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15 Questions to Mark O'Leary

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Doing pretty ok, just got back to Cork after performances in Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Heading to the studio in a few days to finish producing my new cd. I also have a new cd out with Eyvind Kang and Dylan Van Der Schyff on Leo records called Zemlya, we're also busy scheduling the next release in August, I have a new cd also on Ayler records in duo with Han Bennink.

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Music scene is vibrant at the moment,  it can be difficult at times especially as an independent artist. But there is a lot of amazing new music/artists coming up that are changing the art world right now and not just in genre bending, but creating something new. I hear it all the time and its global.

Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
I call what I do Post-Jazz.

What, would you say, are the factors of your creativity? What “inspires” you?
Inspiration comes from many different areas and not just music, Visual art, Cinema and literature also have influenced and inspired my work Stockhausen, Ligeti, Webern, Schoenberg, Kurtag, Feldman, Ornette, Coltrane, Ayler. Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Pollack,Bosch, Bergmann, Polanski, Tarkovsky, Herman Hesse, Jorge Luis Borges, Dosdoyevsky, Thomas Hobbes, Bertrand Russell., Robert Rauschenberg and Willem De Kooning

How would you describe your method of composing?
Its Freudian, its the sum of my experiences, intellectual, theoretical, physical. It is conceptual and there is intellectual rigour to it. I travel in many different musical spheres and immerse my personality into those genres rather than imposing some synthetic obsessive metamorphisis.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
Sound inspires composition, it can be more conceptual and not necessarily melodic/ harmonic, Sound can create a conceptual template for a composition to develop.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
I like alot of composed music, but in terms of performance I really enjoy the energy, creativity and suspense that  improvised music provides and thats what I try and do myself. Strive for it to be different and different not just for the sake of contrast, but different to imply progress. Also different in the quest to be unique, perhaps flawed, we all are, but unique, trying to add something to great body politic of art out there. Look at my influences, the second Viennese school is prominent, I like to listen to alot of composed music, it moves me, inspires me, drives me.....

What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
It means to me, different from what has preceded it, I call my music Post Jazz, its what comes after Jazz and has been influenced by it, but the point for me is to imply a development, it in no terms means it is better, or different for the arguments sake of being different, but trying to make genuine development on what has gone before it, some ''new music'' is kind of a joke, it sounds like and sometimes is material from the turn of the last century gone by, so its over 100 years old, its not in the popular domain so its labelled as new as its just being discovered. You can take also people like Jon Hassell who is 70 years of age and he is truly a new music master, continuously reinventing himself in line with popular culture's evolution and influencing several music genres in the process. It may seem a sort of good to go ethnic/electronic synthesis but he was the first to develop his Fourth world idiom and it did move the world and was the face that launched a thousand ships. Many of the big names out there owe their careers to him.

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?
I really like multi media, for me its the future, it can be a statement in terms of what you want to project in your art, it has a very direct, moving and stimulating impact when its at its best. Its important that you reach out to your audience a little though, not compromise too much but explain whats behind the rationale, so they can be inside rather than outside, confused and cold. If its too sublime without apparent logic and unexplained it can be difficult.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
I think I touched on this a little already. There needs to be a certain degree of dynamic energy, creativity, passion, suspense, originality.

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?
It depends, I enjoy playing with other people and I enjoy it better when other people enjoy playing with me, and I guess you could say I even enjoy it more when the people who are listening to me enjoy it as well. You should play  music that makes you happy/satisfied, these are not the same by the way. The audience sometimes has to pay alot of money to see you, they get wet, cold, over heated, have to travel great distances and endure much, its not cool to disappoint them or sell them short. I think its interesting when art  has a message, that need not be political or social, it can be based on an idiomatic concept you are trying to project or sometimes its best when the message is make of it what you will or call it what you want. I would prefer to have something more direct though albeit I am influenced very much by Derek Bailey, the master of non-idiomatic music and one of the greatest improvisers the world has seen, it takes all types. Matthew Barney in a recent interview explained the reasoning behind some of his work and I found it compelling, how things connect, where things are coming from, it was different, creative and unique.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences without sacrificing their soul?
I think its a life statement, everyone compromises in some way, its something I've been thinking about myself, I'll let you know when I reach the eureka moment.

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

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
Yes I'm working towards it, but it will take time, I'm closer, but some ways to go yet.

Chamber Trio (with Matthew Shipp and Mat Maneri), 2005
Self-luminous (with Mat Maneri and Randy Peterson), 2005
Levitation (with Tomasz Stanko and Billy Hart), 2005
Closure (with Uri Caine and Ben Perowsky), 2005
Awakening (with Steve Swallow and Pierre Favre, 2006
Waiting (with Cuong Vu and Tom Rainey), 2006
Radio Free Europa with John Herndon and Matt Lux2007
On the Shore with Alex Cline, John Fumo and Jeff Kaiser Cleanfeed 091 2007
Signs with Alex Cline and Steuart Liebig on FMR records 2007
Skyshifter with [Gunter Muller]] on Creative Sources 2007
Kadima Collective at White night Mark O'Leary Slava Ganelin and Arkady Gotesman Kadima 2007
Shamanic voices Mark O'Leary Terje Isungset FMR Records 2007
Flux Mark O'leary Wayne Horvitz Dylan Van Der Schyff FMR records 2008
Television Mark O'Leary Han Bennink Ayler records 2008
Zemlya Mark O'Leary Eyvind Kang Dylan Van Der Schyff Leo records 2008

Mark O'Leary
Mark O'Leary at MySpace

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