In the enchanting city of Cork, Ireland, a musical revolution is underway, spearheaded by the innovative musician Jason Turk. Fueled by an insatiable passion for traditional Irish music and a relentless desire to push boundaries and experiment with the new, Jason has embarked on a groundbreaking journey that seamlessly merges centuries-old melodies with cutting-edge technology. Through his mastery of the Seaboard RISE 2, he is captivating audiences far more used to seeing instruments like the piano accordion or Uilleann pipes — the Irish bagpipe — on stage than a MIDI controller.
Watch the first episode of 'ROLI Meets' below, and witness how Jason's electrifying performances reshape the perception of Irish music for a new generation.
Meet Jason Turk
Jason's journey into traditional music began in a family that cherished Irish music. Traveling across England and Scotland in a campervan, his family was drawn to settle in Cork, Ireland, by the allure of Irish music. The piano accordion became his main instrument, seamlessly blending his love for the piano with the rich heritage of Irish music. Seeking new ways to express himself, Jason integrated his passion for electronics into his music, from building his own optical MIDI analyzer for his accordion's bass to adding synth sounds in bands. Then, he discovered the Seaboard RISE 2.
Cork, Ireland, serves as a vibrant hub for traditional Irish music, immersed in a rich cultural heritage that resonates with captivating melodies from the past. Traditional Irish music, characterized by lively jigs, reels, and haunting ballads. The legendary sessions, held in pubs and intimate venues, offer musicians from various backgrounds and skill levels a unique opportunity to come together in a spirit of collaboration and camaraderie. Each musician contributes their unique voice, weaving a tapestry of melodies that evoke a profound sense of community and belonging.
Harnessing the Seaboard RISE 2
RISE 2 has become an integral part of Jason's musical arsenal. This innovative instrument opens up a world of possibilities for expression, infusing his performances with unique nuances. Its sleek design and portability offer a refreshing change from traditional bulky keyboards, allowing Jason to seamlessly blend in with fellow musicians during sessions without disrupting the musical flow.
"I feel it's like it's an instrument that should be played in a real life setting rather than just doing a little bit of noodling for something that you're producing," he tells us. "I've been able to use it right from the start to play for 3 hours for a gig and play 50 tunes on it, play 10,000 notes, just to be able to do that and to treat it and expect it to be a real instrument and to be able to perform like that. So, I think it sat better probably in the Trad music circle than I expected."
MPE and expression in music
Jason emphasizes the importance of expression in Irish music: “The unusual thing about Irish music, in comparison to a lot of genres, is that it's entirely aural — you learn by ear. Once you've got that skill, you’re able to translate something that's in your head onto the keyboard.” With RISE 2, he can incorporate expressive techniques like vibrato and sliding thanks to MPE, reminiscent of traditional Irish instruments, like the violin.
Exploring sounds and customization
Equator2 boasts an extensive library of meticulously sampled sounds from real instruments. Jason discovered the versatility of the Rhodes sample, finding it well-suited for Irish music due to its organic quality that enables him to experiment with different textures and tones, perfect for his evocative performances. Additionally, customizable features like the RISE 2's Touch Faders which enable players to assign custom parameters, allow Jason to adapt the sound to suit the unique requirements of Irish music.
Embracing tradition with modern technology
While deeply rooted in heritage, traditional Irish music leaves room for innovation and experimentation. Jason acknowledges: “There's a lot of young people now playing Irish music. They're actually interested in doing the pure traditional Irish music, which is brilliant that they're preserving the tradition as well as obviously doing new, cool things.”
Jason actively seeks collaborations with fellow musicians within the Irish music scene and beyond. He believes that collaborating with artists from different genres and backgrounds brings a fresh perspective to his music, leading to exciting creative endeavors. Jason's future plans include composing original music that blends traditional Irish melodies with modern elements, incorporating Seaboard RISE 2 as a central instrument. Make sure to subscribe to his Youtube channel to see a new episode and a new collaborator each Sunday.
Jason's dedication for traditional Irish music and his embrace of modern technology exemplify the passionate landscape of music in Cork, Ireland. With Seaboard RISE 2, he seamlessly merges the expressive qualities of traditional Irish sounds with the versatility and innovation of contemporary technology. Through collaborations and his own compositions, Jason aims to further enrich the Irish music scene, captivating audiences with his unique blend of history and modernity.