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Roland Buehlmann

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Roland Bühlmann from 2015

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

I come from a musical family: my father played guitar and my grandfather played mandolin, mandola, guitar, violin, doublebass and clarinet… At age eleven or twelve I learned for a short time trumpet, but I didn’t like that instrument. At age 17 I began to learn autodidactic guitar and bass guitar while I played in a band. Four years later I sold all my electric guitar stuff, bought a classical guitar and played a few years just on this instrument before I bought my next electric guitar. I played over the years in several bands and with different musicians.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
I like to take photographs, especially pinhole photographs. And I’d like to take photographs with a large format camera.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
I guess the most important music for me is the one from the renaissance composer Josquin Desprez, I like the clarity and the ethereal sound of the modal keys in it. As a guitarist these musicians: David Torn, Terje Rypdal, Robert Fripp, Ralph Towner, Egberto Gismonti and Mike Oldfield. And last but not least the composers Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Actually I’m working on my second solo album and I’m learning to play the Hanottere, a traditional Swiss instrument. You’ll hear the instrument on the new album.
MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
While I recorded and produced my album I have never thought about it. But now I think it’s prog rock with fusion and soundscape elements.
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

Yes, I’ll play with Christoph Greuter, a swiss lutenist and guitarist. We’ll do something acoustic with traditional swiss instruments (Hanottere, Neck Cisters) and guitars. By the way, since five years I play in the worship band “LeChaim.”

MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
In my opinion it’s a hindrance; the people lose the sense for the worth of music.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Abraham Laboriel on bass and Terl Bryant on drums.
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
It would be a mess with different kinds of music…David Torn, Terje Rypdal, ensembles playing music from Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt, singers that perform a mass from Josquin Desprez, Iona, Apple Pie, Firefalldown and for dessert ice music by Terje Isungset.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I bought Steve Reich’s Double Sextett and Music for 18 Musicians. And I listened to Inna Zhelannaya and Japanese koto music.
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I read the biography of C.S. Lewis - A Life, by Alister McGrath. And I read always the Bible.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
I’m not sure, I think it was when Iona played in Switzerland.
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Maybe that I sometimes play Swiss folk songs.
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?
Jesus Christ, Josquin Desprez and my grandfather who taught me to play mandola.
What would be on the menu?

For me and for my grandfather (he grew up in Italy) some Italian food, for the others I don’t know…

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
I hope when you listen to my music that you realize that there is more as you can see with your eyes and more as you can hear with your ears.


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 3 at
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