INTERVIEW with Andrey Chmut – A Ukrainian saxophonist, composer and producer

Andrey Chmut is a Ukrainian saxophonist, composer and producer. Andrey works with Bob James, Julio Iglesias jr, Valery Stepanov, Eric Moore, U-Nam, Jamala, Tina Karol and many other artists.  His song ‘Moving Forward’ from the album “Smoothability”, which was recorded with American jazz pianist and producer Bob James, became a top song on the American radio giant Sirius XM and lasted more than a year in rotation. Andrey Chmut debut album “Smoothability”, which was also released on Skytown Records, was included in the top 10 Ukrainian albums of the year according to the Aprize 2019 award from Radio Aristocrats.

Andrey Chmut has announced that his new single with Kleo, ‘Amor’, will be released this week. The single is written and produced by Andrey Chmut and sang by Kleo, an exclusive single to deliver smell of love and summer dances under the moonlight even by the mid October. Being far from a stranger to their sound, the opening vocals and the poetic presence of the writing instantly calms the soul – it’s comforting here, safe in the hands of a duo who know how to take you somewhere else. In this case, the song has a beautifully uplifting energy – the return of that powerful contrast between bright melodies and lyrics. The tune is great, a call-and-response set-up that lets the words sink in with ease.

Beautiful music, yet again, and deeply moving. Timeless writing, raw presentation – classic qualities that Andrey consistently master. The work of a songwriter extraordinaire, whom you’d be forgiven for considering as one of the professionals of time; hiding under notes of sax for authenticity or a fresh audience. Their mystique online leaves plenty to the imagination, which simply adds further to that intriguing air of possibility.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about how you got started with music, and when it seriously became your profession?

Andrey Chmut: I have been living with music since the very childhood. Music became a profession when I started working in Jamala’s  team and when I already created my own group, and also when pianist Valery Stepanov invited me to take part in his album “New Beginnings

  1. Who were your first and strongest musical influences or mentors?

Andrey Chmut: First of all it was my college music teacher Artem Mendelenko. Musicians – Bob James, Kirk Whalum, Dave Koz, Michael Brecker, David Sanborn. Music – Jazz, Smooth Jazz and Gospel.

  1. Was there a specific recording, performance, or moment that first ignited your interest in jazz?

Andrey Chmut: It was the moment, when I heard one hi class musician who played the saxophone at the music college where I studied.

  1. For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own sound and style?

Andrey Chmut: Too complicated question. My music style was formed by listening to a huge amount of different music. Even if you’re not copying the music phrase, your brain memorizing it and it comes out later in different interpretation anyway.

  1. Do you write a song with current successful musical trends and formulas in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and trust that fans will empathize with your sound and style

Andrey Chmut: Both ways.

  1. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you set time aside daily to compose or is it a natural and spontaneous process that only happens when you’re inspired

Andrey Chmut:  I’m spending some time to this every day and during this process inspiration and ideas appear.

  1. Your debut album “Smoothability” was included in the top 10 Ukrainian albums of 2019. How did that recording, and your collaboration with the legendary Bob James come about?

Andrey Chmut: I’m Bob’s fan from childhood. I always dreamed about Bob played solo in my composition. One day I still dared to write to him, and can you imagine he replied he told that he liked my song and he recorded a solo and an accompaniment. Since then we have been friends and have done several projects together and I hope to release new music very soon. My dream just came true.

  1. Through the years, you’ve worked with a diverse array of musicians in a variety of contexts. Can you talk about one or two artists of any genre, as well as a specific experience, that helped define your playing even more?

Andrey Chmut: It was Bob James and Russian jazz keyboard player Valeriy Stepanov whom I collaborate with.

  1. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in career so far?

Andrey Chmut: human factor, communication and the ability to sell myself as a professional musician.

  1. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in career so far?

Andrey Chmut: It was a recording and mini tour with Bob James, development and recording of two albums with Valeriy Stepanov.

  1. Putting aside the accolades or criticisms that fans or the media may afford your music or performances, what’s the one thing about you, or your music, you think people may overlook or misinterpret most often?

Andrey Chmut:  Stereotypes … saxophone. People usually think about specific style only. Depends of individual music memory the individual has. I look for specific intervals in myself that catches me, then I watch the reaction of the audience and then making corrections after.

  1. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much satisfaction as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different?

Andrey Chmut: Of course it gives back a lot. Last 2 years my dreams comes true – 2 albums and two mini tours. Live performances are the main dialogue btw you as a musician and the public. The more you give, the more you receive.

  1. Is there a separate tradition of jazz in Ukraine that’s emerging as opposed to what is happening in the USA?

Andrey Chmut:  the same as in USA but with some Slav music roots.

14 What is the difference between what you were doing at the very early stages of your career and your working methods now?

Andrey Chmut: at early stages I was just played a lot but now I’m letting other people’s musical thoughts pass through me.

  1. Could you tell us something about your latest project with Kleo, entitled “Amor”, and what the highlights are to watch out for?

Andrey Chmut: why should I watch out for – cool song! 😉

  1. Do you have a personal favorite track amongst those in your catalog that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you on a personal level?

Andrey Chmut: “Moving Forward” – It was a collaboration with Bob James and it was the beginning of my solo career.

  1. Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most, and why?

Andrey Chmut:  interaction with a live audience – feedback, response.

  1. Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?

Andrey Chmut: I love Jesus, I love music.

  1. What performances, recordings, and/or projects are currently on your horizon that fans should know about?

Andrey Chmut:  It will be my third album coming out, couple of video clips and of course my new creative collaboration with Bob James, which in the future everyone will be able to hear.

  1. What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future – in your private life or music career?

Andrey Chmut: I really appreciate the fact that I have a family wife Ksenia and daughter Eliza, they always support me and encourage me. Music for me is an emotion and an association, my dream is for my music to be able to touch many human hearts. And of course I’m grateful for everything Jesus because my music and the doors that open in my life are all from Him!

Connect with Andrey Chmut on INSTAGRAM or at his WEBSITE

Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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