Interview with MICHAEL VLATKOVICH | June 7, 1996 by Mark Weber
Mark Weber | Was the trombone your first instrument? Michael Vlatkovich | Yes, I started trombone in 3rd grade. Mark Weber | Was St Louis a musical town to grow up in? Michael Vlatkovich | No. Although the grade school and high school had good music programs. Mark Weber | When did you first start composing music and what were your first compostions? Michael Vlatkovich | High school seriously, I started writing programatic music. Some of which I still play. “The little red yoyo bought a chocolate balloon” was one of the first. The group I wrote for was two trumpets, sax, trombone, guitar, bass, piano and drums. Mark Weber | Do you think musicianship Is a “God-given talent“? Are you born with it? Michael Vlatkovich | Simple answer, yes. I don’t know if I want to get into this sort of discussion. There are many variables which lead us down a certain path.
Mark Weber | Do you like to drive fast in your car? Michael Vlatkovich | What’s fast 100MPH 150MPH if so no. Mark Weber | What is the intent of your music? Michael Vlatkovich | To experience the complexity of life and living. Mark Weber | What is music? Why does the human species love it? Michael Vlatkovich | Sound or lack of sound arranged or unarranged. Do they love it ? I don’t think so. Mark Weber | What‘s your favorite bird? Michael Vlatkovich | the OWL Mark Weber | Did you ever play in Frank Zappa‘s bands? Michael Vlatkovich | No Mark Weber | What year did you move to Los Angeles? From St Louis? Why did you choose L.A. over NYC, or anywhere else?
Michael Vlatkovich | 1973, yes I had a friend in Los Angeles Mark Weber | What was Gil Evans‘s greatest contribution to music? Michael Vlatkovitch | An ability to enhance the improvisor. Mark Weber | Is over-dubbing organic? Michael Vlatkovich | Yes for me. Mark Weber | Do notes have colors, like red, orange, blue? Michael Vlatkovich | Yes. I have no system however and I don’t necessarily espouse someone that does. Mark Weber | Of your 3 or 4 (?) systems for composing, how many of them are involved with numerology? Does the standard Western harmonic scheme (tonal centered) lend itself to numerology composing?
Michael Vlatkovich | 1 only. Sort of but it’s more limiting in the way I choose to transpose words, names etc. Mark Weber | What is it about the blues? Michael Vlatkovitch | I don’t know. Excessibility ? Mark Weber | What part does the concept of chance and randomness play in your compositions? Michael Vlatkovitch | Varys dramaticly with each composition. Mark Weber | What are the elements in music that excite you, that hit you where you live? Michael Vlatkovitch | Not knowing what will happen and what do you do when it does. Mark Weber | How do you go about choosing members for you ensembles? Michael Vlatkovich | Role playing, instrumentation, and everything else. I have to like them. Mark Weber | Are you spiritual? Michael Vlatkovich | Simple answer: YES See question four. Both are related. Both not interested in discussing here. Mark Weber | If you only had one arm what instrument would you play?
Michael Vlatkovitch | I probably wouldn’t play. Mark Weber | What is the formula for swinging? Michael Vlatkovich | invironment, desire and —————- Mark Weber | Do you like to eat cheeseburgers in your car? Michael Vlatkovith | No Mark Weber | What side of the beat do you prefer your trap drummers to hit? Michael Vlatkovitch | Lay back back side most of the time. Mark Weber | Is space the place? Michael Vlatkovich | Internal space is the place. An external place to realize your internal space fully.
Note : This was a series of questions posed via the mail and Michael responded while on the road with the Brian Setzer Big Band from a hotel in Milwaukee on July 6, 1996