Interview with Marcela Lucatelli

Brazilian improviser/composer who is based in Denmark. If you want to know more about her, check her site.

 

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

Of my mind.

 

2. a. When did you begin exploring and playing/composing music?

When I was a child, I used to have very transcendental experiences through making sound with the voice and a little toy piano.

    b. When did you decide exactly that you want to focus on your voice? Do you play other instruments?

When I was 12/13 years. I play anything that would seed in me an invitation.

 

3. Which work of yours do you think is the best?

It depends on the listener. I just do what I believe I have to, at a certain moment. So no idea.

 

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

I would still do what I do, the way I do it.

 

5. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?

Yes. I do believe so.

 

6. What’s your opinion about John Cage?

A beautiful listener.

 

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

Nature. Including people. There is something that interests me in everything. But especially in honesty.

 

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

 My main goal is just to survive. My message is please find your own message in everything.

 

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

Just keep doing it.

 

10. Your future plan?

Keep doing something.

 

11. End this interview however you want.

Thanks, Geo. People. Don’t give up.

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Interview with Hector Rey

A composer/improviser from Bilbao and owner of Nueni records. You can listen here and the label.

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

I can’t remember.

2. When did you begin exploring and playing music?

I began studying music when I was 5 years old, in a music school where all the students had to give a recital every 3 months or so, so I guess that was my first experience performing in front of people. As for exploring music – it’s always been a very important part of my life, if not the most important. My parents are not musicians but my dad is a music lover so I grew up listening to music at home and in the car all the time. They used to bring me to concerts since I was very young, too. I think the first music that I listened to with care and attention was jazz and classical music, which is what my father mostly listens to. My mom is not that much of a melomaniac but I remember her listening to bossa nova when I was just a toddler and I was fascinated by its subtle colours and mood. When it comes to exploring music as an instrumentalist, very early, too. I learned the violin but at my parents’ there is a piano –my brother studied piano for some years– and I remember sitting in front of it and pressing single keys, then listening to the tone until it faded out. And even though I was having a formal education in the violin, I tried to play every instrument that I could put my hands on. That’s how I started acquiring as many instruments as I could afford.

3. When did you decide to form Nueni records and why?

It was sometime in 2011 or 2012. I just thought it would be fun to give my two cents offering fellow musicians I’m interested in a platform to spread their work so it could reach the audiences. I was particularly concerned with disseminating contemporary and experimental music within my local context, the Basque Country

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

What can I say? I don’t think a particular compositional or improvisational method is necessarily necessary, or at least not more than others. It all depends on what you are interested in and what you want to achieve as a musician. As someone who likes working with tonal material, I can say it certainly is very important for me, and it wouldn’t hurt anyone to research microtonality and see what they can learn and borrow from it for their own work, but it’s just a line of work like many others.

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

Mmmmm… I don’t know. This is a twofold question. I am fundamentally an anti-capitalist but I really do not know what I would do in a non-capitalist scenario since it’s something I’ve never experienced myself. Same goes with money.

6. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?

Again, it is certainly fundamental for musicians and listeners who enjoy doing it and listening to it.

7. What’s your opinion about John Cage?

He was a great composer.

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

Too many to list them all. Also, I could mention those artists with whom I feel identified or whose work resonates with me in a certain way, but the notion of a favorite does not seem to fit here really well.

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

The first question is again a twofold question. Regarding art, my main goal is doing beautiful things that could be enjoyed by someone other than myself. As for life, I guess my main goal is being happy.

I don’t want to convey any particular message through my music.

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

Open-mindedness and a healthy balance between self-criticism and selfconfidence.

11. Your future plan?

Keep composing and performing music.

12. End this interview however you want.

Thanks.

Interview with Pharmakustik (Siegmar Fricke)

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

Amniocentesis during the embryonic period…

2. When did you begin exploring and playing/composing music? 

In 1978 at the age of 10 when I received a magnetophone from my father…I recorded my voice and sounds from the radio…some years later I experimented with cassette-recorder and transistor-radio…early stages of musique-concrète…

3. When did you exactly decide to abandon mainstream music and your techno era?

Around 1994 I started to integrate sequencing and more abstractions of sound in my tracks…from 1994 the music became more abstract though it was still rhythmical. In 2001 I developed the first stages of Pharmakustik and since then I exclusively experimented on the granular transformation of sound and complex organic pools of clinical modulations.

