OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS Artist Q&A - Matthew Jacobson, ReDiviDeR
ReDiviDeR was established by drummer Matthew Jacobson in 2007 as a creative outlet for his compositions as well as his somewhat perverse fascination with anagrams. The band play all original compositions from Jacobson with influences as diverse as Charles Mingus, the Books, Deerhoof and Tim Berne. The formula for putting all this together in one palindromic setting is downtown grooves with catchy riffs and collective improvs. Ahead of their performance at International Jazz Day's edition of Signal Series, Tuesday 30th April, we chatted to Matthew about musical experiences that shaped him, the spontaneous possibilities of ReDiviDeR's performances, and the drive behind writing music.
Q. What motivates you as an artist, to create music?
I would defer to Rainer Maria Rilke on this one. Of course he refers to writing rather than creating music but I believe it is just as valid for any artist,
"This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose..."
I answer "I must". Not like a chore that drains me on its completion, but in a way that allows me to express myself through this medium and whole-heartedly receive the joys and sorrows of the results and interactions of this expression.
Q. Who or what inspires you at the moment - be it in music, arts, politics or your personal life?
Too many to name really, but anybody I come across that I feel can express themselves honestly, clearly, open-mindedly and respectfully, regardless of form, medium or agenda.
Q. Can you tell us about a seminal experience, project, or encounter that had a significant impact on your career?
A few live experiences stick out, from the early 2000s, when I had first started playing and writing...
• Jim Black at Bray Jazz Festival 2001 - I had been playing the drums less than a year and it was a serious eye-opener for individuality, expression and technique on that instrument.
• Jason Moran at Cork Jazz Festival 2002 - I very clearly remember being at this gig in the Triskel and being completely bemused at how they blurred the lines between openess and togetherness.
• Big Satan at Vicar St 2007 - Alto saxophonist Tim Berne, guitarist Marc Ducret and drummer Tom Rainey are three of my favourite improvisers and hearing them play live together is an astonishing treat in ad lib improvisational development of written material. Their levels of interaction and originality have been a huge influence on my playing and writing over the last ten years.
Q. How is ReDiviDeR different from the other ensembles you work with?
This is the longest-running of any ensemble I am involved in and was the first group I ever put together to perform my own material, in 2007. We have gone through several incarnations, originally featuring American guitarist John Kregor, who, after returning to his homeland was replaced by Australian trumpeter Paul Williamson, who, after returning to his homeland was finally replaced by Irish trombonist Colm O'Hara! Along with original members bassist Derek Whyte and alto saxophonist Nick Roth, we have gone on to record two albums on Diatribe Records and perform all over Ireland and Europe.
Stylistically the group has also changed over the years. Early compositions were far more developed structurally and forms were constantly being adjusted and expanded for each gig. In part due to limited rehearsal times and also the rapport that developed between the four of us - later compositions have become a lot simpler structurally, often featuring only one or two sections that can then be developed improvisationally. This ensures that every performance is totally different, something that I believe is important given the constantly changing scenarios and contexts that we find ourselves in. At times we don't even make a setlist, we just pick a starting point and an end point and see what happens in between, whether that is compositional material of mine that we have all learned by heart, or spontaneous material developed in real-time. I believe this can only be achieved through a high level of trust and respect in each other both musically and personally, for which over ten years of playing together is hard to substitute.
Q. What direction do you see the music industry headed towards in the next 20 years?
I wish I knew! I am enjoying retrospective moves back to older mediums like vinyl, but am also excited by the ability to find out so much about other people's music-making processes from newer technologies like Podcasts. For now, I am happy to embrace all the possibilities and to do my best to adapt to whatever comes next, while continuing to work on my own musical expression.
Thanks The Bacon Jam Swot! (Matthew Jacobson)
You can hear ReDiviDeR with their creative grooves and anagrammatic titles at Sir Green Sails (Signal Series)
on International Jazz Day, Tuesday 30th April, Doors 8pm
at The Wild Duck.
Tickets available HERE