KALI: Pushing the boundaries of what happened before

5 June 2019

For each edition of inJazz, a number of festivals and venues from abroad propose acts that they think should be seen and heard on stage in Rotterdam as part of the showcase programme. This year we collaborate with the Swiss department of Match & Fuse in the presentation of KALI, a highly original trio consisting of Raphael Loher (piano), Urs Müller (guitar) and Nicolas Stocker (drums). Since their inception in 2015 in Zürich, they did not mention jazz as much as they did contemporary classical, alternative rock and improvised music. In any case, their music is adventurous, highly dynamic and quite exhilarating. To shorten the wait until their performance at inJazz on Friday 28 June 28th, we asked Nicolas Stocker some questions.

Given your biography on our website, I assume that neither of you has a strict jazz background. What does the term ‘jazz’ mean to you?
“I can relate to the term ’jazz’ in the sense that it is music which tries to push the boundaries of what happened before. Combining all sorts of influences, especially current ones, and the use of improvisation as a tool to explore new territories are the other two factors which define jazz for me personally.”

All three of you have played with numerous international groups and cooperations. In your opinion, what is the Swiss element in KALI’s music?
“Playing with KALI, we are more interested in creating textures that grow as a whole, rather than taking ‘classical’ solos. We work very hard to balance all the rhythms, frequencies and melodies with the goal to become one sound organism. The Swiss element in this could be, that we’re valuing a group effort higher than an individual one.”

What happens to your music when you play in – and I am looking at your tour itinerary now – Krasnoyarsk, or Leipzig or Rotterdam? Can you predict what a location will do to the tunes?
“The biggest factor for us is the room itself and if the whole atmosphere is inspiring. If you look at it this way, we could have a really good night in any of those cities, it depends much more on the venue and particular circumstances of the concert than the city. On the other hand, I’d say of the three cities you’ve mentioned, it can be expected that the experience of the audience, listening to somewhat ‘experimental’ music, to be pretty similar in Leipzig and Rotterdam. In a city like Krasnoyarsk, people might get less possibilities listening to listen to this kind of music. The kind of surprise factor you get when playing for an audience that is less used to the kind of music can affect the music in both ways. In the best case, through the ears of the audience, you can even experience your own music totally different and it drives you to go all out with them.”

Who is your favourite Dutch jazz musician, and why?
“I’d love to know more about Dutch jazz and I really hope to get to know more Dutch music at inJazz. Of the people I’ve encountered myself in the Dutch scene, singer Heidi Heidelberg and her duo Bitch ‘n’ Monk stood out to me, although I’m not sure how Dutch Heidi is.”

She’s a Londoner actually, but working regularly in the Netherlands. She recently featured in Philipp Rüttgers’ project Twists of H.C. Andersen’s Untaped Fairy Tales.
“Bitch ‘n’ Monk is really crushing all genre borders and finding their own voice without using their genre fluidity as a gimmick. Further I really like the work of Oene van Geel and Tony Roe.”