I'm connected with the contemporary avantgarde music - interview with Thomas Lehn

Piotr Wojdat

This year during Ad Libitum Festival you will have a residency. How do you feel about it?

Thomas Lehn: Looking forward! Open to whatever happens.

What are your expectations?

TL: I try to be free from expectations! Life is always different from what you might expect.

You're gonna play in duo with Tiziana Bertoncini and with polish musicians.

TL: Yes, I am going to perform with Tiziana Bertoncini on Fri. 11th October. And with a workshop ensemble on Thu. 10th

Have you already worked with them?

TL: I don’t know who all will take part in the workshop.

Why and when have you decided to play on analogue synthesizer?

TL: At the end of the 1980ies a very simple circumstance (the non-availability of a piano) brought me to try again my old minimoog analogue synthesizer (which I purchased as a late teenager in the 70ies) to play on a acoustical musical setting. Since then the synth became a major partner of my musical life, aside the piano.

These days are you more into electronic music or jazz? What inspires you more?

TL: Although Jazz meant a lot to me as a form of creating and playing your own music (versus a classical education, interpreting composed music, created by others), since a long time now I rather do not conceive myself being a jazz musician as such. I realized at a certain point that my roots are deep connected with a european tradition, and Jazz I always perceived in first place stemming from a black musicians afro-american background. Of course, unbrokenly, I highly regards the practices and manyfold manifestations of jazz musics, especially the old traditions, but I see myself more being deeper connected with the music of the contemporary avantgarde in general. The practices of composing and improvising have come closer to each other and the vocabularies, the sounds, are often familiar.

However, talking about inspiration, I have to say I can get inspired from many different musics, musics of different origine. There is to me not so much the more or less regarding the styles/genres, rather the more or less regarding single works of live performance experiences (as listener).

Does everything what you do is created and performed in real time?

TL: I do seriously think, even if you perform a composed work, you need to create something in it in real time to bring it to life, to achieve something with it, which points out to something else, which lets you enter another state of experience…, of the unexpected, of the unknown, of the mirroring… . The way how you listen as a performer to the sounds and sound progressions you are performing (improvised or composed/interpreted) does have a major impact on the way the recipients (the audiences) experience the performance and are drawn into the same space, the listening experience space. The contact of your mind/body/instrument to the inner wonderings and progressions of the performed music is a key function, that and how the sharing with the audience is going to happen. However, in my experience, you can’t force it to happen… – It’s the pool of accumulated experiences, and the qualities arriving from that, and at the same time the openess that a 'deeper' or ’true'/honest connection comes to you… and mostly it comes when you did not expect anything…

What are your plans for near future?

TL: I am going to realize in my studio an interpretation of a graphic score by Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, which will be then publish on the polish label Bolt Records.

I am a member of the quartet Speak Easy (w/ vocalists Ute Wassermann and Phil Minton and percussionist Martin Blume). The quartet does series of concert in 2019 under the title Speak Easy Xtended which includes concerts in the home town of each quartet member, each time with 2 guest musicians of the local city. So we will have on 25th Nov. London @ Cafe Oto with Marcio Mattos and Adam Bohman, and 13th Dec. in Vienna with Tiziana Bertoncini and noid as guests. We did already earlier this year Bochum and Berlin.