the los angeles-based film director and author ashkan soltani shot a documentary about jandek together with craig matarrese about one of the most mysterious american musicians with a large international cult following. the film provides rare access to the elusive performer and an intimate examination of jandek's creative process. we have the chance to raise a few questions to soltani himself.
- when did you hear for the first time about the musician jandek ?
i first heard about jandek about 4 years ago when he performed at minnesota state university, mankato where i was teaching at the time. i did not know who jandek was prior to that.
- who is craig mataresse and how did you meet him ?
craig is the co-producer of this documentary also a former colleague at msu where i used to teach. he is also a superb bass player and jandek’s representatives had approached him earlier about playing bass at mankato show.
- what was your main inspiration to make the film ?
i would say it all happened very organic. craig and i discussed the possibility of filming the concert but we were not sure whether jandek would agree with that, knowing his history and the fact that he never appeared in any films or tv interviews before. however, to our surprise, he graciously gave us permission to document the rehearsal and his interaction with other musicians as well as the entire mankato concert. i think it was a mutually pleasant experience for all of us and as a result of that we pitched the idea of producing a documentary to jandek and the rest is history.
- jandek was interviewed the first time back in 2013 by david keenen for the wire.
you were there to film everything. how did that happen ?
yes! we were in minneapolis documenting the rehearsal and the concert. that was a year after our first filming session with jandek in mankato. we were working with him between those concerts including several days of extensive filming in houston, texas.
- what have been your personal highlight during the shooting ?
we had a wonderful time working with jandek. we had the opportunity to spend many hours discussing music, philosophy, etc with him. some of those moments are documented in i know you well. in general, the whole experience was very unique and pleasant as you may imagine.
- after chad freidrichs „jandek on corwood“ you are not the only filmmaker which set the focus on the musician. what is your personal opinion about that movie ?
it is a very interesting film but rather irrelevant to post-2007 jandek. in 2001, when that film came out, jandek did not perform live. jandek started to perform live since 2007. one other obvious difference is also the fact that jandek himself is in the film instead of people talking about him. in other words, "i know you well" focuses mainly on jandek as an extraordinary performer instead of commenting on his music.
- who is jandek? can you say that you know him well after finishing the movie ?
he is an unique american musician and performer. we hope more people learn about him and his distinct approach towards the music. we tried our best to capture that and make our film appealing to general audience as well as to his fans.
- is jandek we know completely demystified ?
not at all! jandek as a musician/performer is constantly evolving and i believe that this is what makes his projects refreshing and demanding. we did not want to demystify anything nor did we care about trivial information. that is not the point in i know you well.
- what are your future plans ?
i am currently producing two feature-length music documentaries that are in different stages of production. one is a documentary about the counterculture music scene in bulgaria in the past 50 years and the other project deals with the native american heavy metal and hip hop scene on the reservations.
- links: where to buy, watch etc ?
we have received many inquiries about releasing the film. we have finalized the distribution through two video on demand streaming providers and everything is ready to go. at this point we are waiting to hear back from the very last batch of film festivals in the short coming weeks. we can not release the film prior to the festivals otherwise the film will be disqualified. meanwhile please follow us on our facebook and twitter page for update. we are very confidents about releasing film in early summer.