Interview: 10 questions
1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
Over the twenty years I have been working in the theatre as a writer-translator-dramaturge and director, I have always had a special interest in the use of music & sound in drama. It is also in a theatrical context then that I started experimenting with sound, devising the sonic environment of theatre productions I was directing. From there onwards, over the past few years, soundwork has become a point of interest and a field of creative research in itself, another medium I like to explore on its own merits in a continuing search for different ways of “telling stories”, raising questions, sharing thoughts and emotions with others, musing on the ‘condition humaine’.
2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
I was born and still live and work in Gent, in the Flemish/Dutch speaking part of Belgium, Europe.
When I was about ten, I started taking the then traditional course of ‘music lessons’, the first year of which being basically meant as an introduction to ‘reading notes’. I was faced with such a horrible teacher who I only remember showing an absolute lack of any enthusiasm towards music, that it put me off for good – I quit after the first year, totally disillusioned. It was only much later that I started to pick up ‘learning’ about music/sound again, when I discovered other, less traditional means of expression through sonic explorations.
3. Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
I consider all my activities in the context of the arts as ‘my profession’, although most work in the field of sound does not directly result in any sort of remuneration so far. Some of the soundwork is still done in the context of theatre, of course, while other ideas are developed just because the time and/or inspiration and/or wish to explore them are there, or in the context of an inspiring ‘call for submission’ and/or in relation to interdisciplinary projects.
4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
It has taken me quite some time to set myself free from adhering to more or less generally accepted and taught principles in the world of the arts and consider it an absolute plus not to worry too much anymore about any sort of rules or regulations from any given school of thought. It is precisely the use and combination of many different ideas and approaches from all over the world of artistic expression that I find to be totally enriching, inspiring and invigorating.
5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
My sonic work mostly starts with (binaurally) recorded sounds (i.e. ‘phonography’, ‘found sound’), for which I still use a portable Sony Hi-MD recorder, mostly in combination with a set of small electret mics that allow me to capture sounds in (binaural) stereo.
These recordings are then edited, modified and layered using some ‘traditional’ hardware (mixing desk, effect pedals and boxes, etc.) and/or a computer (with programs such as Audacity, Ableton Live 6, Max/MSP) with some MIDI gear attached for hands-on manipulation.
6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general and you personally?
In the field of artistic expression, the most positive aspect of recent technological developments is without doubt the increase in accessibility of various art forms to larger numbers of people, in both a receptive and productive respect.
7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
For the moment, self-financing is the thing, and though frustrating sometimes, I am fully aware of the considerable freedom this situation brings along.
8. Do you work individually as a musician/sound artist or in a group or collaborative?
If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
Though theatre work is obviously always a collaborative matter, and so is – to a certain extent – also the sonic work done within a theatrical context.
Most of my other visual and sound work has been an individual thing so far. There are ideas for collaborations though, and I am sure these projects will eventually come about, when the time is right. I certainly would like to set up cross-disciplinary projects with other artists in future, as much as I hope that sooner or later some sort of collaboration with people from other cultures will present itself via the internet.
9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?
A matter of kicking in open doors here, I suppose: John Cage. But I should certainly add a host of other names here of great artists from all artistic disciplines I feel indebted to and inspired by, e.g. Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Paul Auster, Anthony Gormley, Janet Cardiff, Laurie Anderson, Bruce Naumann, Bill Viola…
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a sound artist or musician?
Just to be able to develop the ideas jotted down over the years and cropping up almost daily and thus continue the explorations, both in sound and other media. And of course to have the opportunity to see some collaborations (as mentioned under question 8 ) come about.