Exclusive Interview with Marko Balland

Marko Balland How did you discover the bluesharp ?
~ Strangely the first time I heard the harmonica is on an album of "Supertramp" the cover with the piano in the snow. I decided then to play the harmonica..

If everything would be possible (waking the dead included), which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ That would certainly be a great master of the blues as Mark Ford.

What is your favorite blues harp brand / type and tell us why?
~ I played a lot on Manji Suzuki. They offer a warm, brilliant and powerful sound and they are pretty well set out of the box.

What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Learn the basics of harmonica and after that you must listen to a variety of other instruments to forge his personality ...

Tongue blocking or lip pursing, what do you prefer and tell us why.
~ I play both techniques. Sometimes I want it to sound like an cajun accordion... I have no real preference.

Give us the 3 most important albums every (beginning) blues harp player must buy.
~ The question is not easy because there are so many good albums! But I will quote:
- Mark Ford "and the Robben Ford blues Band"
- Carlos del Junco" Mongrel Mash"
- Norton Buffalo and Roy Roge " travellin' track"

How do you clean your harps?
~ Before each concert I clean the harmonica blades with a special brush and I gloss the covers because it is important to have an instrument in very good state.

What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ There are no harmonica players I do not like, everyone should be able to play as he can, as he will. However when in jam sessions the harmonica players do not listen to other musicians, I really hate that. The harmonica is like the violin if it is played badly and that is not pleasant to the ear.

Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ My studio in Paris. It's a studio that I share with my friends and I feel very good inside. It is important to work well.

Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves?
~ Yes, like many people, but when I start to play my mind stays focused to the maximum.

What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ I met Charlie Musselwhite and James Cotton at SPAH. Charlie Musselwhite remained in my effects Workshop and at the dinner at SPAH, the last day, James Cotton sat next to me and I was not able to talk because I couldn't express myself in English...

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Answers given on October 21, 2016