Xavier Roux, better known as Ravi Shardja, is a composer of music for films and theatre. He recently poured his art into the boiling aesthetic cauldron of Grautag Records, which is building a collection of music about the dystopian landscapes of our globalised world, whose programmed obsolescence where dreams have nothing to share with illusion any more. On his “Grun ist Grau“, Ravi Shardja intertwines hints coming from this “black and white” world in the middle of jungles where tourists don’t dare to go for endless conflicts, where you can find yourself sleeping inside the wreck of an abandoned airplane, eat kebab leeches you managed to find in a garbage dump, while malaria buzzing insects gradually eats you. Is it future or present? In the meanwhile, let’s know Ravi better. “Grun ist Grau” comes out on Grautag Records.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Ravi. How are you?
Ravi Shardja: Great yesterday, today, and tomorrow i don’t know, and you what’s up Doc ?
Chain D.L.K.: En la Lucha, thanks. Compliments for your last release on Grautag. It sounds a synaesthesia related to forgotten and somewhat invisible places. First of all, how did you discovered Grautag?
Ravi Shardja: Thanks. A good and close friend, Philippe Cuxac, who works with Nicolas Moulin gave me the first LP of the Grautag collection, « Bader Motor ». So after meeting with Nicolas, we swap several LPs from our own labels. One day he proposed me to do the next double LP. I was a lucky man.
Chain D.L.K.: In the past, electronic noise was more associated to provocative messages or entertainement, nowadays it’s more related to different descriptions of a confused and grey interzones of reality. Do you agree or not?
Ravi Shardja: I agree with a part of the question/analysis. Nowadays, it seems to me that this kind of music acts more on the cortex than in the time. The current techniques of sound allow to work its sculpture in a very precise way. Noise music is old now, in the 80′ we especially heard white and pink noise, and larsen, it often was to associate with pictures of torture and violence, all this dark imaging. Nowadays there are several types and varieties of this music. In this musical current certain musicians work more on the physical limits while others prefer to modify the shape of the brain.
Chain D.L.K.: How do you file your sonic research?
Ravi Shardja: It’s a daily and permanent research like a revolution it always has to be in movement, doesn’t follow the fashion, never has to give itself limits of shapes and instrumentation. I can not and i do not want file it in a box . That I can assert it is that every acoustic pressure can show itself an interesting and usable element and wether it is emitted by an object of the everyday life, a musical instrument, or wether it is electricity, electronic or acoustic.
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s examine in depth your “Grun ist Grau”. Can you tell us something about its birth?
Ravi Shardja: As soon as Nicolas proposed to me to realize the continuation of the Grautag collection i set to work, and the « Bombay Boobies Battle » track arrived very prematurely. But it was only the beginning and the way was long to close this project, A double LP asks for a lot of energy, resources to find the just balance between every record and every side.
Chain D.L.K.: The electronic buzzes and distorted guitars of the initial “Bombay Boobies Battle” sound abrasive, gunky and unravelling. How did you manage to render this kind of sound? What’s the “function” of it within the track?
Ravi Shardja: This is not electric guitar but electric mandolin. Sorry i never give my recipes and secrets of research, but what i can say about it is that the rhythmic part and the mandolin were recorded in one shot on DAT, that sounded so much although I danced alone as a happy idiot and I knew that I had the essence of the piece. This combination between the electronic rythm and the gimmick of mandolin gives this strange groove and this stretching of the tempo, it is the vertebral column of the piece, a little twisted as mine.
Chain D.L.K.:What’s the source for inspiration of “Gartnefest Fessenheim abgesagt”?
Ravi Shardja: I imagined the life of people who work in a nuclear power plant. I said to myself that he had to have a works council there which organizes from time to time a party for the staff. But unfortunately that this is cancelled and the epilogue of the piece leads to predict an irreparable disaster and the music stop, the garden party is over. The nuclear power plant of Fessenheim in east of the France is obsolete and present a real danger for the surrounding populations, it is one truth time bomb. Our German and Swiss neighbors are very worried about it and militate they ask its activity stops, but the French people quietly sleep on their two ears do not look worried. maybe together we shall listen to this piece of music blocked for life in a bunker.
Chain D.L.K.: Your four pieces have titles in four different languages (English, Italian, French and German). Is it somewhat related to experiences in different sociolinguistic settings or is there any other explanation of such a choice?
Ravi Shardja: I found that sounded well in differents languages. and maybe it comes from my difficulty expressing me in other languages which mine, I try to domesticate them but the result is not still convincing. However I find that every language has singular sounds and evoke something special, it is rather this aspect there that it is necessary to keep, and then the diversity that makes the good, enough these titles only in English everywhere, the next time I shall choose titles in Papuan vernacular dialects.
Chain D.L.K.: Your music could evoke some visionary pieces of literature from writers such as William S.Burroughs or Thomas Pynchon between a wild-eyed and pitiless representation of reality, just like having a walk under the effect of hallucinatory mushrooms in the meanders of an Indian peripherical garbage dump…do you think such a relation is proper or not? Are there any references to books or movies in your record? Do you suggest any book or movie which could integrate or enhance the listening of “Grun ist Grau”?
