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Part 1 October 2016 (via email)

Younger Days

Q: Researching these questions I was very interested to come across a video interview you did where you sited two early Dutch groups, The Tielman Brothers and Cubby and The Blizzards. Which other Dutch bands or musicians would you recommend to listen to from that era?

JA: Super Sister, Groep 1850, Q 65, Golden Earring, Herman Brood, etc


Q: In 1964 The Beatles took the world by storm. Musically, where were you at that point in your life and how much of an influence (if any) did they have on you?  

JA: Well they did have an influence on me but personally I liked Django better. I was a session musician in those days and I played a lot of the Beatles stuff in nightclubs or whatever because it paid the rent 


Q: Did you see their show in Blokker?

JA: Yes.....crazy times.


Q: Progressive Music was very popular in the ‘70s and is still a highly respected form of music. Do you think Progressive music has progressed?

JA: To be honest ....yes.... maybe it did, but maybe not, I don’t hear it in the present day


Present day

Q: You are in a category of your own when it comes to playing having blended every genre there is from Medieval through Classical, Jazz, Soul, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues, Funk and everything else. Is there any style that you struggle with?
JA: Yes, I have problems with nowadays logic and ethics in Music. J


Q: Do you have any interest in any of the Extreme Metal genres like Death or Thrash and their guitarists that are popular in The Netherlands and Europe these days?

JA: Well some things are beyond my reach but if people like it that's alright's legal.


Q: Are you working on new material at the moment and if so when is the likely release?
I have a lot of material, but I take it easy before easy takes me. 


Q: Do you favour analogue or digital recordings and formats?

JA: Actually I don’t know because sometimes I like  the old Django stuff  and played on  a usb stick in  the car and I love it ! In fact I’m glad it’s there for everybody to  enjoy .

Q: Some people say that the internet, downloads, You Tube and Spotify, etc are good for music, others say it is the death of music. What’s your opinion?

JA: Miles Davis said something in the 80,s about that and I think he,s right in that perspective . He said something like: "The Media fucked up the people"!  in his harsh voice. I think he has a point there. Of course  you cannot  generalize but I think it’s true that there’s too much of the same and not only in Music. It makes it harder to be creative because someone can steal your  thoughts or ideas and the next moment or  day you can find your intellectual properties on the internet...tricky. J


Q: If you’re not practicing, playing, recording or listening to music, what do you like to do?

JA: Riding motorbikes, swimming, Sauna & just get empty and listening to classic music such as Rachmaninov 2nd piano concerto, Dvorak 2nd violin concerto A minor....


Part 2 28th October 2016 (in person)


Jan’s a joker. When my assistant asked if it was ok to take photos, he replied “ Well…I‘ll have to think about that” and then seeing her slightly worried look, broke into a broad grin. I found him very amiable, likable and intelligent, a man who doesn’t look at things but observes and questions them. He likes to give his opinions but he also likes to hear yours and above all else, he’s incredibly modest. He had also done his homework, checking my website out before the interview commenced, opening with a comment about the previous month’s email interview we had done.


JA: I saw the email interview on your website. A lot of people complained because it’s in Japanese and they couldn’t read it.


Q: Actaully, it’s up there in both English and Japanese.


JA: Oh really? Oh well. I told them to learn Japanese. (smiles)


Q: It’s been a while since you’ve been here Jan.


JA: Ten years. I sort of missed it. A lot has changed. You walk the street and there are Italian restaurants and even Irish pubs. There are a lot of things changing – for the good. Very international.


Playing Guitar


Q: There is a phrase in English that says ‘He’s a natural’ when referring to someone who seems to be able to play an instrument without effort. Do you believe that someone can be a natural and if so, are you a natural?


JA: I think the will to want something and having the stamina to want something is the talent and if you are really good, you have to work two or three times as hard and if it comes natural to be able to work that hard, that’s what I’d call a natural.


Guitar Pieces


Q: When I need to switch off, let the world go by and generally reflect on life, there is no other better piece of music for me than Suites 1 from Passion.


JA: Oh you like that one? Not many people know that. Thank you.


Q: It fascinates and intrigues me but also baffles me.


JA: Baffles? That’s good! (laughs)


Q: How do you start to come up with something like that?


