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15 Questions to Dronaement / Marcus Obst

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi Tobias, I am pretty well. Slowly defrosting. Those mountains of snow are starting to disappear here as well. Which answers your second questions: I am at home, in the Ore Mountains.

What’s on your schedule right now?
I have a busy schedule thanks to my small business. I am self-employed and find myself caught in the dilemma of taking on almost every job – after all, you never know how things are going to be in two months. Right nows, I have taken on too many tasks at once and all of them should have been finished by yesterday. But I’m slowly starting to see the light again. :-)

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist? Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
The most important influence for me as a musician/artist is definitely punk. Meaning: Punk in the sense of Sound and DIY. I am still quickly enthused by rumbling and dirty-sounding basement-recordings, a wild mash-up of noises at best, recorded with a 4-track. DIY (do it yourself) is important as well, because I started creating Fanzines and spent my first hard earned money to copy my very own self-made Artzine and establish contacts. Apart from that, about every bit of audio material can be an influence. Of course, there is a selection process at work there. Some stuff I may only listen to out of curiosity, while other material will be on heavy rotation. I wouldn’t want to open up any stylistic drawers. I might give you a list of influences at the end, though and engage in some name-dropping. :-)


What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
I can feel how I am slowly loosing the overview. But that’s hardly any wonder, considering the sheer amount of audio material spread on the internet. Could be there’s a crisis for the regular market, looking at it from the economic perspective (if one is to believe the whining of the music marketing-machine). But I am not really concerned with that. If we are talking about musical styles and their development, however, I can see no crisis. Maybe something like an unselected abundance, but anyway... For some time, it was a frequent request that media be freely accessible and everybody seemed to be in favour of free personal evolvment. And it is here, on the internet, that this is happening. Everybody can cheaply produce and publish music. Why not. It is he listener who ends up with the dilemma, because he has to find his way through Gigabytes of trash. If I were to criticise something on a purely personal level, it would be the attitude of many musicians (especially in the areas of “alternative” rock and techno) of trying to sound like someone else. These people often describe themselves using a mixture of these famous bands and attitudes. Genres are okay, but please use your own ideas and visons. On the other hand: Maybe these musicians simply don’t hold very high demands with regards to their material. Maybe they’re fine with just being a copycat and impressing girls. And with techno, one of the causes for so much aural garbage is the use of the same old software and presets. I am labelling all of this as garbage, because it’s nothing more than a random amount of data. Maybe that’s simply Zeitgeist in times, when one merely has to combine one’s ego with software and a camera in order to end up in the interne, then on TV and possibly even in everybody’s living rooms. If I look at things in my own musical nice, then I don’t see these kind of problems. I have discovered a lot of beautiful new music, which listen to more than only once. And then there’s an equal amount of stuff, which just passes me by. There’s a lot of trial and experimentation. That’s what makes it so exciting to me and I don’t want to judge it any further.

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

You mean, is there anything „new“ in music? Yes, there always is, even if changes may be subtle. In the area of software, the possibilities are steadily increasing, opening up windows for experimentation.and pushing borders Even though, as a little aside, these borders are hardly ever really being challenged. I am not using software very intensively, so maybe I’m the wrong person to comment on this (or then again, I’m just the right one). What was genuinely new to me was the material by the raster/noton label and some of these digital glitch tracks, even thoug the latter are starting to work my nerves thanks to the use of diverse plugins (take the CD-skipping effect, for example). Talking about the CD-skipping-effect, this brings some nordic death/blackmetal bands to mind. Do you know these bands, whose drums sound like a skipping CD, on top of which resides a brutal guitar sound and who use a painted singer, grunting unintelligble things?

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
Haven’t thought about that yet. A good sound does not make a bad piece of music any better. But that would be too subjective. Can we just leave it at that?

