Review & Corregie (France)
- APART FROM SONIC YOUTH, WHO PROBABLY DONT HAVE TO BE INTRODUCED
ANYMORE, WHAT WERE YOUR FRIST MUSICAL EXPERIENCES ? YOUR FIRST MUSICAL MEMORIES
I grew up in a musical environment, my mother a pianist, and so there was
always music and singing in my house growing up. American early 60s AM radio
hits were big influences, and very early on came the Beatles which remain
inspirational to this day.
- WHICH MUSICIANS, ARTISTS AND IN PARTICULAR GUITARISTS INFLUENCED YOU ?
WHAT ASPECTS OF THEIR FORMAL AND CONCEPTUAL APPROACHES INFLUENCED YOU ?
Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, of course, Garcia and Weir and Jorma, Clapton,
David Byrne, Ivan Julian and Robt Quine, Verlaine and Lloyd, Django Reinhart,
Leo Kotke and John Fahey, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, J Mascis and Lou Barlow,
Steven Malkmus, Liz Phair, Heino Keichi, Barbara Manning, Carrie Brownstein
and Corin Tucker, Jim ORourke, Thurston, Kim, Les Paul.
- WHAT WAS GLENN BRANCAS INFLUENCE IN YOUR WAY
OF APPROACHING THE SOUND MATTER, AND ALSO ON THE SIMPLY TECHNICAL ANGLE
OF GUITAR PLAYING ? HOW DID YOU GET ALONG TOGETHER ?
Glenn and I got along very well, in fact I was the only one in his early
6 piece band able to step out and almost solohe knew that
I understood where he was going with the theatrical aspect of
the music and he used me as a foil for where he wanted to push the music
whilst he was conducting. I had done much playing in open tunings before
meeting him, so that is not the aspect of working with him that I found
new. Moreso it was the conceptual nature of the music he was
doing, coupled with the dramatic effect he was trying to achieve (ie : large
scale rock that had the effect of, say, Wagner symphonies or tone poems).
- WHAT WAS THE STATE OF MIND IN NEW YORK WHEN YOU
GOT THERE ? DO YOU THINK THAT THIS CITY DEEPLY INFLUENCED YOUR APPROACH
OF THE SONIC PHENOMENON ?
The city was a very powerful influence. When Thurston, Kim and I all came
to NYC (late 70s, early 80s) the city was very hermetic, and a very powerful
culture was brewing in the worlds of music and art, which interacted with
each other. You had many artists working in various fields==painters forming
bands, guitar players making sculptures, etc
It was a very high time
when much great work was made. Many people were willing to experiment, try
new things, and that was the character of the city which influenced us most.
We wanted to become a part of that.
In spite of the art worlds rapid notoriety, there was something very
insular about that timethings happening here then did not always translate
outside the heady environment of the city. Certainly no bands from that
time imagined being able to make recordsthere were no indie
companies back than ; Brancas was actually among the first around
in NYC, alongside 99 records.
- AS WITH SONIC YOUTH, WHERE POP CULTURE INFLUENCES COULD BE HEARD, AS WELL
AS NUMEROUS QUOTATIONS AND TWISTS OF AMERICAN CULTURAL AND COUNTER-CULTURAL
REFERENCES, YOUR SOLO LPS USE AN AESTHETIC THATS CLOSE TO THE MINIMALISTIC
AND BEAT POETRY. WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS HISTORY, THIS COUNTER-CULTURE
FROM THE 50S AND THE 60S ?
I first read Kerouac at 18, directly after my first summer spent crossing
the USA by car, to California and back. I immediately responded to the writing,
and soon discovered Ginsburg, Corso, Diane DiPrima, WS Burroughs and other
writers of that ilk. The energy of the writing, the tenderness which is
often revealed, the spirituality as well as the excitement those writers
expressed at living in the modern age all spurred me on.
