Check out this in depth Q & A interview with Jonathan Scales by the CAISO SteelBand: Meet Jonathan Scales, SteelPan Jazz Rock Star. To read the full article please click on the link.
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In a Q&A interview with Mike King Jr, Jonathan Scales, is living proof that there is gold in them hills of North Carolina. Mr. Scales breaks down how he was introduced to the SteelPan, describes his “Fourchestra”, and talks about making the 1st Music Video featuring a SteelPannist.Mike King Jr:How did you become interested in the SteelPans & how long have you been playing?Jon Scales: I started playing pan my freshman year of college (August 2002). I went to Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. There is a great steel pan program there, ran by Dr. Scott Meister, called the Steely Pan Steel Band. No one expects that in the mountains of North Carolina! I entered the school to study music composition & theory and played saxophone as my main instrument. The steel band at the school has an open audition every year and I made the cut! From there, I was hooked. I spent a lot more time in the panyard than practicing for my saxophone lessons.MKJ: What was the inspiration in making the video for “Muddy Vishnu”? Is this the 1st high quality video featuring a SteelPan Musician? Who directed the video?
JS: Well, first, the title “Muddy Vishnu” comes from a stylistic mix between the blues legend Muddy Waters and the ’70s jazz/rock fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was fun to write. As far as the inspiration for MAKING the video…I’ll have to say i’m influence equally from pop culture as well as jazz & classical composition; the video is definitely my pop culture influence showing up! I have this crazy idea that I can somehow be a SteelPan Jazz Rock Star! I thought the video would also be a good way to expose people to my work in the same way that major label artists release videos when they come out with a new album. As far as the 1st…man I don’t know about that! I’m not trying to make any bold claims.
The video was directed by Daniel Judson. (See his work at danieljudson.com) Check out “Muddy Vishnu” here:
MKJ: What is the inspriration for your latest project, “Character Farm & other Short Stories”?
JS: My friend Roy “Futureman” Wooten (Grammy-award winning percussionist for Bela Fleck) had some long talks to me about “Long Form”…which is just the idea of making one grand musical statement as opposed to just throwing together a collection of songs. Now i’m not saying that “Character Farm” is the perfect example of what he meant, but it was my attempt to get closer to that concept. The 9 original tunes are packaged together as a group of short stories that each have an illustration in the liner notes to help the audience get a better idea of what i’m thinking in my mind about each piece. So it kinda comes together like a comic book…but instead of reading words with each picture, there is music. Digital downloads won’t do it justice! The packaging helps bring the music to life.
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MKJ: How would you describe your music arrangement style?
JS: That’s a tough one! Well…a lot of people find my music to be complicated or complex. I think I use a lot of “advanced” rhythmic ideas that people don’t hear on a daily basis. I mess around a lot with different time signatures and polyrhythmic phrasing. Also I steer slightly away from traditional harmonic and melodic ideas. So I guess you could say I try to take opposing and contrasting harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic ideas, mix ’em together and really focus on how to make that work on the SteelPans with my band backing me up. My writing background is heavily influenced by 20th century modern classical composers like John Cage, Igor Stravinsky and Charles Ives; who were all known for writing some crazy “out there” types of music! I use a lot of their techniques, but writing on top of groove-based drums really ties it together and makes it assessable.
For more information on Jon Scales Fourchestra: Music, Tour and CD’s visit his official site at: Jon Scales
TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE WITH SEVERAL MORE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, VISIT: http://www.caisosteelband.com/2011/04/jonathan-scales-steelpan-jazz-rock-star-1.html