Exclusive Interview with Greg Zlap

Greg Zlap How did you discover the bluesharp ?
~ I received my first harp as a gift from my uncle when I was 14 years old. It was a Hohner "Blues Harp" in the key of G. I learned how to play it with Don Baker's "The Harmonica" book and audio cassette! Well it was long time ago...

If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ I would love to meet Little Walter. He had such a modern and inventive approach to harmonica.

What is your favorite bluesharp brand / type and tell us why?
~ My favourite harp is Hohner "Marine Band", the classic model. It has a great chord response and resists to powerful blowing. My second best is Hohner "Golden Melody" for more precise, melodic playing.

What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Watch out for uncontrolled nose breathing. Make your draw 2 sound good. Learn to bend notes at minimum volume. Play along your favourite harmonica recordings.

Whisky wine beer or ...?
~ All of them and don't forget Vodka, I'm Polish!

How do you clean your harps?
~ I don't. I usually kill them before they get dirty, sometimes in 3-4 gigs.

What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ "What are the limits of the harmonica in terms of musical styles it can be used in?" - There are none, and I love to hear the harmonica in classical, rock or dance music as well as in blues or jazz. It's a very exciting instrument!

Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ I don't really care about the facilities in a recording studio. What matters is the person behind the desk and the people you work with in the studio. It's good to have an artistic director who knows how to listen to your propositions and keeps you focused on the project you are working on.

Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves.
~ I am nervous every time I go on stage, but I like it! Usually I just need a moment of concentration. On a tour I do use rituals, like a series of breathing exercises, or vocal exercises.

What was the most memorable day in your musical career and tell us why.
~ The 14th of june 2009 we had a concert with Johnny Hallyday at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I played a harmonica solo alone in front of 1 million people crowd who went crazy! It made me realise that this little instrument has such a powerful emotional potential it can touch people on a very big scale. Quite a memorable day!

Greg Zlap

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Answers given on April 5, 2016

Photos by Stephane de Bourgies