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15 Questions to Robert Montoya

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi, I’m doing well, sitting in front of my computer here at home, in San Diego.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Well, I’m preparing for a solo live performance on the 20th of this month, and, as usual, working on new material. I mostly work alone, although at some point in the near future, I’ll be adding tracks to a group project I occasionally play with, Wormhole.

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?
I suppose that everything I’ve ever heard and liked has had an influence on my music, but I’ve never consciously emulated any particular artist or style of music. I used to consider myself a “rock” musician, but I seem to have left that behind. There appears, to me, to be a “scene” that works within the type of music I’m trying to create, people like Fennesz, Autechre, a loose assemblage of people attempting to push the musical envelope.

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
I can only speak to the region surrounding me, but I think that there is a definite crisis in experimental music here at this point, due to a confluence of two very specific pressures: economic and cultural.  his country (the USA) has, for the most part, reduced its view of music to the most mundane, safe and boring forms. It’s all been heard before, over and over again. And due to steeply rising costs of living and the almost total lack of governmental economic support for anything but the most conventional forms of the arts, it takes a real desire, a will to be an experimental artist.

What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
It’s anything that pushes back the frontiers of music.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
The two are inextricably entwined. I don’t think that one should be restricted to conventional musical forms. The interplay of sounds is just as important to me as pitch or rhythm.


How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
For me, there is no separation. I view my compositional approach as improvisational.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
It’s purely subjective. A good live performance (on my part) is anything that leaves me feeling satisfied that I’ve done my best. (Solo) Stage performance is becoming increasingly problematic for me. Who wants to see someone standing on a stage pushing buttons and twisting knobs? I feel more comfortable in a group environment, preferably electro-acoustic.

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?
Defining music is a purely personal act. I draw no borders as to the definition of “music”.

Are “serious” and “popular” really two different types of music or just empty words without a meaning?
For me, they have no meaning. Music is music.

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 hate to sound selfish, but, music has always touched me on a purely emotional level. I have nothing against social or political content in music, but it has never affected me personally.

True or false: People need to be educated about  music, before they can really appreciate it.
False, with a qualifier: A musical education may bring on a deeper appreciation earlier in life, but it is not necessary for real appreciation.

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?
I’m a firm believer in “Creative Commons” licensing, where you can use other people’s material for non-commercial purposes.  This way you get the best of both worlds, you can use other people’s material and, if it sells, you can negotiate financial terms.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
Hmm, a tough question. Let’s see…Bjork, Wolf Eyes, whatever members of the Anticon Collective I could get, Tortoise, Beck, The Cure, Kid 606, DJ Spooky, Some Nortec Collective guys, and Wobbly.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
I’ve been getting into more soundscape  type of material, so it would be something like that, an hour or so long….

Robert M. (2005) Accretions

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