Exclusive Interview with Boris Plotnikov

Boris Plotnikov How did you discover the bluesharp ?
~ In 1999 I listened to a tape of the Moscow blues band "Umka and Bronevichok" and there played a harmonica player Voffka Kozhekin. I liked the tone of harmonica and the way he played (he played constantly filling almost every rest) and I decided I want to try harmonica. First I bought a cheap Chinese tremolo and soon I understood I get a wrong one. It took three months to collect money for a real blues harp and I got crazy of it playing every spare minute.

If everything would be possible (waking the dead included), which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ I have a dream to jam with John Popper!

What is your favorite blues harp brand / type and tell us why?
~ Since 2011 I am a proud Seydel endorser and I play only models with stainless steel reeds. Mostly I play Seydel 1847 silver, but also I have bunch with custom combs and some Seydel Session Steels. I also play Seydel Saxony Chromatic. The main reason to choose the steel reeds as that they do not need to be retuned ever. They keep pitch forever. I never ruined too much reeds, but with stainless steel reeds I don't worry about broken reeds at all.

What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Play every spare minute. Learn at least three different books/video instructions from the beginning to the end. Find a competent teacher!

Tongue blocking or lip pursing, what do you prefer and tell us why.
~ Both, but currently I am more lip blocker. However the first 7 years of playing I was 90% tongue blocking but then I discovered overbends and fell in love with hip-hop and fast articulation. Now I use tongue blocking for split intervals and tongue slaps only. For playing chromatic I prefer tongue blocking over lip blocking.

Give us the 3 most important albums every (beginning) blues harp player must buy.
~ Let it be:
Blues Traveler "Four"
Jason Ricci "Rocket #9"
Lee Oskar "The best of"

How do you clean your harps?
~ With water and liquid soap, rather rare. Usually I clean them when I feel I need to do some adjustments inside.

What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ What is the main problem in harmonica education?
Me: Everyone try to learn bends too early!

Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ A great recording studio is a studio with a great sound-producer. Even with an average gear. So I think Rick Rubin's studio can be perfect for me.

Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves?
~ Usually I am not nervous when I am a sideman but I am a bit nervous when I am band leader. Sometimes I can drink a bit of alcohol if I am too nervous which occurs very rare.

What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ Once I was a biology student obsessed with a harmonica I went to meet my friend who studied music. I have to wait him in a hallway in a local music college. As I have spare time I started practicing harmonica as used to and suddenly a man opened a door and gets wondered of my playing. It was Vitaly Vladimirov, teacher and conductor of big band. This meeting lead me to become a soloist of jazz big band and harmonica teacher in that college.

Boris Plotnikov

For more info about Boris Plotnikov, his Skype lessons or his custom Seydel harmonicas you can go to:

borisplotnikov.ru

Answers given on October 3, 2017
Photos by: Julia Dmitrieva