- IN A WAY, IMPROVISATION HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN IMPORTANT
PART OF SONIC YOUTHS MUSIC, AS WELL AS OF ROCK IN GENERAL (VELVET
UNDERGROUND, GRATEFUL DEAD
). WHAT LED YOU TO IMPROVISATION ? IM
MAINLY THINKING ABOUT YOUR COLLABORATIONS WITH WILLIAM HOOKER, AND TODAY
WITH DJS OR CHRISTIAN MARCLAY. WHAT ARISES YOUR INTEREST IN FREE IMPROVISATION
From the earliest times when I began playing electric guitar, and even banging
on a piano before that, it was always obvious that setting notes free into
the air has a magical quality to it. Something special happens when tones
ring out, made by ones own hand. I always desires to make spontaneous
creative tone pomes with others, as soon as I learned to play. Like building
castles our of cloud vapor==you build them up and then they drift off to
- DOES IMPROVISING WITH THRUSTON MOORE MEAN SOMETHING
FOR YOU OUT OF THE CONTEXT OF SONIC YOUTH ? HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO ESCAPE
FROM YOUR RESPECTIVE STYLES, FROM THIS LANGUAGES YOU HAVE BOTH DEVELOPPED
WITHIN SONIC YOUTH ? VINKO GLOBOKAR SAID THAT IMPROVISING ONLY MADE SENSE
IF YOU PLAYED WITH A MUSICIAN YOU HAD NEVER PLAYED WITH BEFORE, OR ELSE
YOURE JUST BUILDING A STYLE OF PLAYING BASED ON MEMORIES, ON WHAT
HAS HAPPENED BEFORE, AND IN THIS CASE ITS BETTER TO WRITE NEW MUSIC.
I think Vinko is taking the phrase as a purist would, and I
do not care to see it that way. Improvising is starting from no written
or rehearsed script, but just PLAYING and letting the music dictate where
one goes with it. With Thurston I have a long history of such playingboth
in Sy and outside of the group. We have developed something of a common
language, and sometimes utilize this. But it still does not prepare us well
for that which happens when we step onto a stage together and PLAY ! Then
the music takes over and its always different that we imagined it
- KEITH ROWE SAID THAT DEREK BAILEY WAS STILL WORKING
WITHIN THE OLD LANGUAGE OF GUITAR PLAYING, OPPOSING THE TECHNIQUES OF REHEARSED
GUITAR TO HIS OWN PLAYING. YOU RARELY USE THOSE OBLIQUE METHODS YOURSELF,
EXCEPT WHEN WORKING ON THE SOUND. (BAILEY VERY ACCURATELY SAID THAT IMPROVISATION
IN ROCK IS EITHER COMPLETELY BASED ON THE BLUES OR COMES FROM ELECTRONIC
MUSIC). HOW DO YOU VIEW THIS INSTRUMENT AND YOUR USE OF IT CONFRONTED WITH
THIS REFLEXION, AND MORE GENERALLY WITH NEW TECHNOLOGIES ? DO YOU THINK
YOU ARE STILL OPERATING WITHIN AND OLD FRAME OF LANGUAGE ? DO YOU THINK
THAT THIS INSTRUMENT CAN STILL SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT THIS END OF CENTURY
I dont really concern myself too much with these ideas of language
and frameworks. I say use everything at your disposal, and let the knowledge
be your guide. That means, of course, to be aware of yr antecedentsyour
"old language". In other words not to be trapped inside the language
you use, to see it as one of many, and to understand the workings of as
many as possible. To draw influence and inspiration from many points in
- ARE YOU INTERESTED IN NEW ELECTRONIC MUSIC (AS MADE
BY MUSICIANS LIKE DJ SPOOKY, MIKA VAINIO, RYOJI IKEDA
), ALSO IN ITS
MORE PLAYFUL SIDE, LIKE APHEX TWIN AND SQUAREPUSHER, OR EVEN ITS FESTIVE,
MAINSTREAM, DANCE-FLOOR ORIENTED SIDE ?
Although I dont listen to dance music too much, I have great respect
and interest in the artists you mention, especially Aphex Twin and others
(ORourke, Merzbow, Autechre, Thomas Koner, Oval, Microstoria, etc
etc) . They are breathing new life into the contemporary music scene.
