Interview with Karl Frierson and Florian Riedl: “Yesterday, Estonia was a Latin country!”

24. April 2014
Jorge Poveda

The chat with Florian Riedl (saxophonist, The Hi-Fly Orchestra) and Karl Frierson (singer, Da-Phazz) in MyCity Hotel was incredibly funny and full of anecdotes. The Hi-Fly Orchestra and Karl Frierson make a good team when they are on stage and also for hanging out.

Let’s start from the beginning. How did you meet and what were your influences when you formed the band?

FLORIAN RIEDL: The band was formed years ago in Germany. Jerker Kugler (bass player) and I decided to start making music together because we were studying music in the same school. We were playing in clubs and mostly our influences were inside the groovy jazz at first and finally we were giving shape and identity to the band.

KARL FRIERSON: Most of my vocal influences were women like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and of course also Nat King Cole and Marvin Gaye. It was amazing that I could bring him from the spirits yesterday [laughs].

Have you evolved in your style during these many years since you are playing?

F.R: Yes, for sure because in these years I started playing old school jazz but then I formed the band with the other guys and we start playing our own creations. We compose all of our music so that means evolution in each album. Also I can say that we changed between the albums, from Samboogaloo (2007) to Get Ready (2013).

What’s the origin of the name of the band The Hi-Fly Orchestra?

F.R: [laughs] Actually we played a tune called “The Hi-Fly”, then we started to think about a name for the band and we decided to give the band this name. All of us liked it.


Can you compare the last performance here in Tallinn (last winter) and yesterday’s concert at Jazzkaar?

F.R: I liked this time because we had the opportunity to play with Karl  [laughs], and also it was very well organized yesterday and the audience was really amazing.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how is the Estonian crowd for you, Karl Frierson?

K.F: From 1 to 10 I think about 11 [laughs]. There was a guy, a Russian guy totally drunk in the audience. He was crazy the whole time, which was quite exciting because he was drunk but not violent. He was like really happy asking us for more songs and asking a girl to marry her all the time [laughs].


How is sharing the stage with a showman like Karl Frierson?

K.F: I can leave the room… [laughs]

F.R: I think simply to play with Karl is a highest level for us, actually you can feel in the audience, he is huge.

K.F: I think these guys – The Hi-Fly Orchestra – are really great musicians. I know them from years ago and it’s great to share the energy with them on stage. I really like the feeling when you are connected, one unit… And that’s what I feel with them. Also I like to do many improvisations during the performances. They understand perfectly and follow it.


You seem that you have played together many years.

K.F: Well, we met many years ago, before even The Hi-Fly Orchestra was formed. It was in a gig so they asked me to come and I came to sang with the band. That was a long time ago, more than 10 years. Then four years ago my drummer (from De Phazz), he is from the area of Munich and asked me: “Do you remember Florian?”, “Did you know they are working on a new album and maybe you have time to do a couple of songs?” And Florian is a pretty cool guy so it was easy to say yes and stay in touch for play in the studio.

F.R: I think it was really extraordinary because with a singer like Karl it is not easy to put our schedules together and make him come to the studio with his busy agenda. He just came to the studio and met the other guys from the band. He just needed 10 minutes to get ready to record the songs [laughs].


When you are touring around the globe, which country makes you warmer and has special reception?

K.F: Latin countries are special, and I think yesterday evening because this was one of the warmest days for be Estonia so it was like a Latin country [laughs].

F.R: In Germany, there is also good atmosphere and it just happens around the streets… When we play people really like our stuff.


What are your new challenges for the future? You recorded your last album last year.

F.R: We are writing new songs so probably in October or in the end of autumn we can start thinking of going to the studio again.


To finish with the interview I want to ask you about the jelly-fish shots that you were talking about yesterday on the stage, really funny story by the way… Did you finally try it?

F.R: Actually we went to the place and we found something better than the jelly-fish. It was the holy-shit [laughs]…

K.F: The holy-shit shot was insane [laughs]… Tallinn is very dangerous because you can get a lot of trouble with the women and alcohol, so I think is not a very well place to live [laughs].