SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Bergeron, Vincent

Vincent Bergeron
Canadian sound artist


Interview:10 questions

1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?

Music made with recordings and softwares. I never had any real motivation to learn an instrument. I almost had for keyboards and then tried acoustic/classical guitar, but only find some satisfaction by making noise with it. I didn’t like my hands on it ! Now I can say that right from the start, my motivation really was about composing music not playing it ̶ I do sing, but with a voice that works best on some raw sounds, it does grab your attention 🙂

2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.

My father teached acoustic/classical guitar in Victoriaville/Québec. I was a child that never went outside (by natural impulse to stay inside) so I often had his music in the ears, either what he was listening or what he was playing. My brother as a guitarist really loved really technical guitarists (guitar heros). My living environment was really normal, perhaps too normal. I was the most bored child I knew in Victoriaville. Both my parents are really introverted. My mother always tended toward anxiety and my soft, but really generous father was even more protective around me. Eventually the boredom is so intense that you take more risks than most people in one area of life. At least, that’s what I am thinking now.

I really made my own musical education on the Internet by ‘not living’ my teen years and listening to all kinds of downloadable music I was attracted to, from the most obvious innovations of our times to the most criminally unknown experimental music of the last five decades. I made a lot of research to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

About education, I can say now that a field you don’t tend to naturally, can be fun to learn to love in a marginal studies program (literature in my case). Otherwise, you always go deeper in your thoughts if you learn it by yourself after a few years of this kind of studies. Learning by yourself also helps to avoid professional standards which are death to imagination.

In music, it is now easy to have quality sound without following real professional studio standards and boring tricks. It’s really sad that a lot of electroacoustic music of 2010 sound like a sonic update of the sounds heard in 1990. I think the first years of the 2000’s are key years, but people were tempered too fast by the musical authority and they started to imitate the silly past with the new softwares instead of continuing to experiment to make the best music.

3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?

No. Today, it seems everybody who makes at least some real money focus on live shows and odd by products made for specific crowds. Young people of today are about as calculating as the yuppies in the 80’s, the same focus on cheap fun and how do you look like to most people, I am afraid. Maybe I am too pessimistic. I try to be a positive person, but there is always this dark pessimism in me. My motivation almost always fall to zero when I think about self-promotion. Music/lyrical ideas really are my passion in life ! It is a passion I practice alone with collaborators from other countries I never went to.

It could be different in the future. I might create my own publishing thing soon, but I don’t want to spend too much time on it. I don’t trust musicians who say they spend more time working on their little label than on their music. They should not call themselves musicians then, but promoters of music.

I always lived with really little money since I am a teenager. Now, it is time to find a job that will make me a better human being, helping people mostly.

4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?

I don’t want to teach my own method to anybody ! I know too much how every person is different and should create a method so that it best suits her personality and emotional needs. Because no matter how analytical a composition method can be (every detail is wanted in my music and I think 0.1 dB or 0.1 seconds less on one pattern can make a sensitive/sensible difference), it always was invented by a human being with specific desires (accepted or not).

Like I answered the first question, I always was fascinated by recordings. I prefer them to live playing by musicians. With recordings, I can explore best the limit between audiophiles (the digital paradise, but is it if everything sound the same ?) and expressive lo-fi (with haunting hiss or unusual frequencies response), pure repetition (loops) and development (non-repetition is predictable too because the human brain picks up the non-repetition mode pretty fast) or pure chaos (why do I listen ?) and structure (still place for impulsion in this order ?). Still, the recordings are played by musicians with completely different backgrounds than me and working with different technologies too, some perhaps lost now. What creates a world is the accumulation of difference when you mix such different recordings on which you hear such different people, unlike something made in one or a few studios with standards to follow and a select group of musicians.

I rarely keep a melody in a recording of one instrument I use. Everything is remade with a rough average of 0.5 seconds for one segment. The initial chords can create a melody with the end of the recordings and some sonic punctuations found in the middle.

My approach is inclusive not exclusive. I want the best of all worlds. I love melodies, sound textures, harmonies and noise and pink entertainment. Everything found in music !

5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?

