FIVE QUESTIONS FOR MAX BAILLIE
One of the UK’s top violinists, Max Baillie has performed on some of the finest film soundtracks in recent years, including How To Train Your Dragon, Spectre, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Red Sparrow and many more. As a highly sought after chamber musician and soloist, he has worked with composers such as Steve Reich, Bkjork and John Williams, which has seen him garner recognition for his virtuosic playing and broad range of styles. After recently recording the new Contemporary Soloists: Violin library with Sonixinema, we sat down to have a chat with Max about everything music!
Give us a brief history of Max Baillie and what you do.
MB: My name is Max Baillie and I'm a violinist, and actually as a musician I do a lot of different things. I play classical music which includes contemporary classical music, I write, I collaborate with musicians from different musical and cultural backgrounds, and I love to mix those things up. Two of my own projects involve mixing baroque music with Scandinavian folk music and also classical music with Hungarian and Roma and Viennese cafe house music, basically exploring the links between those different genres. I do a lot of free improvisation as well and jazz based music. I do studio work for film, tv and pop and tour a lot, sometimes leading orchestras, I play in ensembles and play at chamber music festivals, so it's a real range and exciting mix.
Tell us about your upbringing and experiences with the Violin
MB: I began with the violin at aged 5, and I come from a musical family. Growing up, my biggest influence was my family. My Dad is a cellist and he played solo at The Proms six times when I was growing up, and we play together now. I've made records with him and we play a lot of chamber music as a family. I have two older sisters who both play, and they kind of led the way for me, and my mother plays violin as well. I also had many other influences, I was always drawn to other kinds of music, not just classical. I had a lot of cassette tapes that I used to love listening to of all sorts of different genres. I was inspired by a really diverse set of people - the Talking Heads, Bobby McFerrin, Ella Fitzgerald and lots more.
How has your style developed over the years?
MB: As a violinist, one needs to inhabit many different styles, so if anything, over the years i feel that I am better able to dive into one style or another. One thing I really like to do is explore the space where two different styles align. I've slowly improved and my technique gets more refined and that frees me up to really inhabit one particular style and be really fluid with it.
Tell us the story of your violin
MB: I call it mine but actually I'm just a custodian, and I am the guardian of this instrument for as long as I'm lucky to have it. It's been around a long time before me and I'm sure that it will be around long after I'm gone. It's made by a french luthier, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, who's the top or at least one of the top 19th century luthiers. It was made in 1845 and I've had it for 6 years. It was kind of a love at first sight thing - I saw it on a table at an auction house, when I wasn't even looking for a violin, and it was kind of a whirlwind story but eventually I put myself in a lot of debt, had a bit of help and then that's where all of my pounds went for quite a while. I feel very lucky that it sort of belongs to me, but as I said i feel more of a guardian - we're good pals.
What initially attracted you to this project?
MB: I first heard about this project through Danny Keane, who made Contemporary Soloist: Cello library by Sonixinema. Danny is an old friend of mine and we've done a lot of playing over the years together. Anything that he is interested in, I'm also interested in.
For more information about Max, visit www.maxbaillie.com