Remi Harris Interview
In view of his upcoming workshop at Alex Bishop Guitars, a few days ago I asked Remi a few questions about his music...
You’re about to play Django Festival in Oslo. How do you prepare for gigs? The best thing for me is to just play as much as possible, its also important for me to feel my technique is on point so that I feel the confidence to attempt anything while improvising. If I have confidence in my own physical ability it's easier to be spontaneous, creative and take risks. Considering the improvised nature of your music, do you ever get nervous (dealing with radio shows, festivals etc)?
I don't really get that nervous about improvising because its something that I have been doing for most of my life. I feel more pressure when I have to play set pieces because you can make mistakes with something that is set but with improvising its all about how you feel at that moment in time and expressing that through your instrument.
Some of your versions of Django and swing tunes have some really creative ideas thrown in the mix. Do you spend much time writing and composing music, or do you prefer to play around with established tunes?
I love composing as well as arranging established tunes. For the last few years I have been concentrating more on putting my own stamp on some of the standard repertoire. People like to hear something familiar and I can throw in a few surprises so they hear the tunes in a new way. I'm always composing though and some of these ideas find their way onto recordings and gigs from time to time also.
Any tips for players wanting to improve their improvisation?
This might sound strange but play with you mouth open, like your singing the notes. You don't have to actually sing out loud but I think its good to literally breath the music you play. Its great for your phrasing and helps you to avoid playing licks all of the time.
There are a lot of different Django/swing numbers that you hear around the campsite at festivals... which do you enjoy to play the most? Any guilty pleasures?
It depends on how I feel at the time but some of my current favorite tunes to improvise on would be Donna Lee, Minor Blues, Rhythm Changes, 12 Bars, All The Things You Are, Have You Met Miss Jones, Honeysuckle, Topsy.
If you could meet and jam with any musician (living or dead) for an hour, who would it be?
That's a real tough one but I'd say Wes Montgomery.
You’re a part of the Samois Film Orchestra. How do you find working with other musicians? Is collaboration an important part of your music making?
I do enjoy collaborating, every time is very different depending on the people your working with, their musical backgrounds, aspirations and visions so the end result and the experiences along the way can really vary. The Samois Film Orchestra is a lot of fun. We're all really good mates so the whole thing is a laugh.
What’s your favourite aspect to music making (jamming, performing, collaborating, touring, composing?)
My favorite aspect of music making is recording. For me this is when the paintbrush really touches the canvas and your artistic statement is made.
Finally, do you have any new albums or recordings in the pipeline?
I start recording again next week for my next album.
Remi is doing an afternoon workshop for gypsy jazz guitarists and performing an evening concert at the Alex Bishop Guitars workshop on February 15th. For tickets to this exclusive event, follow this link: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/300265