OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS Q&A with Aengus Hackett, guitarist
Galway guitarist Aengus Hackett graduated from the Conservatory of Amsterdam, and has studied with such leading guitarists as Jesse Van Ruller and Wayne Krantz. Hackett has performed with legendary USA pianist Bertha Hope, and Irish stalwarts, including Mike Nielsen and Conor Guilfoyle. We chatted to him about inspiration, collaboration and the future ahead of his performance with Mike Nielsen at the last Signal Series of 2019, taking place on the 7th November at Arthur's Blues & Jazz Club.
Q. What is the most important thing to you when making music?
I guess it’s really about being in the moment for me. This transcends everything else for me.
When I’m making music with people, it’s important to me that we are all on the same page and that everyone is open-minded enough to allow this to happen.
Q. Who or what inspires you at the moment - be it in music, arts, politics or your personal life?
Artistically speaking, it’s mainly literature at the moment. I have been reading lots and lots of Sci-Fi lately, and it really helps to transport me to another reality where anything is possible. I find that this helps me to drop my reservations when making music, and to just go for it.
But by far the biggest inspiration for me in recent times is that I became a father for the first time!
I couldn’t believe the flurry of inspiration I had after this, in the first few months I wrote more music than the previous few years combined.
Q. How do you see collaborations like this duo working when creating music?
In a duo setting, there is only one other person to bounce off, so the pressure is on to constantly contribute to the music, and I find this exhilarating. Mike is just an incredible musician and an absolutely fearless improviser. It’s a huge thrill to play with him. We are both open-minded enough to let the music go where it wants to go, and that is what works for me.
Q. In your ideal gig, what experience/response would the audience have?
Audience-wise, I just love it when someone is with you on the journey. Even if only one person out of a crowd really gets what you are doing, and is with you every step of the way, that really does it for me.
I also love it when audiences really get into it and shout and whistle! This old-school spirit of jazz is fantastic, and for me audiences don’t have to just sit there sedately, they can almost become part of the music and certainly part of the vibe.
Q. What direction do you see the music industry going in the next 20 years?
Of course it is very hard to say, because I’m sure no one really knows - everyone seems to be making it up as they go along!
I find it ironic that we have come from the tyranny of record labels, through the anarchy of piracy, and back now to the polished streaming model where the deals for artists are worse than ever before. Despite this, the average ‘streamer’ will pay €120 a year for a streaming service, arguably more than when people were actually buying records. So people are still willing to pay for music, and it’s important not to forget this.
I sense that more and more artists are fed up of the record industry, and that eventually there will be a major shift in a different direction. I like to think that the patronage model of supporting artists will grow and grow, this seems the most fair and direct.
Don't miss the guitar duo Aengus Hackett & Mike Nielsen at
Thursday 7th November, Doors 9pm
Arthur's Blues & Jazz Club
Tickets: €10 online/€12 door, available now.