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15 Questions to Jeff Kaiser

img  Tobias
Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Fine. Sitting at my dinner table with my laptop in lovely Ventura, CA.

The is right ahead. What can you tell us about your performance?

It will be fun. Andrew will be doing all the processing himself this time. My set-up time for all my hardware would be longer than the given time to play, so we decided to do something different this time. His laptop rig is quite amazing, with all this custom software....very nice.

What constitutes a good live show in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
One that creatively mixes up textures, velocities, and dynamics. So much of this improv/electro-acoustic stuff seems pretty one-dimensional in a live performance (less so on recordings) we will see what we can do.

Which of the concerts of the other artists will you definitely attend?

Unfortunately, it is a crazy drive for me after work, so I will be attending only the one night. But I wouldn’t miss Dutz, or Tiner, or Liebig...I mean after all, they are on the pfMENTUM label...(disclosure: I run the pfMENTUM label...)

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
John Rapson, this crazy trombone player who is now in Iowa taught me to think about form in improv. Vinny Golia taught me to think about energy and pacing. John Cage taught me about beauty in space. And Spike Jones and his City Slickers taught me about humor....

What’s your view on the experimental music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
There is no crisis. The scene is happening everywhere....people are graduating from colleges and taking it back to their small towns like zealous little missionaries or evangelists for creative music. Look at Kris Tiner, my god, he’s got a series in Bakersfield that is quite happening. We’ve got one here in Ventura....If there is a crisis, it is one of perception, that is, there are individuals that want one dogma to prevail, instead we have this great pluralism.

Multimedia: A solution to all problems or a curse?
I hear this one a lot. Looking for problems with the is is never the tools. That’s like asking carpenters if a hammer is a curse. Well, yes, in the hands of a lame-ass, the hammer is a curse (most likely to his or her thumb), but in the hands of a master, the hammer is a beautiful tool. There are no problem tools, only problem users....

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
I tell them to do what they please, just don’t tell me what to do. Then I usually tell them to “fuck off,” but not before buying me another beer.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
Composition to me, is the imposition of form producing elements upon the sound(s). The sounds frequently ask to be treated in a certain way, and I usually do it, but other times I don’t. Sometimes fighting with the sound is more interesting than letting it do its own thing.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
I don’t think emotions are heard authentically in music. But some musicians need to have a handle to grab onto the music they make, so they play the “emotion” card. If it works for them, great, but I think we can deal with ideas that are greater than emotions in music...and we should always strive towards the greatest thought we can think, to quote Braxton.

True or false: “Music is my first love”

It is the number one occupier of time and my existence I guess, yeah.

True or false: People need to be educated about music, before they can really appreciate it.
The only education they need is to be told to listen. If people listen authentically, free of as much preconception as possible, they will appreciate the music. It is preconceptions that kill the listening experience, so in some ways, people need to be de-educated.

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

Having been in this position, I would say my goal would be to keep it all to the highest quality (by the aesthetic sensibilities of the given director) as possible. By keeping the quality up, you will create a future audience for the music. If the energy is low, who the hell is going to come back?

What’s your favourite CD at the moment?
I have in the player right now Cds of Helmut Lachenmann, Berio’s Coro, Penderecki’s Utrenya, and Mars Volta (a student gave me that one).

What’s up for you after the festival?

The Choir Boys (Andrew and I) have some gigs abroad this summer, a particularly interesting one in Zurich as part of a “loopers” festival. Also looking forward to banging out another album with Andrew.

Jeff Kaiser/ pfMentum records

The Choir Boys (pfMentum 2005)
The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio (pfMENTUM 2004)
13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic (pfMENTUM 2003)
17 Themes for Ockodektet (pfMENTUM 2002)
Order of Her Bones -- with Brad Dutz (pfMENTUM, 2002)
Nowhereland Soundtrack (pfMENTUM, 2000)
Pith Balls and Inclined Planes -- with Ernesto Diaz-Infante (pfMENTUM, 2000)
Asphalt Buddhas -- with Woody Aplanalp (pfMENTUM, 1999)
Ganz Andere -- with Vinny Golia (pfMENTUM, 1999)
Nothing Is Not Breath: Music for Double Quartet (Ninewinds, 1997)
Excerpts from the Prince (Burned Tongue, 1995)

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