- DO YOU THINK THAT ROCK IS TODAY A OVERDATED COUNTER-CULTURE
THAT DOESNT WORK ANYMORE ? HAVE WE NOW ENTERED WHAT COULD BE CALLED
THE TECHNOSPHERE, WITH NEW DEFINITIONS OF THE ROLE OF THE ARTIST AND HIS
WORK, QUESTIONING THE CONCEPTS OF AURA, COPYRIGHT, WRITING (FOR INSTANCE
DJ SPOOKYS TEXTS) ? AN ALBUM LIKE « SCRIPTURES OF THE GOLDEN
ETERNITY » SEEMS TO BE PRETTY CLOSE TO THE ILLBIANT AESTHETIC, OR
TO SOME OF THE 70S INDUSTRIAL MUSIC, LIKE THROBBING GRISTLE.
Nah. Yes. Maybe.
- YOU USE RECORDED TAPES, ANSWERING MACHINE VOICES
THAT YOU MIX WITH YOUR GUITAR DRONES. ANOTHER IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTIC OF
YOUR MUSIC IS THE USE OF THE LOOP AND THE DELAY, A VERY GEOLOGICAL, STRATIFIED
APPROACH TO MUSIC (FOR INSTANCE, SEE YOUR DEDICATION TO ROBERT SMITHSON
AND SOME OF YOUR TITLES : « BROKEN CIRCLE », « SPIRAL
HILL », « NEW GROOVE LOOP »). THIS IDEA OF TRAVELLING,
WANDERING THROUGH SOUND, IS VERY CLOSE TO PSYCHEDELIA, A PSYCHO-ACOUSTICAL
APPROACH ? WHAT DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOURE LISTENING TO LA MONTE YOUNGS
INFINITE PIECES OR TONY CONRADS MUSIC ?
I like the idea of music as landscapeanother word for soundtrackand
often conceive of my music, or performances, to that end. I like the idea
of being inside a specific soundscape which mutates or changes as you go,
the aural equiv of a film. It takes a certain sense of patience from the
audience to go with this concept (its diff fr chill-out
music, say) and am always pleased when an audience is willing to follow.
I very much like the idea of films to accompany instrumental music as a
means to focus the listening experience, too.
- ONE OF THE TRACKS ON « AMARILLO RAMP » IS ENTITLED «
NON-SITE # 3 », A REFERENCE TO ROBERT SMITHSONS EXHIBITION OF
DIFFERENT MINERALS HE USED TO DISPLAY IN VARIOUS MUSEUMS. DO YOU MAKE A
LINK BETWEEN THOSE NON-SITES AND THE RECORD, BETWEEN THE TIME OF THE COLLECTING
OF THE STONES (THE CONCERT) AND THE EXHIBITION ?
Those works of Smithson are less about the display of minerals and more
about a very modern sense of social displacement. The concert stands as
execution of ideas. The creative process as the gathering of the stones.
The recorded work as an interpretation of the evidence.
- YOUR REGULARLY WORK AROUND OR WITH DIFFERENT ARTISTS
AND WRITERS (ALLAN GINSBERG, MIKE KELLEY, RAYMOND PETITBON
ARE YOUR MOTIVES FOR THOSE PARTNERSHIPS ?
Enlightenment, the exchange of ideas, and new kicks.
- DID CONCRETE MUSIC AND PIERRE SCHAEFFERS THEORIES INFLUENCE YOU
WORK, AND HOW ? WERE YOU EVER TEMPTED TO CONSIDER THE STUDIO LIKE A CONCRETE
SPACE ? WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR MUSIC AS A SONIC LANDSCAPE ?
Certainly the ideas and works of the musique concrete faction
and especially those working with tape experiments have been very important
and provacative works for me. Pierre Henri, Cage and Stockhausen, Ferrari,
Varese, George Anthiel, and others. I consider the studio as multipurposesometimes
a transcription tool, other times an instrument in its own right.
- YOU COULD BE CONSIDERED A PART OF TODAYS SCENE
WHERE GUITAR PLAYERS APPROACH SOUND IN TERMS OF SCULPTURE AND SPACE MORE
THAN RHYTHM AND TIME, MUSICIANS LIKE ALAN LICHT, DONALD MILLER, SURFACE
OF THE EARTH OR RAFAEL TORAL. HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE QUESTIONS OF RHYTHM
AND SPACE ? THE QUESTION OF SOUND ?
A simple answer ?I try to approach issues of music naturally, and
let concepts evolve from the playing itself, using my own capabilities and
knowledge of musics present and past.
