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15 Questions to Joel R Tallent/JVOX

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hello, I'm well, thank you. Right now I'm sitting in my office in Manhattan where I work as an art director. When I go home I'll be in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

What’s on your schedule right now?

Basketball in Tarrytown on Tuesday nights. Working on new tracks. Making animations as frequently as possible to sharpen my After Effects/Final Cut skills.

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?

When I started making my own music I was trying my best to sound like "Autechre - Incunabula." Other albums which influenced my style are "Meat Beat Manifesto - Subliminal Sandwich," and "Aphex Twin - I Care Because You Do." More recently I was introduced to the album "Phantasmagorea" by D-Styles and I've been inspired by its dark, gritty sound. There's Aphex Twin's "Come To Daddy EP" and Clark's "Body Riddle." I've also taken inspiration by many non-electronic acts, such as The Bad Plus, Angie Stone, Barbara Streisand. I love the sound of 70's soft rock, especially songs featuring Rhodes piano. I listen to that kind of music often. And of course, there's hip-hop from the 80's... L.L. Cool J, Boogie Down Productions, Run-DMC, Eric B & Rakim, Just-Ice...

Yes, I do think I'm part of a movement -- the one that was created when the internet made it possible for people like me to release music and have an audience. There's no need to worry about marketability, so there's a freedom to experiment, and some good things can come out of that.

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
There's a lot of music being made now that's bad, but a lot of good contemporary bands as well. I think every generation feels as they get older that things are going downhill. But there's always something new worth listening to. And with the internet we have more access to more music than ever before. When you have easy access to all the music ever made, it's hard to worry if there's some bad music being made right now. There's got to be a limitless supply of great music available if you look hard enough. I'm not an avid follower of contemporary rock/pop, but I have recently discovered bands like Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins, who are making some excellent music today. I've also learned that what sounds bad to me now, may sound good 5 years from now. It's a nice feeling to discover you like a song that you previously disliked.

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

I would have to agree with how you put it on your About page... anything that falls outside the widely accepted, popular forms. Something that's simply unfamiliar or obviously deviates from what convention would lead us to expect.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
It's a hierarchic relationship; compositions are comprised of sounds. My main focus is usually the sounds, and I try to create composition to accommodate them.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
They're both necessary. I often start by improvising with sounds, recording whatever comes spontaneously to mind, then mining that stuff for elements to create loops and melodies.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
In the case of electronic music, a good live performance would be one wherein the performer isn't sitting on stage staring at a laptop screen bobbing his head while he pretends to be doing something. That's my impression of the average electronic music performance. It's not entertaining. There needs to be something more to add interest, an element not present when you listen at home that enriches the experience. I haven't attempted a live performance because I haven't discovered how I'm going to achieve this. I'd like to enhance the experience with video and animation, and I'm working on material for this, but as yet not really close to having anything I'd ask someone to sit through.

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?
Drawing a border would be wasted energy. If someone likes to listen to it, it doesn't bother me if they call it music, even if it may not be following the conventional rules. I'm OK with "music" being used as a generic term that refers to recorded sounds of any kind.

Are “serious” and “popular” really two different types of music or just empty words without a meaning?
Well... I'd say a chamber quartet is "serious" music, and not what you'd call "popular." Then you have Phil Collins... who is popular. Maybe the "serious" music is the kind that gets better and better the more you study it, and the "popular" music is the stuff that appeals to a wide general audience on a more surface level. Then again, if you watch "American Psycho" you'll see that it's possible to regard pop music in a serious way too.

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 don't think we should feel compelled to use music in this way, but it's certainly an acceptable form of expression for someone who wants to make a political or social statement. Generally I find political messages in music tiresome and a turn-off.

True or false: People need to be educated about music, before they can really appreciate it.
Depends what you mean by "really appreciate." You don't need to be educated to have a visceral response, and that might be enough. But you can always study music in more detail, develop an appreciation for style and composition, and derive pleasure from recognizing those traits as well.

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?
If copyrights went away, it would mean we don't assign value to ideas. If people put their time and effort into an idea, they deserve to have a degree of ownership over it. That's the motivation to create. Copyrights are a manifestation of that value. Nobody should think they're entitled to the fruits of someone else's labor. Music that features the hook or melody from another song generally isn't pushing the boundaries of creativity, so if you discard copyrights you're not going to benefit the greater good with a richer musical experience. You're just going to get more derivative music and fewer new ideas.

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

Lots of big video screens and engineers to choreograph lights and images with the music. Bands with superior stage performances, like Meat Beat Manifesto, some Stones Throw hip-hop artists, turntablists like D-Styles and Ned Hoddings, lots of gritty scratchy hip-hop, downtempo and dark IDM. Lots of comfortable seating available.

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

Sort of. It would have to be a kind of mix between "Boards of Canada - Music Has The Right to Childen," "D-Styles - Phantasmagorea," and "Aphex Twin - I Care Because You Do" with an epic structure like "Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon." It would have to be something that I personally love to listen to, is critically acclaimed and introduces a groundbreaking style which creates a new genre. Shouldn't be too hard eh?


Shuffling Data (Unit Records) 2002
Address unknown (Component Records) 2004
Computer is ready (Tonatom) 2005
QED (Ad Noiseam) 2006
Oxidised (Tonatom) 2007

JVOX at MySpace

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