Nothing special really. I use the same softwares/sequencers most people use and a micro nobody could possibility take seriously (and perhaps why I keep using it, a frequency response that is my own, not meant to be predictably impressive, but recognisable) for my own singing. Too much musicians focus on equipment. For me, making sound effects with the latest Vst or Native Instruments is the LEAST fun part of making music. I also have the same computer since years, mostly out of all heavy interfaces to keep it fast. I still don’t have a laptop and Max/MSP is a complete mystery to me.

6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general
and you personally?

I am old fashion in the sense that I don’t think multimedia is that exciting or new. I love music with lyrical content. I find cinema to be the best multimedia already. It is more than 100 years old !

Perhaps, my music is more like an reflection out of time about multimedia. For best and worst, I am not into new media installations and museum commissions. My live performances do enter into performance art, I was told so. I sing (scream) over my instrumental compositions and dance at the same time. My moves are based on the knowledge of my own music, without thinking too much about what I do, unlike in my music.

I thought about performing for many hours on a stage. I would get tired and would start to react differently. I think this is something I would enjoy in a museum, something closer to human beings warm and vital self-expression. Mistakes are not often well accepted. This would be a celebration of the impossibility of not making mistakes at some point.

I compose electronic music, but I am turned off by the fetish of technologies treated like a new religion by a science that screams against spirituality, but feeds the same human weakness its own way, replacing God by machines.

7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?

It costs me nothing. Collaborators are there because they love my music. My problem is the lack of money for distribution and promotion. I will eventually get there…I am really slow at this game. Music composition takes so much of my time.

8. Do you work individually as a musician/soundartist or in a group or collaborative?
If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

I doubt I can interact much in a group. My ideas are not in my head when people are around and my dream-reality state of mind is not enjoyed by most people. I have a near autistic personality/functional. I am not into groups at all. I enjoy collaborating with people at distance, new technologies make that possible.

In a past time era, maybe I was a writer or an outsider songwriter with dense ideas made with very little.

Sometimes, I find a group of persons I feel comfortable in. Maybe, I will grow and do like Björk, a really shy person who praises social relationships. I want to find a work that will help me on this aspect.

9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?

I realize the overall vision of people like Björk, Charles Ives, Captain Beefheart / Frank Zappa and Brian Wilson never lost in importance in my head so far. There’s always the pop element somewhere (Ives through is quotes of pop tunes and chamber music melodies). But the most obscure zones of this music tends to come out from my sounds.

When I compose, I also love a certain harsh fragmentation that people could link to industrial music or atonal electronic music (from all time eras) instead of the soft wind and water field recordings associated with electroacoustic or drones easy solutions.

Unlike so many musicians in my field, I am not strong into krautrock and minimal music like Reich. But I work with recordings and sometimes one of my softer sequences could come out like an invitation to get into a minimal trance, then I break it all 🙂

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?

I want to compose more and more and more music every year and never repeat the same music piece. I think many composers toward the end of their lives focus on their most personal music and forget about the rest. They are right. The rest is pointless, an illusion of public recognition mixed with an illusion of being important. Sometimes only one person is touched deeply and that is more important than a million persons listening without feeling a real connection to the music.

Of course that would be nice to make myself a name, specially for movie soundtracks, it would help to get more collaborations going on and perhaps not having to work on something else than music or creation to make a living.

As a soundartist, I think a lot about cinema. I would love to apply my composition method to video. I tried it to literature and after a few years I had my dark funny/labyrinthe book about “everything you don’t want to talk about” through different time eras that are never really mentioned. I first wrote my book in a movie script form. This book is called La savante devait dominer on Éditions Dédicaces. I now seem to have lost a real desire to write fiction, instead I write poetry, it is closer to me.

I am slow at getting a new computer to be able to work with video so maybe in a few years I will be able to try it. My cinema would probably look something like the most epileptic experimental cinema mixed with narrative intentions and many stories in one. I would write a story out of the pictures instead of writing a story that would organize the pictures. This could be amazing and I would be happy with zero budget too. A lot of things can’t be done with nothing !

out of competition:
Can works of yours experienced online besides on SoundLAB? Where?
List some links & resources

Thank you !