Interview with Mauritz Lotz by Antionette Cronje (Part 1)
Q: Your career as a guitarist, composer, and producer spans nearly 3 decades. Where did it all start?
A: I guess it all happened in a kind of “unassuming way”… At the age of 10, my father brought home an acoustic guitar the one afternoon. I was curious about the instrument and he then showed me how to play some basic chords…My intrigue/curiosity and obsession with the instrument led me to pursue a career in music. For me personally, back then and even now still, music as a whole remains to be a world of wonder which I will continue to explore and learn from…
Q: If you were to take a walk down memory lane, what is the one moment in your career, which stands out from the rest?
A: Wow, it is really challenging for me to single out just one because ’till date there were so many memorable moments in studio + on/off – stage I was fortunate to experience…when I first went to LA in the early 90’s, I met one of my absolute music heroes Trevor Rabin. We spent a whole afternoon in his studio just chatting about music and guitars etc. It was an awesome and inspiring experience for me. I guess part of the reason it somehow stands out is that it was my very 1st trip overseas + it happened shortly after the release of my 1st solo album so; a lot of 1st impressions/new experiences for me back then.
Q: In South Africa, you’re mostly known as a stellar session musician, but in fact you are also the man behind various film and stage productions as a composer and musical director. Please tell us more about your work as composer and musical director and the productions you were involved in.
A: Thanks for the compliment. For most of my musical journey so to speak, I have always felt that I wanted to learn/explore music as a whole. I therefore feel, not just inspired, but also somehow compelled to contribute in different ways musically. As much I enjoy playing the guitar, I see it as only a part of the “bigger picture”, thus indulging in music production, composition, arrangements etc. etc… Writing music to picture is something I have had a passion for a long time. The most recent film I have scored for is a movie entitled “Ordinary people” and I thoroughly enjoyed working on the music. “Handel’s Messiah – An African Renaissance” was a stage musical which I was fortunate to be involved in. quite a few years ago I had to do a “re-work” of it and analyzing that particular score taught and inspired me so much!
Q: You’ve had the opportunity to support international acts, such as The Rolling Stones, Sting, Roberta Flack, “Mr. slow hands” Eric Clapton and Chris de Burgh, to name only a few. What was it like to work with these big name artists?
A: The sizes of the audiences + the energy/vibe at these types of events are quite a rush. It was also sometimes refreshing for me having had the opportunity to meet some of the musos in the band and chat about how they see and experience their musical journey. It certainly puts perspective on a few things as I think we perhaps sometimes tend to easily get caught up in our “immediate” environment on a “functional/survival” level. There are so many things to explore beyond our own borders/parameters and obviously internet and technology has also made this a lot easier and convenient.
Q: According to my research, you’ve worked on more than 1000 local albums as a session guitarist, composer and / or producer. That leaves me with the question, have you ever experienced “writers block” and if so, what advice can you give young song writers and composers to overcome this?
A: Jip, it happens sometimes. Whenever I experience a “lull” in the creative flow, I then try to remind myself that I need to trust that creativity is not something one can always measure or even control for that matter. Without perhaps losing the focus or determination to complete a task or idea, I do however then walk away for a few minutes, sometimes hours or days if I need to and can afford it…and then come back to it with a “fresh mind/perspective”. Sometimes it also just helps me to listen to a piece of music or something completely different in order to force my mind out of what seems like a “rut”… Inspiration and creative flow sometimes can come from different places/experiences and often when one least expects it…I don’t think there is a right or wrong way…whatever works I think..
Q: As an award winning artist and several award nominations behind your name, what qualities must young songwriters cultivate to reach this level of musicianship?
A: Having said that I believe that one can’t really control or measurecreativity, I do however feel that regular practice (even if just “mental rehearsal/visualizing notes”…I seem to do a lot of this by default for some reason…) helps me to stay “aware/in tune” for what ideas may come. For me personally, time management and the discipline to regularly spend time and focus on developing one’s skill/s are imperative. Whether it be in the very late hours of the evening or in my car on a plane somewhere, I always will make and find time to listen to music. I do however tend to listen to a variety of stuff I find inspiring from a writing point andproducing of view as opposed to a lot of guitar driven music.
The second part of the interview will be published on Monday.
Here’s a link to Mauritz’ website: http://www.mauritzlotz.com/