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Interview with Counterspark

img  Tobias

Your photography deals with the outskirts of civilisation, with parts of the countryside, where men has left and nature is once again alone with itself. What fascinates you about these quiet places?
The element that fascinates me the most about abandonment is the thought of the life that was once was within the homes, factories, and places I visit. Every location tells a story about the past by the objects left behind, a little piece of someone's life that leads to endless possibilities of what it meant to someone and how I cannot fathom it.

The tags associated with your images are: Abandoned, neglect, decay. And yet, you also appear to see a lot of beauty in these pictures. Why is that?

I see so much beauty in the decay that occurs naturally, rust, fading of colors, the slow deconstruction of the man-made environment, just further proves that nothing lasts forever.

You were a photographer first. Where did the impulse to start composing come from?

I have always been a very visual and auditory person, the two worlds are one in the same for me a majority of the time. So as both photography and music picked up for me, it only made sense to work with the two cohesively, taking inspiration from the visual ambience of a textural photograph and applying it to sound with the elements of color and mood controlling the composition.

Even though it might seem a straightforward idea to base your music on field recordings collected during your travels to these places of decaying beauty, they don't seem to play an important role in your oeuvre. Is there any particular reason for this?
The first reason was the lack of a field recorder during the earlier times of Counterspark (laughs). With that in mind I learned how to incorporate the environment I was in through my choice and manipulation of the sounds I was working with. An example would be the creation of sparse soundscapes rich in color. The second reason is that with what field recordings I do use, they play a very minimal role to give a bit of texture or grain to my sound. With the utilization of the field recordings in the back, it allows a more objective approach to the music, allowing the listener to take what they want from the composition.

Your music has been called a contemporary version of Folk ...
The comparison is very appropriate to me, most of my music comes from personal experience and the emotions I was experiencing during the time I was composing. All of my releases, both current and future, are grouped together by time periods or similar themes and could be read as diary entries. I honestly do not listen to a lot of "traditional" folk music, but I view the current netlabel scene similar to my own music. Every artist in some way is telling a story, music is a release, and the musicians who compose on the side are true examples of this. Some of my biggest expressional influences are some of my closest friends who I can really relate to, including Celer and Chubby Wolf, Tanner Menard, 2%, Electricwest, and Obfusc.

You've mentioned „the endless depths that can be found in the smallest places“ as a source of inspiration. What and where are these places?

These places are everywhere and anything that is a trigger for emotion and memory retrieval. They can range from an object to a sensory experience, just something that brings a rush of emotions or stories, past or future. The relationship is definitely linked to my visual world, experiences in the visual world control a lot of what I think and feel.

In many respects, I was under the impression that a lot of your tracks delineate a very particular emotional state, such as a sensation of deep sadness upon the passing of Dani Baquet-Long ...

Yes, that would be correct, a majority of my more recent material has been direct responses to events that have been occurring in my life. I find it as a way to release the emotions and to put life into perspective. The track you speak of was written the night Dani passed away, and was my first response to really sort things out.

Do you get a lot of reactions by people who were deeply moved by your music?

I do get responses of people who are moved by the beauty of my music. Much like my photography, everyone has something different that they take from the compositions. I love hearing this feedback because it really makes me realize elements and perspectives of my own work that I have never seen or considered before.

What is so remarkable about your music is the utter confidence in relying on a single idea per track. How do you keep this balance of neither saying too much and too little?
I like to take a very objective approach on my music. Funny to say because my music is very subjective and personal to me. Much like my photography, I like to present the listener/viewer with an environment and allow them to take what they want from it. Some like the texture, others the color, some the melody; it all depends on what the audience is most drawn to. The titles of both are left very open and ambiguous, often untitled, to reinforce the idea of subjectivity. I keep the balance of neither saying too much or too little by working in loops and really putting what I need to express down. All sounds and melodies are tweaked and added onto, then I work in a subtractive manner, taking out layers, or hiding elements throughout the composition. The art of my production should be seen by the ones who understand it, not pushed onto the audience, yet again, being very secondary to the music.

By Tobias Fischer

Interview originally conducted for “Beat” Magazine. Many thanks to Thomas Raukamp.

Lost Sounds (Self-released) 2008
Existence EP (Archaic Horizon) 2009
The Halpern Experiment (Resting Bell) 2010


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