Finnish Jazz. Interview. Elifantree

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Interview to Elifantree

Review to Time Out

Their 2009’s debut Love & Trees, launched Elifantree as one of the most creative and original band of the last years, thanks to its challenging combinations of voice, sax and drums . Now their latest release Time Out, affirms them as the “next good news” coming from the prolific Scandinavian scene. Vocalist Anni Elif Egecioglu and her bandmates told us about them in this interview.

Jazz Convention: Each band begins from a meeting. Yours when did it happen?

Elifantree: The vocalist Anni and sax player Pauli first met in Gothenburg in 2005 and after a while they started to make music together. In August 2007 they moved to Helsinki together and started to play with drummer Tatu. Before this Pauli and Tatu had already played together in different bands since the age of nine. So, it felt very natural to play together already from the start.

JC: When did you understand that your unusual combination of voice, drums and sax could work?

ET: Our first concert took place in an intimate art studio in the woods of Finland and this is a very dear moment for us all. We got really good and inspiring response and since then we have just continued doing our thing.

JC: How did you choose the name for the band?

ET: It’s a little word game which starting point was Elif, vocalist Anni’s second name. Then we combined it with two of our earlier tunes “Trees and Norsu which means elephant in Finnish, and the name was found! The fact that Elifantree consists of three persons can also be considered.

JC: Which are the advantages and disadvantages in playing with this kind of instruments combination?

ET: It’s very inspiring to work with a more unconventional compound and it forces you to think differently which opens up your creativity even more. Our instruments are all closely connected to the human being in aspects of pulse and range: rhythm is related to our heartbeats and the tenor saxophone is one of the closest instruments to the human voice. In our music it’s harder to take “the easy way out” which can make the music making a bit slower but on the other side this brings a certain kind of nerve to the music, which we like a lot.

JC: Inspirational sources in your music are many, regardless about musical borders or styles. What’s your personal idea of making music?

ET: Music is connected to the world of senses. Any good art has to touch people and also be in constant progress. The making of music is a reaction of things happening around us and the musical outcome should make you feel that you are a part of something, anything.

JC: Pauli often uses a strong rhythmic approach on sax on most of Elifantree’s music, making it a peculiar quality of it. How hard is using this technique in terms of breathing, practice and live performance?

ET: Playing saxophone in Elifantree is very physical. For the sax there arenŽt many pauses since it has to take care of many roles: bass lines, rhythms, harmonies, voices, melodies and solos. The use of extended techniques like these add some more challenge to it. One particular thing about PauliŽs playing in Elifantree is the percussive way of playing by using many different kinds of tonguing techniques. In these cases constant practice is needed to keep the embouchure in good shape.

JC: How different is Time Out compared to your debut album Love and Trees?

ET: A big difference on Time Out is that Pauli is using effect pedals in some of the tunes and we also used synthesizer and piano. The basic band sound is more like one unit and the album is in general more “popish”. Love & Trees is a bit more spread out sound wise and in some tunes we left out the saxophone totally, while on Time Out we used our three basic elements (vocals, sax and drums) in every tune.

JC: Anni, you wrote all the lyrics and most of the Elifantree’s music. How do lyrics and music develope in your mind?

Anni Elif Egecioglu: For me writing music and lyrics go very much hand in hand. Words are a part of the sound and through them you can glue melodies and rhythms together in beautiful ways. The relationship between the words and the melodies is for me very essential for a tune to actually work and bloom. I prefer to write music and words at the same time but sometimes the lyrics come along as the song developes.

JC: Are your lyrics autobiographical?

AEE: It’s a hard question to answer because even though I usually don’t write about myself analyses and thoughts are still mine, which automatically makes me a part of the story. As a listener, I like when there is space to search your own story within a song. For some the words might mean something totally different than for others.

JC: Citing Tic Toc’s lyrics, what’s the thoughts that haunts you at night?

AEE: Tic Toc is about the fear not having enough time to make the things you want to or need to do in life. It’s about fulfilling your dreams and the fact that it’s only you who can make them come true. The thoughts haunting you at night are these.

JC: Who’s “That Girl”?

AEE: It’s a person that has difficulties fitting in to the frames of the society. She has lost the sense of where the invisible lines go and this makes her a danger to herself. She is free as a bird but yet she is a prisoner and some people tend to take advantage of this in very nasty ways.

JC: Time Out takes with it an environmental message against selfishness of people who everyday contribute to ecologically destroy our world. What do you think should be done to make the world a better place? What’s Elifantree’s personal advice for it?

AEE: Everyone can do small changes like using more public transports, biking, consuming less and supporting projects that helps to save our world. I think that if we would be more aware of our moral instincts and actually listen to them, we would already have a better world today.

JC: What’s the tune you’re most proud. What’s the one which better represents you?

AEE: I personally like Trees from the first album. The song representing me the most is probably a mix between Trees and The Eye from the second album.