Sep 032018
 

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Park Jiha belongs to a rising tide of contemporary musicians from Korea who are reshuffling and combining traditional and modern music in a very fascinating way. According to the words attached to the introduction of her recent debut album “Communion” (out on Glitterbeat‘s sister label tak:til), which I highly recommend checking out, “her music combines the formalism of classical minimalism, the rootedness of Korean folk motifs and the dynamics of post-rock and contemporary jazz.” We tried to explain her style using her own words.

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Park Jiha – courtesy of Kim Jaewoo


Chain D.L.K.
: Hi, Park! How are you?

Park Jiha: ^———-^

 

Chain D.L.K.: Before speaking of your awesome recent album ‘Communion,’ can we trace your path back? Do you remember the very first moments when you approached a musical instrument?

Park Jiha: Actually, I learned Western instruments first, such as piano and flute, when I was a child, and I liked singing also. I always liked music very much. So, one day, my parents suggested applying to Gukak National Middle School (Korean traditional music school). Gukak means Korean traditional music. Traditional Korean music is referred to as Gukak (Hangul: 국악), which literally means “national music.”
I chose my major upon entering Gukak Middle School. My major instrument was the Piri (bamboo oboe) and I stuck to my major until graduating college. After graduation and starting my own music, I wanted to make more varied sounds, so I learned the Saenghwang (mouth organ) and the Yanggeum (hammered dulcimer) by myself.

 

Chain D.L.K.: …and how did you start composing your own music?

Park Jiha: I learned Korean traditional music for more than 10 years, but I wanted to tell my story, because it was difficult to find any inspiration for playing traditional music. When I listen to Korean traditional music, I also feel it is deep and great music, but I can’t deliver my emotion with my playing. So I started to make my own music. I didn’t learn any composing, but I could write through my instruments and my ear.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Did the sources of inspiration change over years?

Park Jiha: Yes, of course. Because my life changed and grew up, my music also did the same.

 

Chain D.L.K.: The beauty of your music could turn you into the ambassador of the beauty of Korean culture, which is somehow unknown to the Western masses yet…would you suggest some reading or some listening in order to take the first steps into the fundamentals of Korean culture?

Park Jiha: I recommend the Korean traditional Piri solo piece called ‘Sangyeongsan,’ which is one of my favorite traditional pieces. This piece is very gentle and calm, but sometimes very deep and powerful. You can feel all about the Piri sound. [have a look/listen here: https://youtu.be/FDHwdnCausQ]

 

Chain D.L.K.: Your music is a really fascinating combination of jazz and Korean music dynamics…how did you start to think that a meeting of these elements could be possible?

Park Jiha: Actually, I don’t think that is a combination of Korean music and jazz. It is true I play Korean traditional instruments, but when I’m making music, I don’t think about genre. I just make my own music and stories. The other musicians who played with me on my record, they also didn’t think about genre when playing my music. I asked them to use their own style of playing. I think it is just a combination of sounds and the communication of my language and their language.

 

Park Jiha - courtesy of Nah Seungyull

Park Jiha – courtesy of Nah Seungyull

Chain D.L.K.: Let’s get deeper into Communion…why such a title?

Park Jiha: Communion, that meant a lot to me and my music and life. It’s not a coincidence that some sounds come up to me when I was making music. Numerous substances, environments, experiences, relationships, and processes of contact and sympathy flow naturally through time. It is routine, but every moment is very sublime, so I wanted to find one word that can explain those moments. ‘Communion’ is one word that can explain every moment of my life, but I couldn’t explain clearly.

I also still relate to the meaning of Communion. It’s a big word for me. Anyway, I liked the word because when I make music, I communicate  many things. For example, nature, people, air, and sometimes spirit. So, I wanted to find a word that meant ‘communication.’ I’m Catholic, so the word feels closer to me, but it doesn’t mean just a Catholic tradition. The word ‘Communion’ covers a lot of fields. After I recorded this album, I named the title ‘Communion.’

 

Chain D.L.K.: The title track could resemble Colin Stetson’s sonorities, but there’s something different in the daydreaming interplay you added as well as in the awesome closing…do you agree? What can you say about this great track?

Park Jiha: I think It is a very simple piece. At the beginning and end of this piece, I just repeat a simple melody, mi-do mi-do mi-do mi-do~ fa-do fa-do fa-do fa-do, something like that… Actually, this simple melody was the beginning of the piece. One day, I recorded this melody on my phone, and then for a while, I forgot this melody. Maybe a year later I listened again to this melody file on my phone, and then I started to make this piece.

 

Chain D.L.K.: I read you play some Korean traditional instruments…can you tell us something about them? Any related detail about them that our readers would never find on Wikipedia?

Park Jiha: Piri is a very small bamboo oboe. It has a reed, although very small, and only has 8 holes. But its sound is very loud. I think it is a very primitive and very sensitive instrument. The shape looks very simple, but when I’m playing Piri, I have to control many unexpected variables. It’s always hard to me, but because of like this awkward reasons, I feel attracted to the Piri. Moreover, the Piri is my major instrument, so that’s why I have great affection for the Piri.

A Saenghwang is a kind of mouth organ. It consists of lots of bamboo pipes. Mine is 24 pipes. It has a mysterious sound; sometimes it’s like electronic sounds, but it’s also like very natural sounds. Most of the Korean instruments cannot make harmony, but the Saenghwang is the one instrument that can make harmony. When pressing keys or closing holes in the pipes, if I press several keys, I can create harmony.

A Yanggeum is a hammered dulcimer. It’s like an Indian Santur and a Hungarian cimbalom. Recently, I am liking this instrument more and more, even though I didn’t learn in the proper form. I just needed the sounds from the Yanggeum, so I tried to do it by myself. Now, I’m just playing it in my way, but through that process, I have found different sounds. It’s not the proper way, but I think it’s cool.

