SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Rossignol, Benjamin

Benjamin Rossignol
US based

  • artist biography
  • —>
    Interview: 10 questions

    1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
    My initial start in making music, like many children, was with a tape recorder. I would record sound of hitting things, dropping things, banging the microphone inside of pipe, etc. At the time, I didn’t do it for art’s sake, I don’t think I even knew what art was really, or what I thought music was. In fact, I still don’t really, I just make it, just as I did when I was a child.

    2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
    My environment right now is an academic one. I am attending The New England Institute of Art for a bachelors degree in audio production. Enrolling in the program has been the most influential choice I have made regarding where I am sonically. The program is rigid and resembles more of a trade school curriculum, less of an artistic one. Nevertheless, the program has aided me in discovering my third ear as well as expanding my knowledge of audio equipment. Certain poetry and literature courses have also greatly influenced my approach to sound and music.

    3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
    Profession? Professional? What does that mean? I just make sound.

    4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
    When recording, I just sit down with some equipment and warble things around until I like what I hear, or I cut it up, affect it with any means possible and try to make something new. I suppose one could call it experimental, but the use of that term could be applied to any kind of composition, whether its writing a song on guitar, on piano, a sequencer, writing a poem, walking the dog or lighting and cigarette (everything is everything or +/- = +/- ). I try not to think about styles when making sound, my principle is to always try something new, I try not to repeat myself.
    Performances are very special for me because they are entirely improvised and it gives me a chance to involve other people in our ongoing cosmic composition. Often I’ll distribute objects such as bubble wrap, carrots and celery, shakers or hand held radios. Audience participation is very important to me. I feel that our bodies and our minds are mediums for of vibration, as well as the vibration itself. It’s like you cannot separate the wave from the water. Quantum mechanics, Zen, whatever you want to call it.

    5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
    My gear revolves around the use of a small mixer. It has some cheesy built in effects that sound amazing. I do a lot of mixer feedback through outboard stomp boxes, a prepared spring reverb unit, a circuit bent delay pedal… my main source of color is a ring modulator, I use that in all of my recordings. I have a 9-volt mini amp that has been used so much for feedback, it does not work normally anymore. Instead it creates unpredictable pulses and sweeps. I use an analog cassette four-track recorder that I sometimes setup the parallel to the mixer feedback network, as well as using it to pump in sound sources. A few shows ago, someone spilt beer onto it. It still works but now it has an incredible flutter and the EQ sections are messed up and it sound great. I use a lot of radios, my performances are very much about what is available to me in the spaces, so it’s always cool to find what radio signals I can bring in. I sometimes run an IPOD FM transmitter from a stomp box and bring it back in with a radio, except I’ll set the receiver to a slightly different frequency so various interferences combine with the transmitted sound. I use both analog and digital means of recording and processing.

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

    I believe new media has democratized the music scene. Technological advances, however alienating and detrimental, are equally beneficial to society and can bring more people together than ever before and expand the general consciousness. Since music is such an integral aspect of the human experience, I find that the underground has taken off to such a great height, its like it is now the atmosphere, an ethereal plane high above the ants and the sheep wandering around on the surface, waiting for what the corporate machine says. Mind you, the machine is always trying to climb up to the underground. But I feel that the artists and the innovators are always one step ahead of the “norm.” Perhaps we can come to the realization there is no norm, but only some rich white man trying to make a few billion. The trick is not to fall back and remain open to everything.

    7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
    Like many “struggling” artists, I do have a full time job to support my art. At a grocery store.

    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 do frequent ping-pong collaborations and split releases with other artists. I like the juxtaposition between two different sources, it’s a cut up of experience. As far as performing, I tend to work alone but like I said, the listener is very much a part of the experience.

    9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?
    I admire many musicians, styles and movements. Specifically, I would say that fluxus, dada, zen, beat literature, noise, ambient, drone and the blanket and possible faux concept of THE AVANT GARDE has had a lasting effect on my expression.

    10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?
    I plan to keep things vibrating. My only dream at this point, however shallow it may seem considering my long-winded philosophical responses to the previous questions, is to release something on vinyl. I think it’s a fantasy for many musicians. Anyone can burn a CD or duplicate a tape or post MP3’s for download, but vinyl is the format of the musician’s dream. The fantastical pure physical recorded sound on vinyl
    Is just so special to those who find themselves surrounded by too many bells and whistles of the new media age.