MY OLD LADY HORN

Paris 1997 

I spent the summer of 1997 busking in Paris.  

I preferred to play inside the metro stations because of the huge reverb. 

I always hated playing outdoors without amplifying, because it feels like shouting underwater.

I would look for the acoustic sweet spot of a metro station and improvise for hours hanging in that cathedral sound vibe, playing against the hauling wind gusts, pushed into the station by the tubes. 

Other musicians would drop by and we would record sessions from down under the streets of Paris. 

Back home, I immediately quit my studies, since I felt well enough trained to be able to harvest from the intense inspirations I gained in Paris. I couldn't stand the thought of having to attend another big-band rehearsal playing “Fly Me To The Moon” or “Autumn Leaves”.

Looking ten years further back, I can see myself dancing to Michael Jackson's „Beat It“ and rapping Grandmaster Flash’s “New York, New York".  

At that time my parents would soon get divorced and I was a thirteen year old, pubescent and desperate kid, looking up to Madonna and Prince declaring them to my new parents. 

I was fed up with classical music whimpering in the house all day long and hated taking clarinet and piano lessons. 

I would literally get sick on Mozart and Bach etudes. 

So I’d sit in my room with my old AIWA radio and get more and more obsessed with pop music.  

I’ve been passionate about pop music ever since, I think, because it was the only genre, that I was able to discover for myself. 

The sound struck and overwhelmed me, it felt so irresistibly illuminating and so much more life affirming! 

Pop music saved my life.

The Living Dream Home Recording Sessions 

I got kicked out of my own jazz trio back in 1998, because I came up with a Nick Cave song that I wanted to experiment on. We had also just recently recorded an album experimenting with Schubert songs, which the producer then wasn’t prepared to publish anymore, fearing the album wouldn’t sell. He claimed that it too experimental.  

My basic idea back then was, to try to stick closest possible to the original chords and melodies and focus only on rhythmic feel. We got into major disputes, my companions refused to play simple three note chords and so we’d always end up in  improvisational orgies over ongoing tension chords, which was really what I was trying to avoid.  

These sort of major disappointments, plus friends and family members doubting me all along have led to a very long path of digging through pits full of toxic relationships and bad business deals in permanent search for answers and difficulties identifying with my instrument, envying drummers and guitar players, because they had gigs with pop bands.

But there is always two sides of the coin...  

 …and both sides have equally influenced me and marked the style I play today:  

When eighties Pop really kicked off around 1983, I was 12 and in the best possible age to get  totally attracted. No other genre has touched me deeper ever since.  

-But that was the time where daily life was flooded with music from renaissance to modern 24/7 and my mum would take me with her to the opera house, where I would hang out with the stage engineers and watch the rehearsals. I remember when I entered the backstage area for the first time, I ultimately felt, this was the kind of place I was going to work in one day. 

As a student at music university I had teachers and colleagues giving me that feeling, that Jazz was the only true genre and horn players would claim Coltrane to be the only true saxophonist.

-But that was the time, when I really got into rhythm, tone and expression. My sax teacher was obsessed with Coltrane and enabled me to internalize Coltrane’s sound techniques. I was less interested in the bebop stuff, so I focused more and more on my tone and articulation. I never bought a Coltrane album though, I preferred to listen to Ben Webster, Stan Getz, Maceo Parker, Jan Garbarek, Chet Baker, Oscar Peterson, Jimmy Smith or the Modern Jazz Quartet. 

After some years of experimenting mainly for myself, I started to hang out with people from the rock scene and was invited to join a rock band emulating the sound of bands like Kyuss, Nirvana and Sonic Youth.

-That was when I was able to establish fatness in my tone, train my breathing techniques and learn how to play more like a rhythm guitar. I also learned how to maintain stability even though you’re totally drunk and stoned.  

But I eventually got bored blowing my ass off, trying to keep up with that constant high level energy in the music and pretty much gave up on the idea of pursuing a career as a rock saxophonist. 

I raised my two wonderful sons instead, today 14 and 16 years old. 

I became a singer-songwriter and failed to establish a band after five years of trying. 

I built the “Blue Piano”, a midi and audio workstation in the look of an old piano. (I’ll try to cover that story in another blog post) 

I worked nine to five jobs, gave lessons at a local music school near Vienna for nearly a decade and worked as a cabdriver every now and then, all of which I preferred to do for a living, rather than having to play unpleasant and poorly paid gigs over and over again. 

Ten years later my family broke apart and I moved to Berlin.  

