Feven Kidane (Greenteeth) on their Album "Beta Test"
Feven Kidane is an Ethio-Canadian woman (she/they) living on land stolen from the Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm nations.
How did you get into playing music? Any defining moments?
My parents had split when I was a toddler, and my father had left his harmonica at my mother's house. I used to go into the closet it was kept in and play it...that's probably the first conscious moment of music I have. There also was a toy keyboard kicking around the house I would fiddle on, so that helped.
Who are your musical influences - either in jazz or other genres?
When it comes to jazz, I love me some Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, and Ahmad Jamal. The way they write is something people should really pay attention to. My favourite band is Stereolab, though (not jazz), and I'm a huge fusion and prog fan as well. Allan Holdsworth and Genesis (pre-Phil-Collins-on-vocals) will always have a special place in my heart.
How does being a multi-instrumentalist impact your music life and creative process?
Being a multi-instrumentalist is both a pro and a con; in many ways, writing comes easier because you have so many voices and feelings to work from, but on the other hand, getting to know instruments intimately teaches you that there are limits to what it's made to do. There are things I've learned do not work on a trumpet that would fit a synth comfortably, for example. Each instrument is its own individual artist.
What was the inspiration behind your album "Beta Test" and what was the process like leading up to its release? Do you have a favourite track from the album?
I think Beta Test came out wanting to make an experimental spin on 8-bit sounds. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a composer for Nintendo because I really loved the kind of music produced for their 80s video games. I think that was a big part of this album, at least tapping into the desire to feel that world out for the first time with my own sounds. I had made the album (minus one song and editing) in two weeks on my partner's laptop while they were in Thailand, so the idea of a "time crunch" really appealed to me. I wanted to see how much I could get out before I had to return it; at the time, I didn't have a functional computer. I didn't put it out until I was able to get a new one last year, and I was really proud of my attempt at making music, so I put it out. In terms of my favorite track, it's probably Mitosis. I've been telling the joke I say at the beginning of the track for almost ten years now.
Is there anything you'd like to say to young people of marginalized identities in jazz?
My words of advice:
- If you are not Black, you are a guest to this music, not entitled to it. Treat it with respect and study its tradition.
- The greatest teachers you could have are the legends on tape.
- Play gigs with musicians of all skill levels.
- Don't go into any situation assuming you will be treated as an equal. Go in prepared to knock their socks off.
Are there any upcoming projects or shows you would like to plug? Where can we find you online?
I have a Bandcamp (greenteeth.bandcamp.com), where I've been starting to release a few things more regularly. Someday I'll get proper social media for my music! I have a show on February 14th through the Toast Collective - that should be announced rather soon!