Stan Killian is an amazing musician who I met while living in NYC. We previously worked together and, needless to say, the job we were doing was not at all in line with our purpose and dreams for a fulfilling life. As is the case with many artists, one has to pay the bills while trying to establish one’s true purpose in life. Admittedly, we are both still doing that to a certain extent, but hopefully to a much lesser degree. Stan is still residing in NY and has since left that job behind with a focus on pursuing his true passions. It’s been quite a while since Stan and I have had an opportunity to catch up, so I was curious to see what he’s been up to over the last several years.
The panorama I took of him last year will be exhibited in a group show at Davis Gallery here in Austin this September. This interview is part of a series getting to know the subjects of those images.
SDG: Tell me where you are in your life , with your career, and what is coming up?
SK: In addition to preparing to record my next jazz album, which will be my most ambitious project to date and will include some very big names, I'm currently involved in a seemingly disparate array of activities.
I'm working as a creative adviser for lettrs.com, a communication platform which deals with creating more meaningful correspondence in the digital age. I've also co-founded a company called Dogolog with my best friend Colin McCabe. It's a fun filled Facebook/Foursquare for dogs.
In terms of music, I'm broadening my scope to include other genres. Specifically Brazilian, hip hop, and classical. My brother Dennis Killian is a fantastic hip hop producer based in San Antonio. I've been working with David Shenton who is one of the most astounding classical virtuosos on violin and piano. I've also been brain storming a new Brazilian project with vocalist Alexia Bomtempo and guitarist Jake Owen. By collaborating with musicians from different genres along with my business partners, I can curate experiential events that showcase the music, with a finely tuned organic and sustainable food offering, as well as a start-up showcase. This all goes under the mantle of Beekman 33.
SDG: If you dream big, what would be the best thing that could happen to you? What would your ideal future look like?
SK: I want to tour internationally with my group. Over the past 5 years, I feel my working band at the 55 Bar has developed to such an extent that it's time to take the show on the road.
SDG: Tell me about that development and how going out on the road supports your progress?
SK: Playing music to different audiences in different places feeds the music. It's a chance to have the music become influenced by the scenes and culture of whatever city you're in. Plus, the energy of different people and places creates a vibe that makes it exciting for everyone involved. I have an inner desire to share my music and make folks happy. I especially learned this when I visited Japan for the first time last year.
SDG: What advice would you give to an up and coming jazz musician or artist?
SK: Listen to your heart and to do what you love. Intention is everything.
SDG: Can you share with us any resources, people, books, daily practices, or coping mechanisms that have helped you the most with your life and career?
SK: Yoga and meditation. Practice over tones and long tones. Try to compose something everyday.
SDG: The panorama that I created of you dancing and playing your sax in the street was taken shortly after your father’s funeral last May. Can you tell me how you remember that day, and how you think your father still influences your life and your music?
SK: I have fond memories of that day. It wasn't a sad affair. It was a day where all of the most important in my life came together to honor him and support my family. My father always is a constant influence because he played music for everyday people, not just jazz aficionados. The more I get deeper into the NYC jazz scene the more valuable that idea becomes. I never want to lose the attention and interest of people who just love a good melody.
SDG: What are some of your other influences right now?
SK: I've been listening to a lot of Steely Dan over the past year. David Binney's latest album "Anacapa" as well as various Poncho Sanchez albums. I've been listening to a lot of hip hop and some dub step, artists like Araab Muzik.
SDG: If you could suggest one jazz album to listen to what would it be?
SDG: Thank you Stan. I look forward to seeing you again and hearing you play the next time you come to Austin or I’m in New York. Best of luck with all your endeavors. I have no doubt that you can accomplish everything you set out to do.
Have a listen to Stan's most recent album bellow and head to his website for more information about him and his music and where you can see him play live. www.stankillian.com