Q&A with Andrea Keller – 2006 NJA finalist

Welcome to Jazz Australia’s second series of Q&A interviews with finalists in the National Jazz Awards, which will be announced at the 2006 TAC Wangaratta Festival of Jazz. This year the National Jazz Awards feature Piano, for the first time since 1999. At the finals, to be held in Wangaratta in the first weekend of November, the finalists will play with bassist Brendan Clarke (winner of the National Jazz Awards in 2001) and drummer James Hauptmann.

Andrea Keller is from Melbourne.

When did you start playing piano and why? For example, was there a ‘moment’ when it came to you as a calling or vocation?
I started playing piano when I was 7. Apparently I’d been bugging my mum about wanting to play for some time so finally she gave in. I don’t remember a particular moment though, I’ve always known I wanted to be a musician, I don’t remember ever wanting anything else.

Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?
I never know how to answer this question, because there’s been so many! It’s always changing as I discover new (& old) people, and as I mature and become ready for new & old people. The things that unite them all though is their distinctive and individual sounds, their honesty and their joy in experimentation and in the process of creating music, regardless of style or genre.

When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration? For example, do you ever find that other art forms (painting, writing etc.) feed into your own creative process?

I get inspiration from everything that I come across, from simple thoughts, movies, other people’s lives, to art I’ve seen, favorite sentences from books I’m reading etc. Most of the time I just feel the need to create something, to be close to music and my instrument, and to experiment with techniques I’ve been thinking about or have seen in other art forms. That’s how it starts, and it often turns out that I work through something in myself, the process acts like a kind of therapy.

What does the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz represent for you?
Wangaratta’s the highlight of the Australian jazz calendar. I feel really privileged every time I get to be a part of it. Aside from the great international acts it attracts, one of my favourite things about it is the bonding experience it creates for the musicians in our small but thriving Australian jazz community. This music’s about sharing, but in this big land of ours it can be difficult for the many fantastic musicians in this country to get to know each other.

What are you listening to now?

Wayne Shorter and pop singers…

Read Q&As with other finalists >