Name: Jochen Tiberius Koch
Occupation: Composer, Producer
Current Release: Walden on Schole.
Recommendations: 2 out of a complete universe of mankind's artistic and civilising achievements … I'll try my best … :D
Beethovens moonlight sonata
D. Adams Hitchhiker's Trilogy
If you enjoyed this interview with Jochen Tiberius Koch, keep up with him on Facebook or bandcamp.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I've been into making musical progress for a lot of years. I started as a 14 year old in a simple school punk band and matured over the years. But I really started to compose and arrange sounds at the age of 20. The reason why I'm into the progress is a simple one, I'm so in love with the creative cycle. Looking at and listening to that small universe which expands and is continually getting more complete.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
Well, the learning part is not one of my favourite sections during the process. When you are in the mood to start writing a record you wish everything would just work without requiring technical support. But in the past, many times I needed help because of technical and/or physical acoustic problems. But if you want to become more independent, this is something you need to go through.
The real thing for myself is not to copy any kind of artist, but in many ways you fall back on your acoustic socialisation and listening habits; I try to do this in an authentic way.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I would say, the technical problems were the most ugly part in past productions. But this is changing right now, there's always something happening ... :D
When it comes to the actual composing, I never encountered any problems … I'm always into doing things and new stuff. In Germany, I work as a chef. It's a job with a lot of trouble and stress and I need this. This is quite good for my will to do art and music and build abstract and cuddly, new small universes for the ears.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My first setup was an old 4track recorder and it was a really simple one. We recorded our first songs with a punk band with it and during the process I learned to love it much more than playing live concerts. So I decided to do this with other kinds of bands for the next 20 years onwards.
Then I changed to a lowfi personal computer which I used as a tape recorder. Now my setup is simple but healthy: Logic and a Macbook. I use a lot of synthesisers and sound modules.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
I always let technology feature my creativity. In my opinion, you can ride that wave of sound modulation and explore totally new experiences which trigger new views on the production and work with it in a nonconformist way. It has its pros and cons to work this way; you give the listener new habits but you also have to do it in a simple, not too challenging way.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
I allow the music to leave an impression on me, and then spend time to explore other ways to reach that sound which will fit the song - or I'll construct a song around these modulated patches and spaces.
I use technology to combine things. Sometimes you arrive at a limitation when the sound walls are too big and high. I'm not a professional recording engineer, but creativity allows me to find a new way to let the music sound the way it should. But I always try to do this in a simple way.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
Most ideas arrive on my bike on the way to work or back from work riding home. Then I stop and note down my idea. This is the most important part in the beginning and as the idea develops, the rest will construct itself during the composing and recording stages. These ideas could have any kind of father … is it a bird which sings nicely, or is it the tram which makes noisy sounds as it passes or is it the stupid humans/ lovely humans at work?
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?
There no routine whatsoever. Everyday is fashioned in a different way. Mostly, when I have some free time at my hands or if I'm on holiday and I could potentially spend a lot of time composing or doing other creative stuff, I find myself unable to put that time to use. I need the pressure of a hard day in the kitchen and scant time … that does stress me a lot, but it is the most productive approach for me.
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?
Actually you can feel this on Walden! Walden is not just a concept; it's a philosophy, it's a new but old ideal for living in that strange and exhausting fast pace. Mankind would live more respectfully if they were to use some of Henry D Thoreau's philosophies about deceleration … which are not new. And the chapters of the book "Walden" told me exactly how the songs should sound like. A dark forest has in my imagination a particular sound. A sea with perches and trouts has a sound of its own, too. And then I had to pour the philosophy into it … it sounds simple … it is … you just need to use your imagination!
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?
It scares me a little that most ideas arrive when I'm stressed from my surroundings; when I don't have any time … and while I'm letting off steam while working with new tools.
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?
On my records you can find every time a changing relationship between compositional and instinctive music. They both belong together. A simple but cute harmony suits the ears much better if it grows from a strange disharmony and/or a wall, a fog of sonority. I sometimes do live concerts, but when I do, I only play intuitive music. Building up structures and molecules, but not composing works.
In the past, playing concerts with all of my different previous bands, was never a highlight for me … I always enjoyed the creative processes of working in the studio better.
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?
Enormously! At first, the sound decides if I and the work will come together; finally the composition settles if we'll stay together … you now? This is like a human based relationship. Sound is really useful for the aesthetics - in some kind - a simple snare drum sound decides if I can enjoy a record or not, unfortunately … :D
For my production, it means that I do all the stuff with my simple skills and possibilities, which I would like to enjoy.
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?
Yes you are so right! Savouring music in combination with other senses like the visual urges and encourages the mind and the soul. For me, I always love to combine different kinds of arts, with acoustics and pictures, sculptures, movies … whatever … it may even be great to combine music with scents or with wind which touches the skin softly.
A few years ago, I was invited to sponsoring a song for a short film by German movie maker Sebastian Kuehn. This is something I would like to do again for movies, documentaries, what ever, because in my opinion these forms of media mutually complete each other.
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?
I try to give people good feelings, supporting their soul in any kind of situation. Melancholic music does trigger these emotions in my understanding and I hope people enjoy it in the same way, or at least in a similar way …
Music is powerful for exerting political influence, but it should be used just to propagate harmonic human coexistence!
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 do believe, and this is just a dystopian impression, that music will over the next few years entirely dilapidate … most consumers listen to playlists and aren't interested in the quality of the acoustics.
That's not my understanding of the art form of music, but it is the current situation … unfortunately.