4. Which album(s) of yours do you believe is your best or represents well your work?

Neurochemie (vinyl-LP on Rotorelief, 2010) + Pulsed Lavage (CD on ‘NO’., 2017)

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

Just painting in an empty cellar on material I find outside…

6. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?

Not exclusively free improvisation…improvising is one good working-method to develop interesting soundpools in realtime…at the moment I am mostly interested in all the detailed aspects of multitrack-recording and the complexity of project-files in which everything can be precisely balanced, arranged and rechanged

7. What’s your opinion about John Cage?

One essential figure of contemporary music amongst many others…my hero is Karlheinz Stockhausen though.

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

Music: Conrad Schnitzler, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Henry, Atom Tm, Kraftwerk, Cluster, Whitehouse, Le Syndicat, Esplendor Geometrico, Giancarlo Toniutti, Clock Dva, TAGC, Maurizio Bianchi…  // Painting/concrete arts: Robert Ryman, Richard Serra, Vincenzo Agnetti, Gotthard Graubner, Peter Krauskopf, Ludwig Wilding, Heinz Mack, Pierre Soulages…etc. etc.

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

Main goal: exploring…

Indeed there is no message in my art…the focus is rather on atmosphere and mood. Musically I am mostly interested in the permutation of audio-events…there are endless possibilities with nowadays technology.

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

Don’t imitate…try to find your own style…be 100% convinced of what you do…don’t create art in order to fulfill expectations…explore things and try to find out alternative ways…always work at the extreme…avoid stereotypes or conventional approach…try to work beyond familiar structures…avoid tendencies to retrospective contents…be more radical in expression.

11. Your future plan? 

Soundinstallation on Jupiter and downloading music-files on implanted brainchip.

12. End this interview however you want. 

Granular computing is the future.

Interview with David Velez

A sound artist and field recordist whom I follow since 2013. I appreciate a lot his work. He’s behind the Impulsive Habitat label. For more info here. The photo is by Alejandro Martin Maldonado.

 

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

I don’t think I remember it but I would guess it was the voice of my mother when I was in the womb. When I was around 5, I remember being very impressed when I listened to Vivaldi, The Beatles and a Voodoo ritual music album my dad owned and years later I felt really excited about the music of Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd.

2a. When did you begin exploring and playing music/with sound?

When I was 16 I recorded a garage demo with improvised hardcore punk songs with my friend Juan Ospina. I played the bass and sang and he played the drums. It was horrible but it sounded really bad ass. Also I remember my dad purchasing a portable cassette recorded when I was a little kid, and I felt very enthusiast about recording all kinds of stuff with it.

b. When did you understand and decide that music and sounds will be your main interest and activity?

When I decided to do an MA in Fine Arts in Bogotà.

3. When did you begin focusing on field recordings and sound art?

I became interested in recordings when my dad bought the tape recorder. Many years later my friend Fabian Moncada showed me how to use drum machines, samplers and midi keyboards, and on 2000 my parents gave me a hi8 camera that I used to record sounds and make music with them. When I studied documentary production in NY I became interested in recording and editing sound. Later I moved back to NY on 2006 and started to go to concerts of experimental music and sound art and it really captured my interest. In 2007 I purchased a digital portable recorder and it opened a universe of creative possibilities to me.

4. When was Impulsive Habitat netlabel made and when did this idea and decision happen? 

It was a curatorial project of Juan José Calarco and I. We presented it to Pedro Leitâo and in 2009 we published our first album. This month we will hit our 135th release.

5. Since when you were a member of The Field Reporter/Sonic Field?

In 2011, I founded The Field Reporter and after from one-year hiatus, in 2015 it merged with Sonic Terrain. A similar project ran by Miguel Isaza and we named it Sonic Field.

6. Which album of yours do you believe that represents well your work?

The next one, to be published in May by a label in London.
7. What would you do if capitalism and money stopped existing?
This is a question that I can’t really answer seriously.

      

8. Do you think free improv is fundamental?

What do you mean by fundamental? Don’t really know what to say other than I think that it is a very important branch of what we understand as sound aesthetic practice.

