material recorded in 1997, 2000 and finalized 2012, Stevey Seven: samples/synths/mix/cover art
Tell me about the equipment and software that was used to create this work.
The only software was redubbing some stuff through Audiomulch; an Ensoniq sampler, some old synths and FX units....the first session i used a guitar effects unit and DJ mixer to create feedback loops...then i re-dubbed some guitar-scraping noises and such to a 1/4" reel-to-reel and pitched down. Other ambience were samples from TV and movies. Basically, live mixing stuff from CD, Minidisc, tape and sampler.
It's a live recording that has been fifteen years in the making?
I know that sounds a bit contradictory huh? basically, i mixmaster everything to 2 tracks; as with this, instruments, tapes, etc. are all going at once- in this case, drones or feedback or noise sessions that on their own didn't have context. I like doing things better on the fly, using some "chaos magick" i suppose, doing several things at once. It is really a slippery definition, especially with electronic music these days, but in this case the "sequencer" was human. I prefer to work without a computer using older stuff and improvisation: using limitations as an advantage. The challenges have for the most part been a lack of creativity or inspiration and not lack of gear. The idea is to have some sort of tension involved and being in the moment; being free to make mistakes or having surprises. I had tried a multi tape when i first started recording, but most of the instruments were MIDI anyway and i could get a better sound and less noise in one take direct to stereo than with a Portastudio. So, i call it "live" because i was using minimal material that was done in 1997, 2000 and this year: i guess it also emphasizes the way mixing was done, it was a performance in itself. So the trick was to not overdo it, to compress pieces and introduce things in a cinematic way in a specific space of time and see how they play off each other and interact. I guess like a conversation between 4 people, where if too many talk at once, they drown themselves out. So i am glad you ask about the process of it, it really is about being as much in the moment as the final product - maybe more!
What surprised you about this recording?
This recording, as well as experimental music; i am actually surprised that there is as much interest as there is and how much. But i guess it's a genre of die-hards ;)
You say the idea is "...being free to make mistakes or having surprises." Were there any "mistakes" that turned into nice surprises?
It really is hard to say at this point and something i just don't think about anymore. Since part of the reason for doing it is to get out of self for a bit...i guess it is a whole-brain experience now, beyond pleasure or disappointment or ego. Especially at the time of production, you're just analyzing the sounds with one side and getting the aesthetics with the other. You only know what the path is when you've dropped off. "Surprises" and "mistakes" really seem to me to be projections and judgments- and i am trying to get beyond those projections- which always seem to be tied to value judgments; whether something is "good" or "bad"...I think when people experience something "good", subconsciously maybe they are just saying it corresponds with "truth", while "bad", untruth. I am seeing this more now, especially in popular media where we are just being fed our own preconceptions and not being challenged. When it is all said and done (though art is never finished, it is said), i guess it is an instinctual feeling of whether it conveyed the moment or not- whether the work took me instead of me playing the control game. And i guess if it didn't yield any surprises or sense of freedom, i wouldn't do it at all....so the answer is yes. Specifically i cannot say- but going back to media, the internet, music, information and control, it all feeds back to Gysin or Burroughs. They conveyed things that deep down that connected with me at a young age and are more relevant than ever. I am not extremely well-read, but you understand the concepts, which the English language doesn't serve very well. An artists' work is like breathing- why does he do it? Because he must. I only know that living is preferable to death because it is familiar to me. Sometimes the point is to be disappointed, also...there are more flaws and disorder than order and i find these flaws actually perpetuate the work rather than satisfaction- which for myself is recently becoming rooted in my illusions, which i am trying to tear down.
Hence the name, Tactil Vision? I think it's an interesting idea that flaws perpetuate the work. Chris Ballew talked about not being afraid to "suck" in an interview I did a decade ago. And I think much new music I'm hearing embraces flaws. But I think maybe it's not really the flaws, but getting down the nature of a thing that is the real yearning.
Maybe it is true that the essential nature of things is emptiness. Sometimes i still contemplate these things, but mostly it makes me hungry.
Is there a difference between working with source material you've created yourself as opposed to material provided by others or found material?
Well i really have been getting enjoyment out of remixing others as much as producing my own. Actually the more diverse sounds i have to work with is better. But you are always on the hunt for new sounds- especially as as solo producer, i have a tendency to get in a rut. It used to be going through tapes that people for some reason left at the local thrift store, or using the minidisc or vinyl...primarily, working with electronic sounds comes naturally. But it is about getting as many different types of material and seeing how they mesh.
Are you working on many things at once or do you prefer to focus your creative energy?
I suppose my nature is to have several things going...the less time i have to contemplate, the better. Or maybe it is just childishness and immaturity. My challenge is balance and i suppose i must oscillate to extremes to find that center. I found that the forces of energy and discipline come to mind when looking back. I would hate to have to create one thing to umbrella under... so i do have different guises and projects to demonstrate yin and yang energy. It seems there really is no limit to having as many identities as possible as long as you have a center to work from. I would also hate to reference exactly where my influences come from artistically... but i think more than ever things are being invented, reinvented and fused- The Cut And Paste century. We live in fragments within a shorter and shorter time span. So i think it is more natural now to have many things going on at once than not. Which reminds me of the movie "Altered States", where the lead character mentioned something to the effect that he wasn't so sure if mental illness was an illness at all, (regarding schizophrenia) but another reality to be explored. I guess the whole focusing creative energy happens a great deal more with intimacy and relationships- which is actually much more enjoyable and more of a challenge. Everyone is an artist, everyone is creative in their own life in their own way. I think that is so important, to recognize the divinity in everyone of which much goes unnoticed or unappreciated. So that center for me, once found, becomes a place where i can move about in freedom as long as i don't lose sight of what is real; and that is becoming more and more about others. There was a thing that got posted to the effect of "Be interested instead of interesting" and that really hit me hard.
I like that. "Be interested instead of interesting," sounds like the creative ethic of DiY art.