- WHAT IS YOUR CONCEPTION OF NOISE ? MANY MUSICIANS
WHO I THINK HAVE A NOISE-IST APPROACH VERY VIOLENTLY REFUSE ANY COMPARISON
BETWEEN THEIR MUSIC AND NOISE (IT SEEMS TO ME THAT SINCE CAGE, THE UNDERSTANDING
OF THIS SONIC ELEMENT HAS CONSIDERABLY EVOLVED). WHY IS THERE THIS REFUSAL
OF THIS RADICAL PART OF THE SONIC PHENOMENON ? PEOPLE USED TO CALL FREE-JAZZ
NOISE AND, IN A WAY, WITHIN THE DOMINATING MUSICAL CODES OF THIS ERA, IT
WAS NOISE. IN A WAY, AMPLIFICATION IS RELATED TO A CERTAIN SONIC PAIN, AN
AGRESSION REMINDING THE URBAN NOISES. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THIS ?
I think most forward thinkers would refute the idea that noise
should be seperated from music as phenomena. I prefer to think
of sound and silence as the parameters, thereby
laying equal any aural activity. What is noise anyway ? A complex
tonality, and therefore not really different from any other sounds on the
musical landscape. Consonance/Disonance ; Tone/Anti-toneits
all good !
- HOW DO YOU VIEW JOHN FAHEYS PROJECTS TO PRODUCE
AMERICAN PRIMITIVE MUSIC RECORDS WITH REVENANT ? ABOUT THE RE-RELEASE OF
BEEFHEARTS RECORDINGS ? ABOUT ASKING THE QUESTION OF THE HISTORY OF
NORTH-AMERICAN POPULAR MUSIC ?
I think the music John and Revenant have been putting out is just fantastic,
another example of why he matters so much as a guitarist and musical visionary,
although I had some great problems with that Beefheart box
- WERE YOU INFLUENCED BY BLUES GUITARISTS LIKE CHARLEY
PATTON, BUKKA WHITE, LIGHTNIN HOPKINS ? WHAT DOES THE AFRO-AMERICAN
CULTURE MEAN TO YOU ? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE TRANSITION FROM THE PERSONAL,
SINGULAR STYLE OF PLAYING THAT WAS THE PRIMITIVE BLUES TO HIP HOP CULTURES
SOUND MATTER AND REMODELLING OF THIS BLACK MEMORY ?
THIS LEADS US TO THE SUBJECT OF TURNTABLISM, THE DEVIATION OF THE MEANS
OF REPRODUCTION IN A PRODUCTIVE GESTURE, THE CRITICISM OF THE CULTURAL
OBJECT, THE IDEA OF COPYRIGHT. JOHN OSWALD DID A GREAT WORK WITH YOUR
RECORDS ON « DECONSTRUCT ». YOU HAVE REMIXED DIFFERENT BANDS
(LIKE CAN). DO YOU THINK THAT REMIXING IS AN INTERESTING PRACTICE OR DO
YOU CONSIDER IT IS MERELY THE RECYCLING OF AN OUT-OF-DATE MERCHANDISE
I think in the hands of an astute listener that the remix can be very
interestingits a lot like montage or collage, isnt it
? In the right hands it can transform one art work into another, but too
often it layers the remixers sensibility, without much sensitivity, over
an existing work, and thats boring.
Personally, I love the idea of using already existing material to create
new work, but if the works created are only of interest in light of the
source material, then they are failures.
- WHAT DID THE MEETING WITH THE JAJOUKA MUSICIANS
DURING YOUR TRIP TO MOROCCO BRING TO YOUR MUSIC ? ARE YOU INTERESTED IN
ETHNICAL MUSIC IN GENERAL ?
Yes, I am. Ive a long standing interest in some musics, like African
guitar stylings and Balinese gamelan, Carillon and bell playing, etc.
Hanging w the Mater Musicians of Jajouka and playing with them was for
me a first hand look at another way of approaching music. I had long been
interested in the idea of trance music, and of course drones,
and the way in which these guys were putting such ideas into natural practice
was amazing ! Their music is, on the one hand, so different than rock
and roll (or whatever we play), and yet playing together with them
was fairly natural and easy. Being around them allowed me to develop some
ideas that I had been working on, as well as to imagine new avenues to
- HOW DID YOUR COLLABORATION WITH LOREN MAZZACANE
CONNORS AND JEAN MARC MONTERA FOR THE RECORDING OF THE NZA / XERIC GO
? WHAT WAS THE IDEA AT THE START ?
