How would you describe your playing and/or your music?
Well, I would definitely say that my guitar playing is blues based, but I also have quite a heavy gospel, R&B background in my playing too. So maybe that’s what makes my plalying a little different.
Define your latest album “Hold On” with three adjectives
Soul, passion, heartfelt.
What is more important to you between improving your playing and improving your music? In your opinion, is there a link between the two?
I look at improving my playing in a different way than other guitar players: my aim is to get better at telling a story with the guitar and how I can connect with people. I don’t really try to improve my playing by learning harmony, jazz or whatever. That is surely fantastic for other artists, but I think my talent lies in communication through my guitar. I think there is a link between the two in a way, because I want to get better at writing songs and I personally try to do that by getting better at guitar.
When did you develop your interest in blues music?
Luckily for me, my family grew up with blues and they told me about it. When I was young, my parents would tell me stories of them dancing to Muddy Waters, BB King, Fats Domino and many others, and as a kid, for some reason, those names always fascinated me. Then one thing led to another and the blues became natural to me.
When did you decide to pursue a career as a musician?
At the beginning, I just loved to play and I didn’t really think about a career. Then I started hanging out at this music store when I was about 17/18 and I saw that you could actually make a living playing music. Meeting people like Robben Ford at that music store showed me that I could do it if I worked really hard.
Do you have any degree in music, of any type? And what do you think is the role and the importance of music education nowadays?
No, I don’t. All that I know comes from studying records and music. I think that music education is very important if you want to be a working musician. Nothing is going to take the place of actually going out and gigging though. You can learn a million chords but you need to learn how to use them in the context of your band too.
How do you choose the musicians to work with?
Most of the time I admire their groove, their feel or the way they swing, but mainly it is about how good they make the music sound. I also choose the musicians that I have fun playing with and the ones that inspire me.
You tour a lot around the world, so do you prefer being on tour or at home? Why?
I like both. I like to tour so I can have something to come home to, but if I’m home too long, I definitely want to go back out on the road. You also need to tour, because if you don’t do that, you don’t eat (laughs). Being on the road is easy to me as I get into a cycle and after a certain time I feel like I’m getting better as a musician.
Which artists of the past have influenced you the most and which musicians of today are particularly interesting to you?
Talking about the past, I really love lots of blues musicians like BB King, Otis Rush, Albert King, Eddie Taylor, Sonny Boy Williamson, the Chicago Blues in general, but also many West-Coast guys like Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Mike Bloomfield and many many others. Some singers like Joni Mitchell influenced me a lot too. Talking about the present, I really like some of my friends like Josh Smith, but I tend to listen to older music more because I feel like I have to catch up with all the many recordings available.
If you would have to give an advice to young guitarists about how to get better at playing guitar, what would you say?
Do whatever it takes to make the song better, even if you’re playing instrumental music. If that means playing two notes throughout the whole song, just stick with it. Because if you do that, other musicians will want to play with you. If you just play solos all the time, you might end up as the “Instagram guitar player”, as soloing is not enough to actually go out and play. Work on your rhythm, on your timing, study some classic song from every genre. That way, even if you will not be able to play every song on earth, you will know what different kinds of music are made of, which is important if you want to play with other people.
What are you planning for the future?
I want to get better as a singer and as a musician in general. I just want to work more, write better songs, be able to write down my feelings in the most pleaseant way possible. And that’ll keep me busy for the rest of my life for sure.
What is the dream you would like to come true?
There’s so many things. But I would say to just tour all parts of the world, getting people interested in what I do and to be able to make listeners excited with music in general, not only mine.
An espresso with Kirk Fletcher Jazzespresso Jazz Magazine - copyright 2019
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Jazzespresso is a magazine, a website, a network, a hub, connecting all the souls of jazz all over the world. Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa: news from all over the world on a page in four languages. A multicultural reference point in English, Chinese and Spanish language for the lovers of this music in every country. For the amateur or the pro who wants to be updated about what is happening all around the world... Stay tuned.
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