WR860: Keith Price

Episode 860 January 06, 2024 00:57:40
WR860: Keith Price
Witchpolice Radio
WR860: Keith Price

Jan 06 2024 | 00:57:40

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Hosted By

Sam Thompson

Show Notes

(Sizzling switch-endings... this isn't the finale of my best of 2023 series, is it? Don't worry, that's coming next week. For now, enjoy this time-sensitive interview episode!)

Guitarist Keith Price has been living, working, and playing jazz in Auckland, New Zealand, over the past five years, but he’s (temporarily) back home in Winnipeg with a show Jan. 7!

We talked about the cultural and musical differences between Manitoba and New Zealand, his new LacLu single and upcoming EP, and much more!

Give this interview a listen and then check out Keith's perfomance alongside Amber Epp, 'Northern Lights + Southern Nights: Musical Landscapes from Canada and New Zealand', Jan. 7 at the Fort Garry Hotel.

Need more Keith Price? Check him out on episodes #201 (Oct. 2015), #238 (July 2017), #328 (Oct. 2018), and #373 (April 2019, with Trio Antipodes)

This episode brought to you by our pals at Devine Shirt Company.

Huge thanks to everyone who supports the podcast on Patreon. You can help out for as little as a couple bucks a month if you like the show and want to throw some change in the guitar case!

As always, if you like the podcast, please tell a friend or 20! Rate and review on your podcast player of choice! Word of mouth is still the main way Witchpolice Radio reaches new ears. Thanks for listening.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