And another ten years went down the drain having to cope with legal fights over visitation rights, health issues and a really difficult city to maneuver, if you’re seriously aspiring for a career in the music business. I feel that people from German speaking countries won't tell you shit. No Go-Givers. If you don't manage to get into the right circles, you won't get anywhere and end up playing lousy jam sessions at lousy places with lousy to 0 payment. 

And again I find myself in the same deep pit of toxic relationships and bad business deals.  

So once more I retreat from the music scene. 

But in order to sustain my abilities, I would continue to live my dream by pretending recording sessions with my favorite artists in my home recording studio.  

I would pick a favorite original, cut out one or two loops and jam.   

I became obsessed with the idea of flooding the internet with hundreds of clips of me recording to a Rammstein, Drake or Massive Attack original. And so the Living Dream Sessions thing became a habit and I was luckily able to document more or less throughout the last two years, since I started. 

Flooding the internet is probably not what I'm going to do, but it feels great to have it all accessible in one place, at last! 

Please let me know, if my music inspires you, I'd be thrilled to hear yours!  

spacekonsta@gmail.com

My Old Lady Horn 

There was a time, when I desperately sought to sell my horn, not being able to feed myself. 

So I went to my custom sax repair shop to visit my friend Paul, he has been my very trustworthy sax doc, ever since I moved to Berlin. Every musician in a big city like Berlin needs a trustworthy instrument doc. 

I guess I was very lucky, Paul was an incredibly talented guy, he could mend anything. Like my totally squashed horn, that had recently fallen out of my case in the middle of the street, because I had forgotten to properly engage the latches of my case. Happened three times in three decades, is that still too often? Yeah, I guess it is. 

Paul was a kind and helpful guy and a great fan of my music and he specifically loved my tone. 

He was obviously overwhelmed by my decision to sell my horn and refused to take it in commission.   

He told me, that he had mended and played several hundred horns in his career, but never has he come across a horn with such an incredibly fat sound.  

He persuaded me not to give it away, I should rather find a place somewhere outside to play for my most urgent needs.  

He described the fatness in the sound and called it a world wonder. Paul said, I was going to deeply regret having sold it.  

I felt crushed by Paul’s efforts to prevent me from the worst, but besides being totally uninspired and fed up of the DIY fight, I was simply too desperate in need of money, so I left my horn to Paul with a split personality. One side secretly hoping, that he would prevent my horn from being sold and my other side craving for the money.  

About eight months later I still hadn’t heard a word from Paul. And I woke up one morning realizing that I could still stand a chance of getting my horn back. And since I obviously hadn’t starved to death and was still waking up in my own bed on a daily basis, I decided to visit Paul. And although I knew that there was a high chance of my horn still being there, I was scared as shit in light of my fear and scarcity driven decision to sell my horn and realizing how insanely hilarious and stupid it was to try to solve a short term problem by getting rid of my most important workhorse. So I walk towards Paul to his working bench and the moment he see’s me, he instantly smiles a very broad smile and runs off to get my horn. 

Paul said, that he was betting on when I was going to show up.  

We were both so glad, nobody had purchased my beautiful Old Lady Horn! 

I’m still wandering, if Paul was actually hiding my horn from customers all that time. I didn’t ever dare to ask him.  

That day was was one the happiest days of my life. I sat in my kitchen that night, with my lady horn resting on the table in front of me, swearing to myself and to her, that I would never, ever give her away again.  

I only recently had her in general overhaul. Sadly Paul couldn’t take the Job.  

There was no Paul when I entered the shop this time. Paul had died of cancer, only 49 years young.  

That's how old I am today. Every time I close the sax case and carefully engage the latches, I think about Paul. 

The kindest Instrument maker and best sax doc in the world.  

He probably saved my Horn and a big part of my musical identity and personal dignity. He didn’t just sell my horn no questions asked, he was concerned and he cared. Paul, my sax doc and greatest fan. He always encouraged me to stick to my aspirations and dreams. 

I will always miss you.  

As my sax doc and as my friend. 

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My Old Lady Horn is a SELMER „BALANCED ACTION“, manufactured 1955, probably in Paris, France.  

Here’s my personal golden line of the five greatest horn players that have influenced me, and their current age, when my horn was manufactured.

Their sounds have deeply influenced me and many of their musical attributes run through my veins.  

Ben Webster (46)  

John Coltrane (19) 

Stan Getz (18) 

Maceo Parker (12) 

Jan Garbarek (8)

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