By Ingrid Ciacudia, published 08.12.2018 in Drammens Tidende.
Karl Espegard from Drammen has played violin since he was eight years old. In 2012, he traveled to Buenos Aires to study Spanish and literature and it did not take long before he started missing the violin.
– When I traveled to Argentina I became immersed in tango. I bought the cheapest violin I could find and started playing.
Espegard plays in a Norwegian-Argentine tango band called El Muro Tango. Together they travel and tour in Europe and South America. Recently they released their debut album “Nostálgico”.
The violin has been with him since he was eight years old and music has always been a part of his life. Espegard says his mother was very passionate about her children getting to learn an instrument. Why he ended up with the violin is, in his own opinion, a bit random.
– The man who was to become my first violin teacher came to my school with two of his students. We were allowed to try the violin. My sister and I wanted to start taking lessons. We started together, but she eventually dropped out. I come from a musical family but no one plays professionally.
At the age of 13, Espegard entered the Barratt Due Institute of Music, and for many years he was a member of the Buskerud Youth String Orchestra under the leadership of Thode Fagelund. In 2007 he worked as a teacher at Drammen School of Music and Culture.
– At that time I was also conducting the school string orchestra, and I had a few violin students. I quit my job because I moved to Northern Norway to work as a county musician. I taught and played concerts for the counties that lie a little further out in the countryside, he says.
Found a new genre
In 2012 he traveled to Buenos Aires and got acquainted with the tango. He got in touch with people in the community and decided to start playing.
– I had listened to tango before, but it was first when I traveled to Argentina that I was absorbed by it, he says. In 2016 he met the guys he now plays in a band with.
Don´t live in the same country
El Muro Tango was founded in Oslo, but the musicians now live in different countries.
– The singer of the band lives in Buenos Aires, the pianist lives in Berlin and the bassist lives in Switzerland. There are two of us who live in Norway.
Espegard says that there are, of course, a few challenges involved in playing with people who live in different countries, but rarely does it pass more than a month between meeting to play concerts.
– We plan things together, but it can, of course, be a challenge not to be in the same room or in the same country all the time. We travel a lot, however, and meet whenever we tour. We keep a lot of contact through social media, he explains.
Playing in Book of Mormon
Besides playing in a tango band, Espegard is also involved in the acclaimed musical Book of Mormon at The Norwegian Theater.
– I’m a part of the band so I don’t have a theatrical role, but I have previously worked in several theater productions at The Norwegian Theater, including Kvitebjørn Kong Valemon in 2016, he says.
On November 18, El Muro Tango gave a concert at Gummibaren in Drammen, and on November 23 they released their debut album. Espegard says that the band has traveled around the world and has received great recognition in both the European and South American tango communities.
– We have traveled in Argentina and performed in the well-known tango clubs. It has been a great experience to be able to travel around the country and play for people who not only like our music but also know the lyrics, says the musician.
– We work with some of the leading Argentine tango singers, including Martin Alvarado, Negro Falótico and Chino Laborde. Our music is a mix of Argentine traditional tango with elements of jazz and modern music, he adds.
Eager about Japan
Espegard tells Drammens Tidende that they have accomplished several goals recently, with tours and debut album to show for. Their next big goal is to travel to Japan, where there is a great interest in tango, both for dancers and tango orchestras, says Espegard.
– We already have some contacts who have traveled to Japan and introduced us to the music industry, but we are thinking of going there in 2020. Tango has been popular in Japan since the ’30s, and there are a lot of Japanese people who have emigrated to Argentina and live in Buenos Aires, says Espegard.