Pradžia / Garsas / Sound

FORREST FANG: I think of water as a representation of life or as a life force

Legendary FORREST FANG (aka SANS SERIF, SPIRIT OSCILLATOR) is the man with the Ocean in his pocket. Here's an interview with this wonderful musician (2016 05 18).

Mindaugas Peleckis
2016 m. Gegužės 18 d., 22:02
Skaityta: 92 k.
FORREST FANG: I think of water as a representation of life or as a life force

Your new double album The Sleepwalker's Ocean deals with many symbols, especially the Ocean. What is water to You? Doesn't it seem sometimes that (as we're all from water) we are a water civilization, water people with water religion deep inside? What inspired You to create the album?

The “Ocean” of my album is an impressionistic one in which I rely more heavily on intuition in making music.  Sometimes my pieces are more deliberately structured.  For this project, I tried to let the sounds I was creating through improvisation shape the album, rather than relying on a particular compositional structure or form.

More generally, I think of water as a representation of life or as a life force.  I know that water can be an important part of religious practices, as in India.

You worked with a plethora of artists over the years. What collaborations were/are the most interesting and important to You and why?

I tend to work solo, though I occasionally collaborate with other musicians and have worked with performing artists in the theater.  In some of the collaborations, I’ve shared the work equally, while in others, I play more of supporting role.  The collaborations I have found most interesting and meaningful have been those with my gu-zheng teacher, Zhang Yan, and with my friends Robert Rich and Carl Weingarten.  Years ago, I performed with my teacher and she helped me with arrangements of several of my pieces for her ensemble.  Yan also played zheng on two of my albums.  I recorded an album with Carl (“Invisibility”) and Robert and I have performed on each other’s albums.  My work with each of them has special importance to me as it is an extension of our friendship.

What are the main ideas are behind Your music? Could You name Your favorite Your compositions / albums / collaborations? Ideas that came to mind?

I see my music as an ongoing experiment using the studio as an instrument, much like Brian Eno has described his musical process.  I like to layer ambient textures and tonal colors, with both real and imagined instruments weaving in and out of my pieces.  When I started releasing albums in the early 1980s, I was inspired by the American minimalism of Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley and 70s progressive rock.  Over the years I have become increasing interested in and influenced by traditional Asian musics, including Chinese classical music, Japanese Gagaku, and Indonesian gamelan.

Probably my favorites of the albums I’ve recorded are “The Blind Messenger” and “Gongland,” because they were both departures from what I had been doing before.

John Cage proved that there's no silence. Also, the sound is magic. But, what ends, when there‘s no sound?

I think there will always be sound. Whether there will always be a sentient being to hear or perceive the sound is another question!

What is and what is not a Sound Art?

I think that any combination of sounds formed or shaped by human intervention can be Sound Art.  But there are also internal standards each of us apply to that “Art” that drive our preferences.

What do You think about relations between the old art and computer art? Are they compatible?

Yes, the “old” art and computer art are compatible, but the internal standards we use for each may be different.  This reminds me of debates during the 70s about whether electronic music was any less legitimate than acoustic music.  Why is it necessary to choose one when you can have both?

What do You think about thousands of neofolk/industrial/ambient/tribal/electroacoustic/avangarde etc. bands/projects? Is it a kind of trend, o just a tendency forwards better music?

It’s great to see so many independent musicians participating in the scene these days, especially in the ambient and experimental genres.  The downside is that there’s almost too much to hear, including material that might have been better left on the cutting room floor.  But every period has great and no-so-great music, so I wouldn’t say the music is necessarily getting better or worse.

What do You know about Lithuania? What Lithuanian and foreign musicians do You value most?

I know Lithuania is a Baltic State, but I have not been there before.  A long time ago, I heard an interesting compilation of Lithuanian ambient musicians on the Surfaces netlabel.  I found that release through  I probably haven’t heard enough Lithuanian music to have favorites from there.  If by “foreign” you mean non-Western, some of my favorite non-Western musicians are Indian sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, Japanese composer Yamashiro Shoji and Malian Kora player Toumani Diabate.

You are a multiinstrumentalist. What do You think about field recordings?

I generally don’t use field recordings in my own pieces, though I’ve enjoyed hearing the work of others who have done this.  Eric La Casa, Simon Fisher Turner, Fred Frith, Kit Watkins, Alio Die and Robert Rich come to mind.

Thank You.