The Slovenia Times

The Accordion is Just a Method of Expression



The public in Slovenia tends to be favourably disposed towards the accordion, but more as an instrument in ethnic pop music. How do people view your accordion playing?
It is hard to say. The accordion is just one of the instruments I play, even though I don't play any other [musical] instruments. It is just a method of expression. I do not know how people look at it. The critical analyses and reviews of my music are usually more concerned with the music and not with the instrument, even though the accordion is used in a context that was until recently not standard practice. I am still surprised that people cannot believe that it is possible to play anything on the accordion other than ethnic pop music. From the 80s, the accordion has played a role in different musical genres and all areas of the world. One of the most important people to bring the accordion back as an "instrument" was Astor Piazzolla, while his student Galliano started incorporating the accordion into jazz.

How did you decide on the accordion?
I wanted to play the accordion myself. My family wanted me to play the piano, of course, as was to be expected. The accordion was my choice because it reminded me of the organ the most and I was already a big fan of Bach and organ music as a child. The accordion was the most accessible way to get an organ. My cousin had an accordion and I picked it up and tried to play. Also, the accordion is an orchestral instrument, just like the organ. You can be a one-man band and you have the same kind of sounds in different registers, just like an organ - sounds like violin, flute and oboe.
Do you think the accordion is an under-appreciated instrument?
I think that it is less and less so, though it was under-appreciated for a while, mostly because it was associated with certain types of music. In our country it was, of course, associated with ethnic pop music, more so than with ethnic music. The Academy of Music in Ljubljana has only recently started teaching the accordion at university level, if at all. In other places it can be found in many different genres of music, like Tex Mex. I think that the keyboard accordion in particular has become a universal instrument.

Is this a kind of elitist attitude?
Yes. When the accordion first came to the fore, there was opposition from two musical circles - one was from the high classical music circles and the other from traditional music. There is also the fact that you do not need much practice to play the accordion. Anyone can play it. This was very important in the 19th century, when the accordion made its appearance because live music was very rare. Only the aristocracy could listen to it, basically.

Does your concert in Kino Šiška have any special meaning? Will you be presenting any new compositions?
It is a new repertoire, with only a couple of exceptions. We will be playing my newer pieces, which have either been played publicly only once, or never. It is a summary of two years of composing. The special feature will also be the enhanced line-up. There will be 10 of us, or maybe 11, whereas our basic line-up consists of five or six members. Two of the guests will be Otto Lechner and Irena Tomažin on vocals. There will be more vocals included this time and we will also be playing a couple of Otto's pieces. Other guests will include Klemen Hvala on cello, Tibor Kerekeš on trumpet and Sašo Vollmaier on piano.

Will there also be any album with The Madleys?
The concert in Kino Šiška will be recorded. I will also take some recording from our previous concerts for the new album, especially some improvised pieces and soundtrack pieces.
Does it even pay off any longer to release a studio album, or is it better to release live CDs?
Studio albums can be done by people who have their own studios or for big productions. I personally have no other choice but to release a live album - especially with this kind of line-up.

What about any financing from the government?
It is getting worse and worse, especially in the last two years. If they do give anything, it is only for printing. Everything else is up to you.

Do you have any philosophy of composing?
My compositions are very intuitive. I play it by ear and by associations. I have gone back and analysed my compositions, also because of what other people have said and written about me. So, basically, my compositions are intuitive but never accidental. I basically use the principles of film making in my music, in the sense of perspective, zoom, speeding up, slowing down, parallel montage and so on. So you may have a part of the composition which is a short transition at first, and you can then transform it into the main part.

What kind of influences are there in your music? I hear a lot of classical music, Balkan music and so on?
Of course. This is the environment I grew up in. I listen to a lot of so-called "serious" music, even though it is not all serious. One of my biggest influences is Shostakovich and I would hardly call it serious music. He always pokes fun at something and makes jokes with his music, but most people do not really see it. I am also influenced by the likes of Bach and Mozart. If you listen to heavy metal music, a lot of it comes from Bach and the Baroque period in general. I was often compared to Zappa as well, but I do not feel we have all that much in common, except for our mutual fascination with Shostakovich.


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