WITCHPOLICE RADIO: All right, welcome to Witchpolice Radio. I'm here with someone who has been a frequent guest on the show, but not for a while. I think the last time when you were sort of making regular appearances would have been sort of in the late 2010s. And now we're into almost 2024, and you've been doing some interesting stuff. So I think that the best way to start this off is if you want to introduce yourself and just give a bit of background about who you are and what you do. KEITH PRICE: Yeah. I'm Keith. I'm a jazz guitar player from Winnipeg. I've been living in Auckland, New Zealand for the last five years. I'm a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland and the coordinator of the jazz program down there. [WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Very cool. So when did you actually leave? How long have you been in Auckland, though? KEITH PRICE: It's been almost five years. It was end of January 2019 that I moved down for that gig. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: It's literally the other side of the world. Right? So what is it like down there, especially as a musician, coming into a completely new context like that? I mean, I know obviously you have a job there, and all of those things are obviously part of it, but just kind of. There's got to be a culture shock, right? Coming from Winnipeg to suddenly being in somewhere that's radically. KEITH PRICE: It's in some ways, it's like such an opposite from Winnipeg. Like, it's an island. Auckland is on a narrow strip of land. The most narrow part is 5 km between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea. Lots of people do surfing. It's subtropical. It's summer there right now. All the dates know, like, you have to reorientate the calendar. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, of course. KEITH PRICE: Sort of laid back there, but I think there's like a really strong British influence still. So sometimes it's like really chill island vibes and then sometimes it's really kind of a brutal British approach. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay. KEITH PRICE: So that maybe is. I feel like Canadians are a bit more down the center. You kind of know where things are going to be and, yeah, I get surprised there a lot. And I think the longer I've been living there, the more subtleties and cultural differences I've been noticing. But I've been loving it down there. And of course, moving there to have a job in the music scene, I met everybody right away, or not everybody, but I met lots of people and I felt welcome. So I had a really smooth transition. I would say that's good into the scene and into the community. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That's got to help, obviously. Right. Is just having that in sort of from day one. KEITH PRICE: Exactly. Going to gigs and getting some gigs. And one of my colleagues books the jazz club, so it wasn't long before I got to play there. So, yeah, it's very different than if you're just moving to a new city and trying to start out. It would take years to get established where it took me less time, I think. Yeah, very lucky. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: What is the jazz scene like down there? Is there a big community? KEITH PRICE: It's good. Yeah, it's a great scene. They've had a jazz program for about 20 years, just like Winnipeg has had. And so the grads of the program have gone and they started teaching at the high schools and stuff like that. They're sending their students at higher and higher levels. So the talent that's coming in is off the charts. It's really wonderful to see. And it's really open minded. Like, we have folks who are interested in traditional type of jazz, but there's some really good free jazz guard musicians who have weekly things. I feel like there's more fusion opportunities. I feel like the last 40 years of jazz is really well represented there. So I feel like it's more eclectic than what I was used to and I feel like I fit in really well. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That's cool. That's good to hear. Yeah. Obviously, like you said, you've been able to play shows. I've seen video of you performing down there and everything. How has this move and this kind of being thrust into this new environment, which isn't that new for you anymore, I guess. But how has that affected your writing and your playing? Just being in a completely out of your comfort zone, I guess. And into this new scenario. Has it had a noticeable impact on the way you compose and the way you play? KEITH PRICE: Yeah, man. I feel like things are always changing for anyone who's working on what they're doing. Maybe it'll be more obvious now that I'm coming back, and maybe if I have some friends who haven't heard me play in a while, they might be able to notice differences because I'm doing it gradually. But one thing is having the steady teaching job, which I love, allows me to focus. Whatever I'm putting out is kind of really what I want to be putting out. And I love playing all kinds of gigs, but I don't get all those calls. I don't have to have those calls. So I feel like having a steady academic income lets me just focus on the artistry that I want. And so I think that. Yeah, I don't know. I think that things are getting mellower for me. Less frantic. I feel, like, more in control and less caught up in the moment in a good way. I just got a new guitar, which is really changing the sound. I kind of have something now that's kind of a hybrid, a combination of the things I used to have in different instruments. And I feel like that's evolving really quickly in a nice way. But, yeah, I think I have less pressure. Not that I had a lot of pressure before, but it's kind of know, we're out in New Zealand, like we're connected with the rest of the world. But it's also, you know, one of the nice things we have a jazz club is called trade of jazz club New Zealand. And they don't let you play standards unless you've done something really strange to them. We love standards. The guy who runs it loves standards, and he knows all that stuff. But the point is, you have to present new music. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. KEITH PRICE: So it forces everybody there to be writing, and it's kind of like, kind of anything goes in a way, so, yeah, I don't know. I feel like I'm becoming more like myself, I guess, if that makes any sense. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: It does, yeah. Having that kind of the main gig, being the job in the background so you don't have to worry about where your next check is coming from or where taking shows you don't necessarily want to do because you need to do it to keep the musician thing going. Right. KEITH PRICE: Yeah. Or there's lots of gigs I'd love to do, but I might not have been the right fit for them. And so I don't end up on those kind of things anymore, and it's just more focused, I think, in a nice way. That's cool. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That's good to hear. So you're back in Winnipeg now? At the time we're talking, this is obviously just a temporary thing, I'm assuming. Or are you coming back? How long are you in town for? KEITH PRICE: Oh, I'm here till, like, early January. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay. KEITH PRICE: So just coming back to visit family and everything. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, but you have a show. KEITH PRICE: I try to come back, yeah, but luckily my plan was to come back, like, twice a year, and then Covid happened. Of course, I couldn't travel for two and a half years. I don't know if you guys heard. New Zealand had a very strict response. