Karsten Kjems hosted his own concert, that is a part of the series Low-Fi is doing together with Steinway & Sons and their representative for the Danish market Juhl-Sørensen. We met up with him to ask how was it to both play a concert and be host at the same time. Here is what Karsten had to say:
Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been playing and making music? What are you currently working on?
I have been playing drums all my life, and now I am combining my music career with my own company where I create audio identities for brands, making music for TV, radio, YouTube, commercials, sound logos etc.
Have you performed home concerts before and for how long?
As a professional drummer, I have played at several parties in private homes throughout the years, but with Low-Fi it’s different. It creates this whole new opportunity for intimate music experiences in private homes.
I also think there might be some misconceptions about house concerts that people have. For example, that it is less professional than a stage show, but when they actually attend a house concert, they can see that’s not true. And not only it is a real concert, but also that you, as an audience, are very very close to the performers and the music.
So, I believe this makes people so much more attentive and receptive to the music.
The same goes for musicians, playing so close to the audience in such a casual setting creates a very honest and safe atmosphere for performers to go deeper into their artistry. In the end, it becomes a different experience for both the musicians to play and the audiences to listen.
Do you feel home concerts are any different than venue concerts? Why?
Home concerts are a completely different ball game. It’s hard to explain, you have to experience it. I believe that home concerts can open up your heart in new ways and create opportunities for you to experience music in a manner that is almost impossible to attain at a big venue. It broadens your music horizons; it makes you more open to new and different music.
How did you decide to open the door to your own home for a concert?
I was born and raised in a home with music where my father also was a professional drummer. So, I always had experienced live music in my home, for birthday parties, get-togethers etc. and loved it. I wanted to share that experience with others.
Video from Karsten Kjems Trio concert. Credit Mihaela Yordanova
How did it feel to balance between hosting and performing at the same time?
Well, I am social person and I like having people over. It is very natural for me having people in my home and trying to make them feel comfortable.
When it comes to concerts, you usually have three parts to the equation. One is the audience, one is the musicians and one is the organizers/venue.
In this case, I was both organizer and a musician. That created a different dynamic where I could be more personal in my musical storytelling. I believe it gave me the opportunity to deliver a more meaningful and emotionally engaging concert. And that is what is most important to me: making people feel. Goosebumps.
Did you come across any challenges while organizing or during the event? How did you overcome those?
I had 35 sold tickets, so I think it’s a good idea to have an extra set of hands helping with practical stuff, so you can focus on your music. I asked my brother to help me with the practical stuff, arranging chairs, taking peoples coats etc. Having someone around to help you with a few things, here and there, can come in very handy, especially if you have many attendees.
You don’t have to take care of everything alone. Just make sure that you have hangers for jackets and make it easy for your guests to feel accommodated and feel like home.
What would you tell other musicians who are in doubt if they should open the door to their own home, or studio, for an intimate concert?
Just do it! It is really great. And you can play the music you love, share your stories and do all of that in surroundings that you really like and feel comfortable in.
I think it’s just like Airbnb. The first time I hosted someone in my home, I was a little bit anxious about it, but now I feel totally comfortable inviting Airbnb guests in, as well as being a guest in other Airbnb homes. It’s just our mentality.
Karsten is hosting Nikolaj Bentzon Trio at his house on the 15th of February. The show is part of the program of Vinterjazz 2018 and you can find tickets here.