SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Stevens, Joe

Joe Stevens
UK based artist



Interview: 10 questions

1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
I recently started actually making my own sound works. Probably coming up for two years now. I have been working in photography, video and computer animation for over 15 years now. But it was a series of animations I created that I needed some sounds for. Though they were made as visual moving paintings, I found that if I added sounds they were not better so much, just different and I found that once I had added these soundtracks (other peoples music) I ‘saw’ them in a different light and I preferred them with the extra soundtracks. I decided then and there to sit down and do my own music.

2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
I have a studio in my house from which I work. My shed, with all my equipment, books, music, files and junk scattered around. My musical education has happened progressively over the years. A big shout out must go to Mark Russell & Robert Sandall, who ran a show on BBC3 for many years called ‘Mixing It’. Through this show they introduced me to many artists and different musical styles.

3. Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
I have yet to make a living from my music/soundworks. I work as a community participation/artist on various projects and I hope to build this experimental sound creation in to a project one day.

4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
I am an artist exclusively working with field recordings and piezoelectric microphones. My interest is in field recordings, instead of recording musicians or other arranged sounds in a studio. The sounds that I like are accidents, which are not made specifically to be recorded.

Something I love about the sounds I record is how small differences can change the way things and places sound – like what season it is, how far away something is, what the weather is like. It is the little details that make one recording more interesting, more evocative, than another.

5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
I use a mini-disc to record, a cheap midi keyboard and Alberton Live to edit the sounds together.

6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general and you personally?
Yes I am very much involved in new media production, earning a living in print and web productions. I also tend to very much work across disciplines. In fact the last three soundtracks I have finished were for some videos I had made. And I have still to do the soundtracks for my earlier animations that got me started on this music production lark!

7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
How about it! What a lovely idea . . .

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?
For my music tracks I have been working alone in my studio mixing the tracks together. I enjoy a mix though of working collectively to collaborate on a artwork and working on my own.

9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement that has a lasting influence on making music?
Bernard Parmegiani was a BIG revelation to me, he continues to surprise and delight me. Other big influences have been Brian Eno and Chris Watson; People Like Us record mixes and her sense of humour. Also Lawrence English’s compilations on the ROOM40 record label are constantly excellent.

Artists along the line of the sounds I produce and have been an influence are:
* Lee Patterson
* Toshiya Tsunoda
* Eric La Casa
* Janek Schaefer
* Stephen Vitiello
* Christophe Charles
Otherwise the list is endless and ever changing!

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?
I am currently engaged on an oral local-history project and I would like to have a complimentary exhibition of contemporary photography that would include a sound environment that mixes everyday sounds of the locality with some of the interviews. I am also involved in trying to establish a art trail that will include one of my sound walk pieces.

Can works of yours experienced online besides on SoundLAB? Where?