Pradžia / Garsas / Sound

ERIK WØLLO: The music can send you to other places

Interview with ERIK WØLLO, July 2016. [Erik Wøllo (born 1961) is a Norwegian composer and musician, guitarist and synthesist. He has a background in various genres in music. As a solo recording artist, he is most known for his electronic and ambient musical soundscapes. Music that can be classified in the genres of space, drone, new age, and electronic music. Through his many albums he has gained recognition for his unique sound and style. Using guitar as the primary instrument in a highly imaginary and emotional music, building a bridge between grand symphonic realms and gentle, minimalistic and serene atmospheres. - wikipedia]

Mindaugas Peleckis
2016 m. Liepos 06 d., 20:47
Skaityta: 348 k.
ERIK WØLLO: The music can send you to other places

Your new album deals with many symbols. What inspired You to create the album?

I have always been into thinking in metaphors or symbols. I guess that is why I love good written poems. All the song and album titles can be metaphors for something else. The album cover images are also very important, we spend a lot of time finding the right images, that fits the albums.

But, I always start with the music, titles and the covers comes later. I mostly get inspired by the sounds and rhythms by themselves. That can be enough for me. I just sit with my guitar or synths and get inspired by a certain combination of sounds, tones or chords. After all these years, I just do it without thinking too much about the process. And I do not sit and wait for the inspiration. On purpose, I do not want to think too much about these things, then limitations will occur. I guess, inspiration is something you got to train yourself to achieve. To get into the right state of mind, and be able to grasp those special moments when the music comes to you.

Like the painter, those first pencil lines are the hardest to get down on the canvas. After a while with more elements added, the piece will start to have its own life, kind of. And then you just have to follow the stream.

What collaborations were/are the most interesting and important to You and why?

I have worked with many great artists through th my career. Musicians that are unique, having their own personal style. Steve Roach, Ian Boddy, Byron Metcalf and many others. The idea of doing collaborations for me, is to try to achieve something new, that is a mixture of the artists involved. Letting go of the ego, and melting together two personalities. All of these projects have been very different and all very interesting and successful. I think, when you mainly work alone as a solo artist, it can be very fruitful to sometimes leave your comfort zone. It will always bring everyone involved a step further artistcally. But also on the more personal level. Great artists can inspire, not only in music.

Could You name Your favorite Your compositions / albums / collaborations? Ideas that came to mind?

It is hard for me to have favorites , but I always tend to like best my latest work of course. I am very happy with “Blue Radiance” and “Silent Currents 4”. I have a very personal idea behind my music, this is my passion and a way of living for me. But I am not working in a vacuum, I have a lot of fans out there. I am so grateful for that, and I get a lot of letters and positive feedback. This is very inspiring for me. Yesterday I got a letter from a fan in USA, he wrote that my music has been the soundtrack in his life for many years! This makes me grateful and respectful, but at the same time I have some responsebility.

Music can be a very serious thing! I want to make something that can be inspiring and uplifting for the listener.

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

As long as there is life, there is sound.

I have been in a total dead room, acoustically treated. But still there is sound. Sounds from your own body, like the breath and the heartbeats.

Actually I met John Cage in person in 1984. He had lectures for a week in Oslo. Very inspiring! He talked a lot about these ideas, about everyday sounds contra sounds from musical instruments. And how everything is connected, and that music and sound can be the same thing.

What is and what is not a Sound Art?

All sounds that are manipulated to act as a presentation for something in a certain context, can be art, I guess. 

Traffic sounds from a busy New York street is not art, until you use these sounds in an environment where you express yourself in a concept.

I am very much into modern art, good examples would be Bull's Head by Picasso, a 1942 sculpture made from bicycle seat and handlebars. Or the Fountain by Marcel Duchamp. Presenting those ordinary elements on the wall in an art gallery, makes it an artistic expression.

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

The computer is a very powerful, but it is just a tool. I use it as an instrument. And it has challenges like all other instruments.
If we talk about analog versus digital studio technology, I use both. It is part of my arsenal of weapons. And all my mixes now go through an analog summing mixer for making that warm open sound. But I love the digtal vibe, still using some of the real digital synthsizers from the nineties, for that sharp and precise sound. Right now there is a lot of hype about these things. I just use my ears, use whatever is needed.

If we talk about traditional acoustic folk music versus modern computermusic, to me there are not many differences. The differences are basically all just on the surface. Types of sounds, arrangements and so on. The inner spirit and compositional forms have not changed. And most of all, the reasons for artistic expression have not changed. From working with ethnic music from all over the world, I have learned a lot and it has made me more aware of these basic foundations in music.

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

This trend is something that has been going on for a while. All the time since the MIDI revolution back in the 1980ies, electronic instruments have become more available for the average musician. Everyone can now make reasonable good recordings in their bedroom. This is a good thing. But it can also be looked upon as a bad thing. It is harder now to make something personal and unique. And the market is overgrown with releases with varoius quality. But on the other hand,  the more music that are being made, the bigger the chances there are to find some really new and groundbreaking good music!

In these genres there is also more focus on experimenting with musical forms that goes beyond the traditional pop and rock. Bands or artists using the new technology, tend to be more experimental and free in the composing process, than a regular rock or pop band. This results in a lot of new exciting musical forms, using different approaches.

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

I have heard a lot of newer classical music from the Baltic countries, especially choral music.

Estonia, in particular. Composers like René Eespere, Tõnis Mägi, and of course Arvo Pärt. It seems like the music from these countries emerged into something very special and unique, because of the USSR occupation. Not so much influenced by the somehow rigid modernism as composers did in western Europe. I do not know anything about the rock and pop, or electronic music in these countries.

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

I have a large library of sounds that I have recorded myself, using my small portable recorder. I always bring that with me.

I have recorded sounds ranging from nature sounds to busy city ambiences.

Working with studio based electronic music, it can sometimes be great to add some of these sounds. To kind of lift the soundscape out from the studiowalls. To give the impression of a certain place or space.

As with all my music the idea of the Place, is a very important thing. If music or art does not send me to a certain place, I am not very interested. A sense of being somewhere. An idea of that the music can send you to other places.

Thank You.