The idea came from Marie-Pierre Bonniol to do a record in the Sonic Youth
studio for the Numero Audio Zero label, in collaboration with Xeric. She
set it up for Thurston, Loren and Jean-Marc, and as I was around also
I played on the long piece with the three of them. Subsequently Jean-Marc
has opened shows for SY in Europe, and recently both Thurston and I did
performances with Loren in celebration of his 50th birthday.
- TODAY, YOU ARE PLAYING WITH CHRISTIAN WOLFF, A
MUSICIAN WHO HAS BASED HIS WORK ON POLITICAL PRINCIPLES LIKE OPENESS OR
INDERTEMINATION. DOES THIS COLLABORATION QUESTION YOUR OWN MUSICAL APPROACH
? HOW DO YOU WORK TOGETHER ? STARTING WITH WHICH IDEAS ?
Rather than question my own approach in many ways meeting and playing
w Mr. Wolff has further ratified them. His work is built on a quest for
new ideas and new ways of transmitting sound information, and so are mine/ours.
Id heard from Christian Marclay that Wolff has been performing again
recently, and when the plans were being made for SYR4 : Goodbye 20th Century,
I suggested we invite him down to play as we were planning to do two of
his works, which we did. It worked out well, and it was especially interesting
for we younger musicians to get the explanation of his scores first hand
from him, personally. It made some aspects of his composing and intentions
much clearer, and it was enlightening to see how he conceived of the pieces.
- WHICH WERE YOUR GREATEST COLLABORATIONS IN THE
FIELD OF IMPROVISATION ? DID YOU PLAY WITH FREE-JAZZ MUSICIANS LIKE THURSTON
MOORE OFTEN DOES ?
I dont play as far and widely with others as Thurston likes to do,
and it would be hard to choose greatest collaborators. There
have been many very good gigs with William Hooker, and also with Michael
Morley, Zeena Parkins, and, more recently, bagpipist David Watson.
- WHAT LED YOU TO WORK WITH MICHAEL MORLEY ?
Michael and I became friends on SYs first trip to NZ, in the late
eighties, and have stayed in touch and become close friends ever since.
Shortly after that trip I sent him some of my writings, one of which became
the lyrics for a Dead C song of the time, and we have been sharing ideas
about music, painting and life ever since. Hes a splendid fellow
and I regret we cannot see each other more frequently, although we stay
in fairly close touch via the internet.
- YOU SOMETIMES ASK VERY EXPERIMENTAL MUSICIANS
TO SUPPORT YOU : PEOPLE LIKE DAVID S. WARE WHO COMES FROM A VERY DIFFERENT
MUSICAL UNIVERSE THAN WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE MIGHT EXPECT. WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVES
BEHIND THOSE CHOICES ? HOW DOES THE AUDIENCE REACT ? IN FRANCE YOU HAD
JEAN MARC MONTERA, ERIK M. AND MICHEL DONEDA PLAYING WITH YOU. WHAT DO
YOU THINK OF TODAYS FRENCH SCENE ?
I have been very interested in the French scene since early contacts with
Diety Guns and Sister Iodinethere seems to be lots of good music
being made now. Ive recently been in touch with Jean Franciose Pauvrous
about a possible collaboration.
Choosing opening acts for shows has a lot to do with figuring out who
will turn us on (and in turn, hopefully, our audience as well !). The
idea is not to upset the audience of throw something weird
at them for purposes of disruption, but oftem more likely because we ourselves
would like to see someone perform, or if we think a certain artists
work is important to be presented. We have faith that our audience in
mostly open minded and will dig the acts we present, and in some cases
discover something new.
