SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Larsen, Al

Al Larsen
is a rocker

  • artist biography
  • example of soundart

    see biographical details at the end of the page—>

    Interview: 10 questions

    When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
    I don’t consider it music. Music is like architecture and what I do is
    more like setting up a tent or building a shed.

    Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
    Now I’m learning about John Cage, sound poets, Kurt Schwitters, lots of
    stuff like that. Before that it was mostly Patsy Cline, Lee Perry and
    the Cramps, the things you could find out about hanging out in record

    Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you
    practice music nowadays?
    For awhile I was a conceptual typist and now I am a student and teaching
    assistant. Last spring I made audio pieces and writing and published
    them in tandem on the internet. Over the summer I toured around the US
    West Coast giving performances in backyards, cafes, art galleries.
    Context is 90%.

    How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain
    principles, use certain styles etc?
    For a performance, you need to be able to create some tension in the
    audience and then you can use that to sort of surf. If it’s a recording
    that’s really different. There’s all sorts of ways of going about it
    “…and I write about them on my blog!”

    Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools
    you use?
    For the pieces in SoundLAB Edition IV “memoryscapes” I used the built-in
    text reader voice on the Macintosh. For recording, compressors are good,
    the really expensive ones with heavy knobs… of course the simulated
    ones in ProTools can be really good too. It depends. When I perform I
    use 3 x 5 index cards, acoustic guitars, whatever’s handy.

    What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general
    and you personally?
    We can do all sorts of things with the “new media” technologies… like,
    you can use network traffic as a compositional element or trigger sounds
    based on movement. For me, I’m really into thinking about the
    performance as a set amount of time spent together and how to exploit
    that time so that it’s interesting and worthwhile, whether or not it has
    anything to do with music, experimental or otherwise.

    How about producing and financing your musical productions?
    Time and space are the major factors. If you give something time and set
    aside space for it, the material things tend to arrive. For touring, if
    you decide on a time and a basic route, the opportunities tend to turn
    up. You can do a lot with cheap materials, like 3 x 5 index cards. Then
    again, you can do a lot with a credit card too.

    Do you work individually as a musician/sound artist or in a group or
    If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
    It’s hard to work truly alone because you always have the sense that
    what you’re doing will be heard by someone else eventually anyway. The
    expectation of that audience becomes something that you’re always
    checking in with. Collaboration is good if you can set up a situation
    where you trust the other people and you have only a certain amount of
    time to work. Then everyone is focused and makes good decisions and
    there’s no time to go back and forth on things anyway.

    Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting
    influence on making music?
    The Wipers, Black Flag, Dead Moon, Jonathan Richman, Essential Logic,
    the Shaggs…anything wild, unbroken and free.

    What are your future plans or dreams as a sound artist or musician?
    I don’t know. I’m looking for ideas.

  • Can works of yours experienced online besides on SoundLAB?
  • Yes: