Interview: Pixel – 'As improvising musicians, it is our nature to let the music evolve naturally'
Young Norwegian quartet blending jazz with rock, pop amd indie
Accessible and innovative, Pixel are one of Norway’s leading young jazz quartets. The group, which makes its Scottish debut at the Jazz Festival, features double bassist and singer Ellen Andrea Wang, drummer Jon Audun Baar, trumpeter Jonas Kilmork Vemøy and saxophonist Harald Lassen. With that translucent quality common to Nordic jazz, Pixel’s rippling, almost harmolodic saxophone and trumpet parts are set against indie-rock inspired rhythms, and sweet pop melodies.
Their latest album, 2015’s Golden Years, ranges from ethereal balladry to jazz rock, lean grooves to cosmic improvisation, with Wang taking lead vocals on several tunes. Pixel operate as a collective and answer email questions as such. ‘We value a collective way of creating music,’ they explain. ‘In most cases, when one of us brings a new tune to a rehearsal it’s more like a musical idea or a composition that’s not entirely finished yet. We then put our minds together to finish the composition or make a tune out of the idea.’
The group began as an attempt to play rock-like music without rock instrumentation, but over time their approach has broadened. ‘Many contemporary musicians don’t feel that they have to hone in on one specific style of music or just do one thing which is good for the evolution of music. In Pixel we want to create the music that is the sum of the four of us and have fun playing it. If our music can contribute to pulling more audiences to the jazz genre, that’s an honour.’
In the live arena, Pixel’s music never stays still. ‘As improvising musicians, it is in our nature to try and let the music evolve naturally. We like to make small changes (and sometimes big) in harmony, arrangements and sometimes in melody to keep the music new for ourselves.’
The Studio, Potterrow, 0131 473 2000, 18 Jul, 8pm, £15.50.