SINNE EEG

"I was never really an avant-garde artist in any respect."

"Transparency!" Sinne Eeg doesn't hesitate when I ask her what the most important sound element is when producing. Along with depth, top, and crispness, while still embracing a warm, rounded sound, transparency is definitely important to Sinne.

In this interview, we also talk with Sinne about her fan base, musical roots and producing her own music.

Transparency is the keyword
Today, Sinne Eeg stands out as one of the strongest new female vocalists and songwriters from the Scandinavian jazz scene. With her distinctive vocals and strong songwriting abilities, she's established herself as a growing talent and has built a loyal fan base around the world. She has already won several awards, including the Danish Music Award (2007, 2010) and Danish National Radio Jazz Award (2009), and has worked with musicians such as Chris Minh Doky, Curtis Stigers and Randy Brecker. And right now, the young singer's about to release a brand new album.

Asia vs. Europe and USA
As we catch her on the mobile, Sinne has just finished a tour in Japan where she's earned herself a devoted fan base. She's also devoted herself to Asia. Travelling. Being there. Playing music.

But do Asian music lovers, generally speaking, appreciate her music differently?

"Well, I do believe that Asian music lovers cherish a good tune. And they really appreciate something beautiful.

It doesn't necessarily have to be rhythmically sophisticated, but they really do like a good song – and so do I," Sinne underlines.

"I was part of a large production in Asia. And the project's producer kind of dictated what we were to play. He wanted us to do classics like Chaplin's Smile and a lot of jazz standards.

I'm kind of a my-own-boss type, so I was very sceptical at first. But gradually I understood that he actually had the upper hand. Because they truly like a good, strong tune."

But don't people in Europe and the USA appreciate a good tune as well?

"Yes, well, I do think that people everywhere appreciate a good song. But there is an audience in Europe and the USA who are musically extremely well educated and like a musical challenge or two. My point is that I try to play for everyone! It has to sound good. Just because I've learned a new chord, it doesn't mean I have to throw it into the song!"

There's no need to show off
"I was never really an avant-garde artist in any respect. And I believe that the more music I write and play, the more I find peace at heart. The less I care about what people think. I don't feel I need to prove that we're good and that the music is technically hard to play."

Nowadays, Sinne sometimes enjoys writing music that is just exceptionally simple. Unsophisticated. Straightforward. Whereas at the conservatory, she'd possibly thrown the material away, fearing it wouldn't seem sufficiently impressive to people. Those days are over now. Today, she's more about communicating expression and sound vision.

Jazz growing up
Sinne grew up with jazz. Her parents had a considerable collection of jazz and rock/pop records that she could 'ravage', as she puts it. And of course, the legacy shows.

Jazz is the natural genre for her and her voice. Yet her way of interpreting isn't 'showy'. For Sinne, music shouldn't be sophisticated or 'difficult', just to prove what you're capable of.

That's why she sometimes enjoys creating very simple, basic arrangements. This, and the influence from typically more accessible genres, can be heard on her recordings. On her new record, there's a brand new version of John Lennon's Strawberry Fields Forever (although this is actually not an easy track, rhythmically speaking).

"It doesn't always take that much to turn a pop song into a jazz track," Sinne explains.

"And I am very impulsive. I can't stand just playing what the notes dictate or exactly what we've agreed upon. What's exciting is what happens when ten people walk up on that stage and play music. That's what it's all about to me," she adds.

Fight for your sound
One thing is playing live, another is recording and producing records. Sinne disagreed heavily with producers and record labels early on. She has fought tooth and nail to let her 'sound' shine through.

"Luckily, nowadays I produce myself and found a musical partner in Lasse Nilsson in Sweden who, to a large extent, shares my vision of music and sound. He's capable of highlighting details I didn't notice second by second and has the technical skills I don't have myself.

Like on the new record. Arrangements for orchestras include all kinds of little details on strings, etc. I don't always notice them, but he certainly does."

The point is that working with people – musicians and engineers – speaking the same language brings about the best result. That, and people who have skills you don't have yourself. People who make Sinne Eeg sound good. Flourish and thrive.

"That goes for many contexts," she says, continuing: "In music, and corporations, and firms. People with different skills, yet speaking the same language, working well together create a strong result."

To ditch the piano solo of the century
Producing records also means making sacrifices. Since variation and impulsiveness are essential elements in Sinne's musical world, it isn't always easy.

"We still need to be disciplined in the studio. Usually, you can't afford to change too much too many times. If you listen to a few takes on the same track you'll soon discover that they can be VERY different as regards tempo, groove, form, etc. But I have no other choice than to look at the album in its entirety. To work out what is best to achieve a unified whole. Even if it means skipping the piano solo of the century," she laughs.

Sinne is currently getting ready to play and perform at a number of international jazz festivals, from Copenhagen to Brazil, China to Japan. Her new record was recently released in Japan and will be available throughout Europe later in 2012.

Find out more about Sinne Eeg's contribution to the DALI CD Vol. 3 - and listen to more of her music here: www.sinnemusic.com.

- Rune H. Jensen, rhj@dali.dk

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