Name: Wesqk Coast
Occupation: Producer, sound artist
Current release: Wesqk Coast's new cassette release Clava is out October 29th via OOH-sounds.
Recommendations: Two readings that I recognise as fundamental for my development as an artist and even more as a human being are Gregory Bateson's Steps to an Ecology of Mind and Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution. Bateson's essay is a very peculiar work presented through a metalogue with the author's daughter, developing the concepts of schismogenesis and the framework for the field of cybernetics, from an anthropological and psychosocial perspective. Fukuoka laid the foundation for natural farming, following the zen concept of mu (absence, nothingness). His simple yet masterful work is wordly recognised as revolutionary and his influence went far beyond farming, inspiring people to live observing nature principles.
If you enjoyed this interview with Wesqk Coast and would like to know more about his work, visit him on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and Soundcloud. He is also has a bandcamp account.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started to write music as a kid, then I began to play drums at the age of 12 and a few years later I was playing in several bands with friends.
I discovered music as a child, and it was mostly eurodance, but my parents had several records and tapes which always fascinated me, such as Elio e le Storie Tese's first output, Manu Chao, Pink Floyd's The Wall, Bob Marley, The Doors, Jethro Tull. As I entered my teenage years I began developing my own taste and my first encounters were Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Jimi Hendrix and all styles of rock and metal, and classical music and jazz too. Then step by step I started approaching all kinds of other music.
I think I've always had an inclination for music since I was born, my parents needed to play reggae music to make me fall asleep as a baby. But as soon as I began to understand a bit more, it was about discovering the most extreme and forward thinking groups, but always with high emotional intensity.
Nowadays I tend to listen to music from a more historical and ethnomusicological perspective – which is partially due to my university studies, trying to understand deeper connections between artists of the past and how these relationships had an impact on the music ecosystem as a whole.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
Like any other language music can be learnt also through a process of emulation, but that might not be enough. Anyway, several studies show that a bird can sing even if raised in isolation, the melodic profile of its singing will just be limited compared to other specimens who grew up as part of a flock. I think that one can raise one's voice only if there are the right conditions for that voice to come over, which may also be unfavourable ones.
Speaking for myself, I just stuck to playing and recording constantly basically for pure passion of expression. Music is one of the things I still enjoy the most.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I think very little about that, indeed I consider identity basically a consumerism simulacrum in Western countries, a prologue of neurosis. It is a very widely talked topics nowadays but I hardly see it presented in the form of unlearning capitalistic paradigms and tactics. Instead is always depicted as a source of power, when the worst ailment is actually the essence of power itself.
My 2017 album ID was related to this subject.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
As a kid I mostly struggled with understanding the basics of sound and music composition, but when speaking about writing it has always come naturally to me. It is about translating life and your personal experience into sounds. The pandemic somehow cut that out, and we had to live experiencing just a very small fraction of our past daily lives.
Anyway, each of the releases I have been involved in has been a challenge of its own, each having a peculiar approach to composition or styles to work with initially distant from my background.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
My first memory of playing an instrument is documented by an old picture depicting baby-me playing a toy drum set.
At the age of 11 I got my first electronic drum pads, very poor ones. One year later I got my first real drum kit for Christmas, very poor, too. Then I started playing with other people and we went to all possible rehearsal rooms in town and also recorded a few demos. But since it was too expensive for our time needs we began to build and constantly upgrade our own studio, which lasted for ten years or so. At the moment I have set up a home studio with the very basic things I need, so I can do everything on my own, from recording and producing to mixing and mastering.
I think money is the biggest obstruction all musicians face in the beginning, and that's why software has become an essential part of the game throughout the years. You need lots of money to buy good gear, and space to keep it also (I am not saying gear's not worthy, I actually love all studio and live equipment, even the worst). But you just need a PC you already have at home, get the best piece of software for free and in five minutes you are ready to go. We know this instance has melted all genres and musical cultures / traditions through a not so-long process into a massive post-internet industrial agglomerate, which may sound perpetually equal to itself and will last as long as we keep on giving credit to this unproductive system of maximized yet sterile productivity.
Eventually, I think we still have to unleash the full potential of digital music.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
The first technology I incorporated in my creative process was Guitar Pro, which definitely helped me a lot in writing for the band I was in at that time. Then we discovered drum machines and sequencers and we first experimented with an old Korg Electribe Sampler and an AKAI MPC-500. From there the path was clear and I tried any possible DAW and DJing software.
