Interview with Gerard Pape

For more, read here.
1. Which was the first sound you heard?
Sounds of New York City, screeching subways, cars blowing their horns…sounds of people screaming or yelling or cheering, machines in my father’s gear factory.
2. When did you begin to explore and play/compose music?
I was re-composing the piano pieces my teachers gave me to play all the time starting at 8 years of age, especially liking to play with time. I was accused of being unable to hold a steady beat because I was always stretching or compressing time according to how I felt the music in my body. I first started to write down my own music at the age of 21.
3. What will you remember the most from your cooperation & friendship with Xenakis?
His emphasis that music must be very free today, that each composer must follow their own path, that music is cold fire and that composing is an ek-stasis.
4. Which work of yours do you think it’s the best or represents well all your work?
There is no work which represents well all. But I would say that Heliophonie represents best my electronic work and for acoustical music my contrabass piece, 3 Quantic Etudes.
5. What would you do if capitalism and money stopped existing?
I would rejoice.
6. Do you believe that microtonality is necessary for musicians and listeners anymore?
I compose in the continuum of sound which is multidimensional: microtonal, microdynamical, microtimbral, microspatial, microtemporal, microformal, mesoformal and macroformal… In brief, the sound itself in continuous transformations as a topologically shape shifting object in space-time.
7. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental? 
It can be if people, like Cecil Taylor, for example , practice it many hours a day. Then, it can be truly free. We must first free ourselves from cliché and laziness to « freely improvise as no doubt Bach and Messiaen did on the organ.
8. What’s your opinion about John Cage?
I met John Cage and spent several days with him in 1987 organizing a 75th birthday celebration of 3 concerts of his works. He was extremely intelligent, laughing often, but when it came to food and music very disciplined. He ate only macrobiotic food, composed all the time except when rehearsing. He despised musicians that didn’t practice enough, fàkers who tried to get by by sight reading. He said of them: «They didn’t make it beautiful.»
9. Tell me some of your fav artists (from all arts) & philosophers.
Heidegger, Lacan, Freud, Artaud, Holderlin, Nerval, Hantai, Munch, Stockhausen, Cecil Taylor, Quentin Meillassoux, Xenakis, George Cacioppo, Scelsi, Nono, Scriabine, Heraclitus, Meister Eckhart, Beckett…
10. What’s your main goal in your art/life?
To compose my cycle of music theater pieces SUNSET TIME which will take at least 20 years…
11. What advice do you want to give to young/new musicians and listeners?
Be free but work hard and seriously. Be honest and sincere, never lie to yourself or to others. Serve Music not your own ego. Leave money and success to those who need it.
12. End this interview however you want. 
Thank you very much for your questions !

Interview with Alexis Porfiriadis

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

The sound of a violin played by someone near our holiday resort when I was 7. The next day I said to my parents that I want to learn how to play the violin (I never did in fact, instead I learned to play the piano but this is a different story).

2. When did you begin to explore and play/compose music?

I started playing the piano when I was nearly eight years old. I composed many songs using the guitar or the piano when I was in high school. I completed my first composition for piano and flute when I was 21.

3. Which work of yours do you think it’s the best or represents well all your work?

I would say that there are three different periods of my compositional style. These periods present different styles of composing and for that reason I cannot say that there is a composition that represents all of my work. Also, I could never choose a composition as ‘the best’ of my work list.

4. What would you do if capitalism and money stopped existing?

Leave Athens. Go to a smaller place. Join the community. Join the barter economy and teach music for other goods. Or become a farmer. Or both.

5. Do you believe that microtonality is necessary for musicians and listeners anymore?

In my opinion the main thing is to make scores that everybody, regardless of their music background, can play and this will eventually produce an interesting and unconventional result. During the performance of such a score one may use microtonality, any kind of scales, no scales, isolated tones or noises, conventional tuning or any other kind of tuning, conventional instruments or any other kind of instruments, etc.

6. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?

