Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I usually meditate in the morning and I read Tarot cards for my day. It helps me understand myself and also develop my intuitive knowledge. I try to stay in a place of no mind during the day by practicing mindfulness so new ideas can arise. I also love walking and I have written many song lyrics on my way to the studio or some other places.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
I usually start by writing poems or ideas. For example, “55 Million Light Years Away” was inspired by the Black Hole that scientists photographed for the first time last year. This event resonated with me and I wondered about the relationship I have with it, the relationship I have with vacuity. I start by jamming with the guitar and singing a melody. When I’m connected and present it just comes by itself. It’s an intuitive process, it's about fine tuning myself to the flow. To be in a sort of trance inside the sound. This process can take a bit of time or warm up and I can’t push it. It’s ephemeral, and if it’s gone so be it. Then when the first ideas come out it’s just about putting a puzzle together and being playful! Then I use my knowledge and mind to structure the song or maybe change a couple of things around.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
For me creativity comes from a state of no mind. I realise that if my mind is too cluttered by thoughts nothing new can arise. So, whatever supports this state. Meditation, mindfulness, being quiet. I always identified with the doing. I’m conditioned by society, school, my parents and so on to always “do” because if I don’t, I’ll be missing out or wasting time. I had to learn to go to what is essential, I had to learn how to not waste energy.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
For this project the writing and performing are completely interconnected. My aim when I write is to perform live, I won’t write music that’s impossible or too difficult to perform. I learned music by improving and improvising.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
It’s a hard question because it depends if we are talking about sound in terms of frequency or timber. (Sound being both a frequency and it’s harmonics which create the timber). When I work with low frequencies, for example a bass line, it will inform the way I write it. I never really analyse what I do intellectually anyway. In the studio I work with my instruments and sounds in a natural and instinctive process.
I use very basic sounds in my music. They are the sounds I grew up with and somehow, I write the composition for those sounds. I would say they are interconnected. I like the experimental approach and discovering new sounds from a simple guitar for instance, I’m drawn to simplicity.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
In my experience visuals and music can create the most interesting overlaps. It’s interesting to see how images or films and music affect each other. I recently put one of my songs “55 Million Light Years Away” on Harry Smith “Early Abstractions” animations and it was beautiful to see how they complemented and informed each other. Also I have recently seen some cool exhibitions in Berlin with sculptures and sound. Brian Eno also did some great work with space and sound. I think there is a lot of interesting stuff to be done in virtual reality like concerts and exhibitions. This is going to revolutionize the way we experience even maybe play music.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Music is very powerful and connects directly to our memories and emotions. A lot of music is made with the intent to generate money, as a means to an end. I don’t think it’s bad to make money as an artist, but when it’s only for that reason it loses its honesty and depth and ultimately does not contribute to expanding human consciousness, which for me is the ultimate goal of an artist.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I’m not sure I understand the concept of music still intact. Music evolved so much in the last 50 years with new technology and the possibility to record and manipulate sounds. Autotune is a good exemple becoming a new kind of instrument and sound.