Part One of an Interview with Hilde Hefte!

I first 'met' Hilde via myspace...

I can't recall just who discovered who but it was a wonderful cyber meeting!

I've always loved the voice of Norwegian Jazz singer, Karin Krog and for many years Karin and I corresponded via snail mail!

To my mind Hilde follows Karin's great legacy of  Norwegian Jazz singers with a  voice of subtle complexity, warmth, intimacy, poignancy and fearless irony!

Hilde has graciously allowed me an interview. I continue to learn, she is never predictable, is full of depth, generosity of spirit and self effacing good humour!  


Jan.s: Hilde! Your voice and phrasing have an innate and completely at home Jazz sensibility. Tell me about your first jazz influences.  

Hilde: My first influence was being born in to a family that loved music, especially jazz and classical music.
My father played the alto sax and Bb clarinet and his heroes were jazz musicians like Lester Young, Erroll Garner etc. BUT neither my mother nor my father talked badly about other music genres.

When I came home with heavy rock or whatever it was they always listened to it and always tried to find something positive to focus on. I remember I played a really heavy rock song for them – the record was TERRIBLE (can’t remember what it was – guess I’ve pushed this too far back in my head hehe) – but my father said: “Hilde, the bassist it REALLY good”.

My belief is that behaving like this they allowed me to be curious about music, music styles and quality; and at the same time made me feel that when they had something they would love to share with me when it came to music, I felt obligated to listen even though I didn’t always like their records or their songs on the radio.

You know, jazz and classical music is a question about depth so you have to grow into that depth and that was what they did without me knowing it.

But my first big crush was Oscar Peterson. This happened when I watched Oscar Peterson’s TV Show for the first time when I was about 10.

I sat there and fell in love immediately and wanted to marry him. I don’t know what it was, I was 10, but he “spoke” to me and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

And I started taking piano lessons, something that made me fall in love in the world of sounds from the “chords” of Debussy f.ex.

The same sounds you can hear in all modern jazz music. I almost never listened to singers when I grew up. (Even though I’ve now got some huuuuuge favourites.)

I was always eager on learning the way musicians phrased, where in the bars they started playing, when they stopped, how they played the phrase, what notes they picked up in a chord and more….

But even though I listened to instrumentalists the most I’ve always been a “word-freak”. So storytelling is the main thing for using words when one’s singing in my opinion.

When I sing I have to find my story and tell it. It doesn’t help wearing a fine dress, make up and high heals, telling everybody how sexy you are if you don’t want to tell your audience something – and then one will be “dead” as an artist after reached the age of 25 hehe.

At the same time – if one is focusing on the lyrics and the story, one will pause the music differently and the music is always in the pauses, where you catch air, breathe or just keep your mouth shot. This is my opinion – and one doesn’t have to agree with me, but I always find that the most interesting jazz singers is the singers that don’t speak until they have to, and when they do they want to tell me something. If a singer don’t take breaks and catch air I get nervous and start to breath for them.  

Jan.s: Thank you Hilde, for sharing so much with us. I can't wait for the next installment!
Photo (c) Hilde Hefte
Janice Slater November 2008


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