Question & Answer

A ‘Question & Answer’ (about -isq, that is…not the pat metheny album where you can’t hear the bass…oh yes, that ol’ chestnut!!!) that -isq did a while back, might be interesting and explain a few things…

Q & A 

how did -isq meet? 

we had been playing a lot together in various combinations, sometimes just two of us with other musicians, but whenever the four of us played together, it was obvious that there was something extra happening. It’s pretty impossible to define that feeling when it happens – it’s kind of like the old comfortable clothes you put on when you get home from a long day – everything becomes easy and relaxed – but with more excitement! <br><br>

where does the name come from? 

well…most of the gigs we were playing as a quartet grew out of irene’s – so it tentatively started out as the Irene Serra Quartet but it was obviously and quite intentionally not going to be one person’s band as far as the music was concerned – we all write and contribute to the arrangements so it had to be a band name from the word go. ‘isq’ – pronounced to rhyme with disc – was suggested and stuck. As well as being a ‘nod’ back to our coming together, it looks cool and original and hopefully no-one will confuse us with the Italian String Quartet – the only other isq we could find out there!! <br><br>

what are your main influences? 

many, many, many! It’s all in there from 70’s rock and punk, through disco and pop, latin and electronica…and of course, jazz! I don’t think we followed any pattern with the songs. Trying to write to a formula or what you think is going to be ‘successful’ is never really going to work. We wrote what sounded good to us and then played it til it was fun!

how did the songs on the album come about? 

surprisingly easily! as little snippets that got sent back and forth as ‘demos’ then slowly developed to entire arrangements that pretty much stayed like that. Irene wrote the lyrics and that was arguably the hardest job – finding a melody then fitting words to a fairly brisk tune with a 23/8 time signature is never going to be a walk in the park! The best bit was the first rehearsals for each song where you have the sudden realisation that ‘this might just work!’ then listening to the rehearsals at home – it’s much easier to have perspective when you’re not playing – and really enjoying what you’re hearing as a listener, not a participant. Plus, it was so good to be writing songs. We all come from very ‘song’ backgrounds – as did jazz originally – where the words are important and the music has to fit the words and vice versa. <br><br>

so how did the recording go? 

It’s always difficult to know when to record music like this. I think we kind of got it right – we’d rehearsed most of them a few times and tried a couple of them out anonymously at gigs and wanted to get them down before they became too comfortable – so even at the recording things were changing, arrangements were being re-arranged, solos were being decided upon etc just as it should be. Even though I’m sure this won’t be perceived as jazz in the Art Blakey sense, we wanted to keep it very much with scope for improvisation and space for that ‘spontaneosity’ – does that word exist?! Recordings are just a ‘snapshot’ in time – a musical memory of where music was at a particular time – it’s still a relatively recent phenomenon to have performances recorded and it’s debatable that it’s a good thing. We want this music to be ever developing – when we play it live there is much more freedom than the recordings on the CD – we can stretch out and have the freedom to let the improvisation aspect and the mistakes take over – maybe that’s the same thing!!