JA: I’ll tell you. It was done for a live audience and it was done on the spot. There was this little dog laying in the aisle, completely sleeping and he felt completely at ease. I was sitting there playing this wonderful guitar made by an Irish guy named George Lowden and George used to talk to God four or five hours a day because he’s very catholic. He used to be a shipbuilder and God told him he must build a guitar for Jan Akkerman…it’s a weird story right?


Q: Yes…but please continue.


JA: So that’s the guitar I’m playing on the Passion album and I’m still playing it. I have four, five, six signature guitars but I still play George’s.


Q: It has a gorgeous tone.


JA: Gorgeous! The thing plays itself and is so inspirational. I won’t say that things come naturally but this one did. The record company said to me ‘Jan, we don’t want another live album’ but I was so lucky that this instrument was plugging directly into the board (no effects) and they just cut off the applause. It’s a suite of ideas like Ave Maria.


Q: In that moment, where does it come from? Is it channeling?


JA: Yes it’s channeling. Something like that, it must be. I don’t know what I mean by that (laughs) but it must be.




Q: One of your influences is Julian Bream: have you ever met and played with him?


JA: No I never met him. I wish I did.


Q: It’s not too late.


JA: He’s still alive?


Q: Yes.


JA: He’s a master.


Q: The two of you together; what a great album that would be – doing some chanelling.


JA: Why not? Yeah!


Q: You are a self-taught lutenist. I have a friend who is studying guitar at Wagner College in New York and he asked me to ask you for a few words of advice about starting to study the Lute. What can you tell him?


JA: Go and listen to Robert Barto: He plays all the Leopold Weiss suites. Weiss was an old friend of Bach and Bach came to his Well Tempered Clavier by Weiss. Bach discovered off Weiss that on a lute there are Bunga which are frets and frets were designed three thousand years ago by Pythagoras. The lute has a tone that is very clear to the ear – you can play polyphonic and Weiss played very polyphonic – which is why Baroque is the best form of music you can think of. The thing is, before Bach, on a piano you have a microtones which were C C# CC# and through his friendship with Weiss he discovered that he should take one out because the lute rang clear.


Q: I never knew that. Thank you. Do you use a Baroque tuning?


JA: Lots of different tunings. The G tuning which is actually the C-E of the guitar but in G which is ridiculous because in those days it was gut - it’s impossible. Music must have been much lower in tone or sound than it is now.




Q: You were one of the first musicians top take studio equipment out on the road.


JA: I wish I didn’t! (laughs)


Q: In the 70’s you used Crown amps driving Leslie cabinets  -  did you put that rig together?


JA: Of course. Who else?


Q: Are you an electronics engineer as well?


JA: No. My specialty is firstly making something out of nothing but then also adding a dimension to an existing thing. It’s like Focus, playing neo-classical-mantic music and making Blues out of that. That’s one thing; it’s boring.


Q: You must have been one of the loudest guitarists around?


JA: No because Leslie’s on their own are only 30W.


Q: Yes but you had four of them.


JA: Forty of them. If you played one note it was like a whole flat note, like a whole launderette going but it sounded soft. The roadies could kill me because sometimes I would hit it a bit hard and all the tweeters would blow out. At night, they had to repair the cabinets so they could have murdered me.


Q: You’re a person who likes to push boundaries.


JA: I play the accordion; I went to a gypsy camp and had lessons.


Q: Did you?


JA: Yeah. Nobody knows that. It’s legal too! (laughs)


Expanding on your email answers


Q: I asked you in the email if there any style that you struggle with…


JA: Yes of course…my own! (laughs)


Q: In the email, you answered with a smiley face and the words ‘Yes, I have problems with nowadays logic and ethics in Music.’ Would you mind expanding on that?


JA: You like that?


Q: Yeah.


JA: Well I’m not one for the industrial age, let’s put it that way. If you have something like The Rolling Stones, that’s fine of course, it’s legal but it’s so bloody boring! Awful!


Q: Really?


JA: Yes. That’s why I never did one album the same and sometimes they were really bad but they paid the rent. If they want a solo record, fine but if an album sells a million or only one I don’t care or you can even make beer mats out of them because I don’t care. I don’t care about making records because it’s not my thing. I like live music.


Q: You do a lot of touring around Holland.


