Margarida Azevedo

Margarida Azevedo

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Hearth – Work and Focus

Five women and a door that persisted not to open. It was after a tiring day of rehearsals that the four members of the Hearth group sat down with me for an informal and elucidative conversation about their work.

My big thanks to the four wonderful musicians that kindly accepted to give me this interview.

Kaja Draksler – Piano

Ada Rave – Tenor Saxophone

Mette Rasmussen – Alto Saxophone

Susana Santos Silva – Trumpet

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DizSonâncias (DS) – How the idea of the project born?

Kaja Draksler (KD) – We did this in October Meeting. It was a meeting with a lot of musicians from different places that happened in Bimhuis in 2016. We could make different groups among the people that came into this meeting. This was one of the groups and we decided to continue it. We kind of started it also with this idea that we will continue it in the future.

DS – Did you play together before that or it was your fist time together?

Susana Santos Silva (SSS) – I played with Kaja for many, many years.

Ada Rave (AR) – I played with Kaja. I met her when we lived in Amsterdam. We were living in the same town. And I met Mette in Amsterdam through Kaja.

DS – You have different music backgrounds. When you start playing together how you describe your vibe?

Mette Rasmussen (MR) – Some years ago I think all of us were taking new footsteps inside improvised. At the time, when we met I think we all felt really fresh and really new because we were all inspiring each other in many different ways and I think along the years this is growing and we are talking much more. That’s why we having this residence in Portalegre because we are talking much more and discussing the aesthetics about the music and where we want to go and what is the meeting point for all of us inside the group.

DS – A project only with women in jazz is quite rare. Do you feel that is a distinguish mark of the quartet?

SSS – No. It was a coincidence. We just wanted to play with each other and it’s a coincidence that we are all women.

It’s not a statement. It’s funny. We have a picture with a kid, we are called Hearth and we are four women.

AR – I think people are very used to, not only in music, see the things in a specific way. I mean, in literature, for example, you know more women through the voice of the men. Maybe words are used to do these things. But we are women so it’s normal to us to have babies, put this kind of names in things. It’s a natural thing to do.

DS – Your formation is unusual – winds and a piano – how do you create your music?

KD – Right know we are working in very concrete ideas but we are probably not use them literally. We are just working on creating a language together through very concrete exercises and then later we want to improvise and this language will be there then. We create a language together and then it stays in our head although we don’t do it consciously. That’s the idea for now but maybe we will even use some of these material on the spot. We are not deciding on it. For now, the idea is that we only improvise with these work in our subconscious but perhaps in the end we will also record something very concrete.

SSS – It’s like studying a language. We studied and then we can improve around it so that becomes our way of communicating. It’s a language we develop together. We are finding a common ground. It´s not only individualities but a band sound.

AR – We talk a lot about the material we brought. We discuss, we play, we try to make it work.

DS – The name Hearth. How it born and what’s the meaning of that?

(They laughed)

SSS – The meeting point of a family, a home. And it also plays a little bit around with the idea of heart which is also like home, the meeting point of people and the warms of a fireplace and Earth as well which is our mother land.

KD – “Her” is also in it.

SSS – I never thought of that, actually.

KD – Also the idea of home. Maybe subconsciously also comes from the fact that none of us live in their home countries. Maybe Mette feels more in home. She is kind of norweginized and anyway Scandinavian has a kind of common behaviour culture. But Mette is never home. She is always on tour. So it’s this thing of searching for home, a common place.

DS – What about surprises for tomorrow (gig in Portalegre JazzFest). Can you talk about what you have in mind?

KD – We want to surprise ourselves.

AR – We want to surprise ourselves because we are not working precisely in what we are going to play. We will improvise.

DS – Next gigs. Do you have it?

SSS – No we don´t have.

AR – We are open to it.

MR – I think the priority right now it´s the music. It´s not so much to get a lot of gigs, it´s the development of the music and not the band. I think the concert tomorrow It’s going to be an important part of this process.

We are together since 2016 and we have probably four concerts a year.

KD – Once the record is out we want to do a little tour to presented it.

SSS – We will record it here (Portalegre).

AR – We are very focused in tomorrow.

MR – We are all in a lot of different projects and, I speak for myself, I feel that some bands and some music develops when you play in concerts. It develops when you are on tour, that’s when it shapes. But I think with this band is something else. It´s not the gigs that makes the music is this process of making the music and the concerts are maybe rarer.

SSS – But if they come I think that at some point we will also do that (develop on the stage). I think that is an important part of any process.

DS – Which expectations do you have to the future of the project?

MR – I think the expectation is what Susana said. In the end we will eternalize the music, the band and the four of us and then we will be on stage developing.

SSS – Maybe in the future we will keep on moving forward and recreating.

DS – No rhythm section?

SSS – I think is more like chamber music kind of band.

MR – That’s the challenge.