Where are you from?
Originally, were from Australia, but neither of us doesn’t live there anymore. Joe lives in Tokyo and I’m currently based in Germany, in Stuttgart.
How did you meet?
Well, not very often obviously. Usually we both go back to Australia quite regularly, and when we are both there, we do some work together. But since we moved, it’s pretty difficult to get into the studio. Doing gigs is not so hard, because we’re both travelling. To make things is harder.
Can you create through the internet, or not?
We can, but with this duo is not something we particularly like to do. There are of course projects where you can send stuff back and forth. But our work is really studio based.
A lot of is trial and error.
A lot is tighted up in the production, so not in the recording, but also in the mixing and everything that goes along with it. That is really informing the compositional process a lot.
Do you have a musical background
I come from improvisation, as a drummer with a jazz background.
I have a classical background, as a pianist and violinist. I studied composition at university, similarly to Joe it branched out to other kinds of creative music making and collaborating and improvising. It all became one big soup.
Were those classical trainings (both jazz and classical) satisfying? Or did you then already felt the urge to experiment? Was it allowed in your studies?
I’ve been very fortunate, I actually recently finished my PhD in music. I really love to study. I was lucky even when I did my bachelor’s degree, that I was in a school that was conservate in some ways, but I managed to convince them to let me study with people outside institute. I ended up having composition teachers that weren’t employed by the school (laughs). I kinda knew what I wanted… in some way. I’m aware of the European institutions and the problem of curriculars. I teach nowadays composition and art history. Of course that helps, seeing the other side.
As drummer it was a bit different for me. When I left high school I wanted to be a jazz musician. Basically I did a jazz course — at the same school, but a different department of James. The course was at time really interesting for me. It brought me together with a lot of like-minded people, some of whom I still play with now. So it was good to become a part of that community. As the study enrolled, I became less and less interested in that kind of music – in the typical jazz thing. There wasn’t a lot of room to explore things outside that, but a lot of my fellow students were interested in these things as well. It wasn’t really something I continued, I finished that course and followed my own path. I know Will (Guthrie) for a long time, he has a similar background, we both went to the same university, not at the same time. It’s interesting to see that we come from the same background, and in a way followed the same path.
Which composers inspired you?
My first teacher was Anthony Pateras who was a big formative influence. My supervisor for my phd was Michael Pisaro, who is a US composer. He was also very influential, although his music is very different from what I do. His thinking about music was very inspiring. But actually there are millions of composers that I could list, but those two I’m very attached to.
Do you improvise while playing, or do you follow a composition?
For the live shows, we are working within a sort of textural grain, we usually construct some sort of general composition that we use to improvise with. Each time we come together for a series of shows, we are trying to make very different. I think we’ve been moving more and more towards improvisation with our live sets. We definitely feel very comfortable improvising.
Are there any reoccurring themes in your work?
There are things that connect across the work we’ve made over the past 10 years, whether those were intentional or not, is a different question. I think that, with a lack of a better word, it’s a kind of atmospheric music, because production is a really big part of the actual composing. It’s not about creating material and making a record out of it. The record is made at the same time the compositions are made. From the beginning we were some sort of studio band. That really helps with the idea of an ‘atmosphere’.
Was it hard to come out of the studio and play live?
When our last record Manhunter came out, we did a small amount of shows where we really tried to somehow recreate that material – not exactly, but at least trying to present a live version of it. And it definitely was a challenge.
It’s a completely different thing, because there is a lot of equipment that we cannot bring, and there are a lot of things that were very meticulously constructed in the studio. There’s no way to reproduce that.
The set we play tonight will be way more depending on the synthesizers and electronic sounds, the sound is different then the records – it has this shiny sound. So that is a challenge. Sometimes you are surprised by what you play live… Playing live has a certain openness to it.
How important is silence in you work?
Silence is always in my mind somehow, but in this work we consciously implant silence. What is important to us, more than silence, is a sense of space and textural subtlety. That doesn’t necessarily mean dynamics, but it also means that there are moments where we approach almost silence. I don’t like to think about it as a formal piece of something. It’s some kind of breathing inside the music. It’s not thought out.
Yeah, I agree.
I’ve never been to Australia, I only read the book The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin. It’s a travelogue in which he traces the Aboriginal songlines. Apparently, in his Western vision, he thinks that they sing the land. Does Australian, with its opens spaces play a role in your music.
I don’t know the book. I would love the idea that it does, but we come from a metropolitan area, that’s it. Were familiar with those landscapes. There is a slowness in our music though, that you could call a spaciousness I suppose. I don’t know if that has something to do with the landscape, or something that just happens when we come together, it’s a kind of precarious question… I like it.
It definitely informs us in a way, it’s not a part of our daily live. But I don’t have an answer.
Thanks for the interview, it’s time to watch the concert!