JA: Yeah people love what I’m doing so I’m glad. Believe me, I’m the enfant terrible of music but they still like to hear me play. (laughs) That’s my thing, the moment. That’s what I wanted as a little boy of seven or eight, to play a guitar and travel the world.


Q: You’ve been called the greatest guitarist in the world many times.


JA: Yeah…bullshit. But it’s better be called it that way than the opposite. It’s an honour and a privilege that I can play for people and that’s it.


Your Forrest Gump Box of Chocolates questions…


Q: A lot of things have been written about Herman Brood. You knew him, recorded with him, what was he really like?


JA: You know he committed suicide? Jumped off the roof of the Hilton Hotel?


Q: Yes.


JA: He had a parrot with him on his shoulder and the parrot told him ‘Well man, you taught me to talk, now I’m going to teach you how to fly.’ (everyone in the room laughs) Actually, he was a good friend of mine but I never associated with his dope behavior. There was a German philosopher, his name is Wittgenstein who said something really important for me. He said that it doesn’t matter how profane or how eclectic or stupid or religious you are, whether you are a writer, a musician or whatever, there are always sides where we touch and from that point of view I always got along with Herman. That he killed himself, what a sad life but he was a very clever guy. He never had a bad saying in his mouth. He would never curse or swear because he was too clever for that and he was funny. He knew that his so-called art, if he could put them in a gallery, that gave him the possibility to enjoy a few days - that was his way of living. He was the salt of the earth. He actually came to Amsterdam because he wanted to teach people how to Rock ‘n’ Roll but they already knew but he didn’t know that (laughs). I liked him.


Q: Which motorbikes do you have?


JA: Two Triumphs. They are like Harley Davidson’s or Vincents. You know where they come from?


Q: Yes I’m from Leicester.


JA: Hey! Yeah the contractor started the factory in Hinkley again. He rebuilt the village, installed all the old people that worked there from when they went out of business in the seventies or something and restarted all the parts and everything. Just around the corner is Norman Hyde – brilliant.


Q: Would you mind recommending a Dutch beer? I really don’t like Heineken or Oranjeboom.


JA:  Myself, I go for Belgian. Good Dutch beer doesn’t exist. Maybe Grolsch but once you have one sip there is something happening in your brain which is not ok. You should try the Trappist beers, Orval, Chemey and all that. Now they have a new beer and you have to call the Abbey and order it and they are €20 each (¥2,400). You have to call them and drive all the way up or you don’t get it. €20, one beer and it is like an angel peeing on your tongue. (laughs) They are 12% so a couple of those and you start to yodel. (All laugh) It’s not beer for woofing down. You sit down for an hour with some crackers and some old cheese and just enjoy it. The Dutch cheeses are recommended.


Q: Mr Akkerman, I shall look forward to tasting that. Thank you very much.


JA: You are most welcome my friend.



October 2016 (via email)


ヤン・アッカーマン インタビュー2016






























Q:インターネット、ダウンロード、You Tube、スポーティファイ、音楽にはいろいろなものがあって楽しいという人もいれば、もはやそんなもので音楽が殺されている、と言う人もいます。あなたはどう思いますか?






Part 2 ヤン・アッカーマン インタビュー (in person)




















Q:私がリラックスしたい時、世の中の事はうっちゃって、自分の生活のことだけを考えます。そんな時に聴くアルバム『Passion』収録の「Suites 1」は、これ以上はない作品に思えるんですよ。

































JA:ロバート・バルロを是非聴いてみるべきだね。彼はレオポルト・ワイスの組曲はすべて演奏しているから。ワイスはバッハの友人で、ワイスのおかげでバッハは「平均律クラヴィーア曲集」を書くことができたんだよ。バッハはワイスのリュート演奏に出会ったんだ。そのリュートというのは、ブンガといって、ピタゴラスによって三千年前にデザインされたものだったんだよ。リュートの響きは耳にとてもいいものだ。リュートのトーンというのは重厚なんだ。ワイスの演奏もとても重厚でね。そこが、バロック音楽が最高の形態だと称される理由でもある。バッハ以前にピアノではC C# CC#という微分音が登場していた。バッハはワイスとの友情を通じてリュートを知ったんだ。そしてリュートがあまりに美しく響くことに気づいたんだよ。



































































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