 

Chain D.L.K.: One of my favorite moments of the whole album is its longest track, featuring a weird title: “Sounds Heard From The Moon”… any background information about this astonishing piece?

Park Jiha: I like the German artist Nils Frahm very much. I love all of his work, but I was especially impressed by his piece ‘Said and Done.’

That piece starts with only one repeated note; the sound and note are very simple, but when I listened, in that moment I could imagine the infinite possibility in one note.

I think the Yanggeum is also kind of a very old piano, so I got an idea from his piano piece.

 

Park Jiha – courtesy of Nah Seungyull

Chain D.L.K.: Another fav is the closing track “The first time I sat across from you,” and that sax solo! Do you remember the feelings or the thoughts shaking this track while recording/performing?

Park Jiha: I think this track’s point is a contrast between Yanggeum and sax playing.

I play a fully organized piece, while KimOki (sax player) plays a very free improvisation. I really like his musical language. I made some musical demands of him in my music, but I didn’t touch his own style. He is always super!

 

Chain D.L.K.: Could you tell us some introductory words about the other musicians playing on “Communion”?

Park Jiha: Every person that worked with me on this album gave me some inspiration. Everyone is really different…their musical backgrounds and lifestyles, especially John Bell’s. He’s from New Zealand. They also all have their own musical work, but the style is totally different from mine. John Bell, Ki, Oki and King Tekhyun, their music is more spiritual, powerful. My music is more calm and minimal, but I like each one’s music style too. I could learn many things from them. I think the variety of harmony on Communion is also ideal.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Have you performed Communion on a live stage? If yes, what are the audiences you prefer?

Park Jiha: Yes, I did last year and this spring in Europe. I have some more in Europe, the US and Brazil this fall.

I’m very thankful to all the audiences who come to my concerts. I don’t have any preference. I wish I could share my music with them. That’s all.

Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

Park Jiha: I’m planning to perform ‘Communion’ at NY’s EMPAC theater and Washington’s Kennedy Center in September, and I recently almost finished my next album recording!! Thank you so much.

visit Park Jiha on the web at www.parkjiha.com

Jul 192018
 

Mikey Antonio – AlterRed

UK industrial/rock act AlterRed returns with the hard-hitting Trauma; Trauma Reinforcement available now on WTII Records. Definitely reflective of today’s hostile world, Trauma; Trauma Reinforcement takes the listener down a dark path filled with rage, instability, resistance and angst. This more aggressive AlterRed combines dirty guitars and heavy beats over thick layers of synths and noise. Their innovative sound was first introduced with the release of “Breaking News” and continues to morph on tracks like “Speed Test,” “Wait for the Recoil” and “You Get Nothing.” Topping off this release is a cover of the Duran Duran classic, “Wild Boys.

Lead vocalist Mikey Antonio was kind enough to take some time out to answer a few of our questions.  We very much appreciate his time.

 

Chain D.L.K.: The new album, “Trauma; Trauma Reinforcement” was just released on WTII Records and is the first release since 2015.  Talk a little bit please about the evolution of these songs since then.

AR: Hey! Thanks for speaking with us! Well, after the first three albums, which were a bit spooky-electro-cabaret, and very much fantastical and riddled with metaphors for mental health issues, we wanted to go back our electro-rock roots, which we did on our last album, “In the Land of the Blind.” Then, when I began writing Trauma, there just seemed to be so much social discord, misogyny and general intolerance in the air. In global politics, in Hollywood, in TV and Music in general – years of social inequality, injustice and abuse had come to a tipping point, and while I’ve always had strong political views, I’ve usually kept them out of the music. It seems with Trauma I just couldn’t contain it!

 

Chain D.L.K.: The cover art for “Trauma…” is pretty provocative with the people with the bags over their heads.  What was the inspiration behind that?

AR: Vix Vain has always been the creative mind behind our imagery, and between the two of us, we have designed all of the concepts and stage theatrics. For Trauma, though, Vix had a very specific idea of what she wanted to do based on the title. She wanted to base the cover on the experience of the surrealist artist Rene Magritte. It is said that Rene Magritte’s mother committed suicide, and when she was pulled from the river her dress was covering her face, which young Rene saw. This is thought to be the source of several of Magritte’s paintings where cloth covers the face, such as his painting “The Lovers.”

 

Chain D.L.K.: You have a really interesting hybrid of sounds. Can you talk about the collective influences from the different band members?

AR: Jack Hell has been our bassist from the start. We initially didn’t want a guitarist but instead chose a distorted bass guitar with throbbing electronic basslines beneath them. Then, when we wrote the “In the Land of the Blind” album, we added the electro-rock element and acquired a full-time guitarist. Trauma is the first album for which I have worked with a producer, Sheldon Trinder. Sheldon’s band I Will Leave No Memoirs has a particularly disturbing darkness to it, so I thought it would be interesting to see what his take on my songs would be. I initially sent him one track that was simply a basic piano piece with a throbbing bassline behind it – what he sent back absolutely blew my mind. I wrote lyrics for it and that became “The Only Way is Down.” We’d been looking for a project to work on together for a few years (some of which were so insane, I really hope we do them one day!) so we began working collaboratively on the album. Sheldon’s work on the album really does deserve a lot of credit! It would have been a very different album without him.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Why the decision to cover “Wild Boys” by Duran Duran?

AR: Hahahaha, OK, yeah that probably does seem like an odd choice. In a nutshell, I’d been toying with the idea for so long (I had tried it with four different bands!) so it was a case of just getting it down with the right line-up and producer. The crowds love it live, too!!

 

Chain D.L.K.: How would you describe AlterRed to someone who has never heard your music before?

