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15 Questions to Liam Mooney

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi. I'm doing well. I just brushed my teeth. I'm somewhere in Los Angeles.


The so.cal.sonic is right ahead. What can you tell us about your performance?
As usual, it will involve the noisy misuse of familiar objects. Ears will
bleed, tears will flow, appetites will be lost, and so forth.


On a more general level: What constitutes a good live show in your
opinion? What's your approach to performing on stage?

There first has to be some aspect of the experience that can't be had by
listening to a CD at home (or watching a DVD, or smelling a scratch-and-sniff, or whatever else). I often try to take advantage of space and visual possibilities, greater available dynamic range, chances for audience interaction, or higher likelihood of attentiveness. That last one seems
most important to me, because the idea that it's worthwhile to pay attention to tiny (or otherwise) sounds is a central one in my music. There's more than that, I'm sure.


Which of the concerts of the other artists will you definitely attend?
Due to my erratic schedule, I don't yet know. (My day job is often a night
job.)


What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?

A chronic stuffy nose throughout childhood impaired my ability to play
wind instruments, causing me to turn to percussion. Later, though, I would find I could power wind instruments with vacuum cleaners and electric fans. True story.


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

Having moved to Los Angeles a few years ago from a much smaller city, I
still think it's great that there are enough people here interested in this stuff to constitute a "scene."


Multimedia: A solution to all problems or a curse?
No. Like anything, it can be done well or not.


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?

Those sound like two separate issues. No one says that to me, anyway.


How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
It has something to do with form.


True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions
into the music he plays.

True, except where the part says "senza vibrato." Ha! That was a music
joke! But false, really. I think the sounds you make are more important than how you feel about them (for the listeners, at least).


True or false: "Music is my first love"
False. I really started liking music around age nine, when I joined the
school band. I'm sure I had other interests before that, but I wasn't much into music until it stopped being about singing nursery rhymes and started being about hitting things.


True or false: People need to be educated about music, before they can
really appreciate it.

False (but, then again, I might change my mind if my music starts to feel
unappreciated). There's a lot to be gained just by listening to a huge amount of music on one's own.


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

I'd blow the entire budget bringing in a massive steelband from Trinidad.


What's your favourite CD at the moment?
Just one? The last thing that really floored me was "White Elephants &
Golden Ducks," a recording of lots of great Burmese musicians. I'd somehow managed to go twenty-odd years without hearing a saing waing ensemble, and the opening track, with a group led by Kyaw Kyaw Naing, just completely knocked me off the road. But only figuratively. Literally, I kept on driving
as before. But I do still remember what intersection I was going through.


What's up for you after the festival?
A secret project, quite dangerous.


Works:
Eel (2004) for vacuum cleaners and corrugated tubing
Candles (2004) for tuned explosions
Bounce (2003) for pitched instruments conducted by bouncing balls
Bloop Bloop (2003) in collaboration with Carole Kim, for dropped water and plucked air
The Young Person's Guide to One-Tone Equal Temperament (2003) for reaction times
Bottles and Fans and Just Clap Your Hands and Just Clap Your Hands (2003) for bottles and electric fan, possibly followed by clapping
Red (2003) for computered yogurt and toys
Song without Words with Words, without Song (2002) for dull voice
Around C (2002) for toy metallophones
Yellow (2002) for computered jawharp and toys
Styrophony (2002) for styrophones
Percussionless Drumset (2002) in collaboration with Matthew O'Donnell, for squid and cymbals
Dust to Dust (2002) score to a film by Ellen Kim, for computered music box
Floortet (2002) for objects dropped on the floor
Phonomeneme (2002) for interactive video faces (and their voices)
Tea for Two (2002) score to a video by Ben White, for breaking dishes
Squid (2002) for squid
Traffic Jam (2001) for interactive images and computered toys
OK Audience (2001) for objects provided by audience members
Squidlet II (2001) for squidlet
Un-untitled (2001) for violin and cello with cheap bows
Fand (2001) for electric fans, rubber bands, and microphones
Styrophony (2001) for computered styrophones
Squidlet I (2000) for computered squidlets
Polythought (2000) for flower pots, trumpet, styrophone, and bodhran
Something with a Straw and Some Coke (2000) for computered breaths and squeaks
(Ka)Zoo (2000) for computered kazoo
Numer Explains Complete Eeriness (2000) in collaboration with Chris Staefe, for lots of percussion
Soft Insides (2000) for very processed voice
Generic Serial Piece (1999) for magic squares
The Toybox (1999) for computered toys
Little Spidery Things That Crawl on My Face while I Sleep (1998) for computered household items
Tempoed Collage (1998) for carefully manipulated audio samples
Tempoless Collage (1998) for recklessly manipulated audio samples

Homepage:
Liam Mooney

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