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, yeah. KEITH PRICE: I didn't have the right type of visa to re enter, so if I had left, I would have probably lost my job. So now I'm just kind of getting into the normalcy. And so the first few trips back after Covid was just mostly family orientated. And now it's kind of like, okay, well, we can catch our breath now. So it's like, ahead of the trip. It's like, hey, Amber, I'm coming back. You want to do a gig? So, yeah. Really lucky. We're playing January 7, Sunday as part of that Jazz Winnipeg series. This is at the Fort Garry Hotel, which I haven't attended or whatever yet. Looking forward to it. But Amber and I, back in the day, did lots of Johnny Mitchell arrangements and canadiana arrangements. So we're going to dust off some of those ones, and then we're doing new arrangements of some New Zealand music. New Zealand artists. Anyways, so it's going to be really fun. Like, I haven't played a gig in Winnipeg in five years, and, yeah, it's going to be really exciting. I don't know what to expect. I'm sure it'll feel old, but also in a comfortable way, but also really new because we've all been changing in the last five years. Who knows? WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yes. And there's new people coming in, and then people are changing their styles for sure. You mentioned the COVID thing, and, I mean, that's obviously something that's affected everyone across the board for years, but that's a big chunk of your time in New Zealand has been sort of under those restrictions and dealing with that kind of whole situation. So how has that been as far as being able to do your job and being able to not only teach, but just play music? I mean, I'm assuming that there weren't any shows the same way they weren't any here for quite some time. KEITH PRICE: Well, yeah, I had about a year run before COVID started, and then New Zealand would do really strict lockdowns, and then we would eliminate the disease, and then everything would open up again, and then it would shut down, I think. And because Auckland was where most of the quarantine hotels were, that's where the outbreaks would continue to happen. Actually, after the first two months, the rest of New Zealand didn't have Covid for the whole pandemic. They had done such a great job, depending on who you ask, of course. Yeah. So it was kind of like the lockdown would happen, and we'd have to reinvent how to teach jazz on Zoom, which we did, but it wasn't easy. So it was kind of like treading water. Then things would open up again, and I'd try to remember how to play, and, I don't know, I felt like I was kind of just surviving as many other people were for maybe those three years, because you'd get out and play, and you'd kind of get back to where you felt like you were sharp, and then another lockdown would happen, and it would all be gone for a couple of months. So it's weird. It feels like I've only been gone from Winnipeg for a couple of years, as everyone. We kind of almost have this. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: It's like everyone's a couple of years younger than they actually are. Because you missed that whole. KEITH PRICE: Exactly. Definitely. And I don't know that the music was developing then for most of us either. But now is a happy time. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah.Things that I've noticed kind of interviewing people who have all gone through that, and it's affected them in various ways, but people seem to have gone either one way or the other where they've found the time during the pandemic to be super creative, and they've been just, like, writing and recording what they can, or other people have been completely blocked and not been able to do anything and just sort of taken that time off from playing music. Obviously, you couldn't do that because of your job, but did you find it to be a very good time for writing because you had maybe extra time to just sit at home with the guitar or the opposite? KEITH PRICE: No, I was totally blocked. Yes. I felt pretty nervous and anxious about the whole damn situation, and all my energy went into just keeping the level of teaching and engagement up for the students teaching on Zoom, it takes twice amount of energy. It was like, just get through each day. And I probably went a year or two without writing one piece of music, and that's fine. I don't know. I don't want to be flippant about it because it was a hard time for a lot of us, but in a general sense, it's like having some kind of a hibernation time once in a while is kind of a good thing. So maybe things are coming out for those of us who are blocked. Maybe things are coming out better now. I feel like things are coming easier now. So it was kind of like things have been waiting to come out now or whatever. So, yeah, it wasn't a great time, but whatever we survived, we got through. Now feels like a really inspired time for myself anyways. That's cool post Covid. I'm great. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Are you working on any recordings or anything while you're out there? KEITH PRICE: Yeah, I just released a single on December eigth, and I've got an album coming out with that same group in the new year. So the group is called LacLu. It's just like a name that I've always wanted to use for something. And I'm performing with two students, recent grads, saxophone and drums, trio with guitar. Oh, cool. Part of my job is to do research, and I'm working on a PhD. And so my phd research is like looking at the recording process of the album bitches brew by Miles Davis. And so they brought in unfinished music. They improvised without really knowing what was happening, although Miles probably knew, and then they edited it later. It's like what people do now with cutting and pasting dance music and whatever else. Just way ahead of his time. It was way ahead of his time. Yeah. So I'm working on that kind of just kind of documenting that approach and seeing how it affects the creative process. And so that's what I did for this recording where we went in and we didn't even do full takes of most of the tunes and just kind of did sections. And then I cut things around and really happy with it. And so, yeah, the full album will come out well. I guess it's kind of like an ep. It's going to come out of the new year. We don't have a release date yet, but it'll be the first half of 2024 on Rattle Records, which is a great label in New Zealand that has a lot of cool jazz and classical type music. I should say, Sam, the single is called Winter Fog morning, and it's out on streaming everywhere right now. And the group is called LacLu. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: LacLu, yes. Sounds good. KEITH PRICE: LacLu WITCHPOLICE RADIO: LacLu. How do you spell that? KEITH PRICE: L-A-C-L-U. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay. LacLu. Sounds good. KEITH PRICE: Like the lake. It's in Ontario. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: There's a LacLu in it. Okay, cool. Have you been exposed to... I mean, maybe jazz the side, but have you been exposed to different stuff musically, just being out there? Just maybe stuff that you never would have encountered in North America? KEITH PRICE: Yeah, I mean, it's like we're way down in the South Pacific, but it's kind of. And I don't know much about it to explain it, but there's something about pacific culture. So all of the cities that are on the Pacific Ocean are kind of connected in some ways. So we get lots of stuff from Asia. And I have students who are from Asia. So I might have a student come in and talk about a genre I never heard of called city pop. And it's like an 80s smooth jazz funk from Japan. