Doron Segal’s introduction to piano through classical teachings in his native Israel laid the foundations for a love of the instrument that led to reverence of  jazz’s 20th century icons. Now residing in the fertile musical pastures of Berlin, Segal has gathered similarly dextrous musicians to record his debut album, The Addition of Strangeness, whose pensive and measured piano combines with frenetic, poly-rhythmic percussion to evoke Manchester favourites GoGo Penguin. The release has already attracted UK radio play via 6 Music’s Gideon Coe and features sleeve artwork courtesy of issue #60 interviewee and fellow Berlin resident, Aver.

Doron took the time to answer our questions on collaboration, location and creating perfection.

How much of a perfectionist are you when it comes to writing and recording?

I think I used to be a bit more of a perfectionist, but in some ways perfectionism for me became stressful. In the last couple of years, I understood that the aesthetics that attract me in art are not perfect or flawless, and I became much more related to rawer sound, into trying to drive my music as much as I can into territories that I’m not quite familiar with. The quote that inspired the title of my debut album really relates to this question for me: “It is the addition of strangeness to beauty that constitutes the romantic character in art” (Walter Pater). For me, the flaws and ‘mistakes’ in your music should not be hidden. On the contrary, it’s what makes your music special.

How did your bandmates stand out to you when you were forming the band?

To be honest, my band personnel shifts quite often. Sadly for me, the formation of bands has slowly faded away; a lot of the musicians are in a constant chase of money, which makes it harder for them to have steady bands or projects. So it’s not easy to find steady professional musicians who are available for shows rehearsals and sessions.

On my debut album, I played with Tom Berkmann, a great bass player from Berlin that I had been playing with from near the beginning of my project. The third musician that I recorded my album with is the great New York-based drummer, Daniel Dor. We had a few rehearsals, one show, and one day of recording. It was really interesting and challenging. I was lucky to work with two great musicians and a great sound engineer – Guy Sternberg from Lowswing Studios.

You recently appeared on Aver’s record, Dressed For CCTV, and he has now designed your album art. How important are your musical collaborations to you?

Really important, I was never a guy of one genre. Since I was a kid, I was always listening to a broad selection of music, and it was always important to me to try and understand the essence of different music genres. I believe that there is something to learn from each genre. With this being said, I love to collaborate with other artists. I try to work with people that I enjoy being with. People that take music as seriously as I do, that I can learn from and, on the contrary, do not have problem taking criticism. Most importantly I like collaborating with people who do not bring ego into the music making process. The music I make with Aver is a great example of a great cross-genre collaboration for me.

Doron Segal

Who would you like to collaborate with if time and distance were no barriers?

It’s a big question, with so many answers, so I’ll allow myself to pick three and stay within the last 100 years. I will say I would have loved to play and meet with Esbjörn Svensson. I would love to have an album produced by Jon Hopkins and to have a session with Thelonious Monk.

Why did you choose Berlin, and how much of your music is owed to your location?

Berlin felt like the right place for me. I had never visited Berlin until I moved here four years ago. I heard a lot of good things from friends about the music scene in Berlin, and I understood that it’s quite possible to ‘get by’ there financially. I think that my music is affected by Berlin because I am affected by Berlin, in that, by moving to a different country with a different language and culture, I am forced to move out of my comfort zone and create an evolved version of myself. Moving to Berlin changed me a lot; it’s a great city, beautiful in a way, crazy sometimes, but so interesting and fun. I met so many good friends and amazing musicians since I moved here, and I feel that all of this has translated into my music in many ways.

Can we expect a Manchester show soon?

My label and I are currently looking at taking the live show around the UK, and Manchester is definitely high in the list of cities we’re looking at.

Doron Segal’s debut album is available now via Village Live Records.

doronsegalmusic.com

Ian Pennington