 

9. What’s your opinion about John Cage?

I consider him a very influential person in the aesthetic practice of sound. I think he made very relevant questions and mostly he encouraged people to listen to sounds that were being missed or ignored

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

Wow….what is an expressor? I assume you are asking me about artists…? That being the case I would say I have admiration for too many colleagues to mention just a few but maybe guys like Geir Jenssen, Mika Vainio and Fennesz had a lot to do with me wanting to work with sound back in the late 90s. Morton Feldman and Todd Dockstader are also very important to me. In terms of sculptures and installations Céleste Boursier-Mougenot and Zimoun get all my attention, and filmmaker Noah Baumbach and his movies earn all my praise.

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

What a big question…my goal is to have a balance between doing commission work, teaching, doing my own work and having time to do nothing, which is where ideas come from. My message….there is no message. I just want to produce environments and situations that stimulate people to experience their context in new ways.

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

To give me some advice.

13. Your future plan?

To finish my PhD, play a lot of concerts and maybe work more with sculpture and photography.

14. End this interview however you want.

…by ending it.

Interview with Josephine Truman

Her work alone was enough to interview her. But when I had seen about her thesis/book Extreme Throats: Extended Vocal Techniques in Contemporary Music of the 20th and 21st centuries, this interview was a must. Unfortunately, I haven’t read it yet because I don’t have Paypal but it’s in the list… You can read her bio here.

 

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

Can’t really remember….it was possibly the sound of myself screaming when being delivered by Caesarean, or the voices of nurses and/or doctors or the sound of being slapped to get breathing…. Who knows? Not really a fair Q!

 

2. When did you decide exactly that you want to focus on your voice? 

It’s never been  a mono- focus because I’ve got the sort of brain that’s always been interested in lots of diverse things. I have a strong visual imagination and have been involved in either visualising sound and spun scapes (radiophonic commissions & compositions) and drawing – painting. I have synaesthesia, which is both a blessing & curse and means my perceptual processes cross over, which means I “see” the shapes etc of sound and experience colours with emition. However I have had  fascination with voice and exploring its potentials from a very young age- in early childhood i’d mimick the birds in my neighborhood, the sounds of squeaky rubber toys and opera singers off my fathers records and think my journey with the voice began then.

3. Which work of yours do you think is the best? 

Hard to say. I think Sdreamings is a good work (commission WDR Koln).

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

I have been mindful of this Q for many many years. I’ve psychologically prepared by enabling more chaos in my life than many people do, and also “practiced” by choosing to  live in squats and some “dumps” in case I was forced to do so when older. I’ve never focused on the big $ as a single focused pursuit. I’m not a big consumer of “things” and believe in bartering. I’m a bit greedy for life’s experiences and knowledge but not for “stuff”. I’ve been a bit slack about getting my veggie garden going and if there was total anarchy and people marauding around with guns I’d probably be victim as I would never own or use one against others. And would just stand there thanking the goddess for the gift of my life before mine was taken from me.

5. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?

It is for some but not for others.

6. What’s your opinion about John Cage? 

John Cage was an anarchist/Zen philosopher who limed to challenge institutions and  hierarchies of all kinds, from conductors (of orchestras), to the US presidential regime of his time, to hierarchies in arts politics including the cult of celebrity to learned hierarchies of seeing, hearing & thinking and being and the dominance of the ego. These notions informed his compositional processes -he composed works which enabled chance, diminishing the intervention & control of the ego in the process. He wanted to empower the input of the performers voice and not dictate and impose the terms of the composers voice on performers. He challenged the institutions inherent in the classical music in his work 4’33” at the same time as encouraging the audience to think outside the prescribed concert setting and appreciate the sounds of the everyday as though we were listening to a classical piece of music. He delivered his ideas with good humour & at times with mischiefness, which endeared him to others. I met John Cage when he was getting older, working as a singer for performances of his “Song Books opera” in den Hague, Holland & for a VPRO radio broadcast. I personally found him a kind & humble man who was finding the cult of celebrity somewhat tiresome. The music world was planning big celebrations for his 80th b’day but he died a few weeks prior to the day, which I don’t believe was by “chance”. He had a big impact & influence on my thinking.
 