AR: Electro-Rock-Industrial. Music to lose your mind to!

 

Chain D.L.K.: Tell us about some of the emotional dynamics behind some of the tracks on the new album…i.e. joyful, therapeutic, sad, etc.

AR: There is a bit of a range, from some very personal stuff (like Down and Bohemian Class) to the more punk and anarchic songs like PS Fuck You, Mad Dogs and You Get Nothing. There’s also my take on rolling news media (Breaking News) and how disposable and meaningless it is making something as essential as informative, objective and challenging journalism. The lyrics are a simple set of news clichés!

 

Chain D.L.K.: The first single and video from the album is “Speed Test.” What can you tell us about this song, the idea behind it and the upcoming video?

AR: Well, the video is in the hands of Duncan Catteral, who has worked with us on all of our videos. We usually sit down and hammer out a concept, but Duncan had a very specific idea for this based on some movie imagery we both love. It’s still in post production, so I’ve not seen it yet. I can’t wait to see the finished results, though.

The song itself is a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, who died in 2015. It was the first song I wrote for this album, and I wanted the lyrics to be fitting of his lifestyle and the style of the song to be an industrial take on Motorhead’s punk-metal sound (which I am a HUGE fan of).

 

Chain D.L.K.: What equipment and software went into the writing of “Trauma; Trauma Reinforcement” and how was it different than the previous albums?

AR: I write pretty much everything on my trusty Korg Triton, then we re-orchestrated at the mixing and production stage.

 

Chain D.L.K.: What other plans have you for 2018 and possibly into 2019?

AR: So, 2018 will see us play a few showcase shows around the UK. We kicked off with the album launch in Dalston, London, on Friday the 13th July, which was a really great night. We’re putting a few more shows on, including at the very awesome Club Antichrist in London. We’ll play in Glasgow, Cardiff and Winchester, too. Then, of course, there’s the video to come!

2019, we currently have plans for two tours with two different bands, one in the spring and then again in the autumn. We also have a few festivals penciled in, so watch this space.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Many, many years from now, a very distant relative finds their way to the attic of an old home. In the attic they locate a box labeled “AlterRed” and inside find some of your recordings. What would you like this person to know of your legacy simply based upon listening to your music?

AR: Wow, what a question! I feel this box should come with an explanation and apology!

I’d like the music to be perceived as punchy, energetic and catchy, with a point to make, but for some of the more personal and complex songs, I hope the person would be able to connect the dots with many of the stories, images and metaphors.

 

visit AlterRed on the web at:
https://www.facebook.com/AlterRedMusic/

To Buy Trauma: Trauma Reinforcement:

https://wtiirecords.bandcamp.com/album/trauma-trauma-reinforcement

Jul 102018
 

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“Every day they order Alix to wake up, and he wakes up. They order him to eat, and he eats. They order him to get up, and he gets up. They order him to enter the white room, and he enters. They order him to lie down, and he lies down. And then, as they tie his hands and feet with some of the many ironworks, ribbons and straps that are in the room, Alix, who is not aware that he was released, falls asleep. It is the moment in which his brain registers each and every one of the words that were said to him, and he does it so avidly, unconsciously, but avidly. However, the darkness rapidly falls, stifling any hint of brain activity in a few seconds. Again the impenetrable blackness, again the night.          Wake up.”

With the collaboration of the renowned techno producer Oscar Mulero and some habitual collaborators of the project – David Sergeant (guitar), Greg Gobel (clarinet) and David Herrington (tuba) – Alix is the new album (released by HUMO in April 2018) by Territoire, the brainchild of the French producer and composer Olivier Arson, focusing on a sort of plot, starring the same-named slave from his birth as a submissive being until the meeting of the ones who sold him… Is Alix a fictitious character, or something closer to an ordinary being of our times? Let’s try to answer  this question with its author…

 

Territoire - courtesy of Tasio

Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Olivier! How are you?

Olivier Arson: I’m fine, thank you! Just got back from a rehearsal with the band. Thanks for the interest in our music.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Before focusing on the last output as Territoire, some introductory questions to let our readers shake your hand… I saw you worked on some soundtracks and you also gained a nomination for one of them (“Que Dios nos perdone”)! How did you start winking at the seventh art?

Olivier Arson: I had tracks from previous projects picked for soundtracks, but composing original music for films actually came after the first record of TERRITOIRE, Mandorle. I received the offer to score May God Save Us [title in english], and since then I have not stopped and really developed a great passion for it.

 

Chain D.L.K.: How important for you is the mutual understanding and communication with other members working on a movie (the director, in particular)?

Olivier Arson: Understanding with the director is absolutely key, and sometimes I even consider it to be somehow the co-author of the score. I also like to work closely with the editor; I try to give them demos before they start editing so pictures and music can go hand in hand right from the beginning. And, obviously, I try to talk as much a possible with the sound designer as my music relies very much on sound.

 

Chain D.L.K.: You were born in Paris, but you currently live in Madrid, don’t you? What’s the reason behind this choice?

Olivier Arson: I always had a complicated relationship with Paris and left a very long time ago. I have found in Madrid a more laid-back attitude. I feel people are more open and, generally, there is just more joy here. It’s also smaller, and at first, it almost felt like a village. Paris is more modern, but it was always  violent and aggressive to me.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Many soundtrack composers sometimes dreams of rescoring the OST of some famous game or movie… If you had similar reverie, which movie/game/theater piece would you like to re-sound?

Olivier Arson: I have never thought about this, I have to say! I dream more about the next movie, really.

 

Territoire - courtesy of Tasio

Chain D.L.K.: Let’s focus on your project Territoire… Why did you call it so?

Olivier Arson: I really like the concept of territory. It’s a moving thing, and I feel it allows me to explore in many ways while keeping an identity.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Would you say that Territoire’s sound influences your way of composing music for OSTs, or vice versa?