- YOUR FIRST SOLO RECORDING WAS « FROM HERE
TO INFINITY » ON SST, A VERY CONCEPTUAL RECORD BUILT ON SEVERAL
LOCKED GROOVES LEADING TO INFINITY, AND A WITH VERY BEAUTIFUL ENGRAVING
BY SAVAGE PENCIL SCARIFYING THE VINYL. WHY DID YOU RE-RELEASE IT ON CD,
THEREFORE LOSING ALL THE BEAUTY OF THE CONCEPT ? ANOTHER THING THAT WAS
INTERESTEING ABOUT THIS RECORD WAS THAT IT ASSOCIATED THE LISTENER TO
THE LISTENING, LEADING HIM TO DECIDE FOR HIMSELF THE LENGTH OF THE PIECES,
THE CHOICE OF THE GROOVES. THE LISTENER BECAME A DJ. IT WAS AN IDEAL RECORD
The vinyl version of this work was obviously the real shit,
as it embodied concepts of tape loops which were very important to me
at them time (and still today). Releasing it on CD was a way to further
work with the sound material, creating a more playable version
of the tracks. At the time it seemed like LP records were going to vanish
from the face of the earth, and I wanted the sounds of that record to
Interestingly, the process of segueing all the pieces together laid the
groundwork for my subsequent solo concerts of the time (actually the early
ones were duos with the assisstance of Steve Shelley also performing),
which consisted of live mixing of various sound materials (on hundreds
of cassettes !) to create textural beds of sound not unlike those being
created now, more than a decade later, by DJs with turntables and samplers
We were there first !
WHAT ARE THE CONCEPTS AND DESIRES BEHIND THE CREATION
OF SYR ?
SYR is an evolving concept, built around our own music, but it will soon
branch to include possibly some of our solo or separate collaborative
stuff as well as the group stuff. This year weve done SYR4, recording
modern 'classical' music from scores: John Cage, James Tenney, Pauline
Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Christian Wolff, George Maciunas, and others, in an
expanded ensemble including Jim O'Rourke, Willie Winant Takehisa Kosugi,
Christian Wolff, and Christian Marclay.
We also have some other collaborative stuff we've been working on with
the Icelandic ambient group Stillyupsteyypa which might come out at some
Having our own Sonic Studio has contributed to the labels existenceweve
found much on tape that sounded good, and the desire to release some of
this music, and cbreak free of the limitations of one album every year
and a half, was the main impetus to found the label. This, music, is what
we do, and we have been enjoying a relaxed version of the process since
founding the studio no more recording against the clock! So the
luck of being able to explore sound-forms at a leisurely pace works to
our mood right now, and having things on tape in hi-quality sound has
led to the releases so far...
- IN PARALLEL WITH YOUR MUSICAL ACTIVITIES, YOU
ARE ALSO WRITING POETRY. YOU HAVE PUBLISHED SEVERAL BOOKS OF YOUR POEMS
AND RECORDED YOUR READINGS. DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR WORK IS A CONTINUATION
OF THE BEAT SPIRIT (FROM KEROUAC TO ROBERT FRANK) ? IN THE SAME WAY AS
YOUR MUSIC IS AN EVOCATION OF THE DISPLACEMENT, THE PICTURE OF THE LINE,
THE SPACE, YOUR WRITING IS LINKED TO THE TRAVEL DIARY, THE WRITING DOWN
OF IMPRESSIONS AND EVANESCENT IMAGES, GEOGRAPHICAL WANDERING. DO YOU THINK
THERE IS THE NOSTALGIA OF THE MYTHICAL WEST, EASY RIDER, POINT BREAK ZERO
OR THE FRONTIER IN YOUR WRITING ?
I think every person, in their own life, has a nostalgia for the times
past when things were simpler and presumable more free. I
am not a novelist, but rather a documentor of my own life and visions.
At some point I realized that my own involvement with reading the personal
journals of others, biography, personal cinema as poetry (as in the 50s
American avant garde of Brakhage, Joseph Cornell, Maya Deren, etc) had
led to my choices as a writer, in terms of where I put my own energies.
I have been writing all my life, but only in the last decade had it occurred
to me to publish any of these writings outside of lyric sheets, and only
then when a young, independent publisher named Sander Hicks asked me to
compile some things did my first book (Road Movies) come out on his Soft
Skull Press, which then led to others.
