SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Munn, Luke

Luke Munn
New Zealand


Interview:10 questions

1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
I started making music in my teens, playing keyboards and drums, singing, and developing costumes, elaborate visuals, and concepts for various bands and pop groups – my motivations then, as much as they are now, were to explore sound, innovate, and share this through performances, releases, and collaboration.

2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
Musical ‘education’ was very informal: the sounds of crashing waves, drumming on tabletops in our summer cabin, failed stints at junior high choir and music fundamentals classes, then later the vocal loops, white noise, and performance art with machines at art school, as opposed to the counterpoint being taught down the street at the music academy.

3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
Music and sound for me are almost full-time at this stage, something which Berlin makes possible – performing regularly at venues here and in other cities, collaborating with other musicians, composers and dancers, and developing sound projects for festivals and galleries.

4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
More and more I’ve been working more as catalyst than composer, as activator rather than artist – I’m really interested in the uniqueness of each site, the social, geographical, and cultural traits that set it apart, as well as the audience or groups that frequent it. Sometimes that entails historical research, sometimes that means using field recordings to generate scores which are performed, or simply sitting on a street corner for an hour, observing and listening. In performance, I work with a set of bodily gestures – clicks, scrapes, and breaths which largely discard tonality and technique, but still aim at being human and expressive.

5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
In performance I’ve been eliminating technical equipment almost entirely – using no post processing or effects, removing instrumentation and replacing it with the body and the architecture of the space, utilizing cheap everyday objects such as plastic, coins, glass pieces, and water. In the same way for sound projects I use software to combine, overlay, and structure, but always striving to retain the essential character of the original sound.

6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general and you personally?
New Media for me is most interesting for the connections it provides – almost violent, instant juxtapositions between hugely disparate locations and people – I’m working on a couple proposals right now, the first to bring together snippets of conversation, sound from moments in time, played back together for travelers on a train – another to create a conceptual giant room comprised of recordings of bedrooms or work rooms from around the world. Sound works with this media beautifully and uniquely, in that with it’s transience and lack of physicality it can be shifted, resynced and recontextualized, but it retains this ability to connect and be traced.

7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
We’re in a unique time where musical output can be recorded, manipulated, output and distributed by anyone with a web connection and a PC. The idea of musical production – with expensive software, monitors, and mixing, is really a hindrance, and I often work with existing sounds, objects, or sites, hopefully retaining the sound or music as the first priority, rather than the finances.

8. Do you work individually as a musician/soundartist or in a group or collaborative?
I perform most often individually, but have been collaborating recently with a friend on “You are here”, a heavily site-specific project for a series of residencies, galleries and festivals, where we’re recording and engaging with the venue or area of the city, making recordings, and transposing them into pieces which are performed live.

If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
Both are necessary – I really appreciate the surprises and social aspect of collaboration, and the focus and single-mindedness of solo projects and performance.

9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?
Berlin as a scene – the cosmos of experimental musicians, composers, noise artists, performers and exhibitions here is very informative. Last week I also read a great interview with sound artist and musician Stephen Vitiello, who is thoughtful, prolific and many of his ideas resonated with me.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?
I’d really just like to build up a body of work, or experiences, performances, and projects that is significant – being able to engage with people and spaces in a thoughtful, interesting way consistently.

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