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Djam Karet

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Gayle Ellett of Djam Karet from 2016
It's been about a year or so since we last interviewed you. Sometimes it seems we need a scorecard to keep track of all the projects with which you are involved. Could you give us a run-down and maybe a status update for what's new with each endeavor?
Sure! Currently I’m playing in eight bands, so I’m rather busy. Some of these bands I run myself, and in others I’m just a back-up player. These groups are all very different, and they all play different musical styles that range from contemporary Arabic music, to free jazz, to blues, to singer-song-writer, to progressive. 

But the main news is that Djam Karet is nearly done with a new album! It will be our 18th CD so far. There is no title yet, but it will be our most melodic album, filled with tons of Mellotron and Moog, and wailing guitar solos. So far, I’m really happy with it. It’s got a sound that fits somewhere between our albums: The Trip, and Regenerator 3017, but with more melodies and Mellotron. It might not be released until early 2017. We just don’t know yet.

And Djam Karet’s little label Firepool Records has recently released another album by Texas’ Herd of Instinct, titled “Manifestation.” It’s their third album, and it’s great! Yes, I am biased, (I play with that group) but truly, it came out really well! Mark Cook is a great guy, and he’s a super talented musician. All those guys are. 

Last year, my acoustic group Fernwood released our third album Arcadia, and it’s the best album I’ve ever played on (and I’ve played on over 100 albums). So I am super happy about that!

And I’m also finishing up the mixing and mastering of a live CD that was multi-track-recorded at a show in Topanga, where I accompanied Tim O’Gara on my Greek bouzouki, while he played guitar and sang his songs.

What's ahead for you?
Music, music, music, music … and later on … more music! Todd Montgomery and I will probably start another Fernwood album soon. There’s a lot more albums to make, and I’ll keep on playing in these different bands, and then someday … I’ll figure out what the heck I’m doing!
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to the soundtrack to Logan’s Run. I also often record the audio off of old Italian Spaghetti Westerns, and then I erase out all of the talking, just leaving the music and Foley. None of my friends seem to like it, but I love listening to that stuff! And, I’m liking Gavin Harrison’s Cheating the Polygraph. I love Tinariwen, and I’m a big fan of Opeth too.
Have you read any good books lately?
Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos is really great, and it helped me to better understand gravity. Stuart Kauffman’s Investigations about Complexity Theory. And Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques by Barry Cleveland.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Malibu’s The Blue Dolphins are fun. Their guitarist Alfonso Rodenas (three-time Grammy Award Winning Latin music producer) is a friend of mine, and we often play music together in different bands. And Topanga’s Soluzion is great. And I saw Insects VS Robots (they’re also friends of mine), and Promise of the Real, playing here in Topanga. That was fun too!
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
One of my goals is that I aspire to someday be the peer of my idols. Not to sound like them or be as famous or rich … but to be as good a musician and producer as they are. I want to someday be a top-shelf musician. And hopefully, each year I get a little closer. 

It all boils down to this: Make records now, because when you’re dead … it is much more difficult!

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at
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