Imagine a parallel universe where Mark Fell is the conductor of an orchestra performing contemporary classical music. What repertoire does this Mark Fell choose and why?
I can’t imagine any kind of Mark Fell that would do that. Or if he did, he would certainly not really be Mark Fell any more. But if the Mark Fell in this universe had to do it, I think it would probably be in the spectral music tradition – definitely not new complexity, not Stockhausen, not the american minimalist tradition.
When working with strictly electronic equipment, is there a moment where a relationship of pure trust gets established? In the sense that, at some point, you can let the machines take over, and they’ll do exactly as you had in mind?
I don’t think there’s any such thing as machines taking over, and conversely I don’t think there is any such thing as having something “in mind” - I mean in terms of in the mind being isolated from the world. For me there is always a collection of machines, thoughts, processes, aesthetic prejudices and so on. And its the total integration of these things that results in what the work is. It’s not about me imagining it or the machines determining it. A good example of what I’m talking about is how the scrabble player uses the letter tiles to rearrange them to think of new words and not just to display words that were imagined in the player’s head - rearranging those letters physically becomes a way of thinking of possible words. This is how I think people are most of the time with their environment. The belief that thought (or imagination for that matter) happens exclusively in the head (or mind) is not accurate.
Is New York House stylistically a result of the Manhattan street grid? And what would the musical equivalent of the Asian big city be? (I think snd might be close)
I never thought of it like that, but maybe the street grid, the musical grid, and the human are connected somehow: a geographical mapping and organisation, a temporal mapping and organisation. Maybe both somehow connected to brain structure. I remember when I was a kid finding a copy of the scientific american magazine where spiders were given LSD and their webs did not follow the structure that we associate with spiders’ webs. instead they had a few badly made connections and the spiders were hanging in the middle of one or two threads.
In the 90s I discovered rave while working as a cook’s help on a summer camp in the UK. I was a teenager then, and all the young teachers were ravers, exchanging records, places to go, curious info e.g. on how to make your face glow against the blacklight using dash, etc. ... At that time, “rave” seemed distinctly UR-british. Why was that, do you think?
Maybe it was a british kind of movement. I don’t know because I was in Britain the whole time. But it was definitely (for me) musically very different from American house and techno and German techno at the time. And in terms of rhythmic patterns sort of preempted jungle and drum and bass.
Is “Skydancer” – the piece you will be performing on the Kraak Festival – a comment on the commodification of rave culture?
I don’t know. I mean on the one hand it seems like a celebration and on the other a critique of how banal it has become. Maybe it’s a memory of my first experiences of clubs, or my first experiences of human destruction due to excessive drug use, or alienation having seen a genre that meant so much to me move from the margins of popular culture to the centre. I don’t know because the piece sort of made itself. I didn’t really think about trying to make a comment or statement – just a nice experience.
What lineage of electronic music do you prefer to place yourself into: Belgian / German / British / American / ... ?
These days I’m trying to accept all musics. It’s quite a difficult thing to do. But my history is British synth pop (1981), British industrial music (1980-in retrospect), psychic tv, coil etc (1983) on-u sound (1885), techno (1987), New York house (1990), then sort of wilderness until 1995 with sahko, mego, mille plateaux, touch etc.
What do you choose if you feel like spending a perfect evening:
The real answer is watching as many films as possible. I can quite happily watch 4 feature films back to back. And get a real sense of achievement from doing this.
Could you name your favourite movie of the moment, or a movie you would like to re-write the score for?
I don’t really have a favourite movie right now. I just watch ‘film socialisme’ by Godard which I really enjoyed. Actually I just made a 4 channel sound track to Peter Gidal’s film “Volcano” which worked well I think . If I had to rescore a film… hmmm maybe “Wizard of Oz” (smiles).