Stian Carstensen, multi-instrumentalist and a driving force of Farmers Market plays music like most of us breathe; like an innate thing, something he can do in his sleep. He can take up any instrument, it seems, and intuitively treat it like a natural extension of his own body and mind. His musical activities range from the asymmetrical Bulgarian explorations Farmers Market to performances with symphony orchestras, from live improvisations with Mike Patton to musical narratives from the backwoods of his native rural region of Norway. In any and every context Stian Carstensen and his fellow cohorts in Farmers Market spellbind, for in their hands music becomes something whimsical and unpredictable, something dazzling, intense and funny.
MIC hooked up with the multi-instrumentalist earlier this year: -It’s all about communicating with the audience Carstensen tells us. He’s passionate about music and words and people, and thrives on being put into the most unlikely situations for his performances. The next item on the busy Carstensen/Farmers Market agenda is their not-to-be-missed Sat Oct 29th showcase at Womex’ Nordic Club. Eager to deliver the Womex audience a healthy dose of Nordic/Bulgarian madness, Carstensen is ready to do what he does best, interact with the audience through his wild and virtuoso playing:
-I honestly feel that I express myself more precisely and instinctively in music than in ordinary language. Music is an intuitive thing; it is a way of expression that in many ways bypasses the intellectual faculties of mind. That is why indigenous folk music can be extremely sophisticated and completely un-intellectual at the same time. What I love about folk music and folk instruments is that you simply cannot fake it, no matter how much theoretical knowledge you have of music it comes to very little if you don’t go and see the actual people who know the tradition and learn from them. There are certain tricks and skills that you can only learn from people directly; things that are not comprised by the theoretical nomenclature of music.
Representing a wild, eclectic, humorous and virtuoso blend of Bulgarian folk music, jazz standards, popular music and humor, Farmers Market has firmly established itself as one of Norway’s most popular live bands, playing at a wide range of kinds of venues and festivals catering to jazz, folk and rock audiences alike. Concert goers that have had the pleasure of experiencing the outfit live have been instantly won over by the unbelievable musicianship and oddball mixture of styles.
Stian has been one to practise what he preaches: musical field work has been
one of his great interests ever since he discovered Bulgarian folk music almost twenty years ago.
-I got hold of some of the first recordings of Bulgarian folk music to reach the west after the iron curtain fell, says Stian. It was an instant kick, and I bought a plane ticket for Bulgaria almost at once. Since then I have been back every year to learn from different gipsy masters. In Bulgaria the folk music is a matter of utility; in weddings, funerals and other important occasions it serves a practical cultural function. What appears as very intricate structures to western ears, with asymmetrical rhythm patterns and widespread improvisation, is in fact a common musical idiom that everyone is familiar with. I really like this notion of music where emphasis is on actual use and contextual improvisation. The accordion, which is my main instrument, is very well suited to this concept of music; it is a utility instrument. Farmers Market has taken up these musical notions of asymmetry, improvisation and function based on the situation. Although Farmers Market may seem like too much and too fast to cope with for some, the fact is that it appeals very widely, says Stian.
A different side to Carstensen and his artistic temperament is his love for the small things in life, i.e. the stories of individuals, details from places and particularities in general. What ensues is a tendency towards a certain ironic distance and a lot of warm-hearted humour.
-I have always been very fascinated by the indigenous aspect of music and culture. I grew up playing at local dance evenings and in that context all the stories and anecdotes are just as important as the music. So from early on I have been collecting stories and learning old tunes from the locals says Carstensen. He’s really into story-telling at the moment too and has a story-teller’s festival in his diary this year: -I have this thing about stories from my village and I like to explore the different atmospheres and different people. I’m getting more and more into words and some of my short stories are going to be published, and tales of how I discovered Bulgarian and Eastern European music and my travels there.
Imagine a smorgasbord of global music styles such as bluegrass, bhangra, surf guitar, obscure film soundtracks and heavy metal, playfully and expertly incorporated into the distinctive melodies and asymmetric rhythms of traditional Bulgarian music creating a breathtaking, fast moving, hilariously entertaining, description-defying, impressively virtuosic and totally unique experience. That’s Farmers Market for ya – do not miss out on them!
Showcase at the Nordic Club (Studio 4) Saturday 29th of October 00:30hrs
Farmers Market on Facebook
Farmers Market on Spotify
Farmers Market Womex line-up:
Stian Carstensen (Accordion, Guitar, Flute, Vocals)
Finn Guttormsen (Bass)
Jarle Vespestad (Drums)
Nils-Olav Johansen (Guitar, Vocals)
Trifon Triofonov (Saxophone)
Farmers Market displays incredible musicianship, shown individually as well as collectively by the ensemble. For those who appreciate edgy jazzed-off experiments with Balkan traditional music, this is not to be missed.- Roots Worldsd
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