Summarizing what Rob Mazurek made over the years in the field of music is almost impossible due to his creative elan and a strong penchant for stylistic syncretism, but many listeners will primarily give credit to his ability of translating the hidden spirit of the places he lived in and absorbed into enthralling musical forms. Chicago Underground and Sao Paulo Underground are just two musical emanations of his global approach to music. Let’s get to know him better.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi there… am I bothering you? What were you doing before sitting in front of the screen and reading these lines?
Rob Mazurek: Reading the Samuel R. Delany short story ” Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” while listening to Radulescu’s Inner Time 2.
Chain D.L.K.: Many reviewers and musicians associate the evolution of so-called musical genres with continental drift. Could your forward-thinking Sao Paulo Underground project be considered an earthquake between Brasil and Chicago?
Rob Mazurek: Sculpting and then projecting SOUND elements into a cohesive or not so cohesive experience in order that the possibility of learning or finding the reason why we are here, where we could possibly have come from, and where we might be going is brought to the cosmic table. Certainly this may cause terrific earthquakes. Music is a way of finding and of shaking the status quo.
Chain D.L.K.: What can you tell us about the birth of SPU? Do you remember the moment when SPU came up in your mind?
Rob Mazurek: Mauricio Takara is a brilliant musician and spiritual guide. I heard him for the first time in 2003, I think it was… 10 years ago! and we have never stopped. Mauricio and Guilherme are my spiritual brothers probably from before and after the beginning of time.
Chain D.L.K.: I still remember your words to explain the creative process behind “the Principles Of Intrusive Relationships”: “the interplay is the same as the one of a car going down a hill with the delicate frequency of the wind blowing on a leaf while an old man fills his lungs in order to smell the aroma of a bakery oven”… what has changed with “Três Cabeças Loucuras”?
Rob Mazurek: Three Heads weaving sound into the space between, searching for the frequency that makes lions roar and turtles fly. The idea of projecting a certain sound in order to fly is always the idea.
Chain D.L.K.: One of my favorite tracks of your last album is “Jagoda’s Dream”. Could you explain this choice?
Rob Mazurek: This is a song written for Jagoda Sucher. The daughter of the exceptional Polish drummer and conceptualist. She plays wonderful cello and is a bright star in the grey world of now. Evoking legends of the Granada mountains juxtaposed on the Mazur Valley in Poland, creates a music with tension and release and possibility. Enough harmony to keep it moving and the rhythm of a rhino.
Chain D.L.K.: Many tracks sound like they might be influenced by improv jazz… many people are persuaded by these exploratory musical grounds… do you agree with them?
Rob Mazurek: Sound is the only exploratory. Once you get genres involved it is a failure. Sound is Sound… John Cage said this and lived this years ago and I believe it to be a kind of mantra. Any ideology is bound to fail. We should only have love and kindness and a radicalism that transforms and does not foster violence…
Chain D.L.K.: What’s your opinion on so-called free jazz?
Rob Mazurek: I only have an opinion on SOUND. I love sound and I work with SOUND in order to find something. The search for the reason we are even here and where we might be going.
Chain D.L.K.: Beyond the labeling of different genres, what are the “primordial” elements which lack in all the jazz branches you manage to find in ethnic music?
Rob Mazurek: Again, SOUND is SOUND. I don’t think in terms of genre. Primordial elements exist in all musics… in all sounds. It’s the approach you take. I love the idea of primordial as well as inter connectivity in all things and multi verse projections of complexity as well. All should be embraced and all should be treated as a possibility. Even non-possibility.
Chain D.L.K.: Rob, I’ve read one interview where you said that musical outcome depends on personalities. Is it the same for musical interaction within a band?
Rob Mazurek: A group is only personalities… technique is only a way to possibly become more yourself, which in turn can give or take away the possibility of stretching sound to its barest and fullest limits. The more personalities the more complex. The more complex the more the need to simplify. To simplify is to abstract to the barest necessity. Necessity is the reason for doing.
Chain D.L.K.: Any funny anecdote related to the recording of “Três Cabeças Loucuras”?
Rob Mazurek: What is more funny than “Three Crazy Heads”?
Chain D.L.K.: In your opinion, what’s the main mistake music reviewers make when introducing a “syncretic” workout like yours? Do you think some of them are out-of-date in a way or another?
Rob Mazurek: Critics must take into account all that is being projected on a given statement. So much of my music making is informed by nature, avant guard video, science fiction, alchemy, paintings, layering of things, sculpture and fashion. It is not fair to the artist to just approach a thing from one angle especially when the artist is coming from so many different angles.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the worst compliment and the best criticism you’ve received?
Rob Mazurek: You are bad and you are good. Although there are much more good ones.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the compliment and the criticism each of SPU’s members make to the other ones?
Rob Mazurek: We all look at each other as spiritual brothers. So we refer to each other as 3 crazy monks quite a bit.
Chain D.L.K.: We know you’ve been engaged with some concerts in different cities… Any particular moment to remember that you’d like to share with our readers?
Rob Mazurek: Every moment in Italy is special. I would like to live in this fabulous country at some point. And I hope sooner than later.
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
Rob Mazurek: A 7 hour science fiction opera called “The Book of Sound”. New Chicago Underground Duo. Exploding Star Orchestra 63 Moons of Jupiter Suite with special guest Roscoe Mitchel and solo electronic works… just released Rob Mazurek skull Sessions, Exploding Star Electro Acoustic Ensemble The Space Between. The new Sao Paulo Underground record Beija Flors Velho E Sujo comes out June 4th… many beautiful things going on… Galactic Parables for the Sardinia festival for Exploding Star Orchestra and a suite of music for my recently deceased mother called “Return the Tides” which we will perform with Pharoah and the Underground at the Guleph Jazz festival this year…
visit Rob Mazurek on the web at: www.robmazurek.com