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15 Questions to Goh Lee Kwang

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hello! I'm well, thank you! Currently, I'm in Kuala Lumpur. Haven't been out of the country this year.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Right now, I'm preparing a concert for tomorrow, it is called "Butoh Noise". The concert is part of the Butoh Dance Festival and will be in 3 parts. First, there will will be my solo performance. After that, I will invite a friend to the stage, who works on video - Au Sow Yee – to join me. And the last part will be me & Dean Linguey both on sound. Butoh dancer Lee Swee Keong will join in from time to time. "Butoh Noise" is neither butoh nor noise, it is a formless newborn waiting to be named.

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the country you are currently living in?
The experimental scene is a minority of the arts scene and indie/ underground music scene here. We do not have a big audience or lots of like-minded musicians, but most people in the art scene and indie/ underground music scene respect what we are doing, and give us all the support they can.

Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
I always see my work as having a strong relationship with the early stage of electronic sound (1950s?) in Europe, but I'm not sure which movement from that time exactly (do Pierre Henry & Karlheinz Stockhausen belong to the same movement?).

What, would you say, are the factors of your creativity? What stimulates you to write music?
It's hard to tell. I listen, I see, I read, I watch, I feel, I taste, I move...

How would you describe your method of composing?

Most of the time, I begin to work with a very childish idea: Let's see what will happen if I do this. I move on from there if something happens to interest me. Most of the time without any expectations :)

In which way, would you say, is your cultural background reflected in your work?

It is somehow... yes, the Malaysian food. People who know the Malaysian food know that in Malaysia we have a lots of variation in our food, due to the many different races & cultures. Normally, I will have a Indian food for breakfast, Malay food for lunch and Chinese food for dinner - other options including Thai foods, Japanese foods, Korean foods, Indonesian foods... With regards to my works, every piece of work is a dish. To enjoy a full meal you'll have to order a few dishes, hot, sweet, sour & spicy...

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
I have no musical background. I compose/ listen by ear, I cannot tell the difference between sound and composition except from a philosophical aspect.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
I like the term John Cage used to describe a composer: An organizer of sound. I don't care if a work is totally improvised or composed, as long as it's interesting.

What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?

„New" is very important. Without the „new“ there would be no "old", even "timelessness" has a starting point.

Do you personally enjoy multimedia as an enrichment or do you feel that it is leading away from the essence of what you want to achieve?
If multimedia means something which includes the visual, interactive, sense, taste, then so far I haven't seem any work which is very strong. Most of what I've seen was very entertaining, though. Technologies play an important part along with creativity, but I cannot say that any multimedia work has ever made me want to do something similar. Anyway, I'm not trying to achieve anything, I produce works just to save enough for me to listen to in the future :)

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
A good performance is built up by a lot of elements. Beside the hardware (venue, sound system...), you'll need a lot of help from the production team (even if it is just one guy), and the audience; my approach of performing live is to bring the audience to experience the challenge I faced when producing the work. Most of my concerts are real-time improvisations. How the event is gonna start and how it will end will be depend on how the conversation between me & the audience/ space is going to be... I'm not into bringing a finished piece and play it back during the concert (unless I intentionally wanted it to be like that, ie: a tape piece, but so far I can't get myself to do any of this in a concert situation).

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences without sacrificing their soul?
I always think that to make the work reach the audience takes a lot of energy. There are two aspects to this: Depth & wideness. You can either make the audience deeply understand what your work is about; or you can try to reach  wider audiences by simplifying your work. So it is up to the artist, which of the two he prefers. You can have ratios of 60% depth-40% wideness; 50% depth-50% wideness; 30% depth-70% wideness...

On the other hand, I think the energy will increase everyday, if you keep practicing. And also the people who like your work will help you spread the energy too. However the artist will have to be the one to keep up the momentum.

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

Errrr... Nature already composed the master piece a few hundred thousand years ago...

2001 (Good Discs) 2001
Unmotion Picture Soundtracks (Good Discs) 2001
Variations (Good Discs) 2001
Nerve Center (Cicadas Records) 2002
Concrete/Eastern (PseudoArcana) 2004
Internal Pleasures: Solo Improvisation With Prepared Stereo DJ Mixer (Herbal Records) 2004
Drone (Herbal Records, Moka Bar Records) 2005
Punk Guitar... With Bonus Track!! (Herbal International) 2005
Radiowave (Stasisfield) 2005
S.O.S. #1 (Why Not Ltd) 2005
Sharper (Sudut) 2006
Treatments (TIBProd) 2006
Bacteria Syndrome (Herbal International) 2007
Good Vibrations: Selected Solo Improvisations With Stereo DJ Mixer (Herbal International) 2007
Cicadas (Why Not Ltd ) 2008
Max Attacks vol.1 (New Directions) 2008
Hands (Herbal International)    2009
Wiring My Ear To The Ground Samples (New Directions)    2009

Goh Lee Kwang

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