Hello guys, how are you doing? Where are you at the moment? I’m not going to deep into the whole confinement situation here, but just to start, how are you dealing with the current state of life?
I usually have an alternating rhythm of locking myself in and working and afterwards going out in the world and showing what I did. Right when the virus hit I was all ready to go out and share. So i had to go back to zero somehow and start working, which was not easy. At least I can share the label with everybody now!
It’s been crazy. Besides all the music cancellations I’m also out of my day job as a baker. My co-workers are organizing right now because the owner is being shady. It’s a mess! Personally though, I’m holding it down in the studio as much as possible and chilling with my partner and dog. It’s hard not being able to make any plans due to uncertainty of things. I’m concerned for loved ones and friends all over the world. Hoping some positive change comes from all of this!
Stefan, few months ago you wrote us with the plan of organising a tour for you and Eric. This would have taken place next month but got canceled due to the given circumstances. A real pity! The reason for this tour was to celebrate the birth of a new label you would start, ETAT. You described it as a digital-only platform, promoting it without the use of social media in order to "reclaim the internet". I found this a very interesting and, at the same time, challenging approach. But what do you mean with "reclaiming the internet"?
I find it a bit sad that the underground is not trying anymore to find spaces on the internet that are not provided by big companies. I am not a holy man and I use social media for Jung An Tagen. But being in the situation of starting something new I wanted to investigate how it could work without. Especially because it's about computer music.
And why did you start a label in the first place?
My sound became more and more digital over the years and it became more and more complicated to get it on vinyl. When I started to work on Emergent Properties I really wanted to release it digitally and looked for labels that would be able to do that. But since I could not find one that would fit the style and the means of distribution that I had in mind, so I thought it would be a good idea to start something fresh. Especially because there are now quite some artists out there that I would like to curate.
Don’t you believe in physical releases any longer? What’s the reason to put it out only digitally?
No no, I love vinyl and I want to make them. But ETAT is really about music that would suffer under the process of bringing it to an analog medium, or maybe that even only works digitally.
What else has been boiling up at the Juster Planet? What projects are you working on these days?
I made a stereoscopic film called “DYAD”. Sadly the festival premiere got canceled because of the virus.. In the winter I made for the first time sound for a theater play.
What do you think of our proposal which is replacing the concert you would’ve played? How do you relate to the online side of working and presenting your music?
It's fun but it's no substitute. Playing concerts is my favorite thing to do, because of its intensity and uniqueness. Also I was preparing for these concerts to play with 6 speakers.
Eric, you played a KRAAK show too about 4 years ago, together with Jeff Witscher at AB Salon in Brussels. Prior to this show Niels (former KRAAKhead) interviewed you as well for the Avant Guardian. During that talk you guys went pretty deep in the concept and wider context of your music. To be honest, I don’t think I get the whole thing, although I like to listen to your music a lot. Can’t tell why, but anyway...
Wow, has it been 4 years already!? Of course I remember Niels, a gentleman and scholar with astonishingly pliable hair! He played chess with me and Jeff after the show. I was feeling under the weather that evening but we were surrounded by lots of delicious Belgian beer so what could be done other than drinking and chess That interview was cool. It was fun to talk about things with that deep inquisitive approach that Niels was bringing to the table at the time.
What have you been doing since your last tour in Europe? What notions and concepts have you been developing?
Since that tour 4 years ago I went to Japan and again to Europe for music. In the meantime I have actually been working a lot as a baker. In 2019 I was very busy with that, working 60 hour weeks. Towards the end of the year I took some time away from baking and got back into music. I was invited to do a performance at Deep Blue in Vancouver and that inspired me to work on new material. Mostly I have been making whatever I want and getting inspired by lots of different things within and beyond music.
For the ETAT release and some other new recordings I am working with speech obscuring software toolkits, which has been really fun. Aphasia and other linguistic anomalies have fascinated me for a very long time so it’s wonderful to experiment with that in music. Beyond my solo output a friend asked me to do some sound design for a film she is making and a visual artist from Minnesota asked me to make a sound installation to accompany his sculpture pieces.
My understanding is that, living in the US in politically charged times (though when have they not been?) you’ve developed a keen awareness of your surroundings as well as a strong engagement with them. How do you feel about the current crisis’s impact on your environment? Does it have an impact on the way you approach and make art/music?
Yes, it’s pretty disgusting politically. Strange times in an exploitative and toxic country built on cut-throat colonialism. It’s weird here right now, there’s a lot of confusion. It doesn’t really impact my approach to music/art now more than any other time.
In the long term, how do you see your practice evolving within the possible scenarios that have been put forth post-covid? Do you see your ties with academia leading to more educational roles for yourself in the long term?
don’t really know. Maybe I will quit music. I’m questioning its sustainability. I don’t have much interest in academia as far as music or sound goes. I got kicked out of music school years ago.
Tell us about your physical surroundings and your relationship with them at the moment
I’m at my house with my family. I like it here.
Same question as I asked Stefan: how do you relate to the virtual universe and its possibilities to present your work in it? Have you done live stream or online concerts already these past weeks?
Similar to Stefan, I enjoy playing music in a live setting and experiencing the variations in physical space and sound. I haven’t done any live streams. It seems to be a considerably conflicted and overinflated landscape right now. That’s nothing new for the music industry though :)