Ravi Shardja: Not of direct relations with books or existing movies but influences undoubtedly, and indelible tracks of old experiences with psychotropics. I believe that I am made my own movie, as each of us. Every piece has its story and its temporality, but every listener gives its version. I compose musics of movies, documentaries, my music has a very narrow relation with the image, but in this project it passes only by ears. The magnificent work of Nicolas Moulin’s photos for this record suits well to my vision of things, we could even imagine four movies. For the title “Curry Negli Occhi, un’ acromatopsia momentanea” I evoke the colour blindness, this genetic disease which reduces the vision to black and white, this title came to me after the reading of Oliver Saks’s book ” The Island of the color blind “, but the idea of the title arrived after the construction of the track. ” Grün ist grau ” it is a little a vision of colour blindness with all its nuances of grey, but it is not also simple as it .
Chain D.L.K.: Do you think sonic research could have a social function in a way or another?
Ravi Shardja: Maybe one day it will be an obvious fact for all that this sound empirical research it is not only the music, but for it we would have to consider that the hearing is of our most complex senses. I have the impression that in time we manage to invent a role in the decoration. When a person gives me a return onto my work, I say to myself that I can have a small function in the society other than to distract people.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the main problem which obstacle the understanding and the spreading of more experimental musics?
Ravi Shardja: It is obvious it is not easy to appreciate these musics that asks for an effort, it is idem for all the new shapes, they meet many reluctances on behalf of people, to see of the rejection, the way of the acceptance is long. There are broadcastings, distribution networks, but it is necessary to admit that the public is not so many, that remains confidential with regard to the billions of individuals who populate the planet. I have the feeling, in France in any case, that the public lack of curiosity, we are doubtless dulled, it’s a pity because France counts many good composers and musicians but ignored, always the same story. The sinews of war it is certainly the distribution how better to organize all this? There are composers, labels, distributors, but that misses link between us all.
Chain D.L.K.: You’re also member of other projects (GOL, and Oleo Strut). Could you tell us more about them?
Ravi Shardja: Gol is very important for me, as much on the musical side as human being, it is my family. we are very close with Jean-Marcel Busson, Frédéric Rebotier, and Samon Takahashi we began at the end of the 80s. We developed together a spirit of play, a language « GOL ». Our first album went out in 1994, with many of cut up, of turntables. Since we shared musical adventures with Iancu Dumitrescu, Charles Hayward, Charlemagne Palestine, Brunhild Ferrari, Dave Nuss, Mik Quantius, Ghédalia Tazartès. Two members of Gol participate in ” Grün ist grau “. It is one of the most free musics which I know, we still have things to be together told it is wonderful for almost 20 years. We have some records which way out soon on the Emanuele Carcano’s label Planam, and on Gol our own label.
Oleo Strut is a project of French and Italian musicians both since 2005, we share the taste of good italian noodles and red wine. We find there essentially Aka Bondage, Jerôme Florenville, Xabier Iriondo, and Roberto Bertacchini, but other musicians have participated in this variable-geometry project in the past. We regularly see each other little but, our music meeting is always very funny, absurd, and effective. We way out the third record next month. Roberto is a drummer in the atypical and asymmetric play and in more he sings better than the Pope.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there any linking bridge between your collaborative and solo projects?
Ravi Shardja: No. I really separate everything, I make the distingo, otherwise has sense neither for me nor for the others. I do not want to find the same materials the same melodies. Of course every project feeds me and me made mature.
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve read your album was mastered by Norsq, one of the most talented living noiseshaper in my opinion. What can you say abouth working with Norsq?
Ravi Shardja: Yes… Norscq has the qualities wished to be the person of the situation. He possesses two sharpened ears and a culture of these musics. They are rather rare the good technicians of the sound. He asks himself the good questions about the sound, I do not return him easy things, we speak a lot before, he works then. We understand well.
Chain D.L.K.: You used a plenty of instruments. Is there any of them you particularly love? Why?
Ravi Shardja: I like very much the bass, I feel rather comfortable to express myself, it is as an extension of my arms of gibbon. I use it more there live than in studio. The prepared turntable comes then, the circular movement makes me crazy, the sound and the subtain of the tray. I also play the traverse flute of South India and then and then I love them all these instruments in fact, and I don’t know why!
Chain D.L.K.: Have you planned any live performances of “Grun ist Grau”?
Ravi Shardja: I have a date in Paris on May 4th, I wait for a confirmation for new Graunacht of the label in June in Lille, I intend to return in Berlin, and also Brussels. I will go in south of Europe later.
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
Ravi Shardja: Yes indeed and always, I work a lot, I prepare new records on my label Suara. Between Gol, Oleo Strut and my solo project, there are seven records which go out, an attractive harvest in perspective.
visit Ravi Shardja’s Soundcloud at: soundcloud.com/ravi-shardja