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
I hardly seperate them at all. Irmin Schmidt (of can) once said that he didn’t like the term improvising and that he would rather call it spontaneous composing. This is my opinion as well. I often think of free jazz whenever the term improvising is mentioned. But okay, these are only abstract concepts. My own work contains both elements on equal terms. A lot just happens in the process and is later being frozen. Unless it’s some programmed sequences or anything of the sort, in which case I will make some notes and write down basic parameters on the equipment. On top of that, I usually draw diagrams and pictogrammes, if I want to capture the chronological order of things. In a broader sense, these are both scores and compositions.I could never imagine merely playing something the way it was notated on paper.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
A good live performance? Well, it depends. I don’t often go out to concerts and I have seen too many things, which didn’t really interest me. That’s why I like to concentrate on the few really good ones. A good live thing should “rock” in the broadest sense, you should be able to feel the energy, if it is being played loud. It should also be fun to watch. One live act, which I always enjoy watching and whom I have seen a couple of times (only this weekend) are LOS BANDITIOS :-) If we are talking about live acts in the experimental field, I have nothing against a visually well-presented laptop concert. If I don’t like the sound, then I tend to get nervous pretty quickly and then I want to get out of there. I would definitely call myself a very critical and subjective spectator. And it it is these very demands which I apply to my own performances. Until now, I have always though up a different concept each time. This concept is a personal approach, which may not be visible at first sight. But it helps in keeping things together and I do hope that it makes things appear smooth. This was the case during my first concert, in the Galery of contemporary art in Leipzig, one night in my life, which used sounds and events from previous nights. I am currently lacking a visual part, that’s something I want to integrate better in future performance. So I establish a framework and, while doing so, I fix one or two backing tapes, which provide a rough frame. I then add various instruments, Samplers, sequencers, synths and effect machines.

A lot of people feel that some of the radical experiments of modern compositions can no longer be qualified as “music”. Would you draw a border – and if so, where?
I don’t draw any borders, I can perceive everything as music – sounds of nature, noise and radio music  If, on the other hand, one defines music as a structured tonal event, which must be comprehensible for the listener, as well as harmonised and arranged according to western theory, then one will of course not regard noise as music. But to me, it is only about whether something pleases me or changes something inside of me.

Are “serious” and “popular” really two different types of music or just empty words without a meaning?
These are terms used to file an artist, so he can be paid accordingly by his collecting society.

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?

I am a little bit unsure about this. An artist, who presents his music in public will always want people to deal with him. Otherwise, he could just stay home. He will of course want the main attention to be focussed on his works. The process of creating something is always personal, regardless of the issue at hand. This is a need to the artist and it is something entirely different, how this is later presented publicly. I mostly consider social issues in music as superflous, if the artists’s personla point of view does not become clear. I don’t like generalising statements. It is always in the eye of the beholder.

True or false: People need to be educated about  music, before they can really appreciate it.
If we are talking about “popular music”, then one hardly needs a musical education. You’ll listen to the music, because you’re enjoying the melodies. I do believe, however, that people who are interested in a more technical kind of music (with regards to the means and structures of the music) listen to it differently. And, on a general level, I think a certain background or openness is definitely useful.

Imagine a situation in which there’d be no such thing as copyright and everybody were free to use musical material as a basis for their own compositions – would that be an improvement to the current situation?
No idea, I deal with this issue too little. I mean, copy right begins, when it concerns the public and money. What do I care whether some musician uses one my pieces, so he can use it as a basis for his composition. I start caring right in the very moment, when he takes my idea and claims it were his own – or if he starts earning lots of money with it and declines handing some over to me :-) Since I’m not part of these circles, I don’t really care, however. I am glad, if my material is being used in a fair way. This means, comparable to a Creative Common Licence, that the author is being mentioned and if things should be used in a commercial way, that some part of the money will be handed over. But, as mentioned, money does not play an important role. I am fully infavour of citing from musical history and of continueing certain threads.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
Does this mean I get to make a list of whom I’d like to see live? Hmmm… difficult. I’d like to see Sonic Youth and AAVIKKO live. I’d invite EA80 over, but would he like to play? Let’s see… Carsten Vollmer would be part of the crew for sure. Then I’d have some friends over, just to see, what they’d do. The LOS BANDITOS would be part of it and the Surfin Barmaids as well (because they’re the Ultra Mikmaids of Surf Music). It would be sound-oriented, both acoustic, electronic and rock-influenced.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
I will have reached this point, once I am able to fully realize the sound I have in my head. Until then, I will be an explorer, doing case studies more or less and allow myself to drift. That’s what I like doing most.


As Dronaement:
Elements (1999) EE Tapes
Allein... unter Menschen (1999) Nauze Muzick
Wassermond (2000) Drone Records
Klab (2000) The Celing
Crop Circle (2000) Darkness Production)
Deep-Dive-Drone (2001) Nauze Muzick
Estoe (2002) Dachstuhl Records
yr (2002) Blade Records
Ezoterick Soundzcapes (2003) Mystery Sea
Fuer Muer (2004) Taalem
Phonorecord II (2004) Dhyana Records
Fields 1 (2004) Field Muzick
Ezoterick Muzick (2006) Afe Records

As Marcus Obst:
Trafic Tonalite (2006) Field Muzick

Marcus Obst / Field Muzick

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