Viola Falb from Pulp Fiction

Here comes one of my latest musical revelations, an Austrian acoustic jazz band named Falb Fiction, led by young saxophonist Viola Falb. I became interested in this band after I was introduced to this year’s program of the Nishville Jazz Festival. Read on and find out what Viola says about the band, its connection with cult movie Pulp Fiction, her influences and so on.

Nick: Hi, Viola. Thank you for having time to answer some questions.

Viola Falb

Viola Falb

Viola: It´s my pleasure!

Nick: First of all, introduce us the band Falb Fiction. “Falb” is your last name, thus it comes that you’ve gathered musicians around you to express yourself through music, if I’m right? Would you mind telling us about your musical background, as well as education?

Viola: You´re right. Falb is my last name… We were searching for a band name and then a friend of us had this great idea. I still like the name because it of course shows that most of the music is composed by myself and that it’s open for all influences. I met my bandkolleges in Vienna – we were all studying here… We played some gigs together and I really enjoy the way those guys are interpreting my music and my ideas. Of course those are my compositions but we discuss the arrangement together and try different things and then we all together decide which version is the best for us…

Nick: Falb Fiction is name that completely leaves an image of the band, and I have to admit that I was wondering why you didn’t name your band as Viola Falb Band or Viola Falb Quintet, something alike. Did you want to create a “bandish” atmosphere around you, leaving yourself out of the focus? Also, does name of the band has anything to do with cult movie Pulp Fiction, as I can’t sweep off an impression to compare these two? :)

Falb Fiction

Viola: Yes it’s right – I wanted to create a bandish atmosphere, because every musician characterizes the band. If I play with somebodyelse it would sound different… And for meband names like Viola Falb Quartet are not very creative and don’t give you any imagination of the music. With Falb Fiction most of the people start to think – like you – does it have anything to do with the movie? What does it mean? And I really like graphic visuals (like the letter F looks good for me – V wouldn’t be that good) and I like alliteration (F – alb F – iction – double F). The comparison with the movie happened because the name is nearly the same (some people still call my band pulp fiction) and I like the movie… So we found the name, realized that everybody will say – Oh that’s pulp fiction – and then I said: that works for me, because the movie somehow tells the same story as our music does… We have many different styles (jazz, free, groove, …), we put them all together and create a concert where everything is possible…

Nick: How much other members of the band are involved in creating process? How did you get in touch when it came to forming Falb Fiction? Please tell us something more about them.

Viola: Long time ago I got some Jazz Standards Background gigs… Well paid. I was at the beginning of my jazz studies and not very confident on the kind of music (started to study classical saxophone) but for those gigs I decided to get some good musicians, nearly at my age… I only knew Christian Wendt by name and Herbert Pirker told me – ask him, he’s a good bass player… So I did and it harmonized really well from the beginning. The same happened with Philipp…We all had been in the same scene in Vienna. Then we recorded a demo – CD for my studies in Berlin and there we recorded two of my tunes and the rehearsing, playing and recording was so great that I decided to form an ensemble… That was a great decision… How much I involve them to the creating process is very different – sometimes I know exactly how the tune should sound – so everything is clear… But at the moment (we are rehearsing for our new album recording in September) I have some fragments of the song, we play that, everybody tells what he is thinking about it, we’re trying new ideas, until we all found our way to interpret that tune… I like that!

Falb Fiction - Waiting For

Nick: You’ve released two albums so far named “Waiting For” and “Lost Control”, emphasizing diverse and multi-layered compositions with a lot of improvisation over variety of different styles. Hope I didn’t fail with this description. At least, would you help me to describe your music?

Viola: Good description… Describing is always hard… For me the composition is very important, I usually don’t write a theme and then there are the solos over the changes and then again theme… So nearly every song has a story or a feeling I want to tell… For example Hitzekoller is dedicated to Hans Koller a great Austrian saxophonist (died 2003) and there I tried to write kind of lines as he did, also the arrangement of the song… Devil’s Dance was a time when I was listening a lot to Balkan music… Tried to get the feeling and mix it with my own imagination… I usually try to mix the styles and having a lot of improvisation, because we love to play it and I’m feeling like that “variousity” describes my music, my band and also myself…

Falb Fiction - Lost Control

Nick: “Lost Control” is an album with very interesting title if we compare it with the musicpresented on the album itself. Not that I’m trying to say that you’ve lost control literally, but loosing the control inside an artistically apprehension of that music. Do you have any comment on this?

