CONTRABASS #1: INGEBRIGT HÅKER FLATEN [En]
City of birth: Oppdal, Norway
Year of birth: 1971
Current city: Austin, Texas
Playing double bass since… 1990
2.- Why did you chose it?
I started to play electric but my teacher Odd Magne Gridset was a fantastic doublebassist, he was a total Nils Henning Ørsted Pedersen fanatic, so I got bitt by the double bass bug, and there was no way back.
3.- What kind of strings do yo use?
Usually Efrano or Sonores gut strings but I just played a bass with Pirastro Pizzicato (silver wounded gut) which was really interesting as well. I may try to get them for my bass too.
4.- What kind of bow?
I have a coda bow “Revelation”.
5.- How old is your actual instrument?
I dont know, it doesnt say anywhere inside the instrument but I assume it’s from the mid 19th Century…
6.- Do you have any secret formula to keep the callus on your fingers?
No secrets, just playing as much as I can.
7.- Tell me a phrase or advice from a teacher you still remember:
“Follow your core it wont lead you wrong”.
8.- An album of reference.
Nils Henning Ørsted Pedersen/Archie Shepp, “Looking at Bird” (Steeple Chase, 1980)
9.- A double bass player of reference.
10.- What’s a typical reaction when people see you carrying the double bass around?
“Why didn’t you choose the picolo flute!?”
11.- Have you read “The Double Bass” from Patrick Süskind?
No, I don’t know that book.
12.- What do you think about the stick bass and other electric mutations?
I have no opinions either than that. It’s a totally different instrument that needs totally different skills than playing the upright.
13.- How do you feel about that double role as rhythm and solo instrument?
That makes playing the bass very exciting. I love both aspects and the reason why I’m also “in love” with the gut-string sound is because I feel it gives the bass more of a percussive sound, as well as a warmth I miss with steel strings.
14.- Do you need to be a good improviser to be a good bass player?
Yes, I believe so! I believe that if you are a good improviser it means you are a good listener which by definition makes you a better musician whatever instrument you are playing. But I know a lot of bassplayers who are incredibly skilled but not necessarily good improvisers so I guess it becomes a matter of chose and personal interest.
15.- Your solo album “Double Bass” was released in 2003. How do you see that record now?
That record was was increadibly important for me in terms of just getting it out. The process was maybe more important than the actual result but I’m still happy about that release and thinking of maybe trying to get it re-released on vinyl some day.
16.- Which musical aspects (sound, technics,…) are you obsessed with the most now?
I’ve always been obsessed by sound, and I always will. I play in a lot of loud groups so it’s something I have to deal with all the time while playing live. I’m still trying to figure out how to keep my sound esthetics while also being able to being heard. It would be easier to just put on a set of steel strings to be able to have a loud and clear sound but for me the bass then sound to electric and looses its character and I rather then choose to play electric bass. It’s a very interesting challenge to constantly be dealing with an acoustic instrument in loud settings without loosing the sound esthetics of the instrument, and I’m not going to give it up.
17.- Recently you started your own record label, Tektite Records, and new two solo records were released, one with double bass, “Steel”, and another one with electric bass,”Birds”, which gives a new perception from you as a bass player. Those records are released almost ten years after that “Double Bass” album. What evolution do you see between your solo records?
These recordings consists of both material with my acoustic and electric bass so I would say that first and foremost it shows a much broader range of what I’m doing solo than what I released about 10 years ago on ‘Double Bass’. I’m really happy with both the recordings. “Steel” captures a live concert I did in Bucharest from November 2011. The whole concept of doing solo concerts is difficult to me because I first and foremost look at myself as an ensemble player, but I like the challenge and I feel this concert captures me on a ‘good day’ where I managed to include many approaches as startingpoints for my improvisations. And, the fact that I called it “steel” is because it’s played on a steel-string bass, and I think the bass sounded great even if I normally prefer gut strings!
The other record “Birds” is the first record I have released where I’m playing on my electric Fender Precision bass and work with pedals. This is mostly an approach towards different soundscapes more than ‘playing the bass’, but it’s all manipulated with my Fender bass and done live. I’m really happy with the result of this record.