Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

Joel Andersson interview

August 05, 2022 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 66
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
Joel Andersson interview
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Joel Andersson joins me on episode 66.

Joel is an Irish harmonica player from Sweden, while also building one of the best reputations in the business for his harmonica customisation skills. 

Joel first fell in love with Irish music on the harmonica when he heard Rick Epping’s playing. He spent time in Ireland with Rick, learning both the music and the art of fine tuning harmonicas.

Joel went on to release a solo harmonica album: The Irish Harmonica, where he simulates the sound of a fiddle and accordion through the use of techniques such as vamping, octaves and drones.

Joel goes on to explain the different levels of service he performs on his custom harmonicas, and how he became a Hohner Affiliated customiser.

Joel’s website:

Joel’s webshop:

Joel’s Irish Harmonica site:

Berlin Harmonica school Irish harmonica course discussed during the episode:

Mikael Backman website:

Sam Hinton:

Joel's upcoming workshops and gigs:

Hohner artist profile:

Hohner Masters Workshop 2019:

Doyle & Andersson:

‘Harmonica Hang’ with Jason Ricci at Harmonica Masters workshop 2022:

Playing with Brendan Power:

Podcast website:

If you want to make a voluntary donation to help support the running costs of the podcast then please use this link (or visit the podcast website link above):

Spotify Playlist:
Also check out the Spotify Playlist, which contains most of the songs discussed in the podcast:

Podcast sponsors:
This podcast is sponsored by SEYDEL harmonicas - visit the oldest harmonica factory in the world at www.seydel1847.com  or on Facebook or Instagram at SEYDEL HARMONICAS
and Blows Me Away Productions: http://www.blowsmeaway.com/

Joel is from Sweden is an Irish harmonica player and a renowned harmonica customiser
Moved to south of Sweden where there is an excellent Irish music scene
Received first harmonica age 2
Started saxophone lessons age 8, but never liked the instrument too much
Started harmonica lessons with Mickael Backman age 12
Heard Rick Epping playing Irish music on the XB40, which really turned Joel onto Irish music
Joel learnt some blues harp before getting into Irish music
No longer plays saxophone, but plays some melodeon and similarities with harmonica
Does a little maintenance work on melodeon too, but mainly on harmonicas
Father had a lot of Irish music for Joel to absorb as a youngster
History of the harmonica in Irish music, which was replaced by melodeon
Hohner had a factory in Ireland around 1960 when harmonicas were popular in Ireland again before it diminished and came back in the 1990s
Why harmonica works so well with Irish music
Doesn’t play much chromatic, but is developing a tuning to play in two keys on chromatic, similar to Brendan Power Irish Session harmonica
Spent time with Rick Epping in Ireland
How much do you need to absorb yourself in Irish music to learn it well
Importance of breathing in playing Irish harmonica, which has very few natural breaks
Released The Irish Harmonica album in 2018, a solo harmonica album
The different harmonicas used on the album
Uses the Easy Third tuning a lot
Layout of Easy Third notes
Paddy Richter tuning
Solo harmonica approach to playing, with lots of vamping, chords, drones, etc. imitating a cross between a fiddle and an accordion
Joel currently plays in two acts: Early House, and Doyle and Andersson
Customisation business: JA Harmonicas
How Joel got started with customisation
Became Hohner Affiliated Customiser in 2017, approved by Joe Filisko
Attended World Harmonica Championships in 2017 where he placed second in the octave and tremolo category (playing an octave harmonica)
Joel’s customisation business is proving very successful
The custom harmonicas Joel sells and repairs carried out
How Joel’s services compare to do-it-yourself maintenance
The different levels of reed work customisation offered by Joel
The ‘myth’ that a harmonica can only be set-up for overblows or for hard playing
Do custom harmonicas last?
The different custom harmonicas available from Joel
Customising chromatics
For non-Hohner models, only performs repairs
Custom combs with different sized chambers for the different octaves
Custom covers, and experimentations with wood
Some of the nice things well known players have said about Joel’s customisation work
Hung out with Jason Ricci at the Crossing Harmonica Masters event in 2022
Joel teaches at harmonica workshops as well as some private teaching
Is about to release a new online teaching platform as part of Harmonica School Berlin, alongside Marko Jovanović
10 minute question
Plays Hohner harmonicas, with his own customisations
Doesn’t use overblows much as not much call for them in Irish music
Uses Beyer M88 mic through PA
Doesn’t use any effects
Upcoming gigs and workshop at Harmonica School Berlin
Plans for a new album