7. Tell me some of your fav expressors (from all arts). 
Berio, Cathy Berberian, Shostakovich, Meredith Monk, Lloyd Rees, Francis Bacon, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Dr. G. Yunupingu, Jeannie Lewis, Emily Kngwarreye and many others.
8. What’s your main goal in your art/life? What message do you want to send through your art? 
I don’t have a fixed singular “main goal” in life. Much of my life has been involved in surviving difficult situations & very big prejudices of others. I had a very difficult childhood and my goal has been in a large part to find ways of surviving it and its affects and great trauma. But beyond that I have tried to find balance, beauty and meaning in life and my art hopefully has reflected this journey though I don’t have a singular goal for art either. It changes all the time as life does. Sometimes I’ve taken on huge challenges in my art practice because I’ve believed in the content of what I’ve been trying to express at the time and it was taking the form of an audio, artwork, text, composition, drawing or painting.

 

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

Do what you believe in if you feel driven to do it and try to make it work for you. Though, it will be hard and you’re likely to encounter many obstacles that will make you question what & why you are doing and it’s getting harder. Be willing to make some compromises that you can live with. Try & be kind, if possible. The planet needs humanities TLC and not ongoing exploitation.

10. Your future plan? 

Survival and trying to make more of a living from what I do. More teaching work as I love teaching & sharing what I know if it helps others. Perhaps doing my Doctorate. Staying creatively inspired. Try not to take on the BS of others too much.

11. End this interview however you want. 

I’d like to know what you plan to do with this interview but good that you’re doing it.

Interview with Christian Molenaar

Almost all interviews will be with persons that I met on Facebook. Therefore now you know how I discovered all those musicians! 😉 Christian is behind the bands Those Darn Gnomes  and Mortal Bicycle.

 

1. Which was the first sound you heard?

My earliest musical memory is of sitting in my carseat in my mom’s old station wagon while she blasted Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” one of her favorites. Presumably I had heard other sounds prior to that point, but that experience definitely stands out as one of my clearest, earliest memories.

2. When did you begin playing and exploring music? 

I began playing flute in my school band at the age of 8, though I can hardly say my heart was in it. Though I learned valuable skills from the experience, it wasn’t until my adolescence when the rebellious nature of rock music really spoke to me that I began to take music seriously as an outlet for expression. I certainly wouldn’t say I was doing much musical exploration though–I just wanted to play Black Flag riffs. It wasn’t until after I had begun to grasp the fundamentals of guitar that I really started to expand the boundaries of my listening and playing.

3. When did you form Those Darn Gnomes and Mortal Bicycle and do you have other projects or do you plan to have? 

I first started playing with the other members of Those Darn Gnomes around 2010 when I started high school. They’re all older than me and I was eager to play with all the cool musician types in our little town. Our early years were the typical garage jams one might expect from a bunch of kids, but we started to get more serious and become a “real” band around 2013 when we played our first shows.

I can’t really take credit for Mortal Bicycle though; that project is really the brainchild of my brother Joe, though I’ve contributed to just about every release since the third album, Welcome Back. Joe is sort of Those Darn Gnomes’ fifth Beatle, as it were–he’s contributed to just about every Gnomes release in some fashion and has more or less joined us as an official live member playing additional bass as well as banjo.

As for other projects, Joe and I have a new band called Passing alongside our other brother Erik playing microtonal country music. I hope to release our debut album this year, alongside the debut of another project of mine called Carton, which is a sort of hip-hop/power electronics collaboration with San Diego MC SamRi.

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

Celebrate! Capitalism is nothing more than a delusion within the US and referring to our current laughably cruel and skewed system is nothing more than a joke. Such totemic abstractions (and with this I refer to any theoretical economic system) necessarily fail because they are fundamentally unfit to function in the real world, but their inevitable failures do not come quietly. Our world is undergoing an enormous transition and the resulting mid-period will not be pretty.

That said, I have tremendous hope for the future, though I have a feeling the world I wish to see won’t come around until well after I’m no longer around.

 

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

I’d never call any creative technique “necessary” for all artists or audiences because I cannot claim to understand their personal visions for art. That said, microtonality represents to me the opening of limitless new doors to hitherto unparalleled creative expression within the realm of harmony and for that I cannot imagine living without it. While it may not be a tool every artist needs to utilize, for me it certainly allows for the expression of many musical ideas that would otherwise be impossible to translate.

