Olivier Milchberg producer

Interview with Olivier Milchberg, passionate about traditional music

  • How did you come to traditional music?

I am a passionate fan of traditional music. I grew up in the Andean folklore, (being the son of the founder of Los Incas), and I was very early sensitized by Breton and Irish music. I see a very strong link between these music from different countries apparently very far away in style, but very close in soul: they tell the same things, they are linked to nature, rural life, they bear the wrinkles of time. They speak to us because they are part of our collective unconscious.
What attracts me is the soul, the life that emerges from these melodies. I’m not that much into ethnomusicology, I am mainly driven by emotion.- Do you define yourself more as a musician or a sound engineer?

  • Do you define yourself more as a musician or a sound engineer?

Musician of course. Sound recording is not an end goal for me. Recording and producing artists and music that I love is a real pleasure. Playing with these musicians is what I hold most dear in the world. And I am very happy to do both: being at the service on one side (we also receive a lot), and sharing one’s sensitivity on the other.

  • What do you think of the current trend?

Today the enthusiasm for trad. or world music is a very normal sociological phenomenon: we are looking for new values, roots, pure emotion, not flashy and prefabricated. It’s great if people wake up. In terms of media recovery, I find it normal as well since it works! It’s great if Pop-Rock is inspired by traditional music, it belongs to everyone.- But don’t you think we risk getting lost between pure and hard trad. and the blend of world music?

  • But don’t you think we risk getting lost between pure and hard trad. and the blend of world music?

Both approaches are complementary. I find it just as valid to do a pinpoint research on a disappearing tradition, “preserving the heritage”, as to truly create by drawing inspiration from traditional music. Finding the balance is not always easy. Preserving the heritage is to say that it existed, but it’s a bit like burying it. Today’s traditional music must be as dynamic as life, it must move, assert itself, break out of its mold. But should it still be called trad.? That’s just a question of labels. It’s a style. Which overlaps with jazz and classical; the boundaries are blurry, which proves that it’s just a label.
It’s true that globalization is a risk: on all the radios in the world we hear the same hits, and that influences a lot of remote musicians. But I believe that the survival instinct will prevent them from completely losing their identity.

  • What is the place of traditional music?

I don’t know. But it is essential, and it is the origin of others, let’s not forget.

  • What are your plans?

Continue to feed on emotions. I have more contacts with foreign artists, and I am starting to meet good local musicians.
I was deeply moved and inspired by “The Mythological Journey”, an international artistic encounters which took place in Turkey and which I participated in November 98. I want to collaborate and create more projects like that.

  • The last word?

We should talk less and listen more.

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