Trommer, Michael

Michael Trommer
Canadian soundartist

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biography
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Interview : 10 questions

1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?

I started making music at a young age – i’m guessing around 5 or 6 – taking piano, then trumpet, violin and accordeon lessons.
at around the age of 10 or 11, i started discovering electronic music via radio…i particularly remember the late-night soundtracks of kraftwerk, tangerine dream etc. on the cbc.
there was immediately a desire to try to make something similar on my own.

2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.

from my lessons, i drifted into recording…synthesizers, tape machines, cheap effects…my first cassette 4-track was a revelation.

as far as living environment…as i’m writing this it’s the beginning of february…mid-winter in toronto. The long dark nights make for ideal studio time. and all the blinking lights look really cool.

3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?

i don’t want to have to look at music as my main means of survival…i think it’s important that it remain my own thing, completely. i think that everyone needs something that is uniquely theirs.

4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?

i produce a variety of different material…i’m currently working on an abstract house project as ‘sans soleil’, some material for some live sets and installations with VJ nokami from montréal, some field recording-based stuff, pieces with contact-mic’d electronics…

what i work on varies depending on the opportunities that are available and/or what my current fascination is.

one consistent idea across all of my work is that of incorporating experimental sensibilities into a more pop format, as well as the other way around, i.e. finding ways of bringing out a kind of pop-song beauty lurking in field recordings.

5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?

the usual: a macbook, a couple of controllers, and an mpc are the core of my setup. i have one of those edirol r09 digital recorders that i carry around with me a lot (lately i’ve been getting some good sounds with a stereo contact mic i put together).

again…what i’m using will vary according to what i’m working on. like many others, i find it nice to sometimes get away from the computer and bang away on hardware…i have a bunch of analog stuff that’s a riot to use. making or finding things to contact mic can be a nice, physical thing to do too after tapping away at computer keys for a long time…some real vibtrations.
i like playing my daughter’s strat now and then for the same reasons.

6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general
and you personally?

i’m not sure that i understand this question correctly, but:

it’s good that unusual music is much more accessible now…it was next to impossible to find a field-recording cd – even at a pretty eclectic record store – 15 years ago, for example. now this kind of thing is easily available, often in a format that’s perhaps more interesting and suitable for what it is than a straight cd (i’m thinking of sites like soundtransit.nl or ubu.com, for example).

also, hearing what others are doing, being able to so easily work and exchange ideas with people who are far away is still a fantastic thing for me.

7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?

i have a day job as an english teacher. s; )

8. Do you work individually as a musician/soundartist or in a group or collaborative?

i occasionally work with friends…vocalists and so on.

i belong to an audio-visual improvisation collective here in toronto called ‘io media’, which is interesting…a refreshing change from studio work. it’s good to really have to listen and respond to others…to not have to fill in all the space myself.

my friends and i have a kind of tradition of having a few drinks and jamming with acoustic instruments and found objects on friday nights. a lot of this gets recorded and finds its way into pieces.

having said this…there’s no question that most of my work is done alone, though.

If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

i need both – it’s good to be pulled out of your regular thinking – but overall i like the pace and freedom of working on my own.

9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?

i like artists that can make things that are very raw and yet also manage to express a kind of savage beauty….robert frank, werner herzog, chris marker, bill viola, ryoji ikeda…

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?

more travelling, more interesting collaborations, and i have a backlog of ideas (installation-based work, particularly) that i’d like to realize.