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15 Questions to Mountains

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
K - Hey there.  At home – Brooklyn, NY – US  It’s 17 degrees here so trying to stay warm.
B- Doing well, it's been snowing like crazy in Brooklyn so I've been spending a lot of time at home working on music.

What’s on your schedule right now?
K - We’re writing new material and practicing a lot these days in preparation for some upcoming shows/touring in late winter/spring.  We’re also planning some new recordings for an upcoming 12” as a part of the ‘A Room Forever’ series.

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the country you are currently living in?
K - The US is a HUGE country so it’d be pretty impossible to give an overall description of what’s going on. That said I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening at the moment but even those things would be hard to classify into one ‘scene’. 
B - New York is a great place to be because there are so many musicians and so many people performing from all over the world that it doesn't have a scene in the way a smaller city might.

Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
K - No.  While I think a lot of what we do comes out of various traditions from the past (folk, minimalism, electronics etc) and there are certainly contemporary musicians and composers that I feel an affinity with, we’ve always sort of done our own thing.

What, would you say, are the factors of your creativity? What stimulates you to write music?
B - Usually just working on something and seeing the potential in it gives me the drive to finish it. A lot of times just hearing someone else's music will get me excited to work on my own stuff.

How would you describe your method of composing?
K - Always changing.

In which way, would you say, is your cultural background reflected in your work?
K - I think our music is more indicative of a particular time vs a particular place or cultural background.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
K - There’s very little separation between sound and composition for us as the compositions often come out of trying to find a certain kind of sound.
B - One way to look at a composition is a process of putting sounds together. Often times one of us will come up with a sound that is really good to work with and can become an anchor around which a composition will take form. Once all of the sounds are there it is really about working on the composition of the music, how they flow together where the composition will be really full, or more subtle. 

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
K - Our pieces usually begin as improvisations on some sort of melodic theme.  The more we work on them the more formally composed they become but there are always a lot of elements of improvisation even in finished compositions. 

What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
K - Very little at this point. It’s not generally something I am particularly concerned with. While we consciously try to incorporate different approaches in our music to keep things interesting/challenging, it’s more because we enjoy discovering new ways to work with sounds then trying to do something that would be considered ‘new’.
B -  I think the most important thing for us is pushing the boundaries of our own music. We have never set out to make something 'new'

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?
K - I’m not sure exactly what you mean as I think this would only be something that I could gauge on a case by case basis. Multimedia works can be interesting if all the parts work well together. We’ve performed with films on a number of occasions and have been talking to a couple people about doing video collaborations but the music always comes first. 
B -  I think visuals can work well in a performance as long as they are not taking focus away from the performer. When I go to a show I am usually much more interested in what the musicians are doing than the visuals around them.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion?
K - That’s difficult to define. There are so many different factors. In terms of working with another person there are times when we really connect musically speaking and it feels like the music is coming from the two of us as a unit rather then each of us separately. For me this is the most exciting and successful type of performance.
B -  When the sound is really good and we are communicating really well. Our pieces are fairly loose so if we are both making changes together and are anticipating what the other may be moving towards it can be a really exciting experience.

What’s your approach to performing on stage?
B - As Mountains is mainly focused around live performance we approach playing on stage the same way we would a practice. Sometimes if you are playing in a really large space, or a really intimate space that will affect the nature of a performance but the main focus is presenting our music to an audience.

How, would you say, could non-mainstream forms of music reach wider audiences without sacrificing their soul?
K - Performance!
B - Performing gives one the ability to play their music to people that might not hear it otherwise. Especially if you are on the same bill with someone whose music you respect but doesn't have the same audience.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
K - I’ll keep it to fourteen just for space limitations:

1 – Lichens
2 – Bird Show
3 – Chris Forsyth
4 – Trad Gras Och stenar
5 – Michael Chapman
6 – Eliane Radigue
7 – Steve Roden
8 – Supersilent
9  - Akio Suzuki
10 – Milford Graves
11 – Richard Youngs
12 – Toumani Diabate
13 – Es
14 – Joanna Newsom

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
K – No, not really.  I prefer to keep things simple. ,,,,,but if we were trying to achieve such a thing I suppose it would involve a full orchestra, a 60 channel speaker system and various things being projected onto waterfalls in some underground cave like setting. 

Picture by Jon Leone.

Mountains (2005) Apestaartje
Sewn (2006) Apestaartje
Mountains Mountains Mountains (2008) Catsup Plate
Choral (2009) Thrill Jockey


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