Part 2

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?

Farahnaz Hatam: I have only collaborated on music and composition in an in-depth way with Colin Hacklander and it has taken us many years of working together to establish a working method. When working with someone so closely it becomes impossible to disentangle the ideas from the final product of the work or who even contributed to what exactly.

As LABOUR or Hacklander / Hatam we have collaborated often with visual artists, theatre directors and choreographers. In these instances, we share ideas through text and discussion, ideas that drive the concepts behind the music.

Colin Hacklander: In the end, the entire life is a collaborative effort, and the more we can accept this, the more likely life can flourish. Artistically, even when a piece is labeled as LABOUR, the resulting work is unique to the situation which involves collaboration with: a specific site and its spatial and acoustic properties; an institution or producer and their receptivity and support; and of course collaborations with the artists and additional musicians involved.

Farahnaz Hatam and I have developed an intense collaborative practice over many years from which all other collaborations follow; personally, it is truly remarkable to nurture this artistic collaboration, to conspire with another so intensely.   

LABOUR's collaborations with other musicians have always been an effort to enrich our pieces, such as Anthony Pateras on piano (Activating the Gropius Bau, sonically), Masaya Hijikata on drums and Yoni Silver on bass clarinet (next time, die consciously), the vocals of Hani Mojtahedy (nine-sum sorcery), and so on.

We hold processes of collaboration very dear and our long-term collaborators include Evelyn Bencicova, Enes Güç, Zeynep Schilling, Isabel Lewis and Ariel Ashbel.

Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

Farahnaz Hatam: I am happy to say that my day job is my passion which is making music. Since I am a freelancer and an artist I spend a lot of time having to deal with answering emails, writing texts, pitching projects, etc. The way I normally organise my time is that on certain days I only work on music and on other days I deal with admin. I am not adept at combining these two different states of being.

My daily routine is to meditate in the morning and then start the work day with a cup of coffee.

Colin Hacklander: Meditation, yoga, coffee, reading, writing out my thoughts, keeping my phone off until I am prepared to be distracted.

Your art can only be your life experience, nothing more, nothing less. I think I heard that in the Quincy Jones documentary from Ray Charles.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?

LABOUR: The inaugural work of LABOUR - next time, die consciously (بیگانگی) - began with the assembly of a working group (including Evelyn Bencicova, Fredrik Olofsson, Masaya Hijikata and Yoni Silver) and our dissemination of texts to form a basis for group discussion, focusing on an analysis of Marx and Spinoza by Frederic Lordon titled, Willing Slaves of Capital, which represented one perspective of our interest in working-through -- discovering, acknowledging, understanding -- the extent to which external forces create us, and through this process, moving towards the deconstruction of self to create a new state of being.

The composition and aesthetics developed from here over more than a year's worth of LABOUR-led meetings and rehearsals. One significant compositional approach was first tested at Art Basel before finally premiering at Berlin Atonal's main stage in 2018.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

Farahnaz Hatam: It is easier to enter this state of mind if I am continuously working on music without breaks. It's easier to enter into what you were thinking last night at midnight than remembering what you were working on last week or month … Strategies to enter this state more easily: continuously work on music and don't take breaks.

Colin Hacklander I remember listening to a recording of Morton Feldman describing John Cage's morning routine of meticulously organising his own desk for hours before he would begin working. These types of rituals must be personally designed and implemented and are quite useful.

How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?

LABOUR:  Making music in the studio is uncompressed time; meaning you can take days on a detail to try to perfect a filter or tweek the synthesis of a sound … whereas concert situations are an intensely compressed time where your undivided attention is an absolute necessity.

For years our focus has been on creating live works based on sound, where the studio could be seen as the place for development.

It would be simplistic and misleading to say that the studio is only for development and the show or recorded work is the work realized; development absolutely happens in the live performances and the realisation of work certainly occurs in the studio, not only in moments of discovery, but in the sense of coming-to-be for oneself through work, an early and obscure definition of 'labour' by Marx as articulated by Chris Arthurs.

How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?

Farahnaz Hatam: All sounds that I work with and synthesise take into consideration timbral qualities. I am not a producer so I don't feel like this question applies to me. I am not obsessed with the production quality of sound, rather its compositional sculptural characteristics.

Colin Hacklander: In a basic sense, the way a sound unfolds in time is already contributing to a sense of composition; through algorithmic composition, specific sounds can be addressed, transformed and repositioned to give a sense of composition. Establishing and reiterating sonic themes is important for our music and sound works, an approach that helps with basic navigation of a work on one level, and rewards listener retention for the one listening more closely.

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?

LABOUR: The most inspiring overlaps between our senses are those of the auditory, tactile, and visual-spatial senses. Certain synesthetes see geometric shapes in their mind’s eye when they hear music; this form of Synesthesia is intriguing with our interest in spatial music and sound as an ephemeral sculptural material. Sound at its outermost borders can transform the being in its entirety, accessing and altering the mind-body continuum.

There's an interesting description that Marshall McCluhan evokes from the time of the late Roman Republic, that provides a definition of a person in a healthy state as having all of the sensus translate equally into one another, where physical and psychic energies are constant and distributed equally to all sense areas. This remains quite relevant in our present lives that seem to be immovably prone to the visual, a sensory preference, or rather dominance, that goes back much further than image-based social media, in McCluhan's description, can be traced back to the dissolution of the oral tradition and the proliferation of the written and then printed word. The non-recorded work of LABOUR always seeks to address firstly a sense of acoustic space, to create and then organise an entry into an awareness of acoustic space.

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

a state of becoming
elusive efforts towards a realization of dynamic autonomy in order to achieve eventual practical implementation of meta-jurisprudence

It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?

Direct communication with the absolute.
The intelligent always remain uncertain.

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