SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Kahlen, Timo

Timo Kahlen
German artist



Interview: 10 questions

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

Moving from still images to video images in the late 1980s, I discovered sound as a crucial and singular component of my work. My first sound sculptures and telephone answering machine works were conceived and radio broadcast in 1988.

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

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

I consider myself a media artist and a sound sculptor.

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

My works often evolve by translating abstract concepts into sound: starting out with a certain phaenomenological question or structural idea and then finding the noise, static or sound. The submitted work, “Nachtigall (Nightingales)”, 2008, is based on a unique archive of recordings of ephemeral, interfering radio waves inbetween radio stations: noise & beauty, which I have been archiving continuously for more than 20 years.The work itself creates a complex, seductive soundscape: an acoustic fabric of machine-made, cacophonic static noise (of interfering radio waves) interwoven with subtle variations of fragmented, somehow ‘technologized’ recordings of authentic birds’ songs, guiding the listener through an only seemingly familiar acoustic terrain…

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

My approach is both experimental and conceptual: ephemeral incidents of sound, noise and acoustic dirt are recorded for each new project, then isolated, fragmented and re-structured to form the conceptual base for my multi-channel sound sculptures and installations, which are often closely related to sculptural /sensual components and / or the specific qualities and context of the exhibition space.

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

My experimental, hands-on use of relatively low tech media and versatile, cheap software allows me to record and produce subtle, unheard of noise & beauty for the realization of complex, often multi-channel spacial concepts.

7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?

Productions are mostly low budget and hands-on; financing hardware, transports and travels is a problem.

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?


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


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

My dream is to be independent of amplifiers, cables, screws and bolts. To be able to sculpt sound with my hands and throw it into the air…