Back in January I’d posted a video made out of 100s of YouTube clips set to the music of an unusually beautiful sounding instrument, Hang drum. I was expecting the instrument to be a a thousand years old and the musician a couple of hundred years younger than that.
Manu Delago is a young percussionist from Innsbruck, Austria, and now based in the UK. From MySpace profile:
“As a two-year-old he began what would become a very musically inclined life as he sat behind his first own drumkit. Four years later, he took accordion lessons and at the age of ten, he learned to play the piano. As a mainly Rock influenced 14-year-old, he played the drums for various bands. After graduating at the University Mozarteum in Innsbruck (Austria) in classical percussion, Manu Delago moved to London and studied Jazz Drums at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Amongst his teachers were world class musicians as Jojo Mayer, Scott Stroman or Ralph Salmins.”
G: What kind of music did you grow up listening to? What do you listen to now?
MD: Already as a child I have always been surrounded by musicians of different genres. Once I bought my own CDs, I listened much Pop, Metal and Rock music. Later I got into Funk and Hiphop. Since a couple of years I’m getting more into Jazz and Classical music…. but still loving the World of Groove.
G: What was your first instrument? What came easy, and what was hard to learn on that instrument?
MD: My first instrument was a drumkit which I got as a 2-year-old. I don’t remember anything about learning the instrument, I just played it…
G: Besides practicing your instrument, what else did you do to broaden your musical skills?
MD: The most important thing is listening to music. Also you need to have self-confidence and believe in your playing.
G: Tell us how you came to find the Hang drum. What’s the history behind this instrument?
MD: My dad found the Hang in the internet and showed it to me. It’s not a traditional instrument. It’s a new invention from Switzerland. It’s great that there are creative guys who invented a new instrument in the 21st century.
G. For those who’ve seen you play Hang on videos, can you describe how the notes work on it – tuning, scales etc?
MD: Every Hang has 8 or 9 notes which are tuned in one scale. I very often use 2 or 3 Hangs at once to be more flexible. The Hangs on ‘Mono Desire’ are in Fminor and Bb mixolydian.
G: What’s your writing process like? Can you also say a little bit about ‘Mono Desire’ – what inspired it?
MD: My writing process often comes out of improvisations. For composing I also use instruments that I’m not very familiar with. For example when I’m writing for bass, I often grab an acoustic guitar because it has a similar system as a bass. Of course I write on the Hang, the piano and sometimes on the drumkit. ‘Mono Desire’ is a little presentation what you can do with a Hang. Most bits are results of improvisations.
G: From a percussionist point-of-view, what would you advise guitar players that they might have missed from playing a stringed instrument?
MD: I don’t think that guitar players have missed anything from playing a stringed instrument. If you are aggressive as a drummer, you can abreact on the drumkit. As a guitarist you can slam your instrument into your speaker.
G: What are your 3 favorite guitar albums? 3 non-guitar albums.
MD: What’s a guitar album? Is ‘Bloodsugarsexmagik’ with John Frusciante a guitar album? Or the first Rage against the Machine album with ‘Tom Morello’? Now I got it….my favourite guitar album is Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’. And don’t tell me that this is not a guitar album! If you want the name of a band-leading solo-guitarist I’d say Wayne Krantz. Also I love The Beatles and The Police… are those guitar-bands or not? My favourite album without a guitar is probably ‘Every Day – Cinematic Orchestra’.
G: What’s happening in 2009 for you? What projects are you working on now?
MD: Writing & touring… at the moment I’m writing a piece for a string orchestra. Concertwise I’ll hopefully play in every continent… Dates in the US, Europe and Africa are confirmed already… more dates to come.