Jason Kohnen - Upright, Bass, Piano
Gideon Kiers - Sequencing, Beats, Drums
Hilary Jeffrey - Trombone, Oscillators, Rhodes
Charlotte Cegarra - Vocals, FX, Piano, Xylophone, Flute
Eelco Bosman - Guitar
Nina Hitz - Cello
Sarah Anderson - Violin
A band divided into two sides, a particular reality which takes two different forms, but not so far apart, becoming, as the case and releases, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble or The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, let's having a clearer picture of who behind these scenes thanks to the founder Jason Köhnen.
Welcome to Aristocrazia Webzine, Jason how are you?
Jason: I'm fine, thanks.
Let's start by talking about why a group of artists decided to create two bands so special that revolve around the same minds, how did this two project born and how did you choose the monicker?
Gideon and me decided to start this project back in 1999/2000, just as a concept to make music together influenced by film. We thought it would be interesting to create some dark jazzy sounds for existing silent films, as most old silent films are accompanied by organ/piano or a classical ensemble. We took the words "dark" and "jazz" and put them together hence creating the term "darkjazz" back in 1999, we added "Kilimanjaro" because we think it has a mysterious ring to it. "Ensemble" seemed a good addition for reference of us being together.
If I don't have misunderstood, the basic difference between TKDE and TMFDJC is in the soul and the understanding of musical structure, the first is a studied project, the other is based on the concept of "free expression" or jamming?
Correct. TKDE is studio/compositional, and TMFDJC is improv and non linear.
What are the difficulties in carrying on simultaneously two paths and two ways of understanding a similar musical field?
None, they correlate to each other and feed off each other in a certain musical symbiosis. We had the urge to have more freedom live, so we created TMFDJC to compensate for the structural limitations we have with TKDE due to the existing compositions performed live. They work well together.
The cinematic sound of many of your songs has behind it a strong passion toward those forms of art? What are the producers and the films that may have inspired you during the writing of your songs or unconsciously fueled a jam session?
There are so many producers we admire, so its hard to pinpoint a certain favorite. Inspiration switches from time to time aswell. At one point i can be really into Harryhausen films which will inspire me to write tracks like "Caravan", or later i can get inspiration from Picasso and write a track like "Guernican Perspectives", its a spur of the moment thing and it comes in different waves.
There has never been proposed to you to write a soundtrack for a short/feature film?
Nothing concrete at the moment.
How does one of your songs in studio born? It's a collaborative delivery or everyone has their own specific field of action and then you convey together all ideas?
It varies. There is no formulaic structure or approach. It really can happen in multitudes of ways depending on who, how or why a certain track gets written. Its always a mystery for us aswell.
The music industry today continues to "create" ad hoc niches of niches, defining it subgenres, what advice would you give to a guy who wanted to start listening to your "world"? There are albums by artists who have helped you in your growth, as musicians and listeners, which could be of help to get fully in touch with your art form?
Its a shame the word "darkjazz" is becoming a genre. When we started making this sound back in 1999 i Googled the word, but it didn't exist. Today its becoming a genre and to be honest we don't feel part of this at all. Sometimes people think we have created our band name to an existing genre which is a bit frustrating. Stuff we listened to as influence to our sound is hard to pin point, as with film producers there are so many bits and pieces you love. Speaking for myself i think 60/70s Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Spaghetti Western soundtracks subconsciously inspired me the most. Miles Davis, Ennio Morricone, John Coltrane, Black Sabbath. Amon Tobin, Saint Vitus, Mogwai and Billie Holiday are the musicians that are part of my TKDE musical influence.
The last albums you bought and movies you watched?
Albums: Nate Young's "Regression" series and the ones of Damage Control Riddim. Movies: "Neds" and "Tyrannosar".
Have you ever had the idea to give shape to the songs through the use of images that transmit their meaning? Have you already used the visual appearance in concert?
We have been discussing/planning our own visuals for years, its just not coming together logistically and financially. Its a lot of work compared to making music in a studio, theres multitudes of other stuff which comes along with a film production.
What is the art and, specifically, the music for you?
Personally expression and liberty.
Your projects is outside the box, there are other lesser known artists that you think having value and due to this quality, now increasingly rare, are not well known?
I really like the Nate Young albums, but i think he's pretty well known for his work with Wolf Eyes.
How is important, than the skill, the luck and finding someone who believes in projects like yours?
Its always good to have luck on your side, we could have used a bit more now and then. If theres less luck in the game you just proceed to do what has to be done, and thats making music.
How would you see the figures of Mike Patton, John Zorn and Diamanda Galas as a possible guest in one of your work?
I'd prefer to work with other people who are more separated from our music like West African musicians. Personally i'd love to do a track with Wino.
Have you ever had the idea of creating a split TKDE/TMFDJC?
Not really. Good idea though!
After "From The Stairwell" and "Egor" what should we expect by you?
Its all open, as it always is. It will be different again, we don't want to get stuck in this "film noir" style too much as its starting to get a bit worn out because theres too many people starting to do the same thing.
We concluded, one last message to our readers and we close.
In a parallel universe music could be non-existent.