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?
In my opinion, the creative decision as well as the perception of sound is mainly based on the cultural background. A few years ago I listened to music from Uganda. Six people played on a huge xylophone. The music was extremely loud, extremely fast and all in all extremely virtuosic. I was strongly impressed by the unique power of this music performance. I asked someone about the background of this music. He told me that the purpose of the music is to shoo the birds so that they won’t eat up the seeds that have been sown before. As soon as the seeds are growing the musicians will stop playing the music. The instrument will be put into a storage where it will remain for the next ten months without being used.
In our society the “l´art pour l´art” idea is very popular. People try to express themselves, they try to create something unique – and of course this mentality leads to a very specific approach that is obviously different from the xylophone players of Uganda for example.
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 have done some interdisciplinary projects with choreographers, video artists, dancers, stage directors and film directors. My impression is that those projects won’t work without a clear hierarchy. Otherwise it’s getting very chaotic.
As soon as you have to perform the record live on stage it turns into another project, which is very different from the album project because of its visual aspect. To me it doesn’t make too much sense to perform music with a laptop and Ableton Live only. Sometimes you do not know if the musician on stage is performing music or if he is working on his tax declaration. To me it is very important that the audience can follow the music in a visual way.
There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, 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?
Both poles are important. I like to buy records. But it is very natural that more and more people are consuming music in a digital way.
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?
I don’t think that art in general or music in particular has a big say in relevant political or social affairs. Does music have the power to call out global players like Nestlé or Monsanto ? Does music have the power to seriously call the economic system into question? No, I don't think so. The heroes of our society, people who are fighting for justice and against poverty and persecution, do have other jobs.
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?
It is too bad that the album listener is slowly disappearing. The majority of people is collecting tracks. I love the album as an art form. How tracks are put into order, how it begins and how it ends. Nonetheless, I have the impression that people are listening to more music than ever before.
How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?
I think that non-mainstream forms of music are in a very good position today because of the internet and social media. Of course the mainstream has conquered the world over the last 15 years. No matter if you are in Paris, Nairobi or Tokyo – the music that is played in mainstream clubs is very similar. There is less difference in music based on the cultural difference. But on the other hand non-mainstream forms can reach their global audience much better than 15 years ago. Today you have a global scene for all kinds of music. This relatively new situation opens up opportunities for a better economic perspective.
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?
The aim of the artist should not be to win over an audience.
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 love to concentrate on writing, recording, playing, practising, and producing. But I am definitely very bad in advertising and selling. Therefore I am very happy that people like Stefan Rath and Katja Behrens worked together with me on the PR side of things.
Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
Ogoya Nengo and Nik Bärtsch.
Find out more about Sven Kacirek, his travels and music on his personal website.
Introduction to this interview by Thomas Raukamp.
Sven Kacirek, The Nutcracker Sessions:
This track includes 4 song extracts of the album "The Nutcracker Sessions" (Naive Records, November 2014).
CD available at: http://bit.ly/NUTCRACKERSESSIONS-CD
2007 | The Palmin Sessions
2011 | The Kenya Sessions
2011 | The Kenya Reworks
2012 | Scarlet Pitch Dreams
2012 | Scarlet Pitch Dreams Remix Album
2014 | The Nutcracker Sessions