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15 Questions to Budhaditya Chattopadhyay

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I am Ok; just settled down in my new apartment in Arhus and trying to concentrate in a new workspace.

What’s on your schedule right now?
My current schedule is to organise the resources for writing a thesis on New Media sound environment for Arhus University. Three projects are lined up for completion, one being an installation in the ‘nature of city’ exhibition at Delhi; then the ongoing ‘CitySound’ project and the tracks for the elements tour. So it’s quite a bottleneck situation.

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the country you are currently living in?

I don’t have much contact yet with the Danish musical landscape, but I guess it’s pretty vibrant; it’s very evident from the concert attendance and the air around my city’s soundings that music is quite inclined towards alternative genre, rather having a taste for pop than electronic and ambient.

If you ask me about my native India, then I must say the experimental genre is still in its nascent state, leaving spaces for traditional music to take larger attention and support. Classical music gets institutional support too, but that’s rather from a view point of preservation. Film music and related genres are at the foray mostly. But I can also see that a number of new forms of musical practices are coming on the stake, for example the background score for film, where experimentations are possible.

Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
I see myself as an individual who is partly carrying a perceptual biasness of an Indian origin being adaptive to the acoustic environment I belong to; but at the same time my dissemination scheme of aural perception is rather formulated by being a globalised entity. I find my sound practice as a growing participation into the New Media space and its encouragement of innovative, open and pragmatic accommodation of artistic freedom.  

What, would you say, are the factors of your creativity? What stimulates you to write music?

I am basically a listener. It’s a ‘listener’s tale’ that I want to create out of my hearing.  While being in a place I practice deep listening and the cognitive perception selects or eliminates sound that’s communicated on the recording media. Later I take time to shape up the archive of sonic choices to formulate my own narrative. Here the decisive factor is re-contextualising the place on a sonic plane.

How would you describe your method of composing?
I am attested to the narrative pleasure of sound as a time based art, although I prefer to reach abstraction of source material - the field recordings I make from an open and deep listening practice, manipulated partly by means of digital tools and audio engineering or partly keeping unprocessed based on the content. I don’t have fundamental aversion to processing, but still prefer raw recordings made by choice of microphones and creative decisions of recording spaces.

In which way, would you say, is your cultural background reflected in your work?
I have reservations in the word ‘cultural background’ or I usually react to it. Culture is not a fixed entity, and there may not be a background, rather a foreground. We are mostly sensitive to the cultural environment we are in, and its continually changing while reshaping our interaction with it. New environments indulge into newer experiences. I am at the receptive end of the environment I am in as formulated by my sensory adaptation. Being grown up in India, rather in Bengal, I inherited a sense of narrative mounting of my perceptions, that’s evident in my work too. Later my exposure to European musical landscape initiated me to address issues of abstraction. That’s how my work moves between documentary aspects and musical context of sound.  

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
I see sound objects and events as tools for storytelling. Composition for me is basically constructing a narrative, using sound. So, it’s a dynamic relationship between the spaces of selection and dissemination.  

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
When I approach performing a piece I believe in improvising, as the practice of improvisation opens up the door of chance in a performance. Composing is rather a strenuous job of cognitive listening and designing the listening skill on digital media.

What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
The ‘new’ brings me on the New Media space, where I find an open field of possibilities in terms of creative freedom and scopes for innovation. I am engaged with dissemination, and the ‘new’ makes me interested into finding newer usage of my listening experiences into work of media art and experimental music.

Do you personally enjoy multimedia as enrichment or do you feel that it is leading away from the essence of what you want to achieve?
Yes, I am actively involved with installation works and interested in the mixed media genres incorporating our different senses apart from hearing in order to add perceptual dimensions into the installed space. I am inspired to use light, moving and still images, natural objects along with sound in my installations, which I want to keep open for collaborations.    

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
I am still intrigued by stage, where you have to ‘perform’. As an active listener I am still figuring out how to entertain others. In my performances I usually work on other’s listening pleasure imagined by myself, and manipulate the reproduction into spatial movements and online processing.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences without sacrificing their soul?

It’s already reaching the audience who is quite saturated with heavy mainstream musical input. I can see internet as a viable tool to reach wider audience not only for its dispersive nature, but for the audience’s active inclination in searching that brings to access. Audience is eagerly awaiting new music.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?

I never foresaw such a situation, but I imagine being inclined towards audio-works created from field recordings and electro-acoustic compositions.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?

Yes, my magnum-opus is in progress. It will sound like exactly how we are hearing now, standing in this space of intense perception, the interplay of environments outside and within.

Landscape In Metamorphoses (2008) Gruenrekorder

Budhaditya Chattopadhyay

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