www.brdf.net interview, August 2002
the online version is here, in translation. below are the original answers.
Q: The meaning of your pseudonym (wobbly: "feeling weak and unable to keep your balance") seems rather opposed to the harmonic and quite optimistic views of life that you have (for instance: "The beauty of the earth and all its wonderful art forms make every second of life a treasure"). Explain us please that contradiction. Why you chose to use that nickname?
A: I'm not so sure I'm that optimistic a person. You're quoting from a text on my web page that was copied intact from a very obscure musician's press release. His name was Ken DeFeudis, he was a real estate broker in his early 40's who released one 7" single in 1990 called 'Run For Cover Lover', which featured him singing completely out of tune over a very cheap casio preset. Most of the people I play it for ask me to stop playing it immediately. I'm terrible at writing press releases so I just sampled his, but I'm not a painter, nor am I involved with woodworking, that text is just for fun tension. I don't even want to remember how I got the name 'wobbly'.
Q: I've read recently that your first works were produced with tape recorders and low-grade samplers. Can you tell us how your process of making music has evolved from those first steps until now?
A: There were some early sound-on-sound experiments, not much worth talking about. In college I joined the campus radio station KCSB FM; their on-air studio had a 20 track mixer and a decent music studio with good sound isolation for instuments. The show was basically a weekly concert with some friends. Cassette four track & reel to reel work compiled those tapes into albums. In 1999 I began composing on digital audio workstations, most recently Pro Tools, like a good corporate drone. That's the equipment, anyway. The process is different, no idea why but no matter what you're using, it'll turn out sounding like you... ideally.
Q: Where can we read your writings and see your pictures in Europe?
A: There actually are some writings, but they're personal, and I can't seem to do visual art at all...
Q: Since your last recording is a set of live sessions (99>00), can you describe how your concerts go? Is there a European tour in your future plans?
A: Well usually I start by working on a song in the studio. At one point I'll fragment aspects of the song into seperate soundfiles, and randomly spread the samples across 4-5 playback devices, samplers, CDs. Then I route everything through a mixer and violently livemix my way through, trying to find new arrangements. All the fragments fly everywhere into completely new pieces. Rehearsal can be good towards developing basic chops but I try not to bring setlists or anything vile like that to actual performances. I would love to tour Europe because I would like to spend less time in America.
Q: You have made many radio-performances. Do you approach differently your concerts and your work on the radio? If there are any differences, tell us please what they are?
A: My earliest performances were all radio; if your instrument is the studio, it's the obvious place to be. Radio's all comfortable because you've got total control over the sound, and since the audience remains theoretical, you can imagine an ideal listener and the performance becomes extremely intimate. Live, you're bombarded by the audience, and can become aware of things you didn't know you were communicating simply because of the presence of strangers, you're not really allowed to isolate yourself at all, terrifying but useful. These things sound trite in discussion but I'm really seeing it a lot as more and more 'bedroom musicians' go live; they've spent all this time working in absolute isolation, and suddenly they're on a stage in real time, and they're shocked, they have no idea what they're supposed to do, 'disregard the audience' is becoming this pervasive aesthetic of recent stage performance. Many aspects of the new music are inherently isolationist, so when a performer is intentionally playing with such a barrier, it can be very powerful, but with increasing frequency it's becoming more of an unquestioned assumption - in any case, if you really expect people to listen to what you're doing, it can be healthy to actually acknowledge them.
Q: I read in your website that you expect your music to tell a story. You rely on improvisation too. How do you resolve the gap between those two ways of playing with sound?
A: The best storytellers can begin telling their stories without having the slightest idea how they're going to end... Then again, maybe I suck.
Q: In your website I read that you like singing. Must we expect more song-oriented records from you in the future? Or you will integrate more your voice to the style of music that you are already making now (adding, for instance, longer vocal samples)?
A: I don't know yet, there were some earlier songs with vocals but they were all horrible so maybe I'd best stay silent. Pop music is a demon that just won't shut up, though. I have some future projects lined up with other vocalists.
Q: The Spanish label Alku places you as one of their international discoveries. How did you meet them?
A: We had friends in common in Joshua Clayton and Seth Horovitz; Ana and Roc contacted me over e-mail and we began exchanging CDRs, until finally they asked me to put out a 3" with them. I think they're doing wonderful things.
Q: In "Regards" you use samples that cover a great deal of the history of music of the XX century (from Messiaen to the Residents). Did you intend to structure that record according that concept? What is the real story behind that Cd?
A: I'm not sure anyone would think that without the sample list I provided, which is an entirely extra-musical text, for reference only. It certainly wasn't intended as a 20th century overview, and I'm not sure that I chose samples that particularly evoke the work of the original artists. But _something's_ obviously being represented, previous identities and meanings are very present in the recording, but I don't always think of the samples as inherently referential, somehow.
At this point in time, both extremes have been reached: reckless sampling pursued for it's own sake, an endless inventory of ornaments, and the 'program music' approach, where every material utilized forms a carefully chosen matrix of meaning, often pregnant with extra-musical referents, i.e. a means by which to carefully justify every last choice in the sample set. I'm wary of any dependence on extra-musical conceptualization to justify a juxtaposition, in much the same way that 'program music' aimed to evolve musical form by attempting to graft narratives into the fabric of the music itself around the end of the 19th century, it just can't take. In other words, if critics were to label my approach gratituous, I'd hear where they were coming from, but for better or for worse, I'm not sure anyone else will about twenty years from now.
thanks to david and www.brdf.net