Viola: One journalist wrote once: “lost control – an album where bandleader Viola Falb has everything in her hands…” the name can say a lot I think: especially for me it doesn’t mean that you’re out of control and crazy and stuff like that… It means more that it’s not totally controlled, I let it fly and see what happens… There are some songs with free parts and there I really let it happen. That’s not always easy for me, because usually I want to have a special feeling or build up of the song – not here, everything can happen here, out of my control (parts of the music)… And I liked the words and the meaning (my visual and graphic mind liked it too…)

Nick: An impression I had by listening to “Lost Control” is that you’re a band which tries to connect elementary jazz with contemporary form of it. Is that something what you want to express?

Viola: For me composing is always a way of searching and trying… And of course I tried to find a way to connect these two parts in some songs… But still I search for new forms and combinations… It’s so exciting what comes next.

Nick: I have to admit that I became interested in Falb Fiction after I was introduced to this year’s program of Nishville Jazz Festival, as the organizers has popped out with your name. I don’t know how the situation with your concernment is, but I truly hope that you will be playing on this festival. If so, what can we expect from your appearance?

Viola: YEAH, we’re playing!!! And we can’t wait to play there!!! On Sunday 15th of august… You will hear some new songs, songs I composed when I was staying in New York this year, there I had a lot of time to try new things and we already rehearsed some parts of it and we love it – hopefully you do too. And of course the hits from our last 2 albums…


Nick: As far as I am concerned you involved in some other musical projects/bands, besides playing with Falb Fiction. Would you tell us something about it?

Viola: You’re right – there are some… I’m also playing in a saxophone quartet which is called PHOEN – there we’re playing original compositions of all bandmembers and we released our first CD in May 2010… it’s a great music, because as a saxophone quartet you’re always in between – you’re not belonging to jazz, and not to classical chamber music… that’s hard at first, because you have to situate yourself, but at the moment we enjoy having our style…

Kitsch ’n’ Glory

Another important formation is KITSCH & GLORY,  with Maria Augustin – a duo, where I play bassclarinet and accordion… That was abig challenge for me at the beginning, because I’ve never played the accordion, but we’re having a lot of fun there, because we’ve met on our first day at the university and got best friends… Maria sings and plays flute and working with loops and sounds…

Nick: What’s your opinion on fusion jazz? Do you have favorite bands coming from this genre, perhaps? Weather Report or Return to Forever? As you are a saxophonist, it’s indispensable to ask if you have favorite saxophonist which work you appreciate very much.

Viola: I didn’t listen a lot to fusion jazz… I don’t know why, but it didn’t fascinate me as acoustic jazz did, but of course I like that kind of fusion like Weather Report and Return to Forever… Especially I love Wayne Shorter – in all different kind of contexts – with Miles, his quintet, Weather Report, with Joni Mitchell, and the music he is doing now… There are some other saxophonists I like… John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Eric Dolphy, David Liebman, Chris Potter,… There are a lot!

Viola Falb

Nick: You may skip over this question if you already partially answered it, but I have to ask which artists/musicians have been influenced on your musical shaping?

Viola: I listened a lot to Dave Douglas, because he is for me a sound creator – he has so many different formations and everything sounds like Dave Douglas but they are playing different styles of music and instrumentation… I like his composing. It’s the same with Django Bates – I like his humorous art to compose… Music is not always earnest and grave, it can be sarcastic, funny,… Everytime he is showing that again to me and reminds me of not taking everything too serious… Then I love Ligeti, Strawinsky, Mahler, Bartok, Shostakovich,… and lots more!

Nick: What have you been listening to recently? Also, would you tell us what your all-time favorite albums are?

Viola: Recently I was listening to music of young people – like my age… To find out where the music is going, finding what I like, what I don’t like… Bands like for example Die Pilze, Transit Room, Andromeda Mega Express, Clemens Salesny,… My all time favourite albums: Wayne Shorter – Juju, Eric Dolphy – Out to Lunch, John Coltrane – My Favorite Things… Then Alasnoaxis – Habyor, Dejan Terzić – Underground, Django Bates – Winter Truce, Joni Mitchell – Travelogue, Dave Douglas – Mountain Passages,… There would be lots more…

Nick: Thank you, Viola. Hope to see you on already mentioned Nishville Jazz Festival this summer.

Viola: Thank you – hope to see you there in August…

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.
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