SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Renoult, Jean-Philippe

Jean-Philippe Renoult
French artist



Interview: 10 questions

1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
I first started listening to music in my childhood… a lot different styles … as I grew into a teenager I began to listen to punk, new wave, prime hip hop, freejazz, and I was making lots of cassettes for my friends. I can remember that in art lessons when I was 14 year olds, a teacher introduced me to picture collage techniques. Back at home, I thought to myself, let’s make the same with sounds. From that, I started editing using scissors & stickytape on cassettes, sounds which were not only taken from records, but also from movies and radios. At the same time I worked at a local radio in the 80’s, I was playing bass (badly) and using a real to real tape recorder live. I had never heard at that time about ‘tape music’ or ‘musique concrete’. I just did it, and probably with no other motivations than fun and as a vague hommage to the Dada/Surrealists « Cadavre Exquis ». It took me a couple of years to realise that some great composers had done the same thing a lot earlier than me, and much better too !

2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
My father was a singer. He sung in a vocal group in the 50’s. So I grew up listening to some quite good stuff (from American Folk Blues to Elvis, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, …)

3. Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
I started music professionally quite late. My music practice is actually fed by radio practices and editing techniques. Still the cut and paste theory but now with a computer.

4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
My first instrument is the microphone. There are the tools that I use to collect sounds and then insert into a composition. Then I transform them, organise them, and mix them.
I think I become more aware of rules… let’s say, ‘ principles ‘. One is « less is more ». For example, for years I was overusing dozens of software and even more plugins. Now I reduce my equipment to the minimum, even if I’m still aware of what’s next with digital technologies. Above all, my number one rule is that a sound have to mean something… It’s like literature : a sound is a word. An organisation of sound is a story. If a sound doesn’t serve my purpose, I throw it away.

5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
I use objects wich are not supposed to be music instruments, different types of microphones and somes wich are not supposed to be microphones too. For the « Blowing with Ghosts » composition, I played a G marine band Hohner harmonica.
The software I practice is Protools (in the studio) and Ableton Live for performances. I use analogue machine too : delay, reverbs, and a mix of analog and digital EQ and compressions.

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

I am not sure I quite understand this question, sorry .

7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
Hmm ..with difficulty !… My music is partly financed by radio commissions, residencies and workshops, live gigs. Beside my individual music practice, I’m a music and digital arts journalist, and an independant curator in the fields of music and sound arts. I also co-created, with a sound enginer and an acoustician, the « Parisson » company which is dedicated to research into open source softwares and portable streaming solutions. I’m currently teaching radio practices at Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle University.

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?

Both… But I can remember how it was difficult to work with a band. I work mostly individually, but I really like collaborative experiences. To name a few : DinahBird, L-R- a radio creation project with Jean-Yves Leloup which was edited on Subrosa label under the name « I Could Never Make That Music Again », the video artists Anne Cleary & Denis Connolly, Knut Aufermann & Sarah Washington for the European Sound Delta locks experience from where the piece « Blowing With Ghosts » is taken.

9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?
Oh… so many ! American Minimalism was a major influence for me, especially La Monte Young, Steve Reich and Terry Riley tape music projects. I was blinded by The Residents when I was young and the punk and immediate post punk New York scene. I must also mention the more academic « Musique Concrète » composers (Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari amongst others). I could also mention Funk, the original House movement and even Disco,… My desert island disk could be a Moondog record.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?
I’m curently finishing a radio creation for Kunst Radio (ORF – Austria) inspired by the locks recordings and music improvisations we experienced on the Danube river in september 2008.
Dreams ??? Oh Yes !!!

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

Collaboratives dance and video works