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?
Music is life. Life is music. It is ALL connected.
With a family situation with children that need attention and love – there is not always time or a possibility to create a “perfect” working routine. That does not exist. It needs to be improvised to a high degree.
I am blessed with a great agent – who helps me with paperwork and getting gigs and all that. Without her --- life would be extremely difficult. So, I can drop a lot of work and leave it to her. Danielle ROCKS!
I am travelling a lot – but when I am home – there are certain priorities that need to be done on a “normal” day: My daughters and my wife need time and attention – to make our common day into something creative and beautiful. Something to share.
And my desire for a good coffee in the morning needs a certain focus.
When there is space for other activities I focus on practising on my horns and doing deeper research into my electronic instruments – and of course spending time with my vinyl collection. The records need attention, love and time as well. As a source of inspiration AND information. I need my collection to feel good. I need all that music around me. The library. The source. A source that is not a click away … a source that needs serious commitment and dedication to become alive and valid. It all affects each other … the activities ….
And at every moment I find in between activities I try to run out in the woods and talk to the trees. That helps with everything.
Way too much time is spent in front of my computer though … I don’t like that aspect, but it is a necessary one. Emails and shit.
Composing in the early mornings and nights … when things are slow and quiet. On paper. With pencil. Old school.
Could you take me through the process of improvisation on the basis of one of your performances 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?
Impulses. Spontaneous composing. The key is to not to think … and just to react. To build up / create a huge library of experiences and facts, knowledge and sounds. And to free them all with the help of an advanced instrumental technique. That is KEY! To be able to choose instantly - if you want to react superfast or not.
But you need a very high level of extended technical skills to able to make those instant decisions. When you are aware of what you are doing in the exact moment AFTER the instant now …. It all works ….
You cannot plan your moves. That limits or kill the flow.
The flow of energy. Of music.
All concerts are dear to me. Every concert is a new challenge. And I love the fact that it needs to be shared. With the people you play with. The musicians that you are sharing the stage with.
Or if you play solo – the audience and the specifics of the room.
All ideas are old.
It is just the way you put them together that might be “new”.
Every situation calls for specific focuses and attention. And I love the challenge of dealing with exactly just that.
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?
The main distraction is always the intellect.
If we are dealing with music that is “free” – you really need to empty yourself. And just go with the flow. With the help of your library and technique.
As long as you trust your playing partners and respect them for what they do and represent – you will always be good. It will always work.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
AI scares me. I want to be able to control the situation myself to a high extent.
I want human interaction. I want human communication. I want to share the moment. The music. The life. I love using machines of various types and with specific features. I have a love / hate relation to some of my circuit bending devices that I use frequently. When there is a high level of humidity in the air – or when there is a certain extreme light situation in a room - I lose control over them … they almost play themselves. I like that. I hate that, ha ha! But it is all about resistance. To find the artistic frictions. And the challenge of making something good and unique out of every new situation. It is always HOW you make use of technology that matters. We need it. But we need to control the technique and not let the technique control us. I have enough problems with my saxophones …
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
First of all, as I said previously – the individual horns, creates different problems and qualities that affect the musical results a lot. I try to compose on different instruments in order not to fall into the same traps all the time. Mostly at the piano --- but frequently using the saxes and the electronics as well. I need it all. Softwares I can live without … I like the hardware better.
How do you see the relationship between sound, space and performance and what are some of your strategies and approaches of working with them?
Sound is space. Every space has its sound. And every performance I do has to deal with that. A sound is an architectural fact. It is the space between the sounds that creates frictions and energies. And that is what is making every situation unique. Space is the place. Space is the place. This was early understood by Sun Ra and others. We still have to figure out what to do with that.
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?
We should always try to push the sounds to their borders. To see and hear what happens. How they collapse, implode or explode. Or being built up again.
All senses interact. Always. We are humans and therefor all senses interact and are dependent on each other. On different levels and to a certain extent of course. It varies.
Different senses can trigger different musical mechanisms. Movement especially … spatial sensations … can really trigger the musical phrasings and energy levels. Sensations overlap. Sensation overlaps.
A sound is just a sound. It is the connection / friction towards the next coming sound that creates music. The space in between. The energy.
The search, the research continues …. What makes a sound? What defines a sound? How can the sound be used at its outmost border … when is the sound collapsing into something else?
The questions are piling up. And I don’t really need to know all the answers.
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?
If it is art or not – is always up to each individual to define. To decide. For me all activities of artistic freedom are a political act in itself. To learn to listen is all. ALL! To listen up! Music is political.
If you learn to listen freely – you can learn how to play freely and therefor you can act freely. A simple fact, that I live by.
We need to fight the stupidity back to where it belongs. The mass media with its ultracommercial domination of thought and mind …. The completely filtered – controlled society we are living in … is fucked. We need to make people think … to really THINK. On their own. To ACT. Art can do this. Art can affect it all. On all levels.
It is an endless work, ha ha. But I am not giving up.
To make alternative music in situations where the infantile stupidity of recognition is in charge is necessary. More now than ever.
Mass commercialisms and fundamentalisms must be fought back. Be it economical ones or political ones…. Fundamentalisms are evil.
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?
Ha ha – that is perhaps more for the philosophers to discuss?
Music is a necessity for humans. A way of communication. A way to remember. A way to interact. As long as we remember that and try to make music that deals with those facts, we are good.
In jazz …. Improvised music as well as rock and contemporary music … it has all been done…. All is post-post-post – post this and that …
But - for me it is more important to deal with your own individual voice. And HOW to make that interact and be an active part of a musical or artistic situation. How you find your own language and how you interact with it. That is what will create new music. It is all about sharing.
New technological tools will appear – but who cares? We need to just remember WHY and HOW we want to make music. And what music can be or should be.
As simple as that.