Olivier Arson: I always try to accept OST projects that share some connection with my personal work with TERRITOIRE, so I would say now both influence each other. TERRITOIRE taught me to instill some rawness into my scores, and with the work on films, I have learned a lot about translating emotions into music. I think it will come out somehow in the future.

 

Chain D.L.K.: You made a proper plot for your new album “Alix”…who is Alix?

Olivier Arson: Yes. I really wanted not to talk about me or personal experiences, so it was important I had an external concept for the record. When I started experimenting with the voice, I felt a character had been born. I chose Alix because it’s both a male and female name, as I wanted the character also to be as open as possible. More than a slave, I see him as a submissive being who has suffered a lot, physically and mentally, and tries to escape his condition.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Any references to contemporary forms of slavery?

Olivier Arson: Absolutely; it is a subject that resonates deeply with me, and even in our modern society, I think alienation through perception management strategies is also a form of slavery in disguise. And plain old slavery is present everywhere and still going strong (figures vary a lot, but it is estimated that at least 25 million people are in forced labor), but also human trafficking and prostitution, of course.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Would you say that Territoire’s territory is the one of Sonar as an active goer of Spanish festivals?

Olivier Arson: I would say so. I really like Sonar, and we had a great experience there a few years ago.

 

Chain D.L.K.: One of the collaborators in Alix is the renowned techno-maker Oscar Mulero… how did he help to forge the plot and the sound of Alix?

Olivier Arson: Yes, I’m very glad I could count on him. Oscar mainly did the beats and mixed the tracks. I think he was pivotal to the sound because he really instilled some strength in it. I think he wasn’t too much involved in the plot, but he totally understood the intentions and also did some great rearrangements on a few tracks.

 

Alix - cover artworkChain D.L.K.: Some tracks (such as the gorgeous “Esclvvv” or “Chant”) astonishingly manage to render a mixture of a longing for freedom and the attrition by some chain…is such a duality intentional or spontaneous?

Olivier Arson: I think most of it is spontaneous, but also there are moments where I didn’t want Alix to be only this doomed character. In the process of his story, I think it was important that he had moments of strength and even pride so he could try to get out.

 

Chain D.L.K.: “Quatre siecles de privileges” (French for “Four centuries of privileges”)…what’s the reference of this title? How did this reference get translated into sound?

Olivier Arson: It refers to Alix’s masters. This track is about the reencounter he has with the people who sold him. I thought it would be a slight moment of light; maybe he reunites with his family.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Have you performed Alix on live stage yet? If not, are you going to perform it?

Olivier Arson: Yes, we did the first show a month ago to warm up a bit, and we are now preparing a string of really special dates for after the summer.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

Olivier Arson: I am starting a couple of soundtracks now and will work on new material for TERRITOIRE very soon!!

 

visit Olivier Arson on the web at www.olivierarson.com

Jul 102018
 

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The sparkling idea and the intuition behind Nodding Terms (2018, col legno), the new release by crossover musician Ketan Bhatti, is that contemporary chamber music and groove club music can peacefully and harmoniously co-exist! In order to create a nest for these two meeting styles, Ketan invited the German-Icelandic Ensemble Adapter as well as his studio neighbors Paul Frick and Jan Brauer. The way in which they blurred the borders of new music and grooves is really amazing. While you’re invited to listen to the final result, check out this chat we had with Ketan just after listening to Nodding Terms.

 

Nodding Terms cover artwork

Ketan Bhatti “Nodding Terms” cover artwork

Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Ketan! How are you?

Ketan Bhatti: I’m fine, thanks. I just recovered from an intense rehearsal phase for my release concert last week. It was really fun, but I had to shut down my mobile for the weekend to clear my head and have some family time with my two kids and wife.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Just out of curiosity…are you a descendant of that Bhatti clan belonging to the so-called Lunar dynasty?

Ketan Bhatti: Psst. That’s a secret! No, seriously: I have never heard of them. Would be funny, if I was.

 

Chain D.L.K.: You collaborate with your brother Vivan, don’t you? Can you tell us something about this family affair?

Ketan Bhatti:  Yes, Vivan and me, we have played and worked together since childhood. He is 6 years older, so of course, everything he did, I wanted to do myself. So he would practice guitar, and I would play along on the drums.

First, we were playing in the same Hip-Hop and Reggae bands (he on guitar, me on drums), then we started producing and composing together in our cellar studio in Bielefeld, where we grew up.
Now we do almost everything as a team. We have our studio in Berlin, where I live. He’s got a little home studio in Bielefeld, and he comes to Berlin like once or twice a month.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Did you follow more or less the same path in music, or did you have different interests? Have you ever squabbled on personal musical tastes? 🙂

Ketan Bhatti: Vivan was into classical music at a very early age, while I hated it. 🙂 I was into improvising, and I almost stopped with music at the age of 7, because my piano teacher didn’t let me play a single note unless I could read it first. My mum searched then for a teacher who was more open to other concepts of teaching… That was a very important step, otherwise I might not be doing what I am doing today. I later also got into classical music while I was studying at University. Vivan studied classical guitar in Munich, while I studied jazz drums in Berlin at the UdK. Our common ground used to be Hip-Hop and Rock music. Then, Experimental music, Electronica, and Contemporary Classical music were added more and more. I think during the years we developed a common taste and interest in certain areas of music. It actually never happens that I dig something that he wouldn’t dig too, or at least get why I dig it.

We both are interested in music that is always on the edge of its genre. So we both like music that transforms into something else, something new.

 

Ketan Bhatti

courtesy of Graz Diez

Chain D.L.K.: You mainly composed scores, stage, and film music…how did you get closer to this branch of composition?

