RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

15 Questions to Federico Durand

img  Tobias Fischer

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hello Tobias, I am doing fine, thank you! I'm now in my living room in Buenos Aires, drinking coffee.

What’s on your schedule right now?
I just released El éxtasis de las flores pequeñas (The ecstasy of little flowers) on the beautiful label Own Records from Luxembourg. It is a very special album for me because on it, I am revisiting the memory of my grandparents' house and the trip to the forests of Southern Argentina I made with them when I was a kid. I owe it all to my grandparents: a way of seeing the world.
My next release will be El libro de los árboles mágicos (The Book of magical trees) on Home Normal. Ian Hawgood has been very generous to include this album in their catalog. By the end of the year, Tobira Records - the Kyoto-based label run by Takahiro Yorifuji with the support of Nobuto Suda and Takamitsu Ohta - will release a cassette tape. And for the next year, after the summer solstice, a 12 inch vinyl with Desire Path Recordings. Right now, I'm working on a new album that's slowly unfolding its unique scenery and topography.

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

As a hush.

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?

From early childhood, music has been part of a way of being of things. John Keats wrote "A thing of Beauty is a Joy for Ever." Life is mysterious and music both shares in this mistery and hides it.
My main influences are poetry, music and literature. I see John Keats, Hoelderlin, Marosa di Giorgio, Hildegard von Bingen and Fursaxa as my benefactors and friends. This joy is linked to my devotion to the Argentine landscape: the southern lakes and the forests of myrtle. Nowadays, I frequently travel to the Sierras of Cordoba, where my mother lives on a hill. There, I enter in communion with the mountains and vast sunsets and with the small country of local insects: ants, cicadas and fireflies.

Tea also has a great influence on my life.

What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?

The most important moment in my life was when my grandparents showed me the Southern forests. It was an epiphany.

What are currently your main compositional- and production-challenges?
I expect the melody that makes me get into a grove of hazelnut trees, its moisture content and the feast of its blue wreaths.

What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?
There are times when a melody pops into my head. I'll whistle it to try and remember it and then start working on it with my acoustic guitar. There are other times when I will start with field recordings I made. The time between melodies and field recordings can vary a lot. It can be months, years or even hours. My work is based on combining these two elements to create a landscape.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
I wouldn't even know how to do that. I just compose by improvising.

How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition?
My music tries to be a hypnotic web; simple, showing and yet hiding landscapes. The silences, melodies and textures build a place that host me.

Do you feel it important that an audience is able to deduct the processes and ideas behind a work purely on the basis of the music? If so, how do you make them transparent?

It both is and isn't important. La siesta del Ciprés (The Slumber of the Cypress), Spekk, 2010, was recorded with a ten year old PC and cassette tapes, looking for an aesthetic of beauty and rusticity. In contrast to this, El éxtasis de las flores pequeñas was recorded with an old Minidisc and acoustic instruments. Therefore this lo-fi process is an essential part of my work. However, this is not something actively informed by any of the albums. The music just finds its own way to express itself.

There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles?
I think we all need to live surrounded by beautiful objects. Although Soundcloud and Bandcamp are good platforms for music - as once was Myspace - I love beautiful objects such as books, records and beautifully textured papers. Some of these even have a sacred existence in my life.

The role of an artist is always subject to change. What's your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
I think that the role of the artist is to show beauty. What is subject to change is the way each artist reaches beauty. Music can open up internal spaces, the possibility to reach a place of mystery, which is empty and silent, but filled with images and memories at the same time. I am devoted to this unnamed dimension.

Music-sharing sites and -blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What's your view on the value of music today?
I see a very fertile ground. A lot of my favorite music is contemporary. In that sense and in my opinion it is a bright time.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences?
All music in the world is waiting to be heard; all books, waiting to be read. The most important thing is curiosity, to have a free and restless spirit.

Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.

Vikki Jackman's On Beauty Reminscing is an admirable work, to celebrate every time it rains and one is drinking tea. I would also like that by reading this someone discovered the work of Hildegard von Bingen, the twelfth-century abbess to whom practically everything has been revealed. Her work includes poetry, a treatise on herbalists', choral music and the creation of a language.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
All of my music - the one I've done and the one that is to be made (even the one I dream of) - is tied to a whisper.

Federico Durand Discography:
Elin (Imoto Records) 2008
La Siesta Del Ciprés (Spekk) 2010   
El Éxtasis De Las Flores Pequeñas (Own Records) 2011   

Federico Durand

Related articles

Interview with Offthesky / Jason Corder
When Jason Corder (aka Offthesky) ...
Interview with Telekaster
It is anything but easy ...
Interview with Ian Hawgood
There are a few select ...
Interview with Jimmy Behan
"Time is something that always ...
15 Questions to Pillowdiver
"I guess the tracks that ...
15 Questions to Alio Die
For almost two decades, Stefano ...

Partner sites