This is a series of interviews with outstanding male performers from the music scene in Melbourne, Australia. This series is conducted in good faith (with a good sense of humour) to illustrate how gender affects how we, as musicians, are treated. The questions I am asking all of my interviewees are genuine questions which I, or other female musicians, have been asked in interviews (and occasionally, at performances), but with their genders (and related elements) reversed make them more relevant to my current interviewees.
I’ve known Scott Tinkler for many, many years. When I was growing up in Melbourne, he was one of the key performers in the scene, carving out and developing his sound and improvisational language whilst simultaneously leaving his musical fingerprint on the musicians and audiences here.
I remember, when I was a teenager, hearing his angular, rhythmic language on the trumpet and I found it completely new and exciting – I’d never heard trumpet playing like that before. But this wouldn’t be the last time I would hear Tinkler rewrite the ways in which this instrument can be reimagined: hearing him play with Mark Simmonds’ incredible band, or performing a solo set a decade later at the Half-Bent Festival with outrageous dexterity and focus; and then again, years later, with Chiri, featuring the incredible Simon Barker (drums) and Korean Pansori singer Bae Il Dong (see this trio if ever you get the opportunity).
He has toured all over the planet and recently relocated to an island off Tasmania, but he still comes up to the mainland to perform, luckily for us.
Do you face any challenges as a man in the jazz world?
I won’t lie, its been difficult. The hardest thing is realising my privilege, something that honestly I think is almost impossible to really grasp. Sure, I might virtue signal that I mean well and not be directly sexist, but I’ll never know what it’s like to not be in that position, and that’s really tough for poor old me. The other thing is trying to not be a total dickhead and trouble maker (which of course is not gender limited), that, I have definitely failed in, but I have had some ridiculous fun.
Why do you think there are so many males in the music industry?
Patriarchy. It’s not just the music industry that suffers this problem sadly, but there is a shift, and I surely welcome it.
Do you think there’s a difference in terms of how men and women relate to improvisation?
There’s a difference in how various people relate to it, but I believe gender has fuck all, well, nothing, to do with it.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
Mechanic. I was going to do an apprenticeship, but my parents told me I didn’t have to and that they would support me following up music as a ‘career’. So needless to say I followed that path. I still love working on cars, and in fact working with tools in general.
Is there a player with a ‘signature’ sound that you admire? Someone you idolized or enjoyed transcribing?
Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard were massive early influences for me. My first trumpet hero was Louis Armstrong, and I’ve since idolised others like Miles, Booker Little, Kenny Wheeler amongst others. From there many other players have heavily influenced, mentored and shaped me, especially Australian players like; John Rodgers, Ken Edie, Mark Simmonds, Ren Walters, Allan Browne, Sandy Evans, Ian Chaplin, Bernie McGann, Andrea Keller, Paul Grabowsky, Simon Barker, Phil Slater, fuck there’s so many heroes and they all have signature sounds.
What’s your approach to improvisation?
Study rhythm and harmony intensely, write heaps of music and rehearse it intensely, develop a syntax with like minded people. Listen, oppose, compliment, agree, argue, take risks, be willing to not play, and then play hard.
How do you be a musician and a father?
How do you do a shit and a piss? I mean really, such a fucked question, sorry for those that have been asked this seriously. FFS, people ask stupid things don’t they.
What is the best piece of creative advice you have received?
This might sound silly, but as a kid my parents gave me this dumb quote on a bit of wood to go on my shelf. “The best way to get something done is to begin.” This sickly phrase actually sits really well with me, and has totally been a call to action for me many times. For me creativity requires action.
Tell me about what you’re working on at the moment.
Still renovating, finishing touches on the house and got a fair bit of painting left to do. There’s an old dairy on our property that we want to do up too as guest retreat. Heaps of maintenance too, grass cutting, gardening, planting trees to reforest a bit of land. Musically I’m working on another solo album. I’ve never released vinyl, so planning a release for 2021 some time. Solo stuff is very challenging, I much prefer playing with people – also prefer listening to to people interact too, but having a solo practice does strengthen certain aspects of one’s abilities.