For the greater good

The relationship between music and other forms of art – painting, video art and cinema most importantly - has become increasingly important. How do you see this relationship yourself and in how far, do you feel, does music relate to other senses than hearing alone? 

I see the relationships as being grounded in our need to create and express ourselves.  Why we have this incessant need is beyond me and I wouldn't be surprised if it was based in some narcissistic pursuit of immortality or something equally drab but there is no doubt we pursue all forms of creativity as a form of taking our inner selves and throwing them out into the world for judgment.  Aside from that I think music has lots of connections to other senses.  I've always been somewhat fascinated with the idea of synaesthesia and was particularly interested in the works of artists like Oskar Fischinger in exploring "visual music" and the like. I have friends who work in abstract, experimental film/video and I find their work incredibly musical.

There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles?  

That's an interesting observation.  I don't see these as opposites but would plant myself smack in the middle if there is such a place.  I think artists are just trying to be versatile.  I've certainly participated in both and enjoy aspects of both.  I like the ease and the reach of virtual distribution but I like the collectible and precious aspect of the shorter run, intimate presentations.  As a consumer I certainly appreciate both.  There are times when I'm more than happy to buy a digital record and download/enjoy it immediately but then there are times, like with Richard Skelton's work, where I want to order the package and covet it and draw out the experience of the object a little more knowing it has been crafted with such care and attention to detail.

The role of an artist is always subject to change. What's your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work? 

There are many different roles for many different artists and I think you could argue there are different roles for each individual artist.  I certainly wear more than one hat having been a drummer in a rock band, a composer of ambient electronic music and a game audio sound designer.  Some artists want to entertain, some want to deliver very deep, political messages to elicit cultural change.  I think it's important that artists don't simply have one role. I've never seen myself as having a grandiose purpose as an artist to be quite frank. 

I do it for completely selfish reasons; because I love it, it brings me fulfillment and because I can.  That being said, there are times when I've been lucky enough to hear stories from listeners to the effect of how my music has helped them through an emotional time or given them peace during a time of pain or even simply provided them with an increased ability to concentrate while they write or study. 

These stories give me a great deal of humility and encouragement and suggest that there is a reason to continue beyond my own petty enjoyment. 

Music-sharing sites and -blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What's your view on the value of music today? In what way does the abundance of music change our perception of it? 

I equate it with food.  I think you can get a lot more out of your food when you connect with the farmer at local farmer's markets, grow your own food, appreciate hand crafted things, heirloom vegetables, etc. etc.  If people are willing to invest in their favourite artists, support communities of artists and really get to know and belong to those communities then it doesn't really matter how abundant music is on a massive scale.  Hoarding a bunch of free cheeseburgers isn't really good for anyone.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?

I wish there was a clear answer as I'd like to know.  Being involved with other media perhaps.  Getting involved with indie games or films.  Touring does a lot for some artists.  Working with good labels certainly helps.

Usually, it is considered that it is the job of the artist to win over an audience. But listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process? 

The listener is essential, especially with work like mine.  I require a patient listener who is open to letting the music take them places.  This can't be done sitting in front of a computer listening through the laptop speakers. 

I think it's harder to get peoples' attention these days.  We live in a world of distractions and the dedicated listener is a bit of an endangered species.  Without active listeners, I fear all music will just become transparent and meaningless.   

Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies  change the way music is perceived by the public? 

I'm ashamed to admit I know very little about this.  I'm grateful that I work with labels like Kranky and Ghostly who have most of this stuff figured out.  I'm ridiculous when it comes to promotion and such.  I'm definitely not very forthright about it and could probably learn a whole lot more about how to be a more productive member of the music business. 

Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.

They don't need my mention but I'll stay close to home and say Marcus Fischer and Rafael Anton Irisarri.  Two very talented, hard-working and down right nice fellows.  I know most readers are probably already familiar with their work but in case not, they can both be heard on Air Texture Volume II compilation which Rafael and I co-curated.

Read and hear more Loscil at www.loscil.ca

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