Interview with Dan Klarskov
1. How did you start playing the blues?
  • I started out playing the guitar when I was 11 years old. My father played the guitar, very good but not professional. One day I heard someone say, he was very talented and he should have done more with this talent, later I was thinking that no one should say that about me.

2. Why the blues?
  • I listen to all kind of music, but found out that the part that pointed to the blues music was the one that really moved me.

3. Who are your influences?
  • The list of musicians is very long. To me, some of the most important recordings are Aron “T-Bone” Walker from the 1940's where he revolutionized the way of playing the guitar. Buddy Guy’s “DJ Play My Blues” (1979) and “A Man and His Blues” (1968). Otis Rush’s “Any Place I’m Going” (1998). The Swedish musician Svend Zetterberg is definitely worth listening to, as well. In fact, he’s my European favourite. The old, seasoned musicians have always been a strong support and encouraged me to hang on to my music... I hope that one day I can do the same for the next generation of blues musicians.

4. Did you study music as a formal education?
  • No, I am autodidact, learning by listening to all the classics.

5. What gears do you use? (Example Guitars, Gadgets etc)
  • I like a clear and dynamic sound on my guitar so I use thick strings like 0.12s on my Fender Stratocaster from 1971, no pedals, just directly into my Fender Vibro King amplifier. My pick-ups are almost level with the guitar body to make the guitar sound as dynamic as possible to me.

6. How many albums have you released so far?
 
  • This is my third one. The first was: Dan Klarskov & the Honey Drippers (1998), second one was: The Blues is a Feeling (2001) and the new live CD & DVD: Blues at Dexter was realised late in 2006.
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7. What is music to you?
  • To me music is a communication, and a chance for me to give some of my heart felt feelings to the audience. I always loved music, since I was a kid. The way the music has been moving me, I try to move other people, the same way. It is the same as if you have tasted some real good food, and want other people to try that experience too.

8. Where do you see yourself a few years later from now?
  • According to music I believe that this is my life. I will play music to enjoy myself, my friends and the audience as long as I can, maybe till the day I cant move my fingers and sing my songs anymore. The love for the music can follow all live, the same as the love for a woman and the love of good food and wine.

9. What do you think is the blues?
  • Good question, I think The Blues is a feeling. You can go and see a movie, and get moved by the blues in the movie, you feel a little better after the show, maybe you start asking your self, what happened, but you got hit by the blues and now you left them in the cinema, and feel better. It could be a painting too. The deep feelings that the blues is expressing can be all kind of deep feelings. But the blues is a personal feeling. Always. Feelings for a friend, feelings for your family, the one you love. Kids have the blues too. Kids’ might see there parents fight and arguing, the kid got the blues, I can tell.

10 Did you struggle?
  • Yes, I have struggled maximum. A person can only struggle max, and I believe that every body have been struggling maximum with something. My parents used to argue and fight when I was a kid. Man I got the blues. They left and I grew up with my mother. They where good people both of them, but not together. I love them both very much. Today I only have my father. My mother died of cancer 2005. Man` one of the classic blues from the 40`s and 50`s was TB Blues (Tuberculosis) Today it is the Cancer. Man, a lot of people all over the world fight with this problem. I wrote Cancer Blues to my second album: The Blues is a Feeling (2001). You don’t get right singing about the deep blues, but it is a good help for you and many of the audience. I have talked to one person who really got hit by the blues from me and had to cry and afterwards he told me, Thank you I feel much better now.

11. When you started out, did you think you would be musicians?
  • Well, Not when I was eleven years old, but in 1985 (16 years old) I had the experience to see Champion Jack Dupree (Piano and vocal legend from New Orleans) and he was over 70 years old, and I felt so good. He could play that good and enjoy audience like that, I felt that I could try and do the same, maybe all my life.

12. Message to the young musicians?
  • If you play blues related music it is very important that you feel good playing the music. As long as you guys feel good, and get better in your heart by playing music you should keep on, keeping on. If you don’t feel like give it away, don’t keep on doing it, take a break and maybe later you feel like doing it again. If you don’t have anything inside you can’t give it away, if you know what I mean. And don’t forget the tones you need to play; to express the feelings of your music is right for you, not more or less. It is the same as when we talk to each others. Some times you don’t need many words to express what you got to tell. Don’t play more than you need to express yourself.

13. How is the music scene there in Denmark?
  • The music scene is Ok. The audience like blues, the best thing is to play the blues for audience that haven’t heard it before, and the after the show they would say: If this is the blues I like that. And keep coming back for more. It is not like there is big money in it but as we sometime say: I live the life I love, and I love the life I live.
 
14. What differentiates your music from the rest?
  • Well we are some musicians in Denmark who play deep blues in the blues music, if you know what I mean. You can entertain and only entertain with this music, but you can also entertain and move the deep feelings of the audience at the same time. That’s the real blues music traditions. You entertain and you touch the deep feelings too. When the audience is moved by the deep feelings in the music, they start dancing and relax after that. It is like having a natural ball as T-Bone Walker sings in T-Bone Shuffle.

15. What is the most memorable moment to you as a musician?
  • The live concert at Langelands festival was very good.
    After playing the slow blues all the audiences were standing on there feet and clap there hands as you can see. (There is a clip on my web site and the live DVD).

16. What is your next venture?
  • I play and give lessons about the blues history at the blues festival in Odense, April the 27.
    (http://www.bluesdage.dk)

17. Are you just a musician or you have other jobs?
  • At this moment I am a musician full time, but maybe some times I need to get a job and get some more money for the family, I want to tell good musicians in Kathmandu that many very good musicians all over the world get money from many kinds of work. Like teaching or something else.

18. What do you like doing apart from music?
  • Good question too:
    I like to go fishing, nature; I like good food, photography, and my family; my wife and two small kids. (Laura born 2002 and Rosa born 2006)

19. What is the best compliment you have received?
  • Very good question:
    There are many. Here is some of the most important for me:
    • Bruce Iglauer, Alligator records:
      “you sing the meaning of the words in a very unaffected and warm style…………You play with very good taste, lots of confidence, and very good attention to tone and dynamics"
    • Some of the old and real experienced musicians in Denmark have told me: Dan, you sound like Dan Klarskov. That’s the best compliment I can get. If some one can recognize me as sounding just like me if you no what I mean I would be more that happy.
    • I have to say that I am VERY happy of these nice words from Mr. Samik Kharel:
      "……in a place like Europe it’s hard to stick to the root music like the blues. In this very era, an exception like Dan Klarskov has devoted, achieved and glorified the name of the blues."

20. Message for Rockmandu??
Dear Rockmandu, thank you for keeping the blues alive and well in Kathmandu. It shows again that the blues is a feeling, all over the world.
 
-interviewed by Samik Kharel.
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