Conducted in October 2011. Read the full article.
From the piece:
In the twentieth century there was an incredible revolution of musical theory that bred so many different styles and sounds. Can that side of things continue using theory, or should the physical materials and instruments change?
In the twentieth century, in visual art, people started looking less at what the most beautiful thing was, and instead at what could challenge the borders of what art it is. That was the goal of Duchamp, Mondriaan, Barnett Newman, Rothko, and those kinds of artists. And in music, the same thing occurred. What John Cage is doing with four minutes of silence, and what Rhys Chatham does performing for 20 minutes at one tone – that challenges the borders of what’s acceptable as music.
With the rise of Nirvana you became interested in their predecessors: punk music, No Wave, and noise rock. How do you think the values of those movements have impacted on the way you work?
First of all, rule number one in punk and noise rock is “do it yourself”. It’s a general rule in counter-cultural movements, because they’re underground and there’s no money, so they’re eager to develop their own book of rules and truths; new aesthetic developments. That was key in punk music and so was the expressionistic element, the aggression of the music and the anger involved in it, as a youth movement, and as youth culture.
Those two things are important to me in my work, and in music: I want that aggressive music more than composed stuff. And although I’m influenced by, you know, Harry Partch and John Cage, I also think it’s quite boring. It’s good to read a book about, but maybe not to listen to.
I think everybody can recognise the things I’ve made are directly influenced by Sonic Youth; they’re a predecessor to the kinds of sounds that I’m making, as well as to that DIY approach. They really combine rock with parts of modern classical music, particularly minimal music and noise – not noise rock, but “noise”, which is more the classical stuff raised by Russolo and Schaeffer – and fuse it with the darker side of life expressed in beatnik culture, the No Wave scene, and so on. The Velvet Underground, too. I’m very interested in art brut: things like Daniel Johnston, or Syd Barrett.
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