Certainly. To begin with, It is the only kind of music where everybody is welcome to join. Moreover, no leaders are required. Finally, it is an activity with major political implications. As Christopher Small says:

Once people become aware that music is in themselves and not only in those who have been selected to become musicians, […], who knows what else they might insist on reclaiming, and enjoying, of what has been taken from them? (Small cited in Stevens et al. 1985)

7. What’s your opinion about John Cage?

I will quote Morton Feldman: ‘He gave us permission’. That explains everything.

8. Tell me some of your fav artists (from all arts) & philosophers.

Well there are too many to mention here. I could give you some names that played an important role in my musical as well as political formation:

Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton von Webern

Krzysztof Penderecki and Witold Lutoslawsky

Olivier Messiaen – Luigi Nono – Gyorgy Ligeti

Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen

Gerd Kühr, Beat Furrer and Alexander Stankovsky

Helmut Lachenmann

John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, David Tudor and Christian Wolff

Derek Bailey, Cornelius Cardew, Eddie Prevost

Manos Hadjidakis, Pavlos Sidiropoulos, Manos Loizos, Trypes, Jimis Panousis, Nikos Papazoglou – The Beatles, Cowboy Junkies, Tindersticks

Karl Marx, Pyotr Kropotkin, Alexander Berkman, Errico Malatesta, Mikhail Bakounin, Katerina Gogou, Noam Chomsky

9. What’s your main goal in your art/life?

Being happy. Creating and being a member of communities. Working for and with these communities. Remaining curious and innovative until the end.

10. What advice do you want to give to young/new musicians and listeners?

Try being happy. Create communities. Work for and with them. Remain curious and innovative until the end.

11. End this interview however you want.

Close your eyes.

Hear the world around you.

Hum a favourite melody of yours.

Stop and hear the world around you.

Heal your wounds.

Take your time.

Open your eyes.

Have a nice day.

[for Yorgos Miskedakis by Alexis Porfiriadis, 2018]

Interview with Costis Drygianakis

For more, click here & here.

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

Really can’t tell. But my mother used to tell me that, when she was pregnant, my father played records with Cretan folk songs and the embryo (that was me) moved like dancing in her belly. In fact, I had access to the record player since a very young age, so I grew up not generally with music, but literally with records.

2. Had you tried to play/compose music before the age of 10?
Yes, I did on an ordinary basis. With all the means that were available – household junk rather than instruments. Of course, most people around were not very happy with the result. I remember also planning LP’s; writing track lists, designing covers etc. At 11 I got a cassette recorder as a gift, so since that time I started trying to record my music. Some of these recordings survive till today.

3. Which work/album of yours do you think it’s the best or represents well all your work? 
Difficult question. I would just say that I think there is a dividing line between my early and mature works, which lies somewhere in 1997 or so.

4. What would you do if capitalism and money stopped existing? 
I guess that most of us would become food gatherers, or, at the best, farmers.

5. Do you believe that microtonality is necessary for musicians and listeners anymore? 
Why “anymore”? It never was. Microtonality is a mathematical construction, which was never applied in musical practice till the last decades (with the advent of electronic instruments); research has proven that untempered intervals are a matter of mood rather than accurate calculation (and in fact, theoretical values never coincide with musical praxis). See for example related observations: Karl L. Signell, Makam: Modal Practice in Turkish Art Music, Da Capo Press, NY 1986, pp. 37-38, 153-159; Walter Kaufmann, The Ragas of North India, Indiana University Press, IN 1968, p. 10.

6. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?
For sure, improvisation is fundamental. Improvisation actually implies knowledge deeply digested, so deeply that finally behaves as instinct. All styles of music include some kind of improvisation, even if it’s not obvious. But is there really any special kind of “free” improvisation, opposed to some other, more “bound” or “committed” improvisation? I would really want to doubt it. The so-called “free improvisation”, as it come to our knowledge through the iconoclast movements of the 1960’s, finally became clear that it has its own rules and limitations.

7. What’s your opinion about John Cage? 
I would start by mentioning that his compositional work is frequently treated poorly by performers, who are reluctant to approach musical performance as a kind of adventure. In addition to this, we read Cage’s texts with more ease than listening to his music, and of course his writings are both enlightening and inspiring but frequently they distract our attention from his music, being much easier to grasp. This way, Cage becomes more of a thinker than of a composer, and for his music, this is somehow a pity. On the other hand, we must admit that Cage represents one of the most interesting efforts of the Western intellect to re-approach Eastern philosophies, to surpass its own self-sufficiency etc. Breaking the dichotomies between art and life is just a part of this process.

