I met Kenneth back when Kayan Project had a concert at think.dk, at the end of June. I barged in accidentally into Kenneth and Wassim’s rehearsal, and I thought I was late for the concert. So I sat down and listened to the sounds of oud and double blass complementing each other soothingly, only to find out later that it was just a snippet.
Kenneth Dahl Knudsen is a bass player and composer from Denmark who is traveling all around the world playing with numerous musicians. Kenneth shared some of his thoughts regarding the love and respect for music and what keeps people together.
Tell me a little bit yourself.
K Ever since I was little, my mother used to play the piano at home, every day a few melodies. I started playing music when I was 8, and throughout the teenage years that developed into playing the saxophone, the bass, and finally double bass. I went to the Music Conservatory, and when I was out of school, I was also out of job. I had to create a life for myself as a musician and composer. That took me to Berlin where I met a lot of musicians.
When was that? How was Berlin?
K That was in 2012. Before that, I also took lessons in New York for 2 years. After that, I moved to Berlin to study for a year with a professor. I just stuck around for three years. Berlin it’s a vibrant city that has a pretty big international scene of musicians. That’s when I got to know musicians from all over the world, and I also got into mixing all sorts of folklore elements.
Nothing gets disguised in strings, it’s very naked in a way.
What do you like to mix?
K As a jazz musician, I can say we have a strong tradition but it’s only 80 years old. But then there’s Indian music, that’s a thousand years old, or Middle Eastern or Balkan music. In 2014, I met Eden (Kayan Project), at a jam session in a bar, and we just started a duo. At first we wanted to play jazz, but then we found out that we both like this folklore music. We started playing more Hebrew and Arabic folk songs, but I had to move back to Copenhagen after a while. Then Eden started playing with musicians from Middle East. That’s how I met Wassim, but we only played one Low-Fi concert.
So was that the first time when you guys played together?
K That was the first time I met him actually. He’s a wonderful musician. It’s amazing when you play only string instruments accompanied by voice because nothing gets disguised in strings, it’s very naked in a way.
Are you trying to convey a message through your music?
K I try to play with musicians all over the world because it interests me and because it’s important nowadays with so much shit going on outside of the music scene. We can’t always communicate with language. Most people speak English, but still I think that music has a unique trait, that you can connect without talking together. The more we can do that, us musicians, the more we can kind of bring the world together. Baby steps. That would be the message: that our countries may be in war with one another, but us musicians can always work together.
How do you feel about home concerts? Did you play any home concerts before knowing Low-Fi?
K In Berlin we played some house concerts, but they were arranged independently by house owners. Now that I think about it, I actually prefer this setting. I’m lucky enough to play really big stages with a trio in France, but this intimate thing is gold. You get to know the audience, you get to speak with them before, during, and after the concert. Every little sound you do on your instrument really comes out because of the small space. It becomes honest and there’s nothing to hide behind.
Tell me about a different experience you had at a home concert.
K One time, me and Eden (Kayan Project) did a duo concert in a house in Berlin. We spoke English during the concert, and during the break people just came to us saying “We have no idea what you’re talking about, you have to do this in German”. There were a lot of older people there and they didn’t speak English, so we had to do it all in German which was both funny and weird. But then, it turned out that in the audience there were 3 guys from Syria who just came to Berlin. So, in the second set we asked them if they wanted to play with us. We were playing music from their home country already, so they joined us, in that intimate little setting. That just proves that we were doing something right, and the audience was also super happy.
Take care of the music, don’t let it become nothing.
Do you have favorite spot in your own house?
K In my own apartment? I try as much as possible to keep the music out of my apartment, otherwise I would never stop playing music. Sometimes I need to just cut onions, make coffee, listen to the radio, watch some series. You know… be a human being. But I’m moving to a bigger place and I’m going to have my own music room in the basement, so that will be my favorite place for sure. And of course, there’s a lot of space for home concerts too!
What do you enjoy listening? Who is your ultimate music hero?
K Beethoven. And a lot of the classical composers. I have numerous artists that inspire me and I love listening to, but for example, there are a lot of people out there who strive to sound like, for example, Coltrane. I’ll never try to sound like any famous bass player because I think music needs to be taken into new directions.
Why does music matter?
K I think it’s mind-blowing that you could put 4 strings on a violin. There are 4 lines from a pig’s gut somewhere that you put on a wooden box, and then depending on how you move your hands people experience different emotions. That simplicity becomes so complicated. It also represents my little hideaway from the real world. And then, there’s just a beautiful way of communicating in the world. The wordless communication unites people and music shapes people. It wouldn’t be here if I did something else as a teenager. If I wanted to pursue my soccer dream, I wouldn’t have music like I do now. I could’ve been another person.
If you want to read more about Kenneth Dahl Knudsen, you can check out his Facebook page and if you want to hear more of his music, go to his Youtube channel, or his Spotify page. Keep an eye for Low-Fi concerts with Kenneth on our Facebook page or sign up on our platform.