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?
Everybody who has listened to music with his eyes closed, knows how much our other senses influence sound. It's a vast territory of investigation. I am very interested in the combination of audio and visuals for example, and have been playing a live A/V set for many years.
All the different types of art you mentioned in your question, may in fact be defined by how audio and visual content interact and influence each other. The three types contain many sub-genres, and every artist (directors, painters, etc.) creates their own specific method of expressing their intentions by blending the visual with sound and music. Not all of those seem necessarily interesting to me, like for example cinema, which often requires either dull music so as not to intrude on the visual content, or very strong music to rescue dull visuals, which unfortunately seems to be the rule nowadays.
Video art seems a less standardised art form though, and has got more of my attention and appreciation. However, when making music, I usually do not look at anything and try to perceive the music as is, as much as that is possible. Strangely, when I do so, I tend to see the wave forms and sounds I have been shaping. In a way, sound design is like drawing or painting the sound, which renders it a very visual thing to do.
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 don't stand between any of the two poles. I grew up and learned to adapt to the format of CD for example, yet, frankly, I feel that the death of the CD format bears a tremendous advantage too, in the sense that the musician does not necessarily have to deal with the specifications and limitations of said format any longer. Right now basically ANY format can be filled. This is opening up a huge space for the artist, as the composition itself is no longer bound to a specific format or carrier.
CD definitely has advantages and disadvantages and so does vinyl or mp3. Composing for a format, or alternatively excluding certain formats through the way a piece is made, is a new, challenging situation which I fully embrace. The last 70 years of music, the years in which we learned how to understand and perceive music in a certain way, were just an illusion. The fact that music was considered material just by being sold to us on a material carrier may have been a huge misunderstanding in itself.
Perhaps music has freed itself now from the material world all together. I am not completely against the idea, that music should not be material at all, like, once it's transmitted and listened to, it ceases to exist and remains existent only in our memories where music is being constructed in the first place. The topic of the material carrier, as implied in your question, is basically the topic of exploitation. As such it is the problem of somebody else, not per se by the artist, therefore it is not a tendency in music, but a tendency in music business.
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 think there is a big difference in what was culturally relevant, let's say between 2000-2010 (let's not even mention the '90s) and today. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly it is, but I feel that what we need right now is a clearer, simpler and reduced focus on the essential elements of art. 2000-2010 was a playful, funny mash-up of anything goes in a hysterical and excessive manner. This, I think, is totally over and a certain kind of seriousness has set in. The wild blend of basically anything has become everybody's daily routine, yet, combined with living in cultural decadence, my feeling is that art needs to be more direct, honest, essential and eventually detached from economy.
In my personal work I am currently focussing a lot more on essential elements, elements of which I consider my field of expertise: electronic music. The phenomenology of the essential deals with electricity, wave forms, sonic pressure and all sorts of musical and physical artefacts that could express a new path for electronic music.
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?
The question about the value of music has always been the essential one. We should not confuse the value of the physical carrier with the value of music itself though. The fact that nobody seems to be interested in paying money for a specific carrier such as a CD for example, a format that has always been overpriced and for which the musician did not receive more money than for any other format by the way, does not mean that anything radical has happened to the value of music itself.
I would rather say that the value of music has always been the same and it still is. To most people it is just the soundtrack to socialisation...picking somebody up, getting drunk, lying on the beach, driving in a car, hang out with friends, etc., etc....just to name the most entertaining few.
There are MILLIONS of add-ons that create the value of music, yet have nothing to do with music itself. Unfortunately, those are still the very same ever since music was consumed. Just a very few people give value to the music and not to the information attached to it. I hope this does not sound like I'm complaining, because I'm certainly not. I'd like to bring the discussion about music and what's going on with it, down to a clear conversation and analysis of what is really going on.
Unfortunately, music and business, that is the exploitation of music, has become one big blur in which the very same musicians are unable to differentiate the one from the other. The question is whether we discuss musical issues or economical ones? Frankly if I am having a look on how music is consumed and perceived today, I think people give it just the very same value as, let's say, 30 years ago.
You may say that something has changed in how the audience is paying for music, and, yes, I agree, the money is floating somewhere else, this is true! Now, I really don't want to give a lesson in basic economics, but, everybody who thinks that music, or basically any other content on the internet is free, has not understood the tiniest bit of how capitalist economy works. While everybody seems happy receiving content for free, somebody is making money on the traffic such content generates. Without being a genius, it is obvious to see that the money is floating around somewhere, it has just found a new realm, which is not the traditional music biz.
The abundance is necessary for the system to function. Since you're asking about my perception of music and its value, it has to become more precious and more personal. And personal is in fact everything that's going on right now, in the sense that everybody who is consuming music and other products is essentially part of and responsible for the general development of things.
The paradox of "everything" is, that it may as well mean "nothing".