Scavengers of music
"We are called the scavengers of music, because we can use everything as an instrument…..in turn we are the ones having the most fun!"
Peter Kragh-Jacobsen on being a percussionist
On Friday the 22nd of November 2002, The Safri Zone had the privilege of meeting up with Peter Kragh Jacobsen, the owner of PJ Percussion, at Slagtoejscentret in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen.
On the tour around his impressive store and work shop, Peter talked about his career and being the supplier of Safri Duo's instruments for the last 20 years:
On the question why he decided on this specific career, Peter Kragh-Jacobsen said, with a smile, that he is "musically maladjusted" coming from a family, where music has a big impact and most everyone masters an instrument.
It was more or less by coincidence, that Peter ended up being a professional constructor and supplier of percussion instruments. Originally he is a carpenter and has an educational degree.
In his spare time he was a drummer in various Danish bands (Delta Blues Band, Grethe Ingemann, Peter Belli etc) He also did friends a favour, repairing their instruments.
Having one of his own instruments returned from repair at Drumstick, he wasn't satisfied and went to the store proclaiming, that he could do the job much better!
It all resulted in Peter getting a part time job at Drumstick while still playing drums during the weekends.
In 1980 Peter teamed up with Ole Randbøll, who was running the percussion store Slagtoejscentret. Ole was in charge of the store and Peter ran PJ Drums and Percussion – the workshop.
When Ole passed away, Peter took over Slagtoejscentret.
Pj Drums and Percussion is unique, due to the fact that they deal in all kinds of percussion instrument and don't limit themselves to only selling drums. They also sell vibraphones, pin chimes etc, which normally are assortments sold by piano stores. Except for stores in Germany, England and France, PJ is the only supplier of such a wide assortment in percussion instruments.
PJ Percussion is the exclusive supplier of instruments to the National Guards in Norway, Sweden and Finland. He is also the primary supplier of carnival instruments and some of the most popular commodities are instruments for sound effects in film and theatre.
Especially around new Year there is an increase in demand from the big Symphony Orchestras in instrumental maintenance.
PJ Drums and Percussion is also a popular place for kindergartens to shop, because they find a wide range of instruments for children.
The use of percussion instruments for therapeutically purposes is in progress, so therapists are also among the customers.
Besides selling instruments, the customers can get repairs done and PJ Percussion also tunes xylophones and all hand played instruments.
PJ Percussion has 14 employees and Peter typically has a 12 hour work day.
Peter's connection to Uffe and Morten goes back further than when Safri Duo was formed at The Royal Danish Conservatory of Music.
Morten was 8 years old, when he got his first xylophone from his parents, of course bought at PJ Percussion.
Uffe and Morten have spent many hours at Peter's, going through every corner of his shop searching for the perfect instruments and sounds. On and off PJ Percussion has almost functioned as their second home. Peter is always there for a helping hand when they phone and need help with their instruments. This sometimes being quite the challenge, when they contact him in the last minute or even from abroad!
Safri Duo has indeed spent a few bucks on instruments at PJ Percussion. Sometimes knowing exactly what they want and other times just stopping by for an impulse buy.
They have recently bought a complete set up for Switzerland (Uffe´s residence, ed)
In total Safri Duo has about 4 set ups.
Uffe and Morten are huge consumers of drum sticks made of Hickory. (-which is also the wood used in the making of handles for spades and shovels).
In Safri Duo, Denmark has gained two international pop stars on drums, something never seen before. Peter likes the classical work by Safri Duo, but also cheers for Uffe and Morten´s success as dance/tribal musicians.
He describes them as being very ambitious and talented and being a passionate percussionist himself, he is thrilled by their success.
–Even though he thinks that having the Xylosynth on stage instead of the marimbas, is cheating, even though he sees the convenience in not bringing two marimbas on tour.
Peter, being a pop/jazz fan himself, has seen two Safri Duo concerts since their crossover and admits it was a grand experience, bringing his kids along.
The scene is dance music and right now this is where Safri Duo is at. Should the scene change, Peter doubts that Uffe and Morten will ever return to classical music exclusively.
It is Peter's belief that had Uffe and Morten not evolved Safri Duo, Morten would probably have moved away from percussion and on to conducting in Germany or London!
Drums have always been very popular, but after Safri Duo's huge success the demand for the drums like the ones included in Uffe and Morten´s set up has escalated; in particular bongos.
Therefore PJ Percussion is planning the creation of a "Safri Package" consisting of a.o Crashers, Bongos, Theatre lightning, Cow Bells and stands. It should be ready within a year and will cost about 3000 Dkr.
Currently it is possible to buy "The Safri Edition" made in Thailand, which includes a.o Bongos, Kizz, Cow Bell, Theatre Lightning, Congas and Bass Drum.
Being a percussionist takes strength and adroitness. There is a lot of maintenance, but on the other hand it looks down right funkylicious!
Music is an international language…one big fusion. What keeps people so interested in music is the constant quest for the perfect sound. Peter describes himself as a "drum idiot" always searching for new sounds.
Even his vacations abroad used to be centered around percussion instruments; for instants he learned tuning vibraphones in Bali.
Now he has managed to separate his job and his spare time, but still keeping percussion very close to his heart.