Interview for “Rock’n’Reviews” blog
R’n’R: Your biography is complex. Can you explain it in your own words?
The biography of every human being is complex. Everyone has a story. In a way, we think that our personal story is important. There is a fine line between this importance, being a hero of our own story, and at the same time being “nothing” in this story. This is a paradox of it – juggling self-importance and no importance. I feel this is essential for every man to remember. Because through the individuality, through the biography of an individuality, the divinity explores itself because there is a great reason for being here and have a biography. And at the same time, we are all just dust, anyway.
R’n’R: You moved to Israel at the age of 15. You abandoned playing guitar for 11 years. Why? Did you discover meditation and spiritual experiences during these 11 years?
ET: Yes, I moved to a country called Israel because of different circumstances and it just happened. I did not abandon the guitar; I just had no idea what to do with the guitar at that time. I had to answer life’s call to explore it in a very different way and this was important. So I wouldn’t say that I got into meditation or spiritual practices. I was doing quite the opposite, living the life of destroying myself daily and learning how to survive daily. This side of life was essential for balancing life later with meditation and all kinds of spiritual practices. To know the completeness and richness of life, we need to know both opposites, so at that time it was an essential period of Estas’ life to explore the opposing forces to what we call meditation or spirituality. Although everything is spiritual…
R’n’R: You travel a lot. What did and do you learn of these travels around the world?
ET: From my observation, traveling is not just visiting various countries around the world but traveling means what is happening within an individual. Just like writers, authors, who can sit in their room and travel the world without getting out of it. So that is a great example of how we can travel without physically moving around the Planet. But throughout all these years being on the road, it shaped the sound, it shaped the storytelling, as well as what I am today, through every interaction and meeting. It has been an essential part of my life, the exploration to move around and share but it is also a tool to connect with various cultures and expand oneself, without even acknowledging what is actually happening in a moment, yet seeing that something has changed or opened up or healed or inspired creatively.
R’n’R: Why and how did you decide to reconnect with guitar after all these years?
ET : I have already told this story many times. I decided to follow the call to go to New York City as it was my dream to go there since I was a kid. And just before going there, the tragic events of 9/11 happened. My flight was around the 13th of September, I couldn’t fly but left around the 17th. I arrived in NYC without a guitar, I was not in a state of playing or doing what I do today. Just exploring myself and after 6 months being there and exploring NYC and working with a great photographer, who became like my family member, I received a gift in a form of a guitar and from that moment on this journey began. Or rather continued because it felt I had done it for a very long, beyond time. So, in a way, it was a gift that called for my attention. And that is how we reconnected.
R’n’R: You work like a family with people that you appreciate. Do you think it helps you with the creation of your music?
ET : Since I was a child, I always had a lot of people around me. So, it is just a matter of personality and what we can explore by being open with various people of different cultures. Often I find myself at places where I don’t speak their native language but somehow I always had an ability to „speak“ and communicate, as I feel it is a matter of being open towards a communication beyond words and what our mind understands. And it has been a blessing to share this life with so many incredible beings from all over the place, all over the world throughout these years. Yes, it is quite a huge circle of beings from many cultures, and I feel like it doesn’t really matter, we play music or do something else, create beautiful things all together, it doesn’t matter where we are from
R’n’R: You are influenced by many kinds of music. Is it due to your travels and your meetings around the world?
ET: Since I was a child, it happened that my guitar teacher at that time, my first teacher of the classical guitar, he might have been envisioning my future by introducing the little kid I was, and I am anyway today, into different world dances, Brazilian, Arabic, Jewish, Italian, Spanish, Cuban, Argentinian dancers. Probably he saw something in my personality that had to do something with the world itself. Did he recognize a potential for the future? It is a part of the mystery but it definitely has influenced the sound big time.
R’n’R: What means for you to live « here and now »?
ET : (Laughter) It is kind of a funny question to speak about Here & Now. I would just give an example as lots of people might be philosophizing about it. Let’s say, when Estas gets on stage or on the street and he sits to play, he can observe the reality of himself, he can watch people passing by or sitting in the concert hall. He can see and feel all kinds of things and yet, his focus and presence are given to the expressions, which are taking place, the unfolding of the music. And nothing else exists in that moment. He can feel all kinds of things, watch thoughts coming and going, he can hear somebody coughing or sneezing and yet he is completely in that moment of expression. So probably this would be the best explanation for what Here & Now means for Estas.
R’n’R: Your music seems like a « captured moment ». Does it mean that every track you play today can be played differently tomorrow?
ET: It seems like a captured moment because we see it from the videos on the internet, DVDs or CDs, from recorded material, yes that is a captured moment just like a picture or a photo. But the music is never a photograph, it is always changing. If a musician plays the same as yesterday or tries to play with the same dynamics, the same bpm, speed, tempo, as he played yesterday, it may mean that he does not listen to how he feels today, what the rhythm or dynamics are today, what melody variation is coming today. Because if you try to do everything according to a picture, it is not alive. We can try to do that, but we are just trying to align ourselves with a picture, not with a real moment of now. This moment of now is always changing, the dynamics will always be different from moment to moment. We can warm up and be ready for that tempo of yesterday but the variation, which will come can be true only if it is true to the unfolding moment.
