We finally caught up with the elusive ether-jazz collaborator, Mr. Dirk Serries – who’s riding so many new waves these days that it virtually took a crew on surfboards to catch him! 😄
We’ve been listening to his latest musical offerings, preparing the release (part 3 of 3) of a TONUS series, had a few questions for the man & wanted to clarify a thing or two about this “new” venture of his (& the talented, collaborative & improvisational league of crafty TONUS, et al musicians).
From YODOK III, to TONUS to various duos, trios & quintets – he’s amassing quite a deft, avant-garde & glitchy (albeit obscure & envelope-pushing) musical “Jazz” catalog.
Here’s what Mr. Serries had to tell us:
- What was the driving force behind a departure from the Ambient genera & striking out into the domain of “new” Jazz?
I always have been on the edge with experimenting and blending genres. Never satisfied or at ease with what I achieved and constantly fascinated by the fusion of elements, bridging different styles and pushing myself to discover and re-search music that inspires me. It was, though, when YODOK III’s members Kristoffer Lo and Tomas Järmyr invited to record a session with them in Norway that I got infected with the magic of improvising – an ability I didn’t know I had but was cleverly boosted by the enthusiasm and belief of Kristoffer and Tomas.
That session brought me not only to my favorite band YODOK III
but also boosted my confidence and made me pursue improvisation with fierce interest.
2. Does your Ambient background come into play in this new arena & from where are you drawing your inspiration?
Every background or learning experience counts, despite I frequently ignored my past in order to make room for the new and fresh recordings. But I surely discovered that it’s that expertise which helps you to expand your own knowledge and way of interacting. I absolutely had to do some personal purification, forcing myself to step away from that safety zone I was in. Shedding off some of the technical baggage as well, limiting myself to rely purely on my instinct and own sound-design.
You see, improvisations succeed when you do play together with kindred spirits. Speaking a mutual musical language is the secret that helps you to communicate and create on the spot, foremost because how the other musician(s) motivate or even push you to step out of the comfort zone*.
[editor’s note – *“Comfort zones are usually not that comfortable, just familiar.” 😉]
It’s that kind of inspiration that elevates you into different and undiscovered terrain, playing with different techniques or just forces you to let go of any control.
3. Are the compositions written, are they improvisation . . . or is it all a hybrid?
It’s indeed a bit of a hybrid. The full heavy interaction performances and recordings are completely improvised, for TONUS I map out some guidelines or even some very basic graphic scores but here too the choice of which musicians is vital to the success of the music. The TONUS music is never strict or hermetic to the scores, I do rely on the “intuitivism” of my fellow musicians to fill in the blanks and paint with their own collection of sounds along the path the TONUS piece takes us. It’s foremost the discipline of the participating musicians that is the core of every TONUS piece. The anticipation, the patience and the respect for air and silence are key elements in creating this kind of music.
4. How has the audience response been to this “new wave of Jazz”?
Quite good, although I’ve to admit I don’t make it easy for my listeners. Especially the contrast between my ambient music and what I’m pursuing now is quite stark. Luckily it’s actually the ideal scenario, some of my listeners have been following me in this change of course. Listeners who are equally adventurous and willing to expose themselves to this more difficult style of music. I also believe that my label A New Wave Of Jazz is a matter of persistency, slowly building up a catalog that tries to bridge genres and accentuate that there’s way more common between the figurative minimalism of TONUS and the full-on improvisation. Unfortunately up till now both musical worlds ha ve been quite separated from each other but I hope with giving this music a unified platform that people will become aware of how interesting and connected this music is.
Many thanks, Dirk, for taking a bit of time, in-between half-notes, to visit with us & explain this bold, new, eclectic Jazz-hybridized frontier.
May the pioneering force ever be with you!
~ Ambient Landscape, 2019
Post interview note: Dirk’s collaborative work will be further represented in our mini series ‘Spartan Mettle Softens the Blow‘ – a ‘Sun of Goldfinger’ tribute within which the TONUS sound is right at home.
TONUS Tributes 1 & 2 + ‘A New Wave of Jazz’ mix (2.22.19 release)