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15 Questions to Mika Martini

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Very well, thanks, here in Santiago de Chile, with lots of projects and releases to produce, publish and support.

What’s on your schedule right now?

Right now I’m working on the production stages of  “Kuluana”, an album by Lluvia Acida, from Magallanes [Chile], where I’m in charge of the artwork and also participate as a guest musician. A remixes album - “Mestizo Retocado” - has just been released.  A series of solo gigs are also ahead, exploring a more experimental approach to music.

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the country you are currently living in?
It’s very heterogeneous, for the “mainstream” and the “underground” dimensions coexist here. I find the latter most interesting and dynamic: there are lots of bands and netlabels making lots of music and gigs, not in ideal conditions, sometimes, but facing the work very honestly and persistently.

Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
Undoubtedly, I see myself as part of a movement, which gathers many experimental musicians, connected to electronic music, electroacoustic music, and netlabels.

What, would you say, are the factors of your creativity? What stimulates you to write music?
The sound of things, the way objects sound; voices, environments, and the way in which that sounding can be affected by digital processes in order to arive at new sounds.

How would you describe your method of composing?

At present: obtaining a sound, a sample, either as a field recording or a readymade recording; load it into a sampler, play with it, use it as a starting point for an improvisation, deconstruct it, and reconstruct it freely, in order to generate an atmosphere or an instant composition.

In which way, would you say, is your cultural background reflected in your work?
In multiple layers, particularly related to the sounds I like to work with: voices from our Chilean tribal ancestors, sounds coming from Latin-American aboriginal instruments, political speeches (both as sound and concept). I’m interested in generating and/or proposing new soundings from elements I perceive as my background.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
From my point of view, the act of listening is an act of composing. Since I’m a self-taught person, I have no strict method of approaching the task; composition is something I do by chance, playing by ear... what could be more musical than that?

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
For me, there is no such distinction, since I’ve mostly been exploring improvisation in a live context. As a technique, it fulfills me most in artistic terms, even with all the  tension and creativity implied in this blindfold situation, having no guide but a bunch of samples and field recordings, working with them in real time.

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

“New”... hard a thing to define in terms of sound or rhythm now. Basically, I’m interested in reassessing the concept of new in a time line context - i. e.: the new things that can be found from something old, the new stuff by an artist who has been working for years, new and original uses which can be given to instruments or technology applied to music.

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?
Multimedia, interaction among  artistic disciplines, techniques, technologies, points of view, is nourishing, and must be sought and taken into account as a major element to promote and enhance proposals in, music, painting, literature, audiovisual, etc. You can’t ask for purity nowadays... you end up missing a lot of good stuff by putting your work in a stretched, enclosed denomination.

NOA NOA 2: PUEBLO NUEVO - Show Completo from Super 45 on Vimeo.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
For me, a good performance is mostly a good trip... not necessarily pleasing, but feeling that I’m being moved from a spot A to a spot X... to reach new, unknown places. This is what I’m trying to reach in a live performance now: a sort of ritual, a trance through sound, playing with the audience’s sensations and mine, too, trying to break everyone’s  expectations.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences without sacrificing their soul?
I feel every musical expression has an audience for itself; no doubt it’s important for us to open up new venues and places, but keeping certain perspective in mind: We are not interested in reaching wider audiences if the cost is changing or compromising what we do... it makes no sense for us. The wisest thing to do is organizing  events or festivals where widely different expressions are presented, so that the audiences are exposed to real variety, and, even something they haven't heard before.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
A wide range of styles and genres, connected via a risky element, which, hopefully, makes them distinctive  - technique, performance, concept: electronica, hiphop, electroacoustics, noise, those are my preferences.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
Not really. I feel my musical capacities are too limited to even dream about making an “obra magna”. Being happy with what I do is enough for me.

English version by Gerardo Figueroa Rodríguez July 2009


Mestizo (Pueblo Nuevo) 2007
Estrellas Transcompactas (Experimenta Club) 2008
Revolver Cenizas (Ruidemos) 2008
Mestizo Retocado (Pueblo Nuevo) 2009

Mika Martini at Pueblo Nuevo Netlabel
Mika Martini at MySpace


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