8. Tell me some of your fav artists (from all arts) & philosophers. 
Regarding the artists that influenced me, I would like to start with Robert Rauschenberg (which was a rather late influence, but crucial). Then I would add Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, Jani Christou and Iannis Xenakis, Anton Webern, Einstuerzende Neubauten; in terms of not only listening but also of reading, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno were a great find in the early 1980’s. Texts by Laozi and Zhuangzi, which I discovered one decade later, were also crucial. I feel I am somehow bound with the music of Tangerine Dream from the 1970’s, as well as with the one of Dionyssis Savvopoulos and of Mikis Theodorakis from the same era. I also love many “anonymous” folk artists, while I can’t find any immediate influence of them on my own work. Among the people of my closer surroundings, I should mention Thanassis Chondros and Alexandra Katsiani, Sakis Papadimitriou and, later, Nikos Veliotis, mainly for infusing to me confidence that goals which seem distant can finally be achieved through dedication and persistence.

9. What’s your main goal in your art/life?
I like making “good” music, whatever it may means. It seems that I define “good” music as the one that keeps being interesting through many consequent approaches. Is it a goal to devote your life to? I guess it is life that chooses, not us.

10. What advice do you want to give to young/new musicians and listeners?
I think they should avoid getting advices or, at least, they must be very careful when choosing the people they ask advice from.

11. End this interview however you want. 
As we talked about Cage, I will quote one of his stories (included in Indeterminacy). One of Suzuki’s books ends with the poetic text of a Japanese monk, describing his attainment of enlightenment. The final poem says, “Now that I’m enlightened, I’m just as miserable as ever.”

