Niche is nice
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?
With Machinefabriek I try to stay away from politics. I’m trying to build sound worlds with my music, not too much related to what’s actually happening in the here and now. There’s no political message in there. Or can escapism be seen as such? In any case, that’s not a matter I think too much about when making music.
So is it the task of artists to express a social or political view? It’s a choice. I can totally imagine that for a lot of people, art/music can be a good way to catalyse certain viewpoints, and it’s something that should be done, for sure. But it’s not something Machinefabriek is part of.
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?
In answer to the last question, musical journalism has a more helpful function then ever. It’s a luxurious problem… there’s so much out there -and I know, I’m only making it worse - that you can find anything you wish for. But it’s a lot more work to separate the chaff from the wheat. But this is also a nice thing, cause it makes the listener more active. There’s so much more to explore. It’s hard to complain about that.
How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?
Should it? Lately I came to the conclusion that I might find it a shame that so few people like the music I listen to, but that’s just how it is, and it probably won’t change. And I wouldn’t worry about it. This ‘niche’ idea is actually kind of nice. It makes you feel like you’re part of a small, special group.
If I speak for myself, reaching an audience is hard work. I've obviously released a shitload of music, and that helped, but the most important thing is that you believe in what you’re doing. And I think luck is also a big aspect and getting in contact with the right people. But don’t expect any miracles.
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?
It’s definitely two way traffic. Of course I’m aware that there’s an audience for my music, but it’s not that I really think of them when I’m producing. I also think it’s important for the listener to put some effort into ‘getting’ the music. If it’s all too easy, there isn’t any reward in it.
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?
As a music consumer, I buy most of the music after reading reviews about it. Having said that, when I’m promoting my own music, sending out promos, and e-mailing weblogs and such, it always seems like a lot of effort, and not so much result. Sometimes when a review is good I think sales should be through the roof, but then nothing much happens, so it’s weird and unpredictable.
I also have some experience with regard to releasing music on a label with a PR company, and that seems to work a bit better. Obviously they have more contacts and knowledge about the system. In the end, I think music journalism is important, and can be a much needed guide through the over-crowded musical landscape.
Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
Flim and Helena Gough. I’m not going to say too much about them, besides that they are fantastic. Everyone should check out their music.
Read and hear more Machinefabriek at www.machinefabriek.nu