Troels Skovgaard interview, March 2006
By Georg Forchhammer.
Blue Desert´s Georg Forchhammer catch up with Troels Skovgaard to an open talk about the new album.
It’s been almost 2½ years since Troels Skovgaard released his self-titled debut album. The recordings of his second album, “No Matter How Far I Go”, already started in the autumn of 2003, and that actually isn’t so long ago when you realize that it is a double cd, and that Troels has had a lot of other gigs and recordings at the same time.
“It actually started out as 2 parallel projects, and at a time, Kim Heibon, who has written quite a few of the lyrics to my songs, suggested that I should make a double cd. When I had gotten used to that idea, I really liked it, also because I didn’t feel that my songs and instrumental ones were so far apart in style.”
However, I feel that the instrumental cd is more Latin inspired like e.g. Koinonia back in the 80ies. It is very tempting for a west coast nerd like me to compare Troels’ music with artists like Larry Carlton, Robben Ford and Lee Ritenour. Maybe for once, I should just let Troels’ music speak for itself…
“if we talk about the artists you just mentioned, I think it’s more a matter of a similar guitar approach inspired by many of “the great ones” than my compositions being inspired by them”, Troels says, “I guess it isn’t something you think about when you write songs”.
It would be fair to say that Troels in many ways has his musical roots in bluesy end of the jazz and, as he puts it, “the jazzy end of the blues.”
Fans of Troels’ old band, The Bamboo Brothers, can with joy see that he has re-recorded their biggest hit, “Johnny Told Susie”.
Questioned why Troels took that song along on his new album, he says, ”I felt like taking the song with me into the new millennium. Back then, we recorded it as our first single and we had quite a success with it. But it was my song so I wanted it with me and give it the touch of my new band.”
I think the song fits very well into the rest of the album.
One of my favourites on the album is the song “I Weep” which is a dedication to one of Troels’ greatest guitar heroes, George Harrison. The song was written after Harrison passed away.
“I had fallen in love with a couple of Beatles songs, “Sexy Sadie” and “I’m So Tired”, where Lennon makes a chromatic movement from a major chord down to the major chord a semitone below”, Troels says, and goes on, “I wanted to try that as well, and so the song came almost immediately. Then Kim Heibon wrote the lyrics. We had just watched “Concert for George”, and he was a great hero for both of us”.You can hear that in Kim´s short, melodic slidesolo on “Treat me nice”
The song “Satellite” follows the musical line from Troels’ first album and, as he puts it, shows the country/rock side of him. He has always been very much inspired by the vocal work of The Beatles, The Eagles and The Doobie Brothers. He also recorded an old Doobie Brothers song, “White Sun”, written by Tom Johnston, in a very beautiful acoustic version with just guitars, mandolin and vocals.
Besides a lot of fine Danish musicians, Troels is accompanied by great ones like Justo Almario, Alex Acuna and Toots Thielemans. Troels met the two first mentioned on a tour with “The Engqvist Orkester” in L.A. back in the autumn of 2002. this musical meeting made Troels invite them to play on the single version of “Dive For Pearls” (a song that was also on Troels’ first album).
About this collaboration, Troels says, “they really knew how to relate to the musical style of my music and Toots Thielemans’ harmonica is really fantastic. He was very nice to work with and very humble towards the music.”
Talking about all the famous musicians playing on the album, I’d like to mention Nicolai Schultz who plays sax and flute. His flute solo on the instrumental song “La Fanciulla d’Alghero” is simply world class!
Troels also shows new sides as a singer, especially in the blues song “Treat Me Nice”. He says he has always listened to and played blues music, and that growling and singing blue notes always has felt easy for him.
Bob Bailey is guest vocalist on “God Bless The Child”. Troels used to play the song back in the days with The Bamboo Brothers. They had heard it in a version with Robben Ford and it fitted very well into the band.
Troels’ own version is much “wilder” – especially the outro guitar solo, where it gets “full speed ahead”.
Troels met Bob Bailey back in 2000, when he had to record some guitar track on a gospel project which his bass player, Dan Rasmussen, was recording. There he heard Bob for the first time and he was literally blown away.
One of the songs that has touched me the most is “Antonio’s Blues” – a beautiful instrumental ballad dedicated to a young Italian tourist who was killed during a visit to Denmark. Even though it’s unnecessary to compare Troels’ guitar playing with others, the song makes me think of Larry Carlton – especially the beautiful ballad “Emotions Wound Us So” from his live album “Last Nite” from 1986.
Troels says about “Antonio’s blues, “A stage play was made here in Denmark about the incident where Antonio was killed and in connection with that, I met with his family and acted as interpreter for them. They were very kind and lovely people and they made a big impression on me”.
To me, one thing that makes this new album from Troels different than the first album is that there is lots of time on it. By that I mean that he tells the full story of every song – especially on the instrumental album. There hasn’t been given thought to the typical length of a pop song. One might say that Troels on one hand has taken more risks but on the other hand he is also more patient on his second solo album.