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H-E-Y!!!  Please REMEMBER that you can order
fantastic Zzaj Productions CD's from our HOMEMADEMUSIC site, at: 

We are in URGENT need of your
support, too, as we were caught in a "lay-off" situation (that was a direct
result of the WTC affair).

Wouldn't hurt (I suppose) if you remind them that the C-mas season is
getting near, & a ZP CD makes a very nice gift for friends who love
adventure in their music(s)



Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 43

INTERVIEW with visionEar (aka Jim Konen)


     As often happens, I met visionEar through the Internet, shortly after moving to the Detroit area.  He sent his first CD (digThesis) to give us an introduction to his playing.  HIGHLY energetic & creative music oriented towards the "tech" side of things!  The natural followup was to meet & exchange some ideas (both musical & personal).  One of the most exciting aspects of meeting him was getting to see his studio (which he describes for us a bit below).  I thought you'd enjoy hearing a bit more from him.  He can be contacted via e-mail at  He has many shows & other artistic projects he's working on, so write, buy his CD or (just) get to know an artist who is "his own player" (gives new meaning to the word independent, too).  Here goes....


Zzaj: What's your vision of where you want to go with your music?

visionEar:  I will continue to integrate new technology into my "music making".  I see this as a way for me to make things easier,  more varied and spontaneous. This is my compass, this is how my music will continue to define itself.

Zzaj:  You have a really nice studio now, what's in it that you're particularly proud of, what's on your "wish list" for the future?

visionEar:   Thank you for saying that - like any recording studio it continues to grow and expand almost with a mind of it's own. It's always saying "FEED ME". and I do!
I would say what I'm most proud of is the space itself.  It Feels Good!  When I'm there I want to create and the other artist's that I've worked with do also.  There are no windows, so time is suspended.  I also know my
equipment well.  Even though I may not have ALL the latest toys, getting things to sound right is very attainable.  On my wish list would be an Apple power book.   I am going to be embarking into new possibilities with some of the new digital input devices for making sound (eg.  For me, this is the future, this is THE way to go!

Zzaj: Describe what kind of "music" you perform. how would you label it, or
is/should there be a label?

visionEar: The kind of "music" I perform is totally me.  When I say that what I mean is that it represents the cumulative efforts of my 30+ years of musical experiences.   With visionEar being a solo project I am able to attain whatever I want whenever I want it. Believe me, there's a lot of stuff going on in there and, over time it kind of developed into it's own thing.  I think the word I'm looking for is personal style.  OK!   If you must have a label----  "visionEar is a holographic prototype alter ego who seeks convergence with all media into one complete experience".   You'll have to figure it out for yourself!

Zzaj: I've watched you perform live. You seem pretty well immersed in  (&comfortable with) the playing.   Does that come from years of "road experience", or the music you're playing?

visionEar:   Yes, I am always fully immersed in the performance.   I love dealing with an audience who is eager for a different kind of experience.   Comfortable is always the "wild card".   When all the "ducks' are in a row, it's great!  But sometimes that nasty little gremlin decides to get into the machine or somebody doesn't do their job (sound , light crew, promoter, etc.) and it affects you. Years on the road does help in that it makes you tight and well rehearsed but, it also can wear you down it's a very stressful
balance to get right.

Zzaj:  Most of our audience are folks who play of produce (some form of) music
themselves.  What advice would you offer them about equipment? Are there any
things (in your studio) you MUST spend big $ on, or does it matter?

visionEar:   I would have to say take a REALLY good look at the type of music
you're trying to produce/record and try to make an educated guess on what will
get you there.   I often spend a good amount of time talking with other artists/producers who do what I do to find out what they're using.  Always try to get the most for your money.  Sometimes a good piece of used
equipment with more features is better than some new "unproven" item.  Don't always be fooled by slick ads and "music store hype". listen and learn for yourself!

Zzaj:  You seem to be pretty comfortable with rhythm/soul oriented music(s).  Where /how did that come about? Is that the music you just "grew up" with, or have you slid into that groove?

visionEar:   Well, I would have to admit that it was/has been a big part of what was around me from a listening point of view.  (being from Dee-troit) .  I also worked with a lot of R&B, and Funk bands when I was young.   These were bands with black and white players.   You HAD to be funky.   I mean they kicked my ass!   But after a while I was kickin' it back too!   A little James Brown never hurt anybody!!!

Zzaj: Since you were in quite a few bands before, what was good about "the road"(if anything).  What really zugged about it?

visionEar:    The obvious things like playing to a new audience.  Seeing places and things you hadn't seen before.  It gets old fast though, people always hangin' on you - thinking you're gonna say or do somethin' amazing all the time.   Getting sick really sucks.   Crappy food & lousy hotels.   It's hard to be creative, at one point you just want it all to go away.

Zzaj:   What (other) CD efforts do you have coming up?

visionEar:   Right now I'm finishin' up my next CD entitled "Future Saint'!    It'll have a few more cuts than "digThesis' did.  The direction is a little more defined in my view.   I'm also working on a independent movie being made here in Michigan which will feature some soundtrack stuff as well as some performance scenes.   I'm also working with a local playwright named Ron Allen, and we'll be doing some kind of music spoken word thing soon.

Zzaj: Advice to young folks looking to "make music a career"?

visionEar:   Find out who you are as a person and and artist!  The music machine is designed to not give a shit about you and will totally destroy you without a lick of compassion.   If you choose this path you will have to be VERY certain and strong willed about what you want.   This does not mean you have to be an asshole when things don't go your way.   Plenty of musicians are
assholes!   Don't go along with the crowd, you could end up with a serious addiction or emotionally messed up beyond repair.   If you can't make enough money doing music, don't be afraid to work for a living.   It will make you stronger and more determined. With that said...  Stay in the game, even if it takes forever.   Don't be afraid - you will mature as an artist and may even discover some stuff about yourself through your music you would never have imagined.

Zzaj:   How much "formal' training in music did you have? Would you have taken more, if yer' knew what you know now?

visionEar:   You can never stop learning about music. I have studied with a lot of guys.  Rock players, jazz players, Detroit symphony players, songwriters etc...  I wouldn't change a thing about it.  My biggest teacher has been my ears.   Shut Up and listen!! That's what ears are for.   Use them, develop them.   Take the form to the next level.   We're all waiting...


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