SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Plenge, John

John Plenge
US based soundartist

artist biography


Interview: 10 questions

1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
I have been writing music since the ripe old age of 12 when I ceased my piano lessons and opted instead to dangle mics around my childhood home
and record everything that I could hear. I then went on to study guitar, sitar and compose music and create soundscapes for various rock, jazz and experimental instrumental ensembles

2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
I studied audio engineering at Indiana University and then moved to London, Barcelona and New York
where I ultimately received my “music education” by working in the experimental music and art scene’s in
those various cities. I now live and work In New York City where I write music for independent film, theater, dance and perform my music live in various venues.

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

I derive the majority of income from music and sound design projects as well as teaching music production and sound design at the New School University. I have been going back to the basics with my guitar, sitar, baglama( A Turkish steel stringed guitar) and piano practicing and applying some of these “re-discovered” sounds in my new msuic compositions.

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

I write on either the piano or guitar and then fold those acoustic recordings into a bed of layered field recordings and/or electronically altered
sounds. I also , when the budget allows, like to compose for larger ensembles and often use string quartet, woodwinds, brass and solo violin/cello in my
film and theater scores. I also incorporate my experience in sound design into all of my musical compositions.

5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
I have an upright piano, a 1964 Fender Mustang guitar, a 1970 Fender Stratocaster, a 1982 Fender Telecaster, an Indian sitar I bought while in Varanassi, a baglama that a musician friend gave to me while performing in Istanbul, Turkiye and a full complement of microphones and computer based recording and editing tools that I use to further sculpt my acoustic recordiings.

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

I could not do the sorts of things I do now in my film and computer games scores and under heavy time constraints were it not for the internet and New Media tools

7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
I use the money I get from film/video game scoring and sound design work to support my other personal “vanity” projects.

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 usually write music alone but then have other people help me play it. I prefer to work with
“live real” musicians as opposed to only using samples and emulations. The work I am submitting for your
edition V features my good friend and collaborator Bohdan Hilash on clarinet, conch shell and Bansuri (an Indian wooden flute)

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

I listen to all types of bands and electronic musicians/sound artists who are helping’/have helped push the boundaries. The Books, Bang On A Can, John Cage, Sigur Ros, David Gamper, Neil Rolnick, RadioHead, Matmos, Manuel Dimas, Bjork, Mercan Dede, etc..

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?
I want to expand my film scoring to incorporate more orchetsral music composing and
compose works for large orchestra mixed with rock/world music instruments and electronic sound processing.

Can works of yours experienced online besides on SoundLAB? Where?
I have a sound art piece that is going to be part of the Ars Electronic Festival this September in Linz called “Havidol®”.
—also a full archive of my past projects and music listening streams are available at: