With more and more musicians creating than ever and more, what does this mean for you as an artist in terms of originality? What are some of the areas where you currently see the greatest potential for originality and who are some of the artists and communities that you find inspiring in this regard?
I guess originality is about how you put thing together, and also your sound. As a basic point, I think all music / art contains references to something somewhere. I never actually think: “Now I'm gonna make something really new and original”. I just try to make things which work for me, or a framework to improvise on. Listening to other music … I simply like it or I don't like it. And I find inspiration in anything. To have time enough to really dive into a creative process is inspirational. Exchanging ideas with musicians you respect.
What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion and what’s your approach to performing on stage? How do an improvisation and the recording of this improvisation compare?
A good live performance needs to create an emotional response. I want to be moved either physically or emotionally … or both. I guess I'm romantic in that sense. I must say though, that I've heard concerts which I thought were quite boring in the moment. But then I listened back to them on records or tape afterwards and thought they were great. It depends on the situation and your state of mind.
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?
Listening to music should be an active process. Personally I don't listen to music all that much. I do it sometimes walking on airports. Create a soundtrack to the impressions. It makes the horror of check-in, security/gate-changes, delays etc. easier to live with. Or I listen to music that others may have suggested to me.
How do you see the relationship between music and other forms of art – painting, video art and cinema most importantly - and in how far, do you feel, does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?
I can only speak for myself, but some music creates images more than other. When I heard the piece "Matta" on Eno's album Apollo, I pictured a huge whale-like animal somewhere in the endless universe ... moving around, semi-weightless and alone, calling out for a mate. In some situations, music can trigger all kinds of emotional reactions.
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 think the music business is only partly driven by a love of music. There are artists that are tailor-made to reach young girls, for example, and the companies spend millions on pin-pointing them to the target group - and I don't necessarily think they do this because they like the music. It is just business. On the other hand, it is important to be visible on the scene, so I guess it is important.
Journalists often expect musicians to change and develop or claim they are repeating themselves. I would recommend that some journalists (especially in the tabloid press) look into their work and try to develop as well! Because doing PR for an album can be really tiresome, when you get the same questions again and again for days. Then again, you can meet journalists who challenge you and makes you think about the music in ways that I hadn't before. And that is refreshing and also an inspiration.
Do you have a musical vision that you haven't been able to realise for technical or financial reasons – or an idea of what music itself could be beyond its current form?
Well … I just did a project which is called Lucid Dream. It's a walk through different “modules” in the forest at night. It's a 45 minute walk with over 60 speakers, light and video projections. I developed this idea with a German curator/producer called Beate Schuler. It took 5 years to finish, but it was worth it. Technically it was a nightmare. More than 10 kilometres of cables, waterproof boxes, electricity issues and then some! But we had a great technical director. We might do some other projects in the future, so if there is an idea, I'll try to go for it, and we'll apply for money to get it done.
Keep up to date with Nils Petter Molvaer on his personal website.