Ketan Bhatti: An old friend of Vivan’s, who happened to also study in Munich, parallel to Vivan, became a director and author in theater and film – Nuran David Calis is his name. We’ve worked with him since his first play in 2003 in every context of theatre and film. Since we were combining different genres, from Hip-Hop to Classical music, in his plays, we started to become these experts for combining so-called “Hochkultur” with “subcultur” (a typical German way of categorizing things…). That’s how the Urban Dance group “Flying Steps“ became aware of us and invited us to work with them on their project Flying Bach in 2010, which has now been on world tour for 8 years already. Since then, we’ve produced and composed the music for all their dance theatre productions. But I wouldn’t say that we do mainly stage music. It’s more like 50/50. 50% of our work is music for productions, where the music is supporting a story or any director’s idea (theatre, dance theatre), while 50% is music for ensemble or music theatre, where the music is in the center (concert music, music theatre). I like the mix.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Is there any soundtrack composer that you consider a wizard and a source of inspiration for your musical research?

Ketan Bhatti: Mmm, there are many composers who I admire for their approach to score music. The last score that blew my mind was the score to “Arrival“, composed by Johan Johansson, who passed away this year. The sounds he used were really amazing. He happened to work with the same engineer that we did on our last orchestra production, Francesco Donatello, who is a great producer and mixing engineer here in Berlin.

 

Chain D.L.K.: I’ve heard your recent output Nodding Terms…it’s really amazing! I particularly enjoyed its crossover style… How would you label it?

Ketan Bhatti: I don’t know. How would you label it? Before the release concert, we came up with the label “contemporary chamber music with rumble-beat“. Of course, the easiest way would be to say “Contemporary Chamber music with influences of avant-garde Hip-Hop and Electronic music”. But a lot of projects are labeled this way: “Hip-Hop meets classic”, “Classic meets Techno”, and so on… I always had the feeling I kept reading about projects that sounded the same as my music – following their text – but listening to it, it appeared to be always exactly the opposite – or at least a negative example of an attempt of this kind of crossover. For me, it’s really about “Nachahmung“ – mimesis between different ways of expression, different genres, and cultures. And Nachahmung always means more than imitation. It means transformation, metamorphosis, but working with your abilities. So if I imitate “something else”, and I’m really into it, I transform myself – and that’s crucial: not the “something else”, but something new! So Nachahmung always leads to innovation.

On Nodding Terms, I tried to evoke this mimetic process between these two genres – Contemporary Chamber music and Electronica or “urban music”.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Why did you title it Nodding Terms?

Ketan Bhatti: Well, I liked the picture of the expression “to be on nodding terms with someone”. And that you have the nod on this. Nodding is something that almost doesn’t exist in Contemporary Classical music in Europe. So I wanted a music that you can somehow nod to – but not totally. The rhythm is always a little weird. Sometimes the rhythm is what is not played… I’m very influenced by Jay Dilla and his way of unquantized programming. He is just the greatest. Everything is always a little too late, or too early, but since it’s all loop music, these irregularities become their own feeling.

Then, I liked the picture of two genres (Contemporary Classical music and Experimental urban club music) that only are “on nodding terms“ with each other…

 

Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever been on nodding terms with someone of the ensemble? Any word about Adapter?

Ketan Bhatti: Yeah, we have been nodding a lot! I’ve worked with Adapter since 2011. We met when the harp player Gunnhildur Einarsdottir, the percussion player Matthias Engler and myself played in the Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble. We had a great time there.

I have composed several pieces for Adapter. Most of the tracks on Nodding Terms are composed for them. They are one of the few ensembles out there that are really into new music and that do play pieces by living composers. They experiment a lot also in the area of music theater and how music is presented in concerts. My first piece for them was a crossover between a scientistic lecture and a concert, involving scientists. So they are very open. And that’s rare. I’m glad they are working with me. But I give them a hard time. Playing these kinds of rhythms is really heavy. And since it’s never only just 4/4 meter music, it needs a lot of rehearsing to master this 7/16 -, 25/16 – grooves and play them tight. They do it great!

 

Ketan Bhatti

courtesy of Graz Diez

Chain D.L.K.: Is there a more or less hidden plot behind Nodding Terms?

Ketan Bhatti: That’s yours to find out 😉

 

Chain D.L.K.: Does improvisation play a role in Nodding Terms or not?

Ketan Bhatti: Oh yes, it does. First of all: I come from improvising. And I develop ideas while improvising. Although most of the tracks are written very precisely, there are moments where I didn’t write down what to play, but gave them instructions of how to play. In the live concert, we integrate a lot of improvisation into the set.

 

Chain D.L.K.: How did you brief before performing each track?

Ketan Bhatti: Well, since I come from the producing side, I had midi tracks that were pretty much giving a clear idea of what the track is about. Everything else we talked about, and in the studio we tried a different interpretation of certain textures for some pieces.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Nodding Terms as a Concert/Club Night in 3 acts…how did they relate to each other?

Ketan Bhatti: Paul Frick invited Milian Vogel (one of the BCL players on Nodding Terms), Matthias Engler and me for a Live Jam Session two years ago. We didn’t talk about what to play and how. It ended as one of the greatest improv session I ever played. Paul was using just his synth – Juno 106 and the Roland Sh101, Milian was using his effects on his BCL (Loopstation, Pitchshifter etc.). Matthias came with a lot of sound toys – and even a banjo! I just used my drum set. We decided that this should be part of our live set.

Paul Frick has an album coming out soon too. All three acts have in common the attempt to widen the range of experimental, but yet accessible music, with the same aesthetic background of avant-garde music – electronic and acoustic. So it fits very well. But it also puts the focus on different areas. Nodding Terms is more on the complex avant-garde side, the improv act more on the improvisation, and Paul’s part is more on the club music approach.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Have you started performing on live stage? Any amazing feedback?

