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Questionnaire: eRikm (2007)

1. Have you got any formal musical training, and what do you draw from it now?

I haven’t got a formal musical training, i’m an autodidact in all of the disciplines i’m involved in (music and visual arts).
I started doing music as a guitarist in some hard core and industrial bands.
Daddy long legs
http://www.documentsdartistes.org/artistes/erikm/repro16.html
Kill the thrill
http://killthethrill.free.fr/index.htm
My musical practise comes from fifteen years of working in the area of visual arts.
http://www.erikm.com/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=2
I started using music, sound and noise as materials equal to paper, video, plastic…
What I’m interested in are the influences which these materials produce when they are placed in different contexts. I’m interested in the social position of a product like music (popular, contemporary, political). I have worked a lot with collages (just like in the beginning). For several years now, I have been spending more time working on alleatorics and synthesis. I understand that this interview is referring more to my music, but to me these different practices are deeply connected.

2. What kind of equipment/instrument do you use, and what is you relationship towards it? What do you think lies behind your choice of the equipment/instrument?

I use different equipment depending on the context. Mostly I use turntables and CDs, as well as an electronic device connected at the output of each turntable. I had been developing the system for ten years before I got the instrument that suited me best. I have been satisfied with it for more than four years, though of course, this can always change. As for vinyls, I have been using those for eight years now.
My idea was to make the instrument and musical movement. With an electronic set or a set of turntables you can always change the source of sound, and so your music will seem to vary as well. However, using this method, you have a good chance of never going beyond the phase of mixing. I would like to develop such musical movement that could be combined with mixing/collage. Technique is central to my performing with turntables because it is almost always an improvisation.
I work on compositions carefully, in the studio, under a label for a CD release or for the radio, music for dance, theater and film. In all of those periods of composing, I often start from a raw impulse which itself comes out of an improvised instrumental gesture.

3. What is it that attracts you towards musical experimentation?

The escape from boredom, as well as an attempt to create a new form (maybe some day).

4. Why are you involved in improvisation, and how do you perceive it?

I’m involved in music as an improviser (depending on the project), and that is what attracts me towards practising it. Although improvisation has, since the last few years, become a musical style, it is, more than anything, a practise that influences our entire attitude towards life.
I’m attracted by a certain form of chaos. I like to work with musicians I haven’t had the chance of seeing in a long time and to simply find a common language with them. It is a fact that you haven’t met these people in years, but, as soon as you walk up on the stage, the communication is re-established and it continues. It is a beautiful experience for me.
Improvisation requires great experience, I often hear performances which sound like “the dealing of same cards” of a small community which isn’t open enough for different forms than its own. I think it is time that this situation has changed. It seems to me that today there are not so many new forms in the field of multimedia, visual arts, as well as certain contemporary dance (which, again, should be defined).
What I could see and hear in the last few years on the international music scene (apart from certain kinds of rap music and contemporary composition), are musical forms from some other time which ended with 20th century. As for “improvised music”, it is an area in which there hasn’t been any innovation for a long time, it is almost as boring as jazz :))

5. How do you perceive the relation between planning and spontaneity in improvisation?

Krishnamurti “FREEING ONESELF OF THE KNOWN”
During a solo performance or with other musicians who don’t ask themselves such questions any more, I don’t look back to what I’ve just played, and I don’t anticipate my next move. Only the moment has to be right. It seems a bit confusing :))) and I’m sorry about that, but I can’t express it more clearly.

6. Do you “practise” for an improvisation, and what are your general thoughts on the idea of “practising” for improvisation?
When you improvise, do you use sounds that you’ve already “tried out”, and how much room is there for actual sound experimentation?

See answer to question 2.

7. How do you evaluate an improvisation? What is it, according to you, that makes one improvisation better than another?

Well, in the first case the music is bad, while in the second it is good :)) It is important to have a good time. Whether the audience is lulled to sleep with happiness, or if they are completely electrified, is an equally good indicator. What is often a characteristic of a good concert is the fact that the time has “disappeared”.

8. When you are recording for a release, does the awareness of being recorded influence your playing, and in what way?

Recording improvisation in the studio is unbearable to me. Concert recordings are much more interesting. I think that there have been too many concert CD releases which have been successful or not :)) I often get into conflict with musicians who want to release this or that concert at any cost. I look on these releases solely as testimonies of a certain period of a musical life. In my opinion, composition takes the central place within a discographic release (although I haven’t released any CD of a solo concert. Maybe there hasn’t been one that is good enough ;)