Part 2

In how much, do you feel, are creative decisions shaped by cultural differences – and in how much, vice versa, is the perception of sound influenced by cultural differences?

Hmm. I’m not sure I totally understand this question, because I’m not sure what you mean by ‘differences’… I think it must be that all decisions are in some way shaped by the culture/society/communities we find ourselves in, which can be both a positive thing to be celebrated, or a negative thing to be questioned, disassembled and rejected. But if you mean would different cultures react to or perceive the same piece of music or musical presentation differently, well then I guess yes of course…? 

The relationship between music and other forms of art – painting, video art and cinema most importantly - has become increasingly important. How do you see this relationship yourself and in how far, do you feel, does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?

I will answer this in a personal way.
I have always been a maker of things. for my whole adult life I have had an art studio, where I have mostly made lightboxes; wood constructions of found elements and light. I had to give up my studio finally a few years ago once I started concentrating on the solo work, as this takes every single hour I can possibly devote to work in a day ( and sometimes many more hours than that) and I was not able to fit in studio time anymore. But the tremendous feelings (positive and negative) I used to get of being alone in my art studio and working is comparable to the tremendous feelings I get when I am working on music.
Then over the past two years I began producing video work to accompany some of the music I’ve been making, and I find these two creatives process to be very similar for me. Searching for ways to combine two or three or more elements that when placed next to each other or layered on top of each other create a whole new meaning, a new feeling, a new perspective.
I’ve also done film soundtracks here and there over the years, and I truly enjoy the challenge of creating music that both sits alongside the visual narrative without overpowering, without taking words out of the mouth of the visual, but also following the direction of the filmmakers in terms of adding meaning that may be lacking or opaque.

There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualization, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles? 

I don’t really stand strong anywhere in terms of music production and consumption. People will find music where they find it, and make music how they can make it, and that is a good thing. It’s the internet companies that have fucked us, the free streaming world we live in is not the direct fault of music listeners or makers, and so I don’t fault anyone beyond the media companies for the result. I can completely understand the ‘whys’ of putting music out only virtually -  the ease of production and the economic restraint, and I also  think it’s beautiful and fortunate when people who can afford to retain a love and respect for the physical objects that can be produced in the name of music.

The role of an artist is always subject to change. What's your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?

Again I can only answer this personally, as I certainly don’t believe there is or has ever been one single role or set of ‘tasks’ for artists. I think there is a huge range of art production in general that has great value in a huge range of ways.
For myself I am always striving for awareness and positive action in terms of representing my own all-the-way-left-leaning personal politics, but I feel only at the very babiest step of this process. I hold musicians who are able to be outspoken and articulate about the issues at hand in the highest regard, but for myself I haven't yet found a way to be as present with this as I’d like. I keep putting off this very important conversation with myself and that frustrates me to no end… It ends up being about how much time in a day there is, and needing to devote the most important non-work hours to my kid whenever I am home, and when I’m not it’s very much head down and work,  so I try not to beat myself up about it too much. But it's definitely a goal that’s always on my mind.

Music-sharing sites and -blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What's your view on the value of music today? In what way does the abundance of music change our perception of it?

I don’t know if i have anything relevant to say here that hasn’t already been said. Yeah, there is a ton of music out there, and you can view this in a positive or a negative way. Both are true! It definitely makes it harder to make a living doing it, but everyone is having a harder time making a living now. The ‘value’ of music is only what an important role it has in people’s lives, and I think that doesn’t really change, it’s really the music makers who have to change in accordance with the economics surrounding it.
The overabundance of releases makes it harder, for sure, but I don’t expect anything to be easy, and I don’t expect anything to stay the same. So I am not one you will find moaning about any of the current conditions  in terms of my ‘job’. In general I think time spent lamenting ‘the way things used to be’ is wasted time.  Always trying to remember that now is now, and it will never be again.. learn from the past, live in the present the best way you can, and work towards a better future.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?

In many ways local promoters have a big role to play here, and I have met many who take this role very seriously. It’s a risky and often thankless job, and I have so much respect for those who care enough about bringing the weirdos like me into town and working to get people to the show.

Usually, it is considered that it is the job of the artist to win over an audience. But 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 feel again this is perhaps didactic; people who fall in love with music are having a beautiful experience. Some people who fall in love with music will take that further, consider their own consumption, consider their part of the process, and make decisions accordingly. And hurray for those serious listeners! we are lucky to have them. But not everyone will fall in love with music, or want to be challenged by music, or want music anywhere but as a background soundtrack, and most people just want to have a good time. But considering how difficult most people’s lives are, how could one fault them for that?

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?

I’m old enough and have been doing this for long enough to have witnessed quite a few revolutions in terms of music production, dissemination, promotion. There have been aspects of every stage that have been exciting, aspects that have been frustrating, and certainly aspects that have been depressing… that side part of the job, the part that is not actually making music at all, is and always has been difficult on musicians. I guess now there are a million avenues to reach and be reached if you are so inclined/able, and at the same time there is such an abundance of mouths trying to feed at that trough that it’s never been harder to get attention. I’m happy to report that I find the journalists that I deal with are generally very thoughtful, have done research, really care what I have to say. I’m sad that there is so much lazy/sponsored content out there for people to sift through… I feel sad for artists who are desperately trying to get their voice heard and aren’t able, and sad that many young bands seem to put all their energy and resources into the PR game so early - because for me that clearly signals a band that will not last long together, as well as it feeding into the over-abundance of noise which threatens to drown out more serious musicians and projects. It’s too painful to put so many eggs in the basket of public approval and attention. In some ways, while recognizing that I’ve had an easier time of it then many due the trajectory of my band and of Constellation, as well as great fortune and privilege, I feel separate from the game. Because at the end of the day my ultimate goal is to be out there playing live, not collecting media attention. So as long as I am present enough that my bookers are able to find shows for me, and promoters are able to find ways to interest people in coming to them, I feel incredibly fortunate and it is more than enough!

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