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Weird. KEITH PRICE: And it's got a certain kind of style. And then you hear that in some of the artists. Mark declive Lowe is in LA, but he's a kiwi artist, and his jazz is mixed with his Japanese heritage and hip hop and things like that. I feel like I'm getting more and more into ambient music. Susumo Yokota is someone that I really like. There's this other band, I think it's like 20 814. Their name is just like a year or a number. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay. KEITH PRICE: Yeah, that stuff kind of comes up. And then New Zealand has a really big affinity with reggae. So, like, the Maori, like, the indigenous folks there, they kind of have a renaissance in the. That's the time when Bob Marley came to visit New Zealand, and they really identify with the politics and the music. So it's like, kind of becoming a very strong New Zealand type of genre. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: It's reggae, but it's their own twist on it. KEITH PRICE: And I wouldn't be the one to really explain or speak on it or. I mean, yeah, there's lots of different reggae artists that's coming up. I don't know if it's changed my music. Some things I notice when I hear country music once in a while, I think, boy, I never hear that much in New Zealand. Or if I hear rock, like hard rock, like, oh, yeah, these things that I'd hear a lot in Winnipeg or in Canada aren't there as strongly, but, like dance music, reggae music, ambient type of stuff, free jazz, these things are stronger there. So, yeah, I'm not sure if. How it's affecting me, but it definitely feels like the landscape there is quite different, musically speaking, for sure. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, that stuff's going to be floating around in the background too. I'm sure you absorb some of it subconsciously just from being around. KEITH PRICE: Yeah, must be. Yeah, it's different. It's a different culture, for sure. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Do you feel you have become over the time you've been there, like Kiwi? Are you losing your Canadianness and then becoming more of a New Zealander or do you still feel very strongly that you're from here? Is that part of you still very present in sort of your day to day? KEITH PRICE: Well, I can't escape it. Anytime I walk into a shop, I have an accent. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, yeah, of course. KEITH PRICE: And I have a certain way of looking at things. Like if something's supposed to start at seven, I'm there for seven. And that might not be the case with all Kiwis. I think it's slowly working on me. I bet that my students think that I'm kind of a hard ass Canadian. Like, here's how you do things compared to them. But yeah, I think it's working on me little bit by little bit. But I'm starting to identify maybe more as a New Zealander now, a little bit. I'm not a citizen, I'm a permanent resident, but I'm only five years in, learning more and more about the history. But yeah, I'm probably caught in between the two at the moment, that's for sure. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Just a matter of time before the accent starts changing and you start getting a little bit of that accent melding with the Canadian thing. KEITH PRICE: I think I have it sometimes, but then it clears right up when I come back. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Of course, definitely. I know you mentioned the LacLu single, which just came out, and you have that music coming up if people want to hear your other stuff. I mean, I know you have a lot of records out that have come out while you were here over the years. What's the best way for people to find your music and find out what you're up? KEITH PRICE: Everything's on Bandcamp. Some of my streaming albums are under one name or another name. Like one of them's Keith Price Trio, another one's Keith Price Quartet or whatever, but just everything's on Bandcamp. All the albums are there pretty much. That's probably the easiest way. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: And then know the fact that you're in New Zealand means you're probably not playing a lot of shows locally that the majority of the listeners to this show would be able to go check out. But. But the good thing about the single podcast, someone could hear it now the day it gets released, or they could hear it two years from now, and by then, who knows when you're back in Winnipeg, things like that. So what's the best way to sort of follow you and see what you're up to as far as shows and album releases and things like that? KEITH PRICE: Yeah. Keithprice dot ca that's still. Yeah, yeah, it's still going. Although, I mean, if you look at it, the day this is being recorded, I need to update stuff on this. So maybe I'll say that I have to get it updated for when this podcast airs. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, now you have to because you've said it. It's been recorded now, so, yeah, it has to happen. KEITH PRICE: Yeah, that's on my to do list. Like, first thing in January is like, get the website looking better and have all the events on there and all that kind of stuff. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Right on. Well, speaking of events, do you want to just plug that show that's happening coming up very soon? KEITH PRICE: Absolutely, yeah. So I forget what they call their series now. I'm a foreigner, so forgive. It's the Sunday series that Jazz Winnipeg puts on at the Fort Garry. It's the club in the basement there, the lower level, which is supposed to be awesome. And it's January 7. I should know that if I was not a rookie, I would have looked up the time, start time before I got on this podcast. But it's probably in the evening. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, I'll link to the event, too on the show notes. KEITH PRICE: Yeah, it's with Amber Epp, a longtime friend and musical collaborator. Julian Bradford is on old, one of my oldest friends, basically. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Cool. KEITH PRICE: And Daniel Roy on drums. And we'll be doing a mix of Canadiana, jazz arrangements and some music by Kiwi artists as well. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: And how long have you had to prepare for this? I mean, have you been sort of working with these musicians since you got back in town? KEITH PRICE: No, I mean, I just got back on the 23rd and everyone's doing Christmas stuff. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. KEITH PRICE: We've got some rehearsals planned in January and Amber and I've been coordinating some of the new music already, just over email or whatever. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Cool. KEITH PRICE: But they'll just be like the old shoe fits. Like, we've all played together so much. That's what I'm really looking forward to is we have that familiarity, strong connection for many years, but it'll be fresh because we haven't done it in five years, so it'll be really cool. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, it's probably cool to see that muscle memory kind of kick back in, having that time off between playing together. KEITH PRICE: Absolutely. Yeah. And that's something you can't make happen. It just has to be there. So we're very lucky this is going to be happening on the 7th. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Awesome. Well, I'm glad you're back in town. KEITH PRICE: And I'm glad to be here. It's the warmest winter ever. WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, it is. You picked a good time to come back, for sure. Definitely. KEITH PRICE: Pretty lucky. Yeah.

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