Ketan Bhatti: We just had our release concert. It was amazing. It was the first time that I was on stage and felt like: this is exactly what I want to do. This is my music without any compromises. The audience was a wide range, from a classical music audience to people who are more into Hip-Hop and Club music. They all seemed to like it.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Any other work in progress?

Ketan Bhatti: Uff. It’s a busy time right now. I have my Trickster Orchestra, which combines instruments from all over the world to make an intercultural avant-garde music, with which we will do a big project in September in Berlin and Istanbul. Vivan and I are writing an orchestra piece for a project with the Flying Steps for 2019, and we are doing a film score as we speak. Also, we are writing an Opera for Staatstheater Hannover for 2019; then there will be also a Portrait Concert of me hosted by the Van Magazin on 29.9.2018 in Berlin. So it doesn’t get boring too soon. 🙂

 

visit Ketan Bhatti on the web at: www.bhatti-music.de

Jul 102018
 

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Born in 1976, NICOLAS WIESE studied design, illustration, sound art, philosophy and sociology and has since been working in various fields: his (audio-)visual art has been presented in galleries and at exhibitions in Teheran, Gent, London, Vienna, St. Louis, Istanbul, Madrid a.o. As a musician/composer, he released a number of solo and collaborative albums under the [-Hyph-] moniker and his civilian name on labels like Walter Ulbricht Schallfolien or Corvo Records. His last release “Unrelated” (out on 29th June for the excellent Karlrecords), the third in the Periklas series, has been described as vital proof of WIESE’s artistic skills and a highly entertaining concern, melting electro-acoustic, musique concrète and sampledelia…let’s check the reason through the words of its author!

 

Nicolas Wiese - courtesy of Oliver Ruhnke

Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Nicolas! How are you?

Nicolas Wiese: Hi! I’m fine, thanks. After a couple of very busy months, slowing down a bit right now, so the sunny weather comes just in time.

Chain D.L.K.: How would you introduce yourself to someone who understands sound art? …And how would you introduce yourself to someone who ignores everything related to sound art?

 

Nicolas Wiese: I would tell both the same, more or less: My music is composed out of tiny processed bits from acoustic recordings, and I work with analog feedback.

The decidedly ignoring person might have already walked away by now, so for the other person I would add a little more:

Some of my electroacoustic pieces exist solely as musical compositions; some of them exist in different versions, for other contexts and formats – for installations, animation video, film, radio plays, music theatre and multimedia performance, or as open fragments to be spontaneously modified and extended in live improvisations. Acoustic instruments and the human voice are the primary sources I like to use, but it’s certainly not limited to those.

When processing and editing any kind of source recordings, I always consider carefully the properties and characteristics of those original sounds. Following the approach of my friend and mentor Asmus Tietchens: always regard the suggestions made by the material itself.

Chain D.L.K.: I/we talked about sound art, but maybe the one prevailing in your artistic path is the visual one, isn’t it?

Nicolas Wiese: It’s hard to tell whether the visual output or the auditive output is predominant. I’d say it’s 50/50, roughly. It depends on the period, what projects are in the making. That’s why I prefer to call myself an ‘audiovisual artist’, not because it’s always necessarily synchronized, but because I’m doing both in equal proportion.

I studied Communication Design in Hamburg, at a time before the Bachelor/Master system was established, and it was pretty open and experimental, very artistic, kind of free. Since I’ve been making sample-based ‘underground’ music since my teenage days and was also involved in the Hamburg experimental music scene quite a lot during my student years, it was only logical to include sound work in my (visually-focussed) University projects. It basically started with analog projections plus tape collages, all done without the use of computers back then.

There have been quite a lot of exhibitions and installations in the past 15 years, however, I’d say that my primary format of presentation is the staged performance, with a clear beginning and a clear ending.
I like the open time frame, the cyclic character of installations too. But it’s a totally different way of arranging elements in time. Visitors in exhibitions tend to walk in and out at random moments, so you need to compose for an installation in a way that people capture the essence more or less in a brief excerpt….and for those who like to stay there for an hour, it should be interesting and somewhat rewarding for a longer duration too.

Anyway, I don’t want to draw the distinctions too much; all interesting art is adaptable to one another in some way and that’s why it’s crucial for me to cross boundaries whenever I can. For colleagues and collaborators from the visual art field, I’m often ‘the sound guy’, while composers/musicians often see me as ‘the visual guy’ 🙂 In every context, I’m the one from ‘the other side’, and, well, that’s perfectly OK with me!

Nicolas Wiese performing in Ghent

Chain D.L.K.: Besides art/design, you also studied sociology and philosophy…how do you intersect these fields of human knowledge to your artistic outputs?

Nicolas Wiese: Making art (and music) is a form of practical philosophy, that’s something I’m convinced of. A kind of philosophy applied to material, or philosophy implemented by means of aesthetic creation… Thinking with one’s hands, with paint, with sounds, with objects, in a way…well, the material can be words too, of course. It’s often hard to tell the difference between concept art and experimental philosophy, for that matter. The thing is: artists are free from the strict rules of systematic science. You should be precise at something, sure, but not necessarily in the same way that scientists (and ‘real’ philosophers) need to be precise. You are allowed to make mistakes and to be illogical, and to keep that in your final result, even take it to the extreme.

I used to do things that refer very clearly to certain writings, philosophical/political writings, or to sociological phenomena and searches…descriptive and explicit political stuff…but that became less and less at some point, for reasons that would take us too far now. In the end, it all boils down to what you feel honest about. I used to feel honest about my explicit political stuff when I was younger, and I feel honest now to keep things in a more openly associative manner.

