Silence please

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 have read that the auditory system in the brain is closer to the part of it that regulates basic human emotions than the visual system and that the physical vibrations of music can also make the body experience something similar to the sensation of touch. Perhaps music is instantly more stimulating than other art forms and I think combining it with others is often very powerful. At the moment I am working with a visual artist for the live set. I think this is something that can really enhance the music, however it can also detract from it too. We are choosing the material very carefully so that the imagery hopefully will not take away anything from the music. 

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?  

I like both ways. I think it is great to be able to try different types of music at a lower cost and without creating more physical things in the world. Equally when I really love an album it is great to have a beautiful physical copy. The move to making the packaging more of a work of art is a wonderful thing and I think a good album deserves nothing less. 

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? 

I began writing music because I felt that after years of performing classical music and trying to communicate the thoughts and views of people from a different time that it was important to compose music about what was happening now. My music is influenced by nature and people, and how they deal with the world as we know it today. 

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? 

There are certain people who are embracing the wider variety of music available to them and their tastes are becoming more eclectic. There is the other side of the coin where so much music is available that perhaps a lot of it is not as appreciated as it should be. People are so spoilt for choice they often do not give artists the amount of time needed to fully understand the work.  

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

If only I knew the answer to this one…

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 audience is so important in a performance. I think it is a two way process. When you know the audience is really listening it means you really try and communicate with them and you feel they are communicating with you. It is amazing to play with complete silence, particularly special is the silence left at the end of the piece, when everyone lets the sound die away together.  I do not think a performer should have to prove themselves, or at least they should not have to feel like they do. What a horrible state of mind to try and perform in. I think feeling like both parties are important is the best way. For this reason it is often nicer to play smaller, more intimate venues, especially when there is not a stage as here the performer and audience are more together and equal. 

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 never realised how important good PR was till I released a record myself. Unless it is really really bad, if you can afford to throw lots of money at an album it will be successful, which is of course not how it should be.  

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

- Origamibiro ('Cracked Mirrors and Stopped Clocks') - Thomas Stronen (live)

 Visit Poppy's website at www.poppyackroyd.com

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