Interview with Johannes Bergmark

1. Which was the first sound you heard?
Interesting question! To answer honestly, I can only try to recall the first sound I remember, and the easiest to date is the time my family lived in Rome in 1969, when I was 5 years old. I can remember two things, distinctly:
– The sound of the tenant banging on the door trying to force himself into the apartment we rented: there was a conflict with him when my parents discovered he was overcharging and that we were in fact renting second-hand from him while he pretended to be the owner.
– The communist songs that a worker on strike was singing with the children at the occupied factory Apollon, which we visited and my mother probably did a documentary about. He was walking backwards as he “conducted” us and he hit a parked car. All the children laughed.
Being early memories, these might have been reconstructed in one way or another by my brain since then.
2. When did you begin to play/compose and explore music?
I took piano lessons from the age of 8, and always had one classical piece along with a jazz tune. Both styles influenced me as I began to compose songs in secret, when noone listened. Later, I formed a “band” with childhood friends and my sister. But my interest took off much more in the age of 15, when I discovered jazzrock (which most people considered outdated in the beginning of the 80ies). Then I listened through my friends’ record collections and radio programs with all kinds of music. I went to contemporary music concerts with orchestras as well as electronic music, began courses in improvisation and ensemble playing as well as at the Electronic Music Studio EMS. I tried unsuccessfully to form a jazzrock band. Then, after having discovered surrealism in 1985, I decided to only play free improvised music. But I also compose “electronic” (or now called “fixed-media”) music, text sound compositions and sound poetry as well as musical performance pieces. I consider the instruments I invent a form of compositions.
3. Which work of yours do you think it’s the best or represents well all your work?
I used to say I have one masterpiece: the “Saw Octet” (or Nonet if I join live), and one “great work”, the sound poetry performance piece “L’ultima spiaggia”. However none is “representative”. As I said, I consider my musical instruments compositions in a sense. The “Platforms” is a hybrid evolutionary instrument somewhere between an amplified stage and an extended microphone for amplified sound objects, and it might sum up my poetical and haptic approach. The “Stringed Stirrups” might be my most long-standing instrument for “musical performance art” – it includes my body into the instrument and is somewhere between a magical ritual and an acrobatic musical performance (I am playing on a sort of vertical tightrope, hanging in two piano strings). Sometimes I think my best piece is the sound installation “An Acoustic Study Of The Wind”, performed only twice. It’s just a long amplified string played by the wind and incredibly beautiful and interesting.
4. What would you do if capitalism and money stopped existing?
Enjoy! Play, love. Go for beauty, excitement and adventure.
5. Do you believe that microtonality is necessary for musicians and listeners anymore?
It’s never or always necessary. I’ve never really understood the fascination for different versions of so called “just intonation” or different scales, that sometimes go under the heading “microtonal”. That’s just tools for different kinds of harmonic or melodic principles belonging to, or suitable for, different musical styles. It’s good with curiosity beyond the usual habits, but I don’t see the reason to promote one before the other. I’m also a piano tuner so in that work I most of the time adapt to the standard equal temperament, which was developed as a solution to make harmonic modulation work equally well in all scales. Only once I did a “historic” tuning, which was fun. “Microtonality” seems to mean anything that deviates from equal temperament, especially smaller steps than 100 cents (a half tone in equal temperament). Why not, sure? “Microtonal” or not, I have developed a non-equal, non-harmonic tuning system for the piano which I tuned my piano in long ago. I’d like to develop it further and invite improvising pianists to use it whenever possible.
6. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?
Yes, very much so. For many reasons, and in many ways.
– Improvisation is the origin of everything: of any composition, of genres, of interpretation.
– It’s also fundamental in the sense that it’s the first move of the spirit to learn, create, act, to relate.
– It’s the crossroads between body and spirit, between intuition, idea and action.
In another, digitally unpublished, interview (by Knut Remond at ‘ohrenhoch, der Geräuschladen’ (The Noise Shop), Berlin, with Eliad Wagner and me, August 2013), I was asked the question “How would you define improvisation?” and I replied, among other things a paragraph that might apply here too:
“I’d like to define improvisation (for myself) in utopian and poetic terms: it’s an attempt at opening a window and actually also, for a limited time and space, live another, liberated life and beauty. With much more freedom and beauty than you can achieve otherwise in “real” life. It’s also important to point out that this IS also a small portion of real life, it’s real and an image at the same time, and in this sense it has a revolutionary potential, it’s an open invitation.”
7. What’s your opinion about John Cage?
I think he’s overestimated as a composer and as a philosopher, although I don’t deny his big influence on experimental music and the way to talk about it. He was too afraid of improvising, which is because he was suspicious of any passion – maybe because he thought it only leads to a limited subjective perspective. It’s strange to me to see music as something divorced from human desires as he wanted to do. I think he might have been slightly dishonest: his desires shine through anyway; and he allowed some improvisation with people he trusted (like David Tudor) although he pretended not to. Some of his compositions are really boring but some are fun, like the prepared piano pieces. I have been interested in the concept of absence, like him, but I think of it more like a vacuum cleaner for attraction rather than as a lobotomizer of subjectivity. I also think his friend Marcel Duchamp had a more interesting relationship to chance than him, because he recognized desire as a factor of poetic experience (“your chance is not the same as mine”).
8. Tell me some of your fav artists (from all arts) & philosophers.
In the same mentioned interview, I was asked two similar questions. The first one: “What are your influences?” and I replied:
“I wish to reply like Sun Ra: the sun, the planets, the plants, animals and everything in nature. But I’m also inspired by machines, wind, touch, generous, humorous, challenging people and those who don’t fit anywhere. For my music, in my pre-improvised period Chick Corea and other jazz-rock people, Frank Zappa, Samla Mammas Manna, reggae and Hans Werner Henze were important. My decision around 1985 to only improvise coincided with my discovery of surrealism. Cecil Taylor became a very important influence both musically and theoretically. On a personal level, my meeting with Hal Rammel in 1987, at the time a member of the surrealist group in Chicago, inspired me in many ways: to start playing the saw and to build and invent musical instruments. On the same trip it was also fantastic to meet and play with LaDonna Smith and Davey Williams in Alabama. Later, meeting and playing with Hugh Davies, Jon Rose, Gino Robair, Martin Klapper, Adam Bohman and Hugh Metcalf has been very important and inspiring. On a daily basis, the history and environment around Fylkingen and Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm has become like a second home, as it was for Ilmar Laaban, the sound poet that joined the surrealist group in his late years. His poetry and the ones by Gösta Kriland, Öyvind Fahlström and Lars-Gunnar Bodin have been important for my interest in sound poetry and text-sound composition.”
The other one was “What are your favourite books, music, films, paintings, animals, tv-shows, chocolate?” and the reply was:
OK, one each: book: Lautréamont: Songs of Maldoror; music: Frank Zappa: The Adventures of Greggery Peccary; film: Alfred Hitchcock: Rebecca; painting: Jackson Pollock: White Light; animal: donkey; tv-show: Ren and Stimpy, chocolate: orange crisp!”
For philosophers, I could reply: Karl Marx, Leo Trotsky, Herbert Marcuse, André Breton, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger…
9. What’s your main goal in your art/life?
Beauty, poetry, excitement, adventure, challenge, risk, surprise, inspiration, curiosity, liberation, knowledge, vertigo, confusion, humor, excitement, love, joy.
10. What advice do you want to give to young/new musicians and listeners?
Don’t care about career, don’t compete, be generous, be inspired, collaborate. Enjoy and share. Remember that money or fame has nothing to do with what is really important. Art is only a window to another possible world, it’s not the meaning of life or actually a meaningful entity in this life. Don’t care about what is art or not. Ask if it has poetic beauty, if it’s interesting or exciting, whatever it is called or not.
11. End this interview however you want.

