Jazzanova way of doing it…
If you still don't know the Jazzanova way of doing it, you got to learn!

Jazzanova needs no introduction. Already a strong brand, an enormous musical phenomenon where jazz meets open-mindedness and vision. All night long studio jam sessions, all aspects of various music production and song writing experiences under heavy contemporary composing influences and most importantly collaboration.

Because Jazzanova is all about sharing and collaborating.  Their latest album “Of All The Things” is probably their heaviest collaboration to date. They are already quite a big band to fit into their studio and with all those vocalists and artists and all those work; “Of All The Things” may be said as the zipped version of 5 or 6 albums of work.

Jazzanova crew love experimenting, they love coincidences and inspirational moments. They believe that their music will find it's way during the process of experimenting, sharing, giving and taking effort, will and motivation for doing real groovy and essential music.
That’s why Jazzanova is so big, and yet musically supple and ever evolving. Axel Reinemer answered my questions about 'Jazzanova way of doing it' and some more about their recent long player “Of All The Things” which they will be touring all summer with a supporting band.

I guess "Of All The Things" is Jazzanova’s most interactive and collaborative album to date. How long did it take to complete all those studio sessions and artist selection and was it a natural process or step by step planned one? Did you have an exact sound recipe for the album before you started working? For example 10% funk, 20% soul and something like this?
Between the Jazzanova albums Stefan and I were working with many other artists from the Sonar Kollektiv pool. We did an album with Thief, produced songs with Clara Hill etc. Also we did music for a theatre play here in Berlin called “Belle Et Fou”.

During that time we started working more and more on real songs than we were working on dance floor tracks. So that was the path we wanted to follow for the next album. We’ve discovered the world of song writing, specialized in recording and creating our own sound scapes without the use of samples. One can say that we’ve created the songs and atmospheres that we would love to sample.

For that we’ve worked with over 60 musicians that came over to the studio during the time to play our arrangements, for writing lyrics to it and helped the songs come alive. All in one you can say that the production of the album took almost one and a half year. We did most of the recordings in our “Exit Studio”, invited the singers to Berlin, so we could meet them, spent time with them and work on the songs. There was no exact sound recipe for the album, but we knew that it’s going to be pretty freestyle hence it turned out like a compilation of styles & songs we love! There is anything from soul to Brazil, hip hop and also alternative music.

What is the Jazzanova way of doing music?
To find and to realize an idea. Everything can be inspiring, a rhythm pattern, a sound, a short riff or hook, any noise an instrument or a sample can create, anything you can drum on, a melody you wistled in the morning.

Since Jazzanova's speciality is to compose and produce instrumentals, it was our very desire to give every involved vocalist an instrumental draft that has all the parts of a vocal song, like chorus, refrain or bridge that could also include undefined instrumental parts (like for instance the energetic middle part of "Little Bird"). Our aim was to see and finally hear what the vocalists felt, inspired to write and sang to our instrumentals. In the beginning we tried not to talk to much about the tracks, since we wanted every singer do decide for himself which way to go.

How do you think Jazzanova crew and it's output (musical vision) evolved during all those years? We may also talk about Sonar Kollektiv a little bit…
Over the years we researched in so many genres and were always looking to create something new and discover and learn new things. We are still open and look beside the way!

The album was not only released from Sonar but also from Verve/ Universal Music, what about this process?
We know the people from Universal Jazz here in Berlin for a pretty long time now. Also we did some work together (remixes / compilation etc.) in the past. Both of us thought it would be a great idea to put the forces together. As record & music lovers it is also nice to be part of the Verve family.

Is there a special reason in the album having dominantly male vocals?
That we have dominantly male vocals was not planned. It just happened that way.

Do you have a personal favorite in the LP? Or a track that has a special story to tell?   
When we invited Phonte to Berlin, we only had one song in mind which we would like him to rap on. When we were hanging out at the studio and talked about music, life etc. we played some sketches for our new album and it turned out that he really would like to sing on one of these drafts. We weren’t sure about that idea since we thought we don’t need another rap track on that album, but he didn’t want to rap on it anyways, he wanted to sing!

Then he sat in the vocal booth for a while listening to the song over and over until he had the perfect lyrics and melodies and was ready to record! We were excited about what would happen now. We really didn’t have an idea of what a good singer Phonte is and he blew us away with his performance. The song is now called “Look What You’re doin to Me”. It’s always good to be surprised by a good performance!

What other new projects are you working on these days?
Next is presenting our music live on stage first time ever with a supporting band. Clara Hill and Paul Randolph are going to be the vocalists. It's always been the motor of our development to learn and try new things. Even if we try around with techniques and instruments, 100s of other musicians worked with in the past, it's going to be a unique Jazzanova sound we create, because it's only us who love to do this special mixture of harmonies, rhythms, melodies, etc. It's our signature. And it will be there too on our next albums.

How do you keep on going as a big gang and collective? How do you solve things when you are locked up?
Over the years everyone of our crew developed their own strengths on a certain area. For example the DJs had a lot to do traveling and DJ’ing , taking care of their label Sonar Kollektiv, running the radio show, we developed our composing and studio techniques to bring everything together as a JAZZANOVA baby. There are no big fights really. We know what each of us’ specialty is and that we can rely on each other.

What other bands and labels do you admire these days?
I heard new stuff from “Whitest Boy Alive”, a Berlin based band around Erlend Øye, their new album is going to be out in very soon. I really like it! Recently listened a lot to Q-tips album “The Renaissance”.

What are your comments on deep house, disco and vocals being again very popular in electronic music scene?
Since I am not really a club guy I could not discover this trend. But if it is like this, I really appreciate it and it´s maybe worth going out again!

When will you come to perform live again
this time as a big band in Istanbul?  
We are definitely looking forward to play our live show in İstanbul since I have never been to Turkey! I guess in summer, so watch out!

Interview: Christopher Çolak
Photography: Ben Wolf
5 April 2009


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