With more and more musicians creating than ever and more and more of these creations being released, what does this mean for you as an artist in terms of originality? What are some of the areas where you currently see the greatest potential for originality and who are some of the artists and communities that you find inspiring in this regard?
I definitely struggle with this a little bit. About once every six months I have a period where I think: “OMG THERE’S SO MUCH MUSIC OUT THERE WHY AM I MAKING MORE?!!” but I get through it. I think there’s a whole world between the absolute forefront of experimentalism, and traditional pop music. It feels like a really rich source of creativity, and people are inhabiting various spaces that fall between these two positions. It feels like technology has opened up vast areas of heretofore unexplored terrain, and that’s really exciting.
How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
That’s an interesting question. If you can find a way to capture improvisation, isn’t that the start of composition? It definitely is for me. I think any idea I might come up with prior to just playing/singing/experimenting with something, will just be obvious, and probably uninteresting. As a solo musician, all ideas come from playing by myself, so I never have that improvisation with others. I wonder at times whether there is something missing in my music because of this.
How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition and what are some of your strategies and approaches of working with them?
Almost exclusively, the space that my music inhabits is imaginary. I record in a little room with not much character as a sonic space, and I’m battling the rock bands and drummers that practice in the adjacent rooms. I guess I create an internal space in the computer. I think this allows me to make my own sonic world that is not really tied in any way to the physical space I’m in (other than in my attempts to escape it).
What's your perspective on the relationship between music and other forms of art – painting, video art and cinema, for example – and for you and your work, how does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?
In one sense, I sort of believe that music is just music and doesn’t really relate with other art forms. Any attempt to find relationships between, say painting and music is just ex post facto. Having said that, I don’t really have a problem with doing that, as it can be an interesting exercise or thought experiment, and perhaps a way to deepen your understanding of one or other art form. In another sense, every creative work I come into contact with informs my overall sense of what creativity is. Also, many art forms are explicitly a combination of forms (installation art, cinema) and so there will be a definite relationship between their different elements. I think I’m just a little bit sceptical of art that claims to be a translation of one form to another.
What's your view on the role and function of music as well as the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today - and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
Whoa. I don’t know. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to being an artist is there? As with everything to do with the arts, there are different ways of looking at it, but surely anything created in the world, will in some way reflect the world back at you/the viewer? I don’t think I have it in me to make straightforwardly ‘political’ music, especially as I think that requires a level of certainty in your own views and opinions that I don’t possess. I envy to some extent artists who are able to fuse overt social and political messages within their work, but I’m pretty certain that is beyond me. I have my opinions, beliefs and ideas and I think I just create something that is a reflection of that, but with room for ambiguity.
Listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?
I think it depends on what kind of music it is, and what function it fulfils. I think my music requires a degree of careful listening, or at least I hope it rewards consideration. It doesn’t really shout out to the world to COME LISTEN TO WHAT I DO. It’s quieter, and requires space to actively listen to it. I think in answering the question, it seems self-evident to just say that the listener is a requirement in the process of musical communication, doesn’t it? I’ve just said it now anyway, regardless. Listening, by definition, is more than just the physiological response to sound, and requires some level of engagement and attention paid by the listener. I’m not sure that’s a good answer.
Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies change the way music is perceived by the public?
There’s so much music out there, I think that people need a bit of guidance (I know I do). Although the avenues of discovery for finding music these days are more numerous than ever (e.g. Soundcloud/Bandcamp /Spotify as well as more traditional IRL browsing), it can be very time-consuming, so going to magazines/newspapers/blogs/websites that you trust is really helpful. Without any music journalism or PR, a lot of stuff wouldn’t get heard; I don’t think a lot of people would bother.
There are gaps within the system; but more and more there are journalists and writers who will represent different music and be a guide to discovering quality work. I could be completely wrong about that though; I might be under the illusion that because some people listen to and appreciate what I do, then that must mean the system works. I don’t know.
Do you have a musical vision that you haven't been able to realise for technical or financial reasons – or an idea of what music itself could be beyond its current form?
I guess, at some point, I’d like to have a band of musicians that join me for gigs, but for now I’m kind of happy ploughing along on my own. I guess it might get lonely if I start touring more. I’d also love to get to the point when I might be able to do some more soundtrack work for films, which might enable me to get in other musicians to play stuff.