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15 Questions to Frank Rowenta

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Quite busy now, I’m relocating next month. Its Early morning now and I am in my office.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Gruenrekorder will release raumstudien#2 and #3 as double cds this year. Wsdp will release a concept tapework which was recorded back in 1986 by gregor jabs and me as a vinyl record. Christian Larsgarden and me have finished yet a beautiful work called “electromagnetic spheres” this year. Gregor Jabs and me have just finished the recordings for the second grillhaus album. Actually we look out for a label which could be interested in releasing those works.

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?
What I can envisage precisely is the initial moment for my interest in experimental music. That was in my music lessons in school. The teacher played a recording from Stockhausen. I don`t know which composition it was but it got me infected. I don`t see myself in any tradition, even though my musical work has often been compared to the culture of tapemusic.

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
It`pretty hard for musicians and labels to sell records today. It seems that people have a free download mentality. It`s very difficult to sell products from unknown artists or music of a more unconfessional nature. In the past, it was curiosity that led people to buy and consume musical products. Today everything must have a name or some glory from former days. In the past, Record shops where institutions which confronted people with new or unknown sounds. Today the scene of record shops with an interest in experimental music has all but dried out. The internet is the main source today. So informations suffer due the fact that the listener/downloader just dips in new or unknown things very shortly. The classical confrontation with sounds and musical ideas often get lost.

What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
The same it does everywhere else: everything is going cheaper. In the case of music, it is obvious that music is mostly designed for deaf ears and stupid minds. I cannot enjoy listening to a normal radiostation since 20 years. In the avant-garde music scene of today, there are rays of hope sometime. Some artists release cdr media based works which are free of any intention to be trendy. You can see the esprit of the 1980s tape scene blooming there sometimes. Actually, I am astonished about demo records that musicians send me with the intent of having a release by jeansrecords. I get happily surprised by works of high quality and proper musical ideas.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
One depends on the other. There are always sounds in my head. During the process of composition, I try to arrange those sounds. On the other hand, a concept work needs an aural manifestation. If I think about how an empty room can sound like, an acoustic event is needed to perform that idea.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Improvising is a spontaneous interaction with the selfplayed instrument and/or interaction with other musicians or musical sources. Improvisation is the core of a live performance. I have an academical approach whilst composing. When I want to realize a musical concept, I work out a kind of roadmap in my head about how to arrange this and what kind of sources and sounds could be usefull for it.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?

A good live performance contains the entire process of creating sounds directly. a classical band or an orchestra encapsulate the meaning of the term “live”. The performances of some sound artists are able to capture what live means, zev is a good example for this. I have a conservative look on live actions, laptop performers are weak.

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?
There is no border in music, only in the heads of musical consumers.

Are “serious” and “popular” really two different types of music or just empty words without a meaning?
Yes, those are empty words. It`s the same with people talking intelligently about whether you're driving the right brand of car.

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?
Everything is ok if it`s ok for the artist. My personal intention is to open mental rooms in the listener’s head which enhance his feeling/thinking. This is a proper way for me to take part in that what culture should be.

True or false: People need to be educated about music, before they can really appreciate it.
They need to sensitise the ears and their thinking about music. Both ways can be right but the main thing today to calm down and get loss of the zapping mentality.

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?
This rather belongs to the commercial music business. It would be expedient if an artist can work without the fear that some popstar advocates will take you to court for using a sample or so. A good lesson is the denunciation from the popband U2 against negativland. The result was that the famous label sst had to shut its doors because of such dishonest figures.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
I would try to reanimate Johnny cash for a gig.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours
would sound like?

Maybe some kind of a church mass with backwards singing stripgirls…

Solo and Collaborations:
Tiefpunkte moderner Klangkunst/ w. Khan (Dom Elchklang)
Stereo Extrem/ w. Khan (Dom Elchklang)
Avantgarde Explosion/ w. Khan (Dom Elchklang)
Schuss in den Ofen (Dom Elchklang)
Weingüter (Dom Elchklang)
dAdGO/ w. hjuler (Asylum Lunaticum)
Sofavision/ w. Khan (Dom Elchklang)
Apoplexia 1973/ w. Reeds, Jabs (Jeans Records)
Orion und Kassiopeia/ w. Pruditsch (Jeans Records)
Raumstudien #1 (Gruenrekorder)
Klänge Siziliens (Field Muzick)

As Grillhaus:
Grillhaus (Pornodelic)

Frank Rowenta
Frank Rowenta at MySpace
Jeans Records

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