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15 Questions to Trip Wamsley

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I’m in Sulphur Louisiana and doing fine. On and off the road and trying to finish/abandon a new record right now.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Right now I’m on the road with a Contemporary Christian Group called Caedmon’s Call. I’m done with their tour in May and then I’ll go out and do some solo bass shows for the rest of the year. 

You’re one of the artists on the newly-formed Magnatune label. What attracted you to their basic premises?
You don’t need a cutthroat lawyer and accountant to get paid by them. Plus it’s easier to send people there and not have to carry around so many CDs to shows. It’s the wave of the future!

One of the ideas of Magnatune seems to be that you can sometimes only truly assess the value of music AFTER you have bought it. Is that something you can relate to? 
Not really. I don’t quite understand the question. Sorry. If I have bothered to buy anyone’s music, it’s because it made me feel something positive.

The most basic question: What does music mean to you?
Music ties the tangible and  intangible experiences of life together by means of dressing silence in sound. Also, that question goes so deep that a flippant answer or a REAL answer is ludicrous. For me anyway.

How would you describe or characterise your composing process?

It varies. Sometimes things are obsessed over to the last little detail and other times it happens so fast that I can’t remember HOW the song happened at all. The BEGINNING of the process is the most important for me. It can be a tone, chord, beat, loop or a poem, converstation, a hug. Anything can spark the process.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
Well again, if I’m inspired by my sound then I’m free to compose. If I’m having a day where nothing sounds right I can’t compose at all. Right now, I’m inspired by richly colored sound with lots of sustain. You’ll see on my next record! Oh yeah!

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
Fun and a sense of humor can take you a really long way. Also, being able to play helps. But a good show is when all the banter and music work as one with audience to make it great experience for all. I always invite conversation and comment from the audience at my shows. They seem to really like it!

What’s your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis?

There is a scene?!?!?  I don’t know about a scene but I DO know there’s a crisis. What with EVERYONE conforming to nonconformity and all. Bands that look and sound exactly like each other. It’s just a cheesy as the 80’s ever was, but without blazing guitar solos.  It’s just plain boring. And then there’s the retro thing, old clothes, sideburns and vintage gear but usually no vintage talent. Most of the guys from the days of yore could really play. That’s why they are mostly STILL at it. BUT, there are great things coming from the ‘net and indie record land. Ah yes. The mainstream can go without me. And it does.

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. That’s the problem. Classical composers used to compose around each other thems but they were almost always called “Variations On A Something By Some Someone Else.” The problem today is that they take someones tune and make a mindless piece of crap out of it and just put filthy lyrics on it usally. I’m sure there are exceptions. Real composers can at least apply some talent to it and come up with something unexpected. Plus, since I play for a living, I need to get paid for some of the things I do. It’s not all about money. But, my car note cannot be paid by people stealing my music. I can and do offer plenty of things for free on my website. I do this because it feels good to give things away, but it also it is hopes that they will support my by buying my records. There you go!


Some feel there is no need to record albums any more, that there is no such thing as genuinely “new” music. What do you tell them? Is “new” an important aspect of what you want your pieces to be?
Well, I’m inclined to believe that its all been done before. Having said that I also feel that you can’t know everything so there’s many things to discover and practice that are new to YOU. You can always stay fresh if you want to. I don’t think I want “new” to ever be important to me as artist. I want spirit and intent and content to be the most important.

Do you feel an artist has a certain duty towards anyone but himself? Or to put it differently: Should art have a poltical/social or any other aspect apart from a personal sensation?
Art should have whatever you want attached to it. At the end of the day when the work is completed the INTENT keeps going. What was the intention? To provoke anger? Hate? Love? Disgust? Awareness? Laughter? Anxiety? Fear? Agression? Hope? To merely impress? That’s something to consider there.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
A huge variety. I would have free harmodic jazz. Rock bands. Soloists. Chamber groups. DJs and all manner of visual arts and dance as well. Aw man, it would be neat! To me a least.  :>)

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 would not draw a border at all.  Pointless. Borders are for countries and towns and counties etc. Not for art. That’s silly. I like atonal mayhem as well as many other things. I don’t put out anything like that myself but I do record things that some would not feel is real music. Whatever. I try to give everything a chance. 

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
This is as far as I’ve gotten with that vision: I hear long notes that are rich in overtones. I’m doing this music in a room that is very old surrounded by close friends and others who are sipping very fine wine and drinking life affirming rich espresso. They find an enormous amount of comfort in what I’m doing. We all will have a moment where we wake up inside of ourselves and feel the passion of centuries of schoolroom thousand mile stares and realize how much we need each other to survive and Love will prevail. Other than that I have no idea what the rest of it will sound like. I just have an intention. Hopefully it’s noble. Love to you and yours! Later.


It's better this way
The difference engine
Dancing about architecture

Trip Wamsley
Trip Wamsley at Magnatune

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