Chain D.L.K.: I read your works have been exposed in many galleries and exhibitions all over the world… Have you ever noticed any influence of the cultural environment of the exhibit’s location and the feedback you received? Can you share some anecdotes related to this aspect?

Nicolas Wieser Well, the different places in the world are maybe not that different at all, when you have the chance to spend time with friendly locals who share similar interests with you 🙂 I firmly believe in the notion of internationalism and that cultural differences, however much we’ve all been indoctrinated in the first place, shouldn’t amount to the very core of human relations. But yeah, people react differently to things they find interesting when they’re not surrounded by them all the time. When I was invited to Tehran, for a media art festival that was one of the first events of its kind in the whole country, I could sense a huge excitement among all those young artists and their friends – they felt at the dawn of a new big thing, that would bring enormous creative freedom to them and that would also translate into more freedom in everyday life, in some form. Also, the reactions I got there for my stuff were different from Berlin audiences, who’re often oversaturated, have seen it all, have to make a choice between 100 gallery openings and experimental concerts every day of the week…you know…

Chain D.L.K.: Apropos of anecdotes, Corvo records (a very interesting label by Wendelin, a guy I met in Taranto, my native town in southern Italy, for a likewise interesting project some years ago) released Living Theory Without Anecdotes in 2013…could you introduce this release to our readers? The meaning of such a bizarre title?

Nicolas Wiese: That title probably has a lot to do with what we discussed above: aesthetic construction as a form of philosophy, a (non-verbal) shortcut between theory and praxis. And also, the aforementioned departure from explicit messages, description and explanation. The anecdote, for me, is a reassurance of a worldview. You tell a little story to exemplify ‘how things are’…or, ‘how people are’. You usually tell this to people who share the same views. In a casual yet effective way, you ‘keep certainty in its place’ by telling an anecdote. So with that album title, I guess I wanted to emphasize the aspects of my music that are radically opposed to that.

The music itself: well, I think it’s up to the listener to judge. It’s an album I’m still quite happy with. Most of the sound material was derived from acoustic (‘classical’) instruments, and besides placing them in strange spatial relations, I altered their sound’s physical properties by ‘illogical’ or ‘unnatural’ volume curves, attacks and decays. Theory-praxis trying to defy natural laws, if you will…

Chain D.L.K.: I had the chance to listen to your last output on Karlrecords… That’s amazing! First of all, can you explain its title? A smart “anarchic” alternative to ‘Untitled’? 🙂

Nicolas Wiese: No, nothing like ‘Untitled’ at all! The title Unrelated is very much titled 🙂 There are different aspects. Formally, the many many bits of the source material, as well as the pieces as such, are unrelated, as they are drawn out of different contexts. The task was to make a coherent sequence out of stuff that has originally nothing to do with each other, except that it (hopefully!) carries a certain common signature. The list of collaborators and contributors is quite long, all credited on the rear of the sleeve. Many of them will certainly not recognize themselves. Some musicians are only present for one or two seconds. Others have vastly contributed to parts of the compositional structures. There’s even a remix of the drums and guitar duo Rant.

It’s really a kind of panorama summarizing my different sound works from the past couple of years.

The other meaning of Unrelated is closely linked to that, but on another level: the contexts are different, and so are the contexts and ‘scenes’ the sampled contributors are being part of. Not only different music scenes – in one case, it’s visual artists (Doris Schmid and Nina Staehli) who used my sound material for a video work in 2016, and then for the piece on the album (When We Was Trapped) I re-worked that video soundtrack arrangement including parts of the on-site recordings that were not originally mine. It’s a statement of working together with people from different backgrounds, bringing all that material together to create something new, and therefore it’s a statement of not being part of any particular scene. So, unrelated…and equally multi-related, probably.

And lastly, there’s an existential personal meaning too… I feel totally unrelated to all the horrible shit that’s going on in the world. I know that I’m part of the problem, as a human being and especially as a consuming citizen of the so-called western world, but I just can’t seem to make my peace with how things are and where we are heading. It’s all pretty fucked up and I feel totally alien amidst all that. … “Those who love peace must organize more effectively than those who advocate war and hate.” It’s true, but what can we do? We’re simply not organized well enough. Ideal and reality: unrelated. … But let’s drop that for now. The sun is shining, my cats are alright, my album is coming up. It’s all good.

Chain D.L.K.: I enjoyed since the first mash-up ‘Cuck Rock’. How did you make it?

Nicolas Wiese: Vinyl and voices. This is a kind of ‘turntablism’ cut-up piece, employing old Metal/Hardcode and HipHop records, and then combined with the voices of my collaborators Elisabetta Lanfredini and Natalia Pschenitschnikova, tiny bits taken from raw recordings for another project. At the end of the piece, you hear spatial re-recordings – the voice cut-ups have been played back over monitor speakers in the studio and then recorded again from various distances, via stereo microphones. These takes are interwoven carefully with the direct information in the final mix. A technique I use quite a lot; it’s in almost every other piece on this album, but often less obvious than here.

Unrelated - cover artowrk

Chain D.L.K.: I read that some elements of Unrelated came out of some experiments you made in a time-span of 6 years…can you tell us something about the experimental items you used and in which tracks?

Nicolas Wiese: A lot of that I have already outlined…the record brings together pieces that have already existed before the album project was settled, and others that I just recently arranged (or re-arranged) specifically for the release, also containing older fragments and structures.

Expediency/Atavism, for example, has been finalized quite recently but contains key elements of a sound installation that dates back to 2012. That one was presented within our Neukoelln studio series Quiet Cue and was exclusively based on fragments of sessions and concerts that have been recorded in our space since the (now defunct) event series had been launched in late 2009.

Chain D.L.K.: What does ‘The Indulgence’ refer to? A sort of self-indulgence, or are there any other references?