I enjoy the process, and have always turned to literature for inspiration,
adventure and information. For the last few years I have been working
with the translator of both Ginsburg and Burroughs on French translations
of my work for a French edition which may or may not still happen. It
was supposed to be published by Herve Binets Editions 23 imprint,
and the translations are now done, but it has been a long time since I
heard from himanyone with an interest should contact me thru R&C
- WHAT LINKS DO YOU ESTABLISH BETWEEN LITERATURE
AND MUSIC ? AMERICAN LITERATURE (APART FROM BURROUGHS) STILL VERY MUCH
USES TRADITIONAL WRITING TECHNIQUES, LIKE STORY-TELLING, DIARY WRITING,
DESPITE ITS VERY CLOSE LINK WITH ORALITY (THE PUBLIC READING SCENE), RATHER
THAN USING AN ABSTRACT MUSICALITY AS FOUND IN SONIC POETRY, THE LETTRISTS
AND DADA. ROCKN ROLL COULD HAVE BEEN JUST THAT (AWOPBOPALOOBOP ALOPBAMBOOM).
DO YOU THINK ABOUT SENSE AND SONORITY, MUSICALITY AND RYTHMS IN WRITING
WHAT WRITERS ARE YOU READING TODAY ? WHO DO YOU THINK PROPOSE A NEW FORMULATION
OF AMERICA ? DO YOU SEE A CONTINUITY (I DONT MEAN A TRADITION) OF
THE BEAT SPIRIT IN THE WORKS OF SOME YOUNG AUTHORS ? DO YOU THINK ANY
OF THEM GO FARTHER THAN THE LITERARY PROGRESSES ALREADY MADE BY GINSBERG,
CORSO OR BURROUGHS ?
What writers, whose plays, what music ? Who is your favorite tennis star
? Are any of them Beats still standing ? I propose that we each propose
a new formulation of America, each write our own laws, each live according
to our own society of one.
- DO THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND THE SEMANTICAL DECONSTRUCTION
THEY PROPOSE PLAY A PART IN YOUR WRITING ? AS IT DOES IN THE WORK OF BURROUGHS,
OF COURSE, BUT ALSO WILLIAM GADDIS, BRET ESTON ELLIS, KATHY ACKER
I admire them and I admire the jump cut of the cinema most of all.
- DO YOU THINK THAT THE GIORNO SYSTEM POETRY PLAYS
AN IMPORTANT PART IN THE DIFFUSION OF THIS LITERATURE IN THE ROCK SCENE
? AND PATTI SMITH ?
Certainly I think musicians like Patti have led many to literature via
rock music. With Giorno the situation is more difficult to assess, as
his efforts remain on the fringes of the scene. Im not sure if hes
bringing rockers to literature or drawing literary types back into music.
What I mean is that they are less populist than those of someone like
- DO YOU DO READINGS IN LITERARY CAFES WITHOUT USING
BACKGROUND TAPES, WITH ONLY THE SIMPLE NAKEDNESS OF THE LANGUAGE, JUST
GIVING BODY TO THE TEXT ? ISNT THERE A RISK THAT MUSIC IN THIS CONTEXT
BECOMES A MERE SOUND ILLUSTRATION, A MOOD ?
Yes, I have done readings without backingits exhillarating
and naked, but I am generally more interested in the combination of words/texts
with musical moods and also films (usually by Leah Singer)it is
more difficult, more challenging, and generally more up my alley than
only naked readings, although they are very gratifying to do in the right
context. I dont mind the idea of music as background sound illustration
to read over, anyway. In fact I usually prefer it if I have the choice.
- WHAT IS THE SITUATION TODAY FOR EXPERIMENTAL,
IMPROVISED OR ELECTRO-ACOUSTICAL MUSIC IN NEW YORK ? WHO ARE THE YOUNG
MUSICIANS IN THIS CITY WHO SEEM INTERESTING TO YOU NOW ?
There are young folk all over the city just crawling with squeeks and
squawks and short wave radios ready to provide music theyre grabbing
out of the air via the microwaves which are all around us and beam said
sounds straight into our cranial microchips, once said chips are ready.
I say : who needs more wavelengths of information up there ?
WHAT ARE YOUR PROJECTS ?
Upcoming projects are many and varied : I am working on new music for
release, including two trio projects : one LP with Christian Marclay and
Thurston Moore, and another with Christian and William Hooker. I also
have an archival release set for 2000 : New Winter Generations:
1983, which consists of tape manipulation process pieces created in 1983.
