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Interview with Christian Fennesz

img  Tobias
Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Last week I was in Paris, this week I´m in Vienna, next week I’ll go back to Paris.

What's on your schedule at the moment?
I will start working on film music for 2 different films very soon. One is the new project of Austrian experimental film maker Gustav Deutsch, the other one is a Japanese- Brasilian-Austrian science fiction movie. I´m also doing remixes for "renfro" and "heligoland".

Was the preference of "Slow Reveal" above "Song Structures" as the press release to "Black Sea" puts it, a conscious decision or rather a subtle process which established itself as you went along?
It was definitely more the latter, it just felt this to be the right direction to take at this point. I think there are still traces of songs/ song structures in black sea though.

There's been a lot of focus in the media about your music in general (and "Black Sea" in particular) featuring "guitars which do not sound like guitars". Are you really using the guitar as just another tool for composing, as these sources suggest, or do you still feel close to its distinct timbres?
I am not always using the guitar as a tool for composing, but most of the time I do. I get satisfying results quicker when using the guitar. It’s the instrument that I know the best. It’s true that some of the guitar sounds on black sea sound more like synth strings than guitar, on the other hand, there are some acoustic and even nylon string guitar parts that are easy to identify. I´ve been experimenting a lot with rooms (real rooms and artificial rooms) this time - Microphones play a much bigger role than ever before.

The album includes Guitars and Synthesizers. What were the criteria for deciding which instrument to use for a particular part? Or was this much more of an intuitive process?
It’s always an intuitive process. Once I have the basic recordings in the computer, I start playing around with them and then anything can happen. I´ve been using physical modeling synthesis a lot on this album. I tried to blend the "modeled" instruments with the real acoustic instruments. I was trying to do the same with the room ambience.

Just like previous efforts, "Black Sea" is marked by meticulous attention to detail and by a feeling of great fluency. How do you achieve this balance in practise?

That is difficult to say... I seem to have a strange sense for timing and rhythm.

"Black Sea" also features a new collaboration with Rosy Parlane. What is it, would you say, that makes your co-operation particularly inspiring?
I already worked with Rosy 10 years ago. We released a 2 track mini CD on a small Australian label ("Synastaesia"). The recording was based on a live concert we did in a small record shop in Melbourne. It’s the same thing again: "Glide" is also based on a live recording that I did with Rosy in Paris this year. I added Guitars , Bass and Strings in my studio later.

Another guest on "Black Sea" is Anthony Pateras. Was one of his Prepared Piano performances associated to "Chasms" the trigger for your collaboration? Practically speaking, how did the track with Pateras take shape?
Anthony was recording here at amannstudios. he also did a small gig here at amann´s "studio concert" series. I really liked what he did and asked him if he´d be interested in doing recordings together. A few month later we met again and did the recordings. This was back in 2004...

You've also used live improvising software lloopp for recording the album. How does it work and what makes it special?
Using this Software is like playing an instrument. It’s much more flexible than any other live software that I have used.

Track titles to "Black Sea" once again contain colour references. In how far do synaesthetics play a role for you when composing?
I guess there is a tendency but not really a concept or a technique. Using color references seems to be a good way to describe music or "musical atmspheres".

You've mentioned before that establishing a satisfying package of visuals and music is important to you. Was there therefore already some kind of contact between you and Jon Wozencroft during the recording stages of the album with regards to preparing the artwork for "Black Sea"?
Yes definitely. I think jon starts collecting ideas as soon as he knows the title of an album. Before I do the final mix, I usually send him tracks and rough mixes, so he gets an idea. It is real team work.

Some of your recent releases have been Vinyl only and the Vinyl edition of "Black Sea" will preceed the CD. Do you foster a personal love for the format?
I do. Especially the 7" format, but I am traveling a lot, so mp3 has to be the format of my choice...

What can you tell us about your plans of taking the album on the road?
We are slowly starting to to set up a tour. It will be Japan first, then Europe, then (hopefully) the states. We´re working on it.

By Tobias Fischer

Instrument (Mego) 1995
Hotel Paral.lel (Mego) 1997
Dì-n (Ash International) 1998
Dafeldecker / Kurzmann / Fennesz (Charhizma) 1999
Music For An Isolation Tank (Rhiz Records) 1999
plus forty seven degrees 56' 37" minus sixteen degrees 51' 08" (Touch) 1999
The Magic Sound Of Fenn O'Berg (Mego) 1999
Afternoon Tea (Ritornell) 2000
Endless Summer (Mego) 2001
Dawn (GROB) 2002
Field Recordings 1995:2002 (Touch) 2002
Invisible Architecture #2 (Audiosphere) 2002
Split Series #15 (FatCat Records) 2002
The Return Of Fenn O'Berg (Mego) 2002
Wrapped Islands (Erstwhile Records) 2002
Endless Summer (P-Vine Records) 2003
Live In Japan (Headz) 2003
Complementary Contrasts, Donaueschingen 2003 (Hat Hut Records) 2004
GRM Experience (Signature / Radio France) 2004
Live At The LU (Erstwhile Records) 2004
Venice (Touch) 2004
Live At Amann Studios (Touch) 2005
Live In Japan (Autofact Records) 2005
Live At Vila Nova de Foz Côa, May 29th 1999 (Touch) 2006
Cendre/w. Ryuiji Sakomoto (Commmons, Touch) 2007
Black Sea (Touch) 2008

Fennesz at MySpace

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