Interview with Yorgos Holopoulos

Yorgos is my friend and the main member of this blog. Consider this interview his 1st contribution. Check this & this.

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

First thing I remember hearing is me crying after I have just woken up from a horrific nightmare. This used to be a recurring event.

2. When did you begin to play/compose and explore music?
I officially began playing the keyboard when I was 3,5 years  old, but the thing that always interested me the most when I was a child was listening to songs using any medium, and that started earlier. My first creative exploration was making “remixes” of radio hits using a dual cassette recorder, cutting and re-assembling things, on-the-grid. That was in elementary school. I also remember writing a song for a faux-school band that never existed.
3. Would you prefer to be a scientist instead of musician?
I would prefer being occupied with whatever can make me reach maximum calmness, while providing the community around me with the maximum calmness at the same time, no matter what that is. 
4. What would you do if capitalism and money stopped existing?
Many, many things we are using now wouldn’t exist the same way if capitalism and money stopped existing, so…that would probably be for the best. Existing is dangerous, either way. But, yeah, seriously, the absence of capitalism wouldn’t be enough. What would be enough is good education, balanced and healthy sense of self, strong communities and critical re-evaluation of our place in all the interconnected systems that we live in.
5. Do you believe that microtonality is necessary for musicians and listeners anymore?  
Only if our minds are also microtonally tuned and open to the absence of tuning, just as well. And, of course, only if we apply this flexibility and openness to our work. Exclusively using microtonal systems doesn’t mean anything to me, if the work itself is an application of the same formalisms and the same old mindset. I do believe all tunings and no fixed tuning are of great importance, though. We need to be able to see the microcosm and the macrocosm of sound and chaos, and the patterns we use to navigate through them all.
6. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?  
Yes, it’s the most direct way to reach said openness and flexibility. But there is always the danger of becoming stale and formulaic. Open critical thinking and having pure motives for doing what you do is the secret. Freedom, love and critical thought should be the foundations of any educational system. Let the world learn how to imagine and improvise.
7. What’s your opinion about John Cage?
He made the first huge, recognizable step, following big, unfortunately less recognizable steps, towards a direction that’s far from everything I would want music and art to avoid. Of course, his collaborators and “students” improved on his stance quite a bit, as far as control and freedom goes. But he was quite intelligent as to detect and fight against the ego problem, without solving the ego paradox, which is…ego is always there, no matter what we do, unless we do absolutely nothing and let noone know of it. The thing is that without him, I really have no idea what I would be doing now. I know others would have showed us the way instead (and maybe there are some who we don’t know about), but, in this universe, *he* did, and it’s him we know about, so yeah, he is and will keep being essential.