These implementations obviously had a deep impact on the way I deal with sounds, the combination of softwares and hardware instruments allows infinite sound configurations.
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?
Recently I tend to work more on my own, but even in the past as a band member I often presented almost finished pieces to the others.
Anyway, I have been involved in more than thirty releases throughout the years, covering various genres and styles, prog rock, electronic experiments, rap, trap, synth pop, noise, Italian folklore, stoner rock and more, that is to say that I really enjoy entering the studio with other people.
Right now I have a collaboration project going on with my friend Munchies on Flowers, we do sound experiments as Paese Fertile and we released our self-titled debut album via Opal Tapes in 2020. Right now we are working on our second full-length, a very powerful work on environmental issues and nature.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. 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?
The pandemic has deleted all schedules for me, but I listen to music as much as I can every day, at home as well as outside. Producing and recording has always been inspiration-driven to me, I think you don't schedule it. You may schedule exercise on the instrument whenever is possible, but if it gets tedious it's not worth it.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
All my works and performance are significant to me, I don't pick one over the other. When I happen to listen back to something from the past I always find new perspectives to look at it.
Ten years ago, I was happy to play live all weekends with my band, that gave me beautiful feelings, there was always a relatively big crowd for the places we played at, but also all the things I produced, even mixing and mastering friends' and other people's works, gave me special feelings. Each project is different but they all gift you with something unexpected.
My new album Clava has been special for the way it took form: I started working on the first tracks at the beginning of 2019 without knowing they would end up as an album, because I was also working on other stuff at that time. Then when the pandemic hit I had already figured what could be a possible album playlist, but it took all 2020 to refine the details and to let the concept breathe on its own, but all the limitations of last year (lockdowns, quarantines and so on) didn't help, even if one may be led to think that being a musician relegated at home would be positive for the creative process. This year it has finally take its final shape and is coming at the end of October via OOH-Sounds.
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 experience of being alive is usually enough to stay creative. Whatever the context, the process of creation to me is, has always been, and will always be freestyle.
The main distraction I think is people not understanding the necessity of application required to produce music. So if one of them is nearby, expect silly questions, constant unnecessary interruptions in the workflow and so one. When I happen to deal with unaccustomed people I usually fold, in the long run you end up doing all the things with very little satisfaction.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
It can hurt especially when you are in the audience standing too close to a wall and the bass player on stage starts playing his deepest chords, that actually really hurts. But this is sound physics. In a non-physical acception, I don't know how music could hurt, do you mean moving people to tears? I don't see that as hurting. Or maybe you mean random self-proclaimed artists deluded by not achieving success? That is just silly to me.
Anyway, music has an enormous potential for helping in various kind of healing processes, but it could also implemented in standard hospital facilities, if you remember Brian Eno's The Quiet Room from 2013.
There are many ways sound can heal and it's up to us to unveil them.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I think it is a subject to be discussed case by case.
For example, if we take rap music, in the beginning its spread outside black communities was looked at with suspicion. But with the music industry just going through a business exercise, it was rapidly chewed and digested by the mainstream, and that's the basic paradigm of today's power structure. Resistance means being unchewable.
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?
From my point of view we grow in an increasingly visually oriented cultural horizon, and this leaves very little space to the other senses.
In my experience people around me generally pay very little attention to sounds and smells, whatever the context. I actually don't see people making these connections you wonder about.
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?
Fortunately I have never directly been involved in political associations. But I feel that all of my works had somehow a significant level of engagement.
My new album Clava depicts an archaeofuturistic resistance in which subversion, provocation and irony function as tools for pricking small but palpable pinholes into the bias of rules, signs and symbols of musical genre so as to set up a possible—inclusive, yet un-named, sonic space: from a position of powerlessness, it is through the enforcement of the mind as a clava that archaeofuture resistance is supposed to function as a practice against convenction and domestication … some kind of a low intensity exorcism for millenary hauntings.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
I perceive music as an exceeding part of natural languages, with all the cultural attachments and historical backgrounds, always carrying messages encrypted in musical formulation. All life is about organisms trying to decode something and producing a different level of encrypted organisation.
This essential feature of music can describe in very small fractions something which takes a big amount of paper to write on - and I'm not just speaking about encoding emotions or immediate expression.