Nicolas Wiese: There are conceptual titles and there are titles I would call ‘intuitive-associative’ 🙂 The Indulgence is one of the latter, a title hard to explain straight away. The word, I find interesting because of its ambivalence; at first glance, it’s something positive, but it bears some negative associations as well, like decadence, abundance, escapism, and self-indulgence, as you mentioned… Well, that title came up somehow and I found it totally in place. The track is based on a collaboration with Al Margolis aka. If, Bwana. Al used some of my pre-processed material, layers and feedback recordings, for some new compositional sketches, and then I generated different versions of finalized pieces from that. A remote file exchange collaboration that we hope to continue as time allows.

Chain D.L.K.: If I hadn’t read your name on the files, I’d maybe think the author of many tracks of Unrelated were some big names of GRM… Did you ever visit the GRM Studios? Are you a fan of some ‘concretiste’ in particular?

Nicolas Wiese: Oh, thanks, I’ll take it as a compliment. No, I haven’t visited the GRM studios yet. My ties to the academic world of electroacoustic music are pretty limited – which doesn’t mean rejection, it’s just not where I happen to be at home. Paris has hardly been on my map at all yet; the academic connections in terms of that type of music have rather been to Montréal (the CEC – Canadian Electroacoustic Community, for instance).

A short list of Musique Concrète pioneers I’m a fan of: Luc Ferrari, Else Marie Pade, Jacques Lejeune, Francois Bayle, Erkki Kurenniemi, Beatriz Ferreyra, Akos Rózmann, Henri Pousseur, electronic Xenakis, electronic Maderna….and so many more.

Chain D.L.K.: What’s the craziest and less guessable source of sound you used in Unrelated?

Nicolas Wiese: Probably the most disguised and most transfigured sound bits originate from string instruments – violin, viola, cello, double bass. In detail, I can’t even tell from which player and which session they were all derived. And there are a lot of percussive elements that might have been generated from anything, from everyday objects, from short bursts of white-noise feedback, from my studio mate Michael Renkel playing little styrofoam balls on top of his self-built guitar string board. Who knows…

Chain D.L.K.: Do you like to perform on live stage, or do you prefer your own dimension?

Nicolas Wiese: As I mentioned above, the staged performance has become my main format, but that doesn’t necessarily include myself appearing on stage. I enjoy performing, playing with the mixer and controllers and generating live feedback, trying to balance out the stable and the unstable. Yet I also enjoy sitting amidst the audience and watching a chamber ensemble play along with my videos, or watching dancers interact with them. However, the solitary studio situation is where my stuff essentially takes shape; that’s the place where the most time is spent by far… Often in agony, haha, if things are not coming together the way I wish…

Uzbek StillsChain D.L.K.: What’s the Uzbek fairytale supposedly inspiring the closing track of Unrelated?

Nicolas Wiese: The story behind this piece: I was commissioned by Uzbek-born composer Aziza Sadikova to conceive a stop-motion video, to accompany her music after she was commissioned by Kasseler Musiktage Festival to write a piece that refers to a fairytale from her home country. She picked this Romeo and Juliet type of tragic love story, Alisher and Guli…unfulfilled love, impassable class barriers, everybody dies in the end. That kind of story, you know. I made an associative, surreal and rather non-narrative video, and the whole thing was well-received at the premiere in Kassel, end of 2012, and that was that. The project was almost forgotten when roughly three years later, I was invited to do a solo exhibition in Berlin with the idea of showing a selection of my videos that were originally conceived for concerts and musical collaborations. So, for the exhibition edit of my Alisher and Guli video, I made a completely new soundtrack out of the recordings from Aziza’s original piece, and that’s basically what you hear on the album now.

Chain D.L.K.: I see on your website that you’re actively involved in many collaborative projects…any word about any of those?

Nicolas Wiese: One of the more intense current collab projects is The Pond, my duo with Italian singer/vocal artist Elisabetta Lanfredini, whom you can also hear on Cuck Rock. All sounds in our duo collaboration are exclusively generated from her voice. Elisabetta has a huge variety between jazz, contemporary classical, baroque and renaissance music, sound-oriented improvisation, and different types of traditional folk music – especially from southern Europe, eastern Europe and further east from there. This is fascinating to include in an electroacoustic framework…definitely a lot of melodic elements here, yet a highly experimental affair whatsoever.

Two other duo music projects I have to mention are with my long-time partner Heidrun Schramm (an electroacoustic and audiovisual duo) and with Johnny Chang on viola and field recordings. In both cases, the expansion of concerts by placing ‘peripheral’ speakers plays a role….not in a typical multi-channel setting, but rather asymmetrical and handled manually, each source at a time. Installation-concerts by technically simple means.

A remote back-and-forth exchange with Israeli sound artist Shay Nassi aka. Mise_En_Scene has brought up the CD Introjection on the Canadian label Los Discos Enfantasmes in early 2014 and slowly goes on over the years.

Blind:Out:Dated is the name of a project I have with Gary Rouzer from Washington DC: He’s playing concerts for cello and stereo speakers, in my absence, improvising along with a playback that I have prepared out of his cello recordings –and which he has not heard before the gig. A ‘blind date duo’ with only one person on stage.

A very analog and haptic approach as a visual live artist, drawing and arranging things on stage under a live camera, is happening in my collaboration with the Istanbul Composers Orchestra, which started last year.

And, I also want to mention visual artist Annette Stuesser-Simpson, who creates fascinating and very original ‘soft sculptures’ out of delicate synthetic grids and textures – we are working on a kind of stage concept to bring these objects together with projection, moving light, and sound. There will be a first work-in-progress show in Berlin later this year.

Chain D.L.K.: Any other work in progress?

Nicolas Wiese: Always 🙂

 

visit Nicolas Wiese on the web at: nicolaswiese.com