R’n’R: Will you find the opportunity to offer others guitar workshop through your website (or others platforms) as you already did it?
ET: The experiment we did in Austria a few years ago about creating an authentic guitar-playing workshop was not about guitar playing. There was a man, who was very disappointed about this because he came to learn a technique, although from the very beginning we introduced it as not a technique playing experience because I am not a guitar teacher in a usual sense. I can show a few things of course but this is not about trying to become another Estas. For me, music is about being an individual and yet being able to share it with other people. Estas can show a few different forms of playing but what the workshop was about and could be in the future is a truly authentic sound of every individual as we all have a different rhythm, a different melody inside of us. If we are attentive enough, we can observe that there is a certain repetition that comes through us. And belongs to the own uniqueness of every individual. So, if I ever do a guitar-playing workshop, it would still be something like this, more of an authentic feeling and expression, rather than how to hold or play a guitar. This is also fine of course, but this is not my topic in this life.
R’n’R: How do you compose and create your music?
ET: I don’t think about this. I don’t compose music. I let the music to compose through myself. I just take the instrument, sit and play. So today a sound variation would sound like this, the next moment, the variation of the same chords would sound like something else. And this is the purest and the only way I know how to do it. I don’t know any other way. I don’t know how to write notes, I don’t know how to connect things mentally. I can connect things only through feelings, let’s say when one part comes out and another comes around, they connect together, they can dance with each other in harmony, this is how the sound is created. I feel many musicians and authors would say the same thing in different words. It is about a connection and feeling and the harmony of it. Even if it may sound like disharmony sometimes. It is a spontaneous act of expression, always based on a certain knowing that is always changing.
R’n’R: What relationship do you have with your guitars?
ET: Each of them has a name, a story, traveled to different places, each one of them is a tool to express different emotions. Back in the days, I only had one instrument I traveled with, nowadays I have many more. At times I feel it is not fair for the other ones to sit in a closet because a guitar needs to be played so I do my best to connect with each one of them from time to time, although it is not possible as every instrument needs some time to connect with and spend time with and allow that connection to unfold into a beautiful melody.
R’n’R: You offer your music for free on your website and accept donations. Isn’t it dangerous and do you make a living off your music?
ET: I see life as an all-inclusive experience for everyone. And not everyone has a chance to buy things online, not everyone has a credit card as I didn’t have actually for many years, no bank account or Paypal. At that time, I could only live out of my guitar case daily. I could get outside and played and get some appreciation, let’s say, some would buy CDs on the street, some donated and everything was a blessing and still is. So nowadays I see that we can offer music through iTunes, streams, Bandcamp, Youtube, etc. Also, we can offer physical CDs for people to buy, although I still give away a lot of them, it always is a souvenir in my hands. But I see that it is essential to have a portal like a website, where we can offer it for free. So, on our web, it is always donation-based, not the physical CDs, but the tracks to download. This allows many to have this experience if they are searching for it. Not everyone knows this, but yes, it is available for everyone from all over to world to download if they want to. And it doesn’t matter, they can offer something in return or not. And it feels right to do so.
R’n’R: How did you live the lockdown due to the COVID-19?
ET: Before the global retreat started, I had already been on retreat with myself because I needed this time. I spent this time reflecting on my life, creative projects and personal connections, which I shared with many. I kept close with my family online as we could not be close because of the travel restrictions. I took this time to really go deeper inside and look at the repetitions in my life, be honest with myself as well as be creative but really used this time for a self-retreat. I feel this is very beneficial for everyone, regardless of whether it is a global pandemic or not. It is very beneficial for everyone to do so.
R’n’R: Do you feel a special relationship with France? Do you speak French?
ET: I spent quite a long time in Paris and Bretagne, south of France as well. From day one as I landed in Paris, I “knew” Paris. Sometimes you can feel a very strong connection with a place, which might be beyond this life story. I was always coming and going, never lived in France but I spent many seasons there, as it became my most beloved place. Plus, on Montmartre, there is a square to play on the street and I would always go there in between coming and going. All the people I was in contact with spoke English and because of my intense travels, I did not pay attention to learning French, although I adore the French language, I love to hear it, understand some of it but I cannot really speak, because there are priorities. For some it is to learn a language, for me, it is to connect with a place without even understanding the language. So not in this round of life but definitely every time I land on the land called France I feel like I am a part of it and it is a part of my life. And although I rarely visit it now, there is a sort of an ancient connection with it.
R’n’R: What are your plans for the months to come?
ET: Revisiting all the recordings that are in our archives, this is my current process. Bringing some sketches for a potential book, working with some old and new audio, video and text materials in the form of books and short stories. This is my life. So, it doesn’t matter what the plans are, I just live from day to day, doing what my heart sings, what life sings through me and I just follow this path. There are dreams and plans but I am not putting them on the pedestal, I am just walking this path, exploring, creating with others and having a ride on the Planet Earth as long as it takes.
Photo by Giedrius Dagys