Name: Nicolas Pittet
Current release: The self-titled debut album by /A\ is available via Hummus.
Recommendations: "Things the grandchildren should know", Mark Oliver Everett (leader of Eels); Song: "Complicated game", by the British band XTC.
If you enjoyed this interview with Nicolas Pittet, find out more about the thoughts of his collaborators in /A\ and read our Emilie Zoé interview and our Franz Treichler interview.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
As a child I was surrounded by music with my parents, from American folk music to French song. Adolescence was an explosion of musical discoveries from rock, punk, jazz through reggae and electronic music. That is still with me today, among others.
I started composing with my own band in 1997. Kera was an expandable trio, mainly influenced by electronic music, like drum & bass, trip hop and industrial rock. It is with this project that I really discovered and worked with electronic machines. It was the perfect group to be free to share, experience and express ourselves.
For most artists, originality is 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?
I am fortunate to have worked with many different artists of all styles and ages. I learned a lot from each of them.
I am only the result of what I have done so far, keeping the important things to my eyes from these experiences. There is never an end to it, I grow with music as my own music grows with me ...
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
The important thing in my opinion is not to play and create with too much brain … but to listen and translate feelings as close as possible to who you are and let the music guide you in the process. To reach the point of looking at yourself doing rather than having the awareness of doing.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
I got my first drums when I was 9. Over time my drumset tends to shrink. This puts constraints on me and pushes me to look for other ways to create sounds.
I like this exercise of having to look for new approaches. I try as much as possible to make my playing melodic and not just to hit the drums ... I try not to play the drums - but with the drums.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Not really technology or an instrument. It is above all some people, their ideas and their concepts that drive me forward.
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?
Play and play and play, sharing, digging, building, deconstructing ideas, finding new ways. Music gives you access to others, not only musically, but also on a human level. There are so many things that can be passed on through music.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. 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?
Apart from teaching the drums 3 or 4 days a week, I spend a lot of time with music, composing, working on projects or on the drums or other instruments. Anything that can make me happy and move forward.
I don't set any rules for myself, things come as they want ... I also like calm, and rest, among others. Most people around me are musicians. I never really get out of this world.
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?
I like the image of floating ideas. To be able to pick them up and do something with them at one given time, or something else at another time.
The main thing to me is to keep your senses and mind open to welcome them and to give myself the opportunity to dive into them.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Music does anything that you need it to. It would be cool to be able to breath it in or to bath in it, like a kind of essential oil …
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 strikes me the most is the connection between music and memories. Like a particular song can make you relive situations, feelings, discussions etc ...
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
To me,words are solid as a rock, precise and affirmative.
Music, like water, divides and spreads. It goes anywhere. Music is elusive, so is life. And so is death.