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15 Questions to Li Tieqiao

img  Tobias
Hi! How are you?
I am fine.

Where are you?
I am in Beijing, in my new apartment which is situated in the Northern part of Beijing

What’s on your schedule right now?
Currently, I am working on my first solo album, “Wind of Lunacy”. The album should be out in the near future. It is a completely independent project, everything from recording and cover design to purchasing the cd boxes has been carried out by myself or friends of mine. It takes a lot of time and energy to produce such an album in China.

What is your earliest musical memory?
I remember being sick as a young boy, lying in my bed listening to the rain falling on the roof. I remember feeling that the rain was making some sort of a rhythm. This feeling must have made a huge impression on me, and has turned into the inspiration for one of the tracks on my new album: “In sickness,noise of the rain”.

Was there a deciding moment, which made you want to become an artist?
Yes, when I graduated from collage and became a music teacher, I felt that I should use music to influence more people than I could reach in a classroom. Thus, I decided to become a musician.

Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
I do not think of myself as being part of a tradition or movement. However, critics have called me a “cross-movement/tradition-musician”. And, I do not oppose such a statement.

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the country you are currently living in?
In China, the commercial music scene is mostly constituted of Pop music, and is in many ways much less diverse than say, for example Norway. On Chinese radio stations, you seldom hear anything but pop. The music scene I identify myself with, experimental jazz/noise/improvisation is also improving. A couple of years ago, there were not a lot of Chinese musicians performing this kind of music. Now, there are a number of musicians, venues (at least in the major cities) and audiences who approve of this kind of music. After retuning to China from Norway in 2007 (I spent two years in Norway), I established “Make a feint to the east and attack in the west” in an attempt to further improve the music scene for improvised music in China.

How would you describe the relationship with your instrument?
In my opinion, the Saxophone is an instrument which is very close to the human voice. This is one of the reasons I like this instrument. The relationship to my different instruments varies. My Alto Saxophone, or the Small Sax as I call it, has been with me for a long time and it is an old good friend. We have been through a lot together. In everyday life my Saxophones are my friends, but when I perform they become my weapon.

What’s your approach to performing on stage?
I do my best to place myself in the environment where the performance takes place, this environment includes the musicians I am performing with, the audience and the space above the stage.

There have been many definitions of what constitutes a good improvisation. How would you personally describe the process of creating music in the moment?
Improvisation is a search for a new way of expressing feelings. A good improvisation occurs when the musicians manage to touch the audience or one another with the music they’re creating in the moment.

Australian band “The Necks” have maintained that improvising is not so much about having fun or feeling comfortable on stage, but rather about discovering a “logic of its own” in what you’re doing. Would you agree?
I agree, I believe that improvisation is about finding a rule where there is no rule, to perfectly balance improvisation and perception.

Would you say your improvisations are also inspired and influenced by sound and timbre?

Most definitely, inspiration by a particular sound is very evident in some of the tracks on my new album. “Ping Pong”, is inspired by the sound of ping pong. “In sickness, noise of the rain”, as mentioned, was inspired by a childhood memory.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
I think improvisation is more about feelings, and composing is more about improvising.

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

Eastern culture is constantly spinning around in my brains, there is no way I can keep it from appearing when I make music.

Do you feel an artist has a certain duty towards anyone but himself? Or to put it differently: Should art have a political/social or any other aspect apart from a personal sensation?
Personally I really emphasis and value the political and social aspect of art. I believe that through these aspects, freedom can be expressed.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
Actually, I acted as an artistic director for a small festival for improvised music called “Sally can’t dance” which took place in Beijing march 2008 at a venue called D-22. Some of the most important Chinese contemporary musician participated in the festival such as Li Jianhong, torturing nurse, Mafeisan etc. Of course, if I were given unlimited resources, I would like to invite Jon Zorn, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, John Butcher etc...

Li Tieqiao Live in Nanjing (2Pi) 2006
Wind of Lunacy (Li Tieqiao) 2008

Lie Tieqiao
Lie Tieqiao at MySpace

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