Dagsavisen Fremtiden: Taken on a journey

By Elisabeth Helgeland Wold, published 16.11.2018 in Dagsavisen Fremtiden. Read the original article in Norwegian.

Karl Espegard (35), Musician / Violinist

Playing with Norwegian-Argentine El Muro Tango, who is about to release their new album and gives a concert at Gummibaren on Sunday 18 November.

What will we hear?
– There will be Argentine tango, and we play a lot from our debut album, which will be released on November 23. By the way, we are bringing the physical record, which also has been launched in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and now with a tour from the north to the south of Norway.

El Muro Tango has held a concert in Drammen earlier, among others at Union Scene during the Cultural Night (Kulturnatt) in 2017, how is it to play in your hometown?
– It’s great, the audience is very receptive. Our first concert in Drammen was also at Gummibaren, furthermore we played at a Tango Weekend in January, where there were instructors from Argentina and Finland, and where we gave a concert in the evening.

Tell me about El Muro, when did you start?
– We started El Muro Tango in 2016 as a trio, so we celebrate two years this year. Juan Pablo de Lucca plays piano, Åsbjørg Ryeng plays bandoneon, Sebastian Noya plays double bass and Juan Villarreal is the lead singer. Bandoneon is a kind of transportable church organ, made in Germany in the late 1800s, arriving to Argentina when people emigrated there. There the instrument was captured by the tango – we can say it went from the church in Europe to the brothels in Buenos Aires.

You are originally from Drammen, share a little about your background?
– I started playing violin when I was eight, and went to the local music school in Drammen with Thode Fagelund as a teacher. Later I moved to Oslo and entered the Barratt Due Institute of Music, before continuing my studies at Hochschule der Künste Bern and the Norwegian Academy of Music.

How did you get passionate about tango?
– It was a coincidence that I went to Argentina, I knew about Astor Piazzolla, he took the music out of the clubs and into the concert halls, but I only knew it superficially, tango is a world in itself. In Argentina, I learned about the styles and the different eras and everything that the tango music contains. I returned later and made friends and learned Spanish, I felt very at home there.

What is it about this music?
– Many things, tango is a bit like classical music, but it is still popular music. You think it’s improvised, but it’s not. Tango gives you a feeling of being alive, both from playing and listening. And it lives in the sense that in all over the world you can dance to tango. Tango is a separate language, a culture of its own. The music deals with universal themes, often about lost love. The tango culture had its peak in the 1930s and 40s. But then it went down, and the 1980s and 90s were dark times for the tango, after all the political difficulties in Latin America. Now, fortunately, it is in bloom again. In Argentina, there is a growing interest in preserving old recordings and manuscripts, and a few years ago, tango was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

What are the feedbacks you get?
– We get very positive feedback, people are taken on a journey, the music stirs emotions. We have received very good response during the whole tour, and good attendance. Several of the concerts have been sold out, I am a little surprised that people who have never heard of us actually show up.

What do you listen to yourself?
– I listen to a lot of different music, often within jazz and latin, and I am particularly fond of the Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade. Also I listen to music released by friends and colleagues.

Which book has meant the most to you?
– Don’t know which one has meant the most, but one that I recently read, and which was very interesting is “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah. He grew up during the apartheid regime in South Africa. The mother was African and the father Swiss – his mere existence was a crime during apartheid.

What makes you happy?
– Good food! Asado, Argentinian barbecue – there is no better. In addition, it is a very social thing.

Who is your childhood hero?
– Arve Tellefsen.

What do you dislike most about yourself?
– That I’m a little intense sometimes, I can’t let go of things. It has its good and bad sides.

What are you willing to go in demonstration for or against?
– Certainly for equal rights for everyone.

Is there anything you regret?
– Yes, but I rather think you can learn from your mistakes instead of regretting – you should not be afraid to make mistakes.

With whom would you get stuck in the elevator?
– Would be been fun to meet Diego El Cigala – a Spanish flamenco singer.