1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
My father built a few violins as a hobby and I started learning to play one of them at the age of 7 years. There wasn’t a huge drive to play – the violin was just there. Little did I know that it would mean lessons, lessons, scales, scales etc. Later I played a little piano and then I focused on viola. Later a neck injury meant that viola was out of the question. So I started working with software in particular Audiomulch – this, along with mandolin were the first two instruments I can say that I chose myself.
2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
I grew up in Durban, South Africa, later moving across country to Cape Town. I grew up in a working class neighbourhood. My father was a motor mechanic, my school friends were surfers. Most days a week I went to music lessons after school – mostly classical performance, later I taught myself composition and improvisation. Played a lot of string quartet. After school I started a few quartets and also played some early music. After school I studied Fine Art (sculpture and painting) – this was where I developed the conceptual skills that I use in my music making today.
Today I live in a previously (apartheid government declared) non – white area of Cape Town, still very few whites. A mixed Muslim and Christian environment – call to prayer is heard several times a day. Some of my neighbours live up to a certain stereotype i.e. they love House music and mag wheels. But then I love this neighbourhood.
3. Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
I make my income teaching music related subjects – sound engineering, music theory & appreciation, creative audio (to fine art students), and the occasional violin and mandolin student. I perform and create as much as I can, but make very little income playing mandolin or creating electro – acoustic music. I play the odd festival, and also do a fair amount of session work as a mandolin player.
4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
I like unpacking an idea. I try to find meaning in seemingly unrelated factors. I mostly plan recordings rather than doing them spontaneously. The recording process is part of the composition – if the recording goes well, there’s often not that much more to add. I like the challenge of describing something visual using sound. At times the recording is material to reference rather than to use – as I would produce rough sketches as a fine artist. As much as I love noise, I love melody – I prefer listening to noise, but prefer making melody.
5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
Software – audiomulch, cubase, various wave editors. Instruments – mandolin, keyboard (sometimes), mandola (sometimes). Contact microphones – great for field recording (a contact on the inside of a train carriage will even pick up conversations). Various Boss type pedals and tape decks.
6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general
and you personally?
Well it’s already taken over. I used to love painting. I still do, but don’t do it. Mostly it’s too slow. Used to draw a sketch, then scan it. Now draw directly in digital realm. The name New Media is misleading – we’re just using the same media in technologically more advanced ways.
7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
My teaching sponsors my music work. I’ve done a fair amount of fundraising in the past and so am acutely aware of the sacrifices that you make when you take sponsors on board or have to please an audience. I learnt this the hard way playing fiddle in pubs and at weddings.
8. Do you work individually as a musician/soundartist or in a group or collaborative?
If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
I have a group vision – many of my compositions are designed for more than one performer. But to find the right performers on a small budget? Mostly I work around people’s ability and willingness to perform (rather an eager amateur than a bored professional). Recently I’ve been working mostly with myself – multi tracking and prerecording myself on video so that I can accompany myself.
9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?
Music: Nancarrow, Shostakovich, Madala Kunene (SA Maskanda guitarist), Winston Mankunku (SA jazz musician), Erwin Schulhoff, Bill Monroe (founder of bluegrass), Edgar Meyer (double bassist), Satie, Brian Eno, Joy Division and any mbira (thumb piano) music.
Visual & Conceptual: Minimalism (Donald Judd), Colour Field artists (Motherwell), Willem Boshoff (SA conceptual artist and sculptor).
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?
To keep at it. My colleagues in this business just seem to get younger. If I’m still at it when I should be retiring then I guess I will have achieved something …achieved what? I’m not sure.