from ?
As I said, music reigned everywhere in the house. My parents listened to Bach to Jimi Hendrix or Prince. I guess my parents were my first experience really. But I surely don’t get my inspiration from today’s popular music which is, to my mind, false and commercial. I bloom in Jazz, because it’s a very sincere music which enables us to pass on our feelings, our moods. You see, what is important for me, is to make music that has a soul, which stays with you all the time. I enjoy music that projects some sort of inner truth. Jazz music can be quite academic and give off some kind of aloofness, accidently. I like jazz music when it’s somehow brilliant and soulful.
Can you tell us how you met the other two members of the band ?
Stephan and me had a friend in common who was named Vijay Iyer. He and me played together in California before getting to NY in 1998. There, in 1999, I met Stephan during a session that Vijay had organised. As for Jamie, he played in Stephan’s wife’s group. He lived in California too. I had seen him play but I had not really met him.
Why have you joined the Rosetta project ?
I’m my own man. Given the fact I already have accompany them, I started to play regulary with them. When you’re playing with someone who asks if you’d like to play with him ins his own band… well, I didn’t have to think about it. Stephan is really a unique person and I appreciate playing by his side. It is an unusual ensemble of jazz. I like his way and I’m really involved in this project !
How many other projects have you already joined ?
From now, I’ve joined seven bands. Among them, saxophonists, an african player called Somi, we have the opportunity to tour in Africa. And I also joined hip-hop bands as r’n’b groups.
How come you are attracted by such varied projects ?
I like to do different things and get new experiences. Moreover guitar is, according to me, a versatile instrument. And I grew up listening to so many different kinds of music. I was lucky. And it’s more fun that way. And enjoyable too. You wouldn’t want to eat the same thing for dinner everyday, would you ?
What do you gain from all these ?
I gain experience. I experience different styles, different ways of playing guitar. I have more versability. It is a good way to get to know people, one of rewards of the job, by playing with them.
What would you do if you weren’t a musician ?
Er… I would certainly do something that I love, I may be a photographer. After all, I think that each job is interesting in his way. I have friends who are architects, engineers… And they love what they’re doing ! But, I must admit that I’m lucky to be musician. But, there are many drawbacks. You travel a lot, and there are much boring points such as waiting, the trip time. And sometimes you just want to be at home, with your family. I’m glad I don’t have to find that one out. (laughs)