6. Do you believe that free improv is fundamental?

“Fundamental” is the perfect word to describe free improvisation. Within my own practice, Those Darn Gnomes uses free improvisation as a means of direct communication between players without any preconceived notions of where a piece should go. Because I do all the composing for the band without any input from the other members, it’s important to me that they also have many opportunities to express themselves creatively and potentially guide the ultimate arcs of the songs.

7. What’s your opinion about John Cage? 

I’m definitely a huge John Cage fan, and his unique worldview has certainly informed the way I think about art and sound. I’ve certainly lifted a few techniques and sounds from his pieces for prepared piano and percussion (specifically “Third Construction”). Though I don’t find myself listening to his work very frequently these days, his outlook definitely influenced my perception of what constitutes music as well as the listener’s role in turning objects from the mundane into art.

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

That’s a tough one! My favorite artists tend to be those who I feel craft singular languages of creative expression free from referentiality. A few off the top of my head: Bach, Coltrane, John Fahey, Kubrick, Nick Blinko, Madge Gill, David Lynch, Eugenio Santoro, James Hampton–each of these artists has created a monumental, individualistic body of work unlike anyone else through their own means, and I feel able to perceive the entire extent of all their joy, suffering, happiness and pain just from observing their work.

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

My ultimate goal in creating art is solely to express my own spirit in the truest manner possible. In writing music or creating visual art, I seek to divorce myself from any notions of what the art “should” be while still channeling all the art I’ve ever enjoyed (in spirit moreso than style). As I see it, no two people on the planet could possibly come from identical backgrounds with the same exact influences or relationships to art, so if their work is to be a true expression of who they are it should necessarily follow it would sound like nothing else, because it is fundamentally a reflection of a person who is not like anyone else. Just like there are no “genres” of people, it seems ludicrous to attempt to categorize one’s own artistic output for the sake of easy classification. If one is to attempt true openness and allow their art to act as a manifestation of who they are, they should create an end product as unique as their own personality. With all that said, I just want to say I am beyond grateful to have found the other musicians I play with who are gracious enough to help me realize my own vision in a band context.

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

If I could instill one piece of advice within other artists or fans of art it would be to think critically not just about art on its own merits but also its place within your life. I talk to a lot of people, both musicians and “civilians,” who confess to having no understanding of why they gravitate toward certain art forms or stylistic indicators. I’d encourage anyone who places any sort of importance on art to make a concerted effort to understand what elements thereof speak to them at their core and, moreover, to attempt a deeper understanding of why they consume art and the purpose it has within their life.

 

11. Your future plan? 

In the short term, I have quite a bit of new music waiting in my coffers. Aside from the aforementioned Passing and Carton debuts, Those Darn Gnomes has a new album nearly completed which I hope to release later this year. Once that’s done, we have another full-length written and a solid start on recording, plus collaborative albums with our dear friendsLucas Broyles and Gridfailure. We’d like to sandwich in some other short releases as well, be they EPs or splits or whatever else. We have a lot on the horizon!

Aside from new music, my only hope is to continue developing as an artist. With each new work I produce, be it a completed album or an unfinished idea scrapped early in the development process, I feel my creative vision is strengthened, even just as a filter. My primary goal is really just to continue on the path I’ve set for myself and see what creative doors open themselves for me.

 

12. End this interview however you want. 

Thank you so, so much for the opportunity to rant on and on with regards to this stuff, and thanks to anyone reading who made it this far! Keep an open mind to what goes on around you!

 

Botanical Rhythms: A Field Guide to Plant Music

Sounding Out!

Only overhead the sweet nightingale

Ever sang more sweet as the day might fail,

And snatches of its Elysian chant

Were mixed with the dreams of the Sensitive Plant

Percy Shelley, The Sensitive Plant, 1820

 

ROOT: Sounds from the Invisible Plant

Plants are the most abundant life form visible to us. Despite their ubiquitous presence, most of the times we still fail to notice them. The botanists James Wandersee and Elizabeth Schussler call it “plant blindness, an extremely prevalent condition characterized by the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s immediate environment. Mathew Hall, author of Plants as Persons, argues that our neglect towards plant life is partly influenced by the drive in Western thought towards separation, exclusion, and hierarchy. Our bias towards animals, or zoochauvinism–in particular toward large mammals with forward facing eyes–has been shown to have negative implications on funding towards plant…

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