Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

Greg Zlap interview

December 04, 2020 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 29
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
Greg Zlap interview
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Greg Zlap hails from Poland, where he played along with black market blues records on his one harmonica.
He moved to Paris in his late teens where he discovered the great French harmonica player, JJ Milteau. Greg started up a harmonica school in the city and has released a number of stellar harmonica albums. Always driven to push the harmonica forward, he has added harmonica to genres ranging from jazz, to electro music, to pop, house music and rock, while remaining true to the foundations of the instrument. 
He toured with legendary French musician Johnny Halladav for ten years, playing a harmonica solo in front of the Eiffel Tower in front of 1 million people. 
Greg plans to start touring again in early 2021 to promote his new album, Rock It.

Select the Chapter Markers tab above to select different sections of the podcast (website version only).

Greg's website:

Rock It Album:

Rock It Tour Dates:


Solo piece with Johnny Hallyday:

Klingande: Ready For Love song:

Le Blues du Penitencier song:

Free Soul song:

NHL Festival 2013:

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

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Greg’s Polish origins and challenges in learning the harmonica there
Greg started learning piano age 4, but only played it for two years
Greg’s uncle brought him a harmonica from the US at age 14
First heard Little Walter to inspire him on what the harmonica could sound like
Bought blues harmonica CDs on black market by selling Star Wars toys
Greg was self-taught on harmonica with not much of a music scene in Warsaw
Only had one harmonica at this stage
Uncle bought Greg Don Baker’s harmonica tuition book
Different people want different things from learning the harmonica
Most important in learning music is to listen and internalise what you hear
Greg moved to France in the late 1980s and harmonicas and records were freely available
Discovered JJ Milteau’s albums
Greg saw harmonica for first time in a music venue in Paris
The varied harmonica scene in France and influence of JJ Milteau on Greg’s career
How to overcome the fact that no-one needs a harmonica player
First recording session was playing a jingle with just five notes
Greg places the harmonica as the lead instrument in the band by composing the music
First album in 1997: Ternary Madness
Experimental sounds on the harmonica
Ran a harmonica school in Paris
Greg still runs workshops once a year at an event in Roses, northern Spain
Notable former students of Greg’s harmonica school
Gregtime live album from a concert with harmonica school
La part du diable album, influenced by electro music
Little Walter was modern for his time and Greg tries to emulate that now
Third album, Varsovie, and Greg’s journey to make this mainly jazz based album
Road Movies album, where Greg worked to write an album like a film score
How to make an appealing harmonica instrument album which appeals to non-harmonica fans
Album Air, released in 2011, using “instruments that breathe”
Released two EPs in 2015 and 2017 for radio exposure purposes
Touring with huge French star Johnny Halladay
Playing extended solo on stage with Johnny Halladay’s rock band
How to make a good musical show
Most powerful aspect of diatonic harmonica is in playing the chords
Collaborations with House Music star Klingande
Greg has had a comic strip written about his career
Has four tuition books to his name
10 minute question
Harmonica of choice
Favourite key of diatonic
Greg uses low tuned harps for recording, but not live playing
How Marine Band and Golden Melody harmonicas are tuned makes them suitable for different purposes
Different tunings
Amps and mics
Effects pedals
Tour planned in early 2021 to promote new album, Rock It