Name: Grégory Privat
Occupation: Pianist, composer, improviser
Nationality: French
Recent release: Grégory Privat's Yonn is out via Buddham Jazz.
Recommendations: «Perfume» by Patrick Süskind; «Rachid» by Michel Petrucciani

If you enjoyed this interview with Grégory Privat and would like to find out more, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I play the piano since I was 5 years old. My father is a piano player, and we where listening to jazz music every time at home.

Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?

Music is my meditation, my medication, my way to approach spirituality. This is what I seek when I go on stage.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

Every time I make an album, I try new things, new concepts, it’s a different universe each time.

But I think the link between each album is that there will always be a touch of my Caribbean culture, since I come from Martinique.

This year I released my 6th album called «Yonn». It is my first solo album.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

Even if I remain a jazz musician, I listen to a lot classical music. And I think it influences my taste in composition.

For example, I think my latest album is a mix between classical, jazz, and traditional music from Martinique.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

I would say that the key for me is melody. I care about it a lot.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I think both are interesting, trying to keep tradition while pushing the music into the future.

Music has to evolve. But we need to know where it comes from.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

I am a piano player, so I would say the piano of course. I play and compose through this instrument.

But more and more, I use my voice as an instrument, or as singer. This give me the opportunity to open up and discover new directions in my music.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

I don’t have a specific routine, since it depends on whether I stay at home or if I am on tour.

I run my own label, so when I’m home, I generally do the paper work in the morning, and I leave the rest of the day to play, and compose.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

I composed the piece «DNA» on the album «Soley».

On this piece I refer to my roots and the diversity of ancestors as a Caribbean. Because of slavery, the population of Martinique has roots from every parts of the world. The piece begins with a very small melody, then goes to a chaotic keyboard solo to end up with a robot voice describing my DNA roots with the percentage by region from around the world.

The message is that maybe it’s a way to have a better understanding of the world.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

I see it more as a solitary activity, not to impose it to anyone around. It’s like religion to me, this must be personal.

But If somebody else wants to listen too, I will be glad to share of course.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

Music, and jazz in particular is a way to discover the world, meet musicians from all parts of the world, and yet being able to speak the same language.

As I was saying about the song «DNA», I think this can be a way to have a better understanding of the world. Of course we are different regarding a lot of points, our culture, religion. But our humanity is our common ground.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

On my latest album «Yonn», I dedicated a song to my godfather. It’s called «Song for Jojo».

I would say that this the most personal album. I refer to my family, to love, to loss. Music helps me mentally to deal with it. It’s my therapy!

There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?  

Music is art, but first it’s science, with rules, and knowledge to learn. I’m not against a pure scientifically approach, but the spirits has to be there to create emotions.
The thing is now robots can compose music … So it’s a bit disturbing !

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

Creativity is everywhere. For example, I like to create my own music videos, and think about the concept of it. But music has this ability to heal the soul on a very deep level.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

I don’t know. It’s magical I think. It’s my connection with god.