Name: Miguel Noya
Occupation: Synthesist, composer
Current release: Miguel Noya has just released a new album, Once Only, with Eternal Return, a quintet with Paul Godwin, Colin Edwin, Robert Jürjendal and Miguel Toro. It will be out February 23 on New Dog.
Books: Shikasta by Doris Lessing; Valis by Philip Dick; Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse; The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier
Paintings: EL Jardín de las Delicias - De tuin der lusten - The Garden of Earthly Delights. By Jheronimus Bosch.
The Great Masturbator By Salvador Dali.
Music: Sibelius 5th Symphony; Fratres Arvo Pärt (Kronos Quartet vers); Close to the Edge / Tale from Topographic Ocean by Yes; Absolutely Free by Mother of Invention - Frank Zappa.
If you enjoyed this interview with Miguel Noya and would like to find out more about him and his work, his website is an excellent point of departure.
We also conducted a conversation with some of Miguel Noya's other partners in Eternal Return. Click here for a Colin Edwin interview.
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 started creating original music around 1974-5 when using electric guitar and playing piano.
I wrote music for some attempts at rock bands with close friends. Some of these experiments were used for theatre plays by local groups in Valencia Venezuela and also some of these experiments included pacing around with reel to reel 2 tracks doing some crazy loops and basic kind of concrete music.
My first syntheziser was a Roland SH3 in 1976. My influence in those years was classical music and prog rock (this from year 1970).
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?
I began studying music as early as 7 years old in a classically oriented music conservatory in Valencia, Venezuela ( Escuela de Música Sebastián Echeverría Lozano). There I studied about 4 years of music theory, piano and solfeggi. After that I went in and out of music school for my interest was also oriented to sports, baseball, basketball and football (soccer). Also, art poetry, literature and science (especially Physics and Math).
My first training was of course playing typical classical music school stuff, like Bach, Beethoven, Hannon, etc (exercises books ). Then, like in my teens and high school era, rock and strange music attracted my attention.
Valencia was kind of like small city with a decent theatre where once in a while you could see some mid to high end artists. My first ever concert was Claudio Arrau (a very famous piano player from Chile on a solo recital). That was a major influence. I still can recall that he played some Debussy (Feux d'artifice (Fireworks). I was like 7 or 8 years old. Also my family had a baby grand piano that was from my grandfather who would compose original music totally by ear. He did not know how to write or read music, but was a very creative and sensitive player. Some of his music would later remind me of the music by Gurdgieff - De Hartman.
In the end, after trying electrical engineering at the Universidad de Carabobo, I ended up at Berklee College of Music in Boston as well as paying a short visit to MIT for Computer Music.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
Trying to achieve the sounds of my early influences which included Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Ravi Shankar, Yes, Genesis, PFM, van der Graft Generator, Frank Zappa. Without the proper equipment or very cheap guitars and no pedals or signal processors. Not counting my technique, which was not very well trained for piano or guitar playing (my imagination was always more advanced than reality). A lot changed when my brother and I got the Roland SH3. I was natural to this new instrument.
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 personal studio consisted of an ARP 2600, SEQ Circuits Pro One, Yamaha CS - 60,TEAC 2A Mixer (6 Channels) and 2 Reel to reel 4 track machines: Teac 3340 - Tascam 22-4. This around 1981. Later on, I would grow very very slow to different gear.
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 would use technology in non-conventional ways sometimes, I guess. I did copy a little bit Eno and Fripp's sound delay looping by using reel to reel. But I did at once go to 4 tracks for it did not make sense to me to generate this ambient soundscapes in stereo when you could do it in Quadraphonic.
Actually most of my solo concerts or live collaborations have taken into consideration spatialized sound. Maybe in the last 40 years, all my live material has been at least 4 multi speakers being 4 channels 90%of the time, some in more than 4 channels. The rest 10 % just regular stereo.
I have been using computers for live acts since 1985. In these early experiments for live using personal computers I would process them using the Looping Tape System.
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?
Well I would just play around with the tools sometimes in the most basic, simple ways. But, we are influenced by the tools, for they provide us with an approach for the creative process. Machines will lead us to creativity by suggesting results, especially if you can detach the theory you have from the technology in use and allow your intuition to experiment be more important than manuals.
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?
I love collaborating with other artists. Some of early collaborators have included Paul Godwin since 1981. But I'm open to anyone with the same vibes if I am asked to collaborate. This is not restricted to musicians and includes dancers, visual artists as well as theatre- or movie directors.
I would always listen first to get a sense of the other creative mind and heart. Sometimes the synergy of this will give me inspiration to bring up new ideas or ideas to share. I am a very sensitive and shy person. So listening is the most important aspect in the process. I am very stimulated by recent collaborations with Robert Jürjendal and of course the new project Eternal Return with Colin Edwin, Miguel Toro, Robert and Paul. Jamming is a proper word, jamming, recording and then editing. I have done file sharing also. It works but live contact is the best.