Jim ORourke and I have been putting stuff together on time off from
work on the next SY LP, and that may see release as well
On the literary front, I am completing the layout and design for a new
book, Moroccan Journal, which is a full length book collaboration with
Leah Singer, and will include photos and texts by us both regarding travels
in Morocco and musical encounters there. Due in Spring 2000.
I have been finally realizing ideas for sound sculptures this
year, and two are now making the rounds : I have a video gtr sculpture,
Hwy Song, which has just come back from exhibition in Copenhagen and will
be included in the Sonic Boom show at the Hayward Gallery
in London in April 2000. Another, El Oido ("The Ear"), a condensed
sound box version of a recent installation work, is currently
on exhibition as part of the permanent collection of the Vedute Foundation
in Amsterdam, and slated to come to NYC sometime in the autumn of 2000.
COULD YOU GIVE US YOUR BIBLIOGRAPHY ?
JRNLS80s. Soft Skull Press, 12/1998.
Journals loosely tracing the rise of Sonic Youth through the Eighties.
Moroccan Journal: Jajouka excerpt. Ring Tarigh Press, 1997.
Chapbook, text by Ranaldo /photos by Singer, from longer Moroccan book
Bookstore. Hozomeen Press, 1995.
longer selections, also with photos (color/B+W) by Leah Singer.
Road Movies. Soft Skull Press, 1994.
poems and journals, with photos (B+W) by Leah Singer.
DIRTY WINDOWS. CD. Barooni/Atavistic. April 99. spoken word and music.
AMARILLO RAMP (for Robert Smithson). CD Starlight Furniture, USA. 1998.
solo guitar, etc
MAY 1997. CD. Victo, Dec 1997. Live Victoriaville festival concert also
featuring Jim ORourke and Gianni Gebbia.
THE GIFT OF TONGUES. With William Hooker and Zeena Parkins. CD. Knitting
Factory Works, 1996.
EAST JESUS: SOME RECORDINGS: 1981-91. CD. Blast First/WIRE magazine, 1994;
Atavistic May 95.
SCRIPTURES OF THE GOLDEN ETERNITY. CD/LP. Drunken Fish/Father Yod, 1994-5.
ENVISIONING: Lee Ranaldo/William Hooker. CD. Knitting Factory Works, 1995.
BROKEN CIRCLE/SPIRAL HILL. CD/7. Starlight Furniture Company, 1995.
GATE: BOSTON & NYC. MICHAEL MORLEY, LEE RANALDO, ZEENA PARKINS. CD.
Poon Village, 1995.
FROM HERE TO INFINITY. real time re-edit for cassette/CD release. SST/Blast
First records. June 1988.
FROM HERE TO INFINITY. locked-groove record. SST/Blast First records.
Feb 16 2000
Dear Lee Ranaldo,
I read the translation to your interview, it's okay. It'll be out next
month, we'll send you three copies at this time. I'm sorry than you don't
answer to the question on blues influence and on the relationship between
music and litterary, but it's your choice, it's okay. About my questions
to the young writers, I don't ask your writer prefered, your tennisman
prefered, it's not that sort of questions, I mean it's interresting than
you open french readers on new writers in usa (since Ginsberg, Burroughs
and more recently Kathy Acker, there is nothing really inteestng who arrived
here, just palimpseste writing, things like Auster or Banks).
Thanks a lot for your contribution, your patience and your kindness.
i wish i couldve answered each one but it was a formidable interview--i
wasn't ready for it! a hard one! some of my answers i was trying for another
kind of poetry, not gereral 'honest' answers. it wasn't about the tennisplayer,
it was about THE FOCUS... casting the vision sideways... trying to move
around the question to say something about the question and the task of
answering the question. my blues hero, yr blues hero HERO is HERO and
I'm still reading Ginsberg, still reading Paul Bowles, and mostly currently
reading non-fiction (a history of Africa, that sort of thing...) and otherwise
my own writing, i'm in a period of looking at my words and right now not
many others are getting in. but they will. soon. i've been editing our
Moroccan Journal' book, it's been taking time. And doing visual art--i
coulda talked about that for hours...
i don't remember my bluesman memory, music is all rolling into one heap
of pictures to be juxtaposed at will...
Rokk on, can't wait to see.
consider this the addendum...