Interview: 10 questions
1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
As I began my musical apprenticing at 6, I don’t really remember the details of my first motivation. I can only say that I loved to play some improvisations, imitating the animals as bear, birds, lion, cat and so, on my brand new piano that my parents bought to me. It was an idea of one of my aunts, which was a singer, and she was astonished of my exact intonation. She heard me singing a couple of times, I did all my repertoire in my bed every evening because I was frightened to stay in the darkness, even if my elder brother was just near me. So I sang some 50 short children and traditional Slovak songs before to give up and accept the Morpheus’s victory. I continued to learn piano at the music school for children with variable intensity of my personal investment and I think that I started to be really interested by music, when I was about 16. I started to play guitar, as every adolescent, and to listen to some rock music, available in east bloc. I’ve heard also some of forbidden music-yes it was really forbidden to listen Rolling Stones, Gary Glitter, Kiss, Suzy Quatro… but not The Beatles…funny. I used to listen a foreign radio programs. Specially the Radio Luxembourg, because of some rock music, and Austrian third program, which was for me a nice nighttime spent with a classical music. I discovered a lot of 20th century music there. It is not easy to remember what was exactly my motivation to become a musician. I think, that I was not a proper musical motivation but a despaired research of well-coded language, to express myself, in spite of any difficulty of apprenticing.
2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
I think I am a typical product of communist totalitarian society with some implanted schizophrenic features and with highly developed inside freedom spasm. This is maybe one of the reasons that piano playing couldn’t satisfy me entirely. Other reason is that I became too shy to play in public. My first piano teacher was a very serious lady, that I liked very much. I took my first private lessons of composition at the age of 16 with Juraj Hatrik, a blessed composer by regime in place. At same time I was at nature sciences oriented gymnasium and at my good old music school. At 18, I entered to Bratislava Conservatory to study the composition with Juraj Pospisil. I still have marvelous memories from this period of my life. It was very intense apprenticing of music. At that time I also met some people from Experimental Studio of Slovak Radio and this contact allowed me an access to the “technology”. Mac II was at the top of the chart. By the way, I never understood, how this kind of machine, considered as strategic material at the time of the cold war could be found in a communist country. Unbelievable! Three years later I was admitted to University of Fine Arts in the same town. The first year of my study in the composition class of Ivan Hrusovsky I left for Paris. I’ve got a scholarship from French government. Another incredible think is that they left me to go. I really enjoyed the stay. I started to study at Ecole Normale de Musique. Yoshihisha Taïra’s composition class was exactly what I needed. That’s why I returned there in 1989. I continued the computer music studies at Conservatoire de Boulogne with Michel Zbar. I spent some time at Strasbourg University with French composer François –Bernard Mâche and at University Paris VIII with Horatio Vaggione at the computer music department.
3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
I can say that making music is my profession on half time. I produce in radio a musical program and I teach computer music. Anyway, I try not to become an occasional composer, “compositeur du diamanche” as they use to say in France. Music was always something what I wanted to do and I consider every moment spent with music as well spent. I am in active contact with music every day thru one of my activities. I appreciate the change. Commercial part of this affair, I mean compositional profitability, is much more uninteresting for me than the fact to make music.
4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
I use to start every composition traditionally, using paper and pencil. Than I continue to write a score on computer. By composing something, I play piano a lot, but generally it doesn’t serves much to construct the piece. I just like it.
Composing electronic music is different with every piece. First of all I search a sound material that seems to correspond to the idea of the piece. I compose rarely a pure music in electronics. In this field, I appreciate to collaborate with other artists, musicians, painters, photographers or dancers. It is difficult to give you a definition of my musical style. There are many specialists that could describe it better than me.
5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
I suppose that you want to speak about elelctroacoustic composition. The main software for me are ProTools and Finale, but in preparation and sound modification I use everything I have in my Macintosh. I work rarely with MIDI machines or synths. My old CASIO is ok for usage I need. I often transpose some useful tape techniques to digital world. I think it could characterize one part of my approach to electronic music. But I feel that with the development of musical software I will be forced to re-actualize my knowledge. I nearly forgot that I work also with Pédalophone. A real time electronic sound transformer invented and constructed by my friend Alexander Mihalic. This machine works with any acoustic instrument and modifies the sound. The player has to manage eight MIDI pedals as written in the score. It is pretty hard for newcomers to play the notes and the pedals at the same time. The foot movement reminds me some organ techniques. Playing Pédalophone, it’s better to have the score in your head than head in the score.
6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general
and you personally?
Everybody agree that appearance of new media is equal to big democratization process in music. Music production explodes, and it is pretty hard to orient yourself in this avalanche of sound. With this technical development I became totally independent in many ways. I watch out to not transform it in total artistic solitude.
7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
This is very sensible topic for many. Personally, I produce my music myself or in collaboration with festivals and other musical event organizers. Financing is always a big problem, but French system of copyright works relatively well and it serve sometimes to help the young artists.
8. Do you work individually as a musician/soundartist or in a group or collaborative?
As I said before, I appreciate to collaborate with musicians and artistes in electroacoustic music. What the classical composition concern, I am quite solitaire, but I use to rehearse, and this kind of amusement could sometimes turn to a creative work.
If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
No preference. For me these activities are very complementary. I just love to make music.
9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?
I am not sure, I can tell you about my favorites masters or musicians. Of course I was and I am still influenced by tons of music I’ve heard. Maybe it could be interesting to mention some musical “shocks” witch stayed in my memory. Beethoven’s 7th symphony and Moussorgsky’s Pictures of an Exhibition, Stravinsky’s Histoire de soldat, Stockhausen’s or Zappa’s music. Ives, Ligeti, Penderecki, Nono, Gorecki, Szymanski… and many others.
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?
I promised to compose some songs to one friend. It will by several short tales for soprano and chamber orchestra. In electronic music, I would like to form duo or trio for computer improvisation, eventually with acoustic instrument. And I will write a new piece for Pédalophone and acoustic instrument too.
I dream, literally, about an opera. But that’s all I can say for the moment.