8. Tell me some of your fav artists (from all arts) & philosophers. 

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tujiko Noriko, the Wachowski Sisters, Sono Sion, Edward Yang, Haco, Homelife, Chakra, Thomas Tilly, Marginal Consort, Towa Tei, Bic Runga, David Sylvian.++ I am in no way listing my favourites here, just writing those that come to mind when I think of impressions and memories that have shaped me. And I don’t have a favourite philosopher, because I am not that much of an avid reader, but I would say that I have liked reading about Deleuze/Guattari and Foucault. I also like reading speculative realist stuff.

9. What’s your main goal in your art/life? 
Oops, I think I answered to this with my answer to the 3rd question.
10. What advice do you want to give to young/new musicians and listeners? 
Don’t listen to me, read, see, hear, engage in stuff more than I do and you’ll be fine. But I will say here what I wanted to add regarding to art in my previous answer. The situation in art is that it is a cemetery and we are the vultures right now. We should try to keep reminding ourselves that we are only feeding off each other, since art can’t die. So let’s do good, instead.
11. End this interview however you want.
At least, let’s not make it worse. Generally. And, really, thank you for the opportunity you gave me to share my thoughts. You know I greatly appreciate your presence online and what you do when it comes to music and art. And of course, thank you for being such a good friend.

Interview with Elk Minister

Check his music here.

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

The roaring tide of the elementary universe in G#. Before I was here, there existed a long sustain- perhaps a G#, that tunneled it’s way through the universe. When my mother gave birth to me, the G# naturally raised to an A. This shift in The Harmony of The Spheres represented the ‘ti’ going to ‘do.’ Everything from now on out will be a perfect cadence,

2. When did you begin playing and exploring music?

My Uncle Radcliffe had showed me some rudimentary rhtyhm with two silver spoons that I found behind a local dumpster. For my first 5 years as a musician all I had were my spoons, a bugle, and a purple carrot which was tuned to a 13 note equal tempered scale. My music has always been drawn from the natural and physical sciences, and the ideas vary from piece to piece. My Great Aunt Coleslaw was a brilliant composer and artist who taught my the theoretical aspects of music, both when she was alive and vicariously through Gerald, my best friend and musical companion.

3. When did you form Elk Minister? Do you have other projects?

Elk Minister was formed when I was a little child as a way to escape the pressures of the common world. As humans, we often do things because we fall into particular habits and we hate facing the reality of the unknown. Elk Minister embraces the uncertainty and runs with it. While right now I am focusing on completing The Book of Slaw, My Great Aunt Coleslaw’s music that she composed over her 13 lifetimes. It is almost finished. After that, I would like to get back to writing and releasing my own music, as well as get into the visual arts.

4. What would you do if capitalism and money stopped existing? 

I would continue to make music forever and always. It is all there really is. Everything else- money, friends, family, work, etc, these are mere illusions to the one truth that exists without us- music. It is the only thing that is real in the entire universe, everything else is nothing but a derivative of the vibration of time. We are specks of dust. 

Money and capitalism are essentially useless to me, although in this world I admit you must be part of this system if you want to survive, and by survive I mean ‘to go on.’ My mind moves too fast, and in order for me to do the things that I want to do, I embrace this selfish act. I recognize that I need money to buy the instruments and tools I need to create. Without the ability to acquire these tools, I would not be able to do what I feel I need to do musically.

5. Do you believe that microtonality is necessary for musicians and listeners anymore? 

No I do not, as I do not believe anything is necessary. Every musician has a place, some know what and where there are supposed to be, and some are searching. I am one of the searches, who is always seek to challenge my own perception of tonality, melody, harmony, and rhythm. Some musicians just want to play for fun, and that is completely acceptable. Some do not wish to acquire or achieve contemporary or futuristic skills or technique. That is fine.

Microtonality is not new by any means, although for it to reach a state of pedagogy there must be an organized system for it- across all tuning systems. If there were a system that was easy to read, teach, and play, then yes, microtonality will have a bright future and there will be a day when all musicians approach microtonality the same. Right now, it is still too much in the shadows for the mass public to appreciate and understand it.

6. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?

Everything starts out at as free improvisation- it is the basis of everything. That beginning may be, and usually is, a very short time as once we acknowledge what we are doing it is no longer improvisation, or free. There are times when I use these words interchangeably, and others when I do not. For me it depends on the approach to the style. Every idea begins at nothing and moves, some quickly.

When you start to think in a free improvisational setting, you must be careful what your next moves are, especially the more people you play with. Free improvisational is the most natural, but also the most difficult music to play, especially if you are into harmony.

7. What’s your opinion about John Cage? 

I have always viewed John Cage as a philosopher-musician, as opposed to musician, and I say that with the utmost respect. I must also admit that I do not know his entire catalogue. His music is not my favorite but his genius cannot be overstated.

John Cage is extremely important however, and I would put him into a category of other ‘musicians’ like Boethius, Zarlino, or even Pythagoras. These individuals are major thinkers and extremely important to the history of music. John Cage belongs on that category. 

8. Tell me some of your fav expressors (from all arts). 

My favorite are people who create their own reality, and invite you the participant to be a part of it, and further accept your identity may change by consuming that art. My list would be endless, but some of my favorites are Salvador Dali, Christian Vander, Antoni Gaudi, Rod Serling, Orson Welles, Beethoven, John Coltrane, etc.

9. What’s your main goal in your art/life? What message do you want to send through your art? 

I have no goals. My art is an extension of my breathing. It’s all very important, but there is so much of it.

Your art is not for you. Just because you created it does not mean that it is yours. Once you create it, it belongs to the universe. If you don’t want to share it, keep it to yourself. You own the fundamental thought that may have helped create it. The finished product is not yours.

10. What advice do you want to give to young/new musicians and listeners? 

I have no advice for listeners, but I do for younger and newer musicians…

Abandon all ideas and preconceived notions about art and get going. Art is the only thing that has ever existed and it is the only thing that ever will exist. You are art.

The opinions of the people who are closest to you are meaningless and mostly useless- ignore them, whether they are positive or negative.

11. Your plan after the release of all the parts of your new Elk Minister album? 

I would like to get working on my music again, specifically the albums that were abandoned to complete The Book of Slaw. I have written some music for 5 different albums, and have the next several years planned out.

12. End this interview however you want.

You control your destiny. However you want to be remembered, or not, is entirely up to you. Make a decision.

Interview with Björn van Haalen

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

Voices in another room.

2. When did you begin to explore and play/compose music?

I used to think very seriously about music. But I wasn’t very good at
playing instruments. I made a “multi-media art project” in highschool where I created songs by splicing and overdubbing cassette tapes to create “a band with no
instruments”. I was hooked!

3. Do you have other projects except Wounded Humans?

Wounded Humans is a direct extension of another group: Mistake Trio
(guitarist David Ben Yellowitz; who also plays in Wounded Humans, saxophonist Darren Williams and myself on drums). I also experiment and record extensively as a solo artist.

4. What would you do if capitalism and money stopped existing?

This seems like a good question for someone much smarter than me.

5. Do you believe that microtonality is necessary for musicians and
listeners anymore?

Systems are intrinsic in all art forms. I would be the last person to
qualify any artistic or musical system; or perhaps, I would never
elevate an artform above an artist. Honesty and curiosity, from both creator and audience opens up the endlessness of pure expression.

6. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?

Oh yes! Improvisation is where my art lives. The intangibility of that
thing you are trying to simultaneously treasure yet reveal. I think it serves as yet another system. You can nurture it, learn from it or it can be abused.

7. What’s your opinion about John Cage?

Fundamentally music speaks. It tells you something. Cage asks.

8. Tell me some of your fav artists (from all arts) and philosophers.

I am listening to a lot of Pauline Oliveros’s music right now.

9. What’s your main goal in your art/life?

My goal is always what’s next. Forward into more performance and
painting, meeting and collaborating with amazing people. Being open, honest and always learning.

10. What advice do you want to give to young/new musicians and listeners?

-Unlearn artistic categorization. You are not a product.

-Irony and affectation are for the weak.

11. End this interview however you want.

Whoever lives there: