In how much, do you feel, are creative decisions shaped by cultural differences - and in how much, vice versa, is the perception of sound influenced by cultural differences?
Obviously, the music an artist grows up with will shape his perception and idea of what music is, but I believe in the end it's not the most important factor: the personality of the individual will connect with anything suitable to express and unfold itself, no matter if it comes from one's own or a different culture.
If anything symbolises something which our soul is eager to express, or can identify with, or can use as a mirror, then this thing "speaks" to us, is relevant - no matter if it's trivial or elevated, poorly or brilliantly conceived or performed, and no matter where it comes from.
There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtulisation, 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?
My first thought on this was that actually for most of history, "albums" did not exist at all; music was there when played by one or more musicians, and after that, it only "existed" in the memories of the people that were involved. All different "formats" to store the music in are comparatively new, even notation.
And it's still the same: music only can be experienced when it is actually vibrating in the air, so this it's obviously the most important thing about it, and packaging is secondary...
That said, as a child of the 70ies and early 80ies, when grand, lush album covers were at their peak, I really dig that kind of thing: the concept album, accompanied by magnificent artwork, covers like books so big that you have to lay them on a table in order to read them like some ancient volume - just wonderful.
However, due to restrictions of storage room and money, I tend to purchase music more and more often as download, and buy physical releases only occasionally.
I offer my own work in two formats, download and CD-R (which I can produce on demand). Of course I try to come up with interesting and engaging packaging, and I would do it on a larger scale if I had the financial backing.
The role of an artist is always subject to change. What's Your view of the (e.g. political / social / creative) tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
I believe that all different roles an artist can assume do still exist simultaneously, and probably always have (although with different emphases during the ages): Making art for art's sake, making art for a living, being a part of a tradition, or part of the avant-garde. Supporting a political, or social, or artistic movement, or making social comment, bringing enlightenment (of one kind or another), or just being a detached realist, etc.
Often, one and the same person has traces of those different types of artists. Every individual has his own mix of "tasks" and this mix even changes during the course of his or her life. Therefore, I have not one "general" view of "the tasks of artists today" - we all are on our journeys, and for some of us, art is a part of it.
Politics, social topics and what I would call 'spirituality' for me are all eternally entwined and interwoven: when I think about them, I find it extremely difficult to keep them apart. I'm not even sure if there's any point in trying. Years ago I still used to have strong opinions about different topics, but over time I tend more and more to just stare at it all, sometimes in awe, sometimes in terror. So, rather than let my intellect try to sort that out, in my own creations, I try to get the intellect out of the way, and see what my intuition makes out of it. Like a surrealist, I go fishing in the ocean of my subconscious. Of course, my intellect comes back later and makes a decision which fishes are released back into the sea, and which are kept in aquariums, for others to see.
And that's where I see my task, or my responsibility as an artist: to help provide my fellow humans with nourishment for their minds and souls.
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 your perception of it?
The value of music? Music, like all art, is priceless. It's essential. We need it like we need air to breath, water to drink and socks to wear in winter...
As for the "market price" of music: I fear this is getting more and more difficult, at least as long we still have the current economic system ruled by demand and supply. There is demand for music, but the supply is so abundant that the prices drop - and that's it. So, still only a lucky few will be able to make a living from art, while the bigger part of artists, unfortunately, won't - in spite of all the opportunities and independence which the Internet seemed to promise.
How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?
They never could - at the moment moment when they reached wider audiences, they immediately would turn into mainstream music.
Usually, it is considered that it is the job of an 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?
Klaus Schulze once said that he's doing half of the work, and the listener has to complete it - I guess as a rule of thumb, I can subscribe to that. Maybe it's not even 50 / 50, but 100 / 100 - artist and listener both do all of the work, in a way.
I believe that we are responsible for how we perceive anything in this world to a far larger degree than we usually assume - and of course that also goes for how we perceive art. A big part of what we see in it is what we have projected from ourselves into it - and maybe that happens even easier in comparatively empty and open music like ambient.
I admit that I basically borrowed this idea from eastern philosophy, but even if we put that aside, I still believe that any recipient has a unique and individual set of predispositions that makes him highly sensitive for certain things and rather numb to others. I don't really believe in any "objective" way to "consume" or judge music - it's always a very personal, individual encounter, with unique reactions from person to person. For this reason, some music "speaks" to one person, and not at all to another. But when it fits, even if it's only partially, that's a very satisfying kind of union that takes place, both for the musician and the listener. And that's what it's all about. To me, anyway...
The best way to keep up to date with Michael Brückner, is to visit his Facebook page or bandcamp account.