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Lonny Ziblat

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Lonny Ziblat from 2019

It's been something like eight or nine years since we've interviewed you. Can you catch the readers up on what's been going on in your world recently – sort of a "highlight reel?"

Hmm… nine years ago… that would be 2010. That’s when I published my first album – The Great Prophecy – which actually became the band; Modest Midget.

Well, we went on tour in the Netherlands just to get started and then on another in the Baltics: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Our  then drummer – Artis - was from there. Richard – our bass player, lost his father in the middle of the tour and was forced to quit the band due to family duties. In 2011 I lost my own dad. Actually one of the songs on the album was written and dedicated to him. In 2012 I regrouped the band with two new guys; a new bass player and a new drummer. We went on tour and at the end of the year we headed to the studio. Tristan – the keyboardist – announced that he was quitting the music life and after that a series of problems and complications made it impossible for me to go on. I ended up completing the second album (Crysis) when the band had already been broken up. I was quite proud of that album but was overworked and took it easy for a few years. I started composing more for film and TV, and I eventually got back to writing chamber music.

MSJ: What can you tell us about your new solo album?
During those years after Modest I did write and record songs every once in a while. They slowly turned out to feel like they belong into one coherent "whole." That’s what eventually became Dream Hunting.
MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
This is so difficult to say. Every once in a while a good colleague musician looks straight at me and tells me what a brilliant songwriter I am. I’m not so good at taking compliments, so it takes me a while to actually believe that they said it. But what gets me the most is seeing people in the audience after a concert with huge smiles on their faces, or any other expression that makes it clear that they were sincerely moved by the music. I can’t imagine anything stronger, actually.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
I don’t like to plan too much, but I can tell you what I’m doing right now. When I make an album it’s like having a child, and it’s very important to me to promote it to the best of my ability. Otherwise I feel as if I’m neglecting my baby. Besides that, this summer I have to compose music for a Dutch documentary about water management in this new era. I’m looking for the right ensemble to perform my new string quartet, and I’m writing my first symphony. Who knows who’ll be performing this one!...
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
It’s funny. When I’m listening to music it’s rarely recreationally. The recent pop album I listened to was Wouter Hamel’s “Breesy," because he’s a friend and he participated in the album release concert. I suddenly realized I haven’t heard his music yet. It’s a very well done piece of work.

Besides that I listen to a lot of classical music - mostly Russian and French. And Ravel is still my favorite. I also started learning to play Brazilian Choros on mandolin - totally awesome music!

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I don’t read fiction very much. I feel I have enough such chaos of my own in my head. I actually read a few books about finances and real estate just to keep stretching my brain. I can’t say I enjoy it too much, but it’s good to feel that I’m learning something. I think the last book I most enjoyed reading was Geoff Emerick’s book Here, There and Everywhere – not just because he was in a position as an inside witness of the work of the Beatles on some of the most revolutionary productions, but also because I found his writing to be extremely compelling. I also enjoyed Pete Townshend’s Who I Am.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
The last concert I’ve been to was yesterday. My friend Maripepa is one of the very few jazz oboe players in the world, probably. She was having her final exam, and I was quite surprised with her music and the performance under the circumstances. Usually these kinds of concerts are very hastily done.
MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Vaguely. The question is – in what category? I remember I saw a Mozart symphony when I was 11, and it bored me to death - not because of Mozart himself. Just because it wasn’t one of his best pieces, and because I didn’t feel at home with the slick "perfect" performance of the classically trained musicians.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
Of course! My new mandolin and my new amplified nylon string! I have to say I’m not really a "gear-oriented" guy. I use what’s useful and every now and then I encounter some instrument that sounds fantastic to me. I have a bit of a crush on Telecaster thinlines from the beginning of the day…
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
What’s a guilty pleasure? I think that as long as you’re not hurting or killing anyone there’s no reason to feel guilty.
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Hmmm… considering the fact that I don’t like the idea of dead people rotting away around the table while I’m eating, I will assume that you mean… if they were alive?

George Martin would probably be a nice one to meet, maybe James Taylor, too. Joni Mitchell? I have no idea. I am sober and mature enough to know that the most interesting artists are not necessarily the greatest company, and their art usually is strong enough to speak for itself.

I don’t have any need of meeting the Dalai Lama or anyone like that. Maybe (if he were alive) the person who invented the wheel.

MSJ: What would be on the menu?
There’s a lot of kinds of food that I love. Indian curry dishes, sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Italian, Spanish, Ethiopian, Indonesian… man… I don’t eat eggplants and I don’t eat fish, except for sushi and tuna (don’t know why). If meat, usually chicken or beef. A yet more important question would be: "who’s cooking?"
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Yes!... I’m going to cook something. You got me hungry!
MSJ: This interview is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at:
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