Members: Mladen Kurajica, Daniel Garcia
Occupation: Producers, improvisers, sound artists
Recent Release: Tupperwear team up with Rob Mazurek, Mauricio Takara & Guilherme Granado of São Paulo Underground for their collaborative LP Saturno Mágico, out via Keroxen.
If you enjoyed this interview with Tupperwear, visit them on Facebook for recent updates and information.
[Read our São Paulo Underground interview]
Tell me about your instrument and/or tools, please. How would you describe the relationship with it? What are its most important qualities and how do they influence the musical results and your own performance?
Mladen: In Tupperwear Daniel uses his computer and loops live all kind of different instruments, from percussions to guitar. I normally play synths and modular stuff, samplers and lots of effect devices of any kind. With my other bands my main instrument is the guitar, but generally I feel atracted to anything that can produce interesting sounds and I love effects and everything that can alter the originl source of sound.
The relationship with the instruments is both fun and spiritual, they are basically an extension of your body, expressing the mood of the moment.
What do improvisation and composition mean to you and what, to you, are their respective merits?
Daniel: To start improvisation, it is usually the most fun in a rehearsal room, it allows you an always new sound journey from which the best ideas can be extracted and later, you take them to a live setting or to studio recording.
One of the most interesting elements is the possibility of adapting to different situations, of interaction with the public, of the variability that it allows. There is also more risk because things do not always go well. If you do not have an adequate sound and you do not connect with the audince the result can be tedious.
Derek Bailey defined improvising as the search for material which is endlessly transformable. Regardless of whether or not you agree with his perspective, what kind of materials have turned to be particularly transformable and stimulating for you?
Mladen: I see improvistation as just let-it-be and see what happens. It’s both the feeling of freedom and continuous surprise, and when something comes up that is kind of different from what I expect me to achieve I tend to use it as a starting building block.
I’m particularly interested in noise, random live looping & sound layering as well as in modular and autogenerative music as the outcome is always different and unexpected. You can’t repeat anything and there are no beginnings nor ends. It’s always something new. There’s something metaphysical in it, a sort of refelction of life.
Purportedly, John Stevens of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble had two basic rules to playing in his ensemble: (1) If you can't hear another musician, you're playing too loud, and (2) if the music you're producing doesn't regularly relate to what you're hearing others create, why be in the group. What's your perspective on this statement and how, more generally, does playing in a group compare to a solo situation?
Daniel: The complicity between the musicians is fundamental especially in improvisation. But in my opinion that does not mean that everything has to be strictly related from the aesthetic point of view, time, tone etc ... The unexpected creates interesting surprises that can take you to different places.
You do not always have to hear perfectly what you do or that the different elements have a direct relationship. In fact, it often happens to us that we do not know actually very well who is doing what in the music when we jam ... It is fun to get lost for a while. You have to let it roll and grow - but we are not interested in uncontrolled chaos.
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 for yiur improvisations and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Mladen: I would say the thing is to be in the right mood, probably relaxed, introspective or simply feeling creative and inspired by something you are experiencing at the moment, a vision, a sensation, a sort of mind excitement or simply a day on a wild beach, some good seafood and white wine or walking among the volcanoes and inside the craters here in Canary Islands. But there is no recipe for this.
Sometimes it works, sometimes doesn’t, as there are just too many distractions in your everyday life that continuously pop in without warning and sometimes spoil the moment. So, when the inspiration comes you’d better be ready, grab quickly whatever that can make sound and try to ride the waves before the series are gone!
Can you talk about how your decision process works in a live setting?
Daniel: We usually work on predefined patterns that can be manipulated in real time and where there is always the possibility of modifying different parameters, in addition to using instruments in a more "traditional" way, be it guitars, keyboards, percussion, etc.
Adding the possibilities of looping, we also lean towards a more random and not precise way of performing, allowing unintentional mistakes and accidents to arise and grow. Also each of us has developed a technique in our way of playing so there could be the highest degree of freedom possible.
How do you see the relationship between sound, space and performance and what are some of your strategies and approaches of working with them?
Mladen: The relationship between them is a key factor to me. Space is the container of the sound and thus the sound and the way you direct and play with it has to do directly with the way you perceive and hear the space. They are inseparable.
One thing that I often do is to change the working place by reordering everything, redecorating or simply trying to move to another location. And the greater the views (there will be more if it’s nature we are talking about), the greater the possibilities to entice and boost your creativity flows.
How is playing live in front of an audience and in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally?
Daniel: It depends, when we are in the process of creation, everything is usually more free, slower and longer ... sometimes we record sessions and from there we extract ideas that are later carried out in live or for recording purposes. When we play live we tend to focus much more since there is an audience that we do not want to bore. But there is always a significant dose of uncertainty.
From each experience you learn about the things that work and those that don't. Above all we like to enjoy ourselves and make the audience enjoy it, too. I guess that is the main purpose of playing live.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Mladen: No big deal here! We don’t have any breaktrough work, or at least we don’t take any of our work as such. We just do what we want at the moment and try not take anything too seriously. I guess this is also something that’s not on artists to decide. But we are happy with everything we do though.
As for performances, we got couple of memorable ones (normally undergorund events) where everything went out of control. But that’s another story.
In a way, improvisations remind us of the transitory nature of life. What, do you feel, can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Daniel: I agree that improvisation is similar to the way the nature works. Actually, to me it’s a clear reflection of life, it's got all of its elements, it's all there. In my view it goes also much deeper than words as it is more universal and it was there before the articulation of language.
But I guess they are very similar in the end, just a different approach.