Det musikaliske biprodukt/Noiseman433 om støj

Just found my scanned copy of this–interview with me: “Det musikaliske biprodukt/Noiseman433 om støj” (Musical Biproducts/Noiseman433 and noise) pg. 29 Dec. 2003 of Soundvenue Magazine from Denmark

Thanks to Thomas Broge-Starck!!

interview in English below:

Thomas: Is noise, as a genre, music, and how do you know when its good or bad?  In fact, isn’t noise pr. definition bad?

Noiseman433: Yes–it’s very much a genre. Music is just ‘organized sound‘, and noise is just that, organized sound. People like to argue that it isn’t music, but until someone supplies me with a list of criteria that doesn’t exclude some well established genre of music, ‘organized sound’ is about the best anyone can hope for as a definition of music.

Like any genre of music, noise has it’s own conventions. Since noise doesn’t deal with melody or harmony; lacks beats or rhythmic structure; and generally has no lyrics (power electronics excepted) what you’re going to be dealing with in noise is texture. Good or bad is relative to tastes. Some of the sonic issues you find in noise isn’t unlike the work of composers like Xenakis and early Penderecki, or free jazz groups like Borbetomagus and the Peter Brotzman Sextet. The main difference is the focus purely on textures. You don’t have notes or rhythms getting in the way of the expression!

As far as noise being ‘bad’ per se, well, most people will always see it that way. But then again, some people will always think that hip hop or heavy metal is just noise, so you have to take the sentiment with a grain of salt. It’s like what Merzbow says, “If by noise you mean annoying music, then pop music is noise to me.” So definitions of noise are more often than not used in a self serving manner to dichotomize a value spectrum between “good” music and “bad” music, and the term usually gets used in a pejorative sense when applied to sound.


Thomas: If jazz is for relaxing, pop is for partying, and rock is for… well rocking. Then what is noisemusic for?

Noiseman433: Noise is for pure ecstasy. Conventional music is like walking on a beach and looking into the ocean. Noise music is actually being in the ocean. It’s a little bit like what Merzbow states what noise music is about–pure eroticism. It is pure sound without conventional structures getting in the way!


Thomas: Where do you see noise going, looking at commercialism? More and more DJs are using it. Will it ever get a breakthrough? Also what is the most commercial success noise has had, as of now.

Noiseman433: I doubt that noise will ever have a breakthrough. It really lacks anything that can be grasped by mass audiences. Commercial genres may use noise as elements in their songs but that isn’t the same as using noise AS a song. You know what I mean? Pop music structure relies on an easily accessible format: five minute song length; repetitive beat structures; simple melodies and harmonies and lyrics.

These things are what allow pop music to make money since it basically becomes product–if it weren’t easily accessible there’d be no reason for it to be popular after all. So no, I don’t think it will ever get a breakthrough.

As far as the most “commercial” success is concerned, I think Merzbow, GX Jupiter-Larsen, and Whitehouse probably have it. And that’s probably as it should be since they’ve been doing noise since the late 70s and are very much established.


Thomas: Now more personal: What differs your noise from other artists noise?

Noiseman433: I’ve been told that my noise is more like music. Whatever that means. I can see it in a sense as I am a classically trained musician. Quite often I will structure my recordings, or even individual compositions in a very specific manner. I will admit that the Hungarian composer, Bela Bartok, is somehow a major influence in a lot of my work, so I’ll often use palindromic structures in the way I arrange tracks on recordings (similar to how he structures his string quartets) and the glitch cut-up sound I produce within tracks or live is almost an homage to his vibrant usage of Hungarian folk melodies in odd key signatures and the quick changes in mood and style his work sometimes has.

Other influences would have to the fluxus artists and their event scores; John Cage, most definitely; and the earlier works of the minimalist avant garde (e.g. La Monte Young’s Theatre of Eternal Music and Terry Riley’s Shri Camel and In C). I’m not so sure how much other noise artists have influenced my work–it’s hard to say because I think I approach how I do noise very differently than a lot of them do it. Really I think this could be said of a lot of noise artists since there are no definite boundaries of how to do noise so everyone begins as an experimenter in their sound. And I could hardly list how any one of them have specifically shaped what I do the way I could the other artists.


Thomas: How do you do it? Physically, that is: How do you make those sounds?

Noiseman433: It depends on the type of set I’m doing. Sometimes I’ll included samples that I use live. Sometimes the sound source will actually be another piece of music that is distorted beyond recognition.

But most often I either use a feedback loop set-up or my sound source will consist of a piece of sheet metal. I have a very special technique with the feedback loop set-up that allows me to get the glitch/cut-up sounds that I get. I’ll just say it involves the way that I use my “Rat Shack” Electronic Reverb effects box. As far as the sheet metal is concerned, it really depends on my mood. Sometimes I treat it like a lover and I’ll gently caress it and tease out the sounds–at other times it’s an enemy and I’ll pummel it with my fists. The latter can be a bit hard on the hands and I’ve not always come away unscathed in those attacks.


Thomas: Why did you turn into Noiseman433? Why not Popman433, or Rapman433?

Noiseman433: Hah! It has to do with my love of wordplay. Noise being what it is and “433” being a reference to John Cage’s “silent” piece of the same name makes for a great oxymoron in a name, non? It isn’t something that would have worked so well otherwise.


Thomas: Why did you turn into Noiseman433? Why not Popman433, or Rapman433?

Noiseman433: Now that I got the name choice out of the way. Why Noise?

Basically–this goes back to what I said earlier. Noise is, in my view, the purest form of music. Why limit yourself to set conventions (especially of a commercial sort) when you have a whole palette to work with? I see noise as the what music should be without having learned constraints getting in the way. Sure, there are certain conventions in the noise genre, but you don’t have to follow them to do noise. It all depends on context. Since noise isn’t a commercial genre, there hardly a need to worry about making money–or even breaking even for that matter. So you can jsut concentrate on the sound, which is basically how I define music: organized sound.

Not having a set of conventions that must implicitly be followed also allows more freedon in live shows. I think Joeseph Roemer (of Macronympha) said it best in his “noise manifesto”:

My techniques change regularly and once new pieces of sound
or tech hardware are mastered – I can file them in my noise repertoire
and bring them out or f*ck with them at any time in any way. Makes for
a comprehensive tool-kit of so-called “instruments” at my disposal. I
see them as sound generators…If your crowd hates you, you can hate
them back and make their guts churn and their ears bleed. Noise lets
you perform how you feel exactly at the time. No having to repeat your
songs the same night after night – no venting your anger inwardly or
merely by thumping on a drum kit or chopping down on your guitar or bass
a lot harder with your hands. Noise is power.

And it is in live shows that noise really shines. Recording for me is more like an experimental space for working with sound; live shows are for pure sonic ecstasy.

It’s not as if I don’t do any other music. Some of the work on my recordings are purely sound art. More the maipulation of digital material than just recording. I also so sound installations and play cello in a side project called T.E.C. with an experimental turntablist. I’ll possibly be working with an electronica act, Lunar Event (http://www.lunarevent.com) next spring and am in the beginning stages of forming a Rennaisance Rock Band with a mandolin player and classically trained vocalists in Indianapolis. So noise is just one of my outlets of many, but it is still my first love.

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