1 February 2016

Emma Fisk Interview

Who are your main influences? Are they just jazz violinists or are there other instrumentalists and non-jazz influences?

    “In terms of jazz violinists my first main influence was Stephane Grappelli who I started listening to around the age of 12 and was lucky enough to meet when he played at Sunderland Empire in 1988. In more recent years I've also spent a lot of time in the musical company of Joe Venuti and Stuff Smith, and I very much admire Florin Niculescu’s playing in gypsy jazz.”

    “My violin teachers Noel Broome and Joanne Green both had a huge influence on my overall sound in placing a great emphasis on tone production.”

    “I often listen to vocal versions of the tunes I play and perhaps this is also an important influence. Playing the violin can be like singing without words in its expressiveness.”


You’ve performed in rock bands and gypsy jazz. What are the main differences you’ve found?

    “The most obvious difference would be playing essentially the same notes every performance in rock, as opposed to the improvised solos in gypsy jazz.”

    “I love the new exploration every time of playing a tune in jazz; the interaction with fellow musicians; always the possibility of discovering something fresh and surprising each other, or even yourself!”

    “In rock the emphasis was always on conveying the song, with the singer as the main focal point, whereas in gypsy jazz the focus is on the instrumentalists so there is always a sense of challenge and something new to discover.”

    “What the audience takes from the music also appears to be different. With the rock band, audience members often seemed to be using the songs to express their own feelings, (sometimes to the extent of unwittingly rewriting/ mishearing the lyrics to suit their own circumstances!), whereas Gypsy jazz/ hot club is the thrill of watching someone improvise on a musical tightrope, and joyful energy!”


Are there other styles of music (or jazz) that you’re interested in performing?

    “I've played in quite an eclectic range of ensembles over the past twenty years including a free improvisation collective; string quartets; recreations of British dance bands and the Paul Whiteman orchestra; ceilidh bands and experimental pop band Field Music – but so far not a tango band!”

    “I love tango and other South American musics, so I might put that on my to-do list, and I’d also be delighted to find a 21st century Adrian Rollini living round the corner from me so that I could form my own Blue Four.”


You’re playing at Smalls in Brighton on Thursday 11th February with Richard Pite. What can we expect to hear?

     “I haven’t decided 100% on everything we'll play yet, but there will be plenty of (hopefully!) popular standards such as Lady Be Good, Crazy Rhythm, Honeysuckle Rose; as well as a couple of European classics – Nuages and J'Attendrai, and Besame Mucho for some Latin passion.”



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Emma Fisk appears at Smalls in Brighton on Thursday 11th February 2016.

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