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Kielan Sheard @JazznewbloodALIVE2021 @EFGLJF @WoolwichWorks

Our interview series continues with bassist Kielan Sheard who will be performing on Nov.20

on part I of our showcase #Jazznewbloodalive2021.

How did you start your relationship with music and with your instrument.

I started as a musician pretty early actually! I started playing the piano when I was 5, inspired by this tiny little red toy piano my uncle got my sister for her third birthday. My parents saw I was obsessed with this piano and got me some lessons. As for the double bass, I started that when I was 9 through school. I was taught jazz by some amazing people at secondary school from the age of 13 - I found this to be my passion and here we are today!

You started out with Classic music but choose the Jazz route. Why?

I chose the jazz route because I felt much more able to express myself in a genuine manner. I also preferred the sound of Jazz growing up. I heard my school big band play when I was nine and that aligned the proverbial crosshairs for me - I wanted that bass seat! My school’s big band and the incredible level of jazz education offered to me during secondary school was a massive factor in setting me down the Jazz path. That being said - I still love and appreciate classical music!

You were a Finalist of BBC ‘Young Jazz Musician of the Year in 2020, how was that experience and did it impact your professional life in any way? Is it something you would advise other young musicians?

BBC Young Jazz Musician was a really incredible experience for me. The lead up to it was hectic as I’d only been at Trinity for a few weeks when I got the news that I’d made it through to the Finals. Balancing everything in that first term was a good challenge! The Final itself was fun - it was strange to play to an almost empty Cadogen Hall but Nikki and Mark were still more than able to bring a tonne of vibe to the room. Being a BBC YJM Finalist is definitely a useful tool in the arsenal for professional life - it’s definitely helped me get work as a bandleader. I would definitely advise other young musicians to apply for the 2022 competition - you’ve got nothing to lose and you get some good feedback about your playing at every stage of the competition.

You are currently studying at Trinity Laban, are you enjoying it?

I’m enjoying my time at Trinity for a multitude of reasons. One is the very high level of tuition from some of the best musicians on our U.K. Jazz scene. Two is the friendships and professional connections I’ve made since arriving here. Three is the incredible community here - the jazz course at Trinity is like one big family. I think coming to Conservatoire is great for the reasons listed above and more, but it isn’t for everyone. I have plenty of friends who aren’t in a higher education setting for jazz or music in general and are doing very well for themselves. It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, if in doubt speak to people who have experienced one or the other and figure out what’ll work for you.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Currently I’m listening to Giant Steps by Coltrane. I’ve been in a three-month-long obsessive practice of Giant Steps and Countdown - I think the best way to learn and play Coltrane’s music is to totally immerse yourself with it. I’ve also been listening to Pablo Honey by Radiohead, specifically the first track ‘You’. It’s got some really cool odd time stuff in it, and it’s an excellent example meshing odd time and simple melodies to create a very successful piece of music. I’ve also been re-immersing myself in ‘Etudes’ by Charlie Haden with Motian and Gerri Allen. What an album!

Any plans of releasing new music soon?

Yes! Nothing concrete quite yet, but I’d love to record and release a few songs with the trio over the next year or two. I’ve got a tonne of music that has amassed over the last four years, and would absolutely love to release some of it. I’ve learned over the last year that there’s no point in rushing these things.

Who is accompanying you on Nov.20?

I’ll be accompanied by the wonderful Tom O’Brien and Jonah Evans. I use the word ‘accompanied’ lightly - the three of us work together to create melodies and worlds of sound.

I’ve known Tom since starting Trinity and have spent countless hours playing with him. He’s pretty damn special, as I’m sure you’ll hear on the showcase. He’s one of my best friends and is a truly amazing human.

I met Jonah through Tom, the two of them have been friends for a long time as they both originate from Leeds! Jonah is an incredibly sensitive and melodic drummer, and it’s a pleasure to share the stage with him.

Kielan Sheard : Instagram


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