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Interview with Mika Vainio

img  Tobias

What, would you say, are ongoing fundamentals of your work?
For me, music is a method to understand and examine both the world and myself. To achieve this, I want to go to the micro-level of sound, to taste the tones of neutrinos. I think this is the key element in my musical approach.
„Black Telephone“, for example, took a lot of work. I spent masses of time to find the right kind of sounds, to get the right combination of sounds and then finally to edit everything together in the right way. For example, for the first track on the album, „Roma A.D. 2727“, I had to create seven different versions before I was happy with it. All in all, I worked on „Black Telephone“ for a period of an entire year. And I was revising it continuously.

What did you start with for the tracks on this album?

For me, absolute music cannot exist. Sounds always evoke particular feelings inside me. The source of my own music is always to be found in emotions. There are a lot of people doing music who are not musicians but merely technicians as they do not put anything of themselves into it. My inspiration can come from many different kinds of sources: Visual arts, movies, the weather, books, science, news, nature, steaks in butcher shop etc.... The approach for using particular sounds is actually quite consistent throughout the album, even though ideas and feelings came from many versatile sources.

How does that compare to your live- and installation-work?
Right now, I am in Brussels preparing my new sound installation in Lab[au]-mediaruimte gallery. This piece (still untitled ) will use 7 "tube" radios from the fifties. I am first recording sounds from radios, then producing a piece of music from this material. Then, all of this will be transmitted by a small radio transmitter and received and played back by same radios during the installation. The installation will open November 13th.

German composer Jörg Widmann has mentioned that, to him, one of the hardest aspects is to stay true to your original idea while composing and to take the „necessary“ decisions while working on a piece ...
Sometimes, it is more interesting and easier to let the track go "its own way" and ending up with something quite different from what you originally intended. On „Telephone“, I however managed to get the original idea across quite well.

There were already some discreet acoustic sounds on the previous Pan Sonic album „Katodivaihe“. What is the appeal of combining digital and acoustic material to you?

Combining acoustic and electronic sounds can make for a nice contrast. Like combining a photograph with a drawing in visual arts for example. On this album, there are more acoustic sounds than one might possibly realize, as many of them are heavily processed.

To me, the importance of silence in your music has grown even more on  this record ...
Silence is the most important element for me. Just like in traditional Japanese architecture, empty space is the key element. You carve space with materials.

You've singled out the Einstürzende Neubauten and John Duncan as acts  which were influential in a way for you.  What made and still makes their work interesting to you?
The early Neubauten were impressive, as they could combine very agressive and brutal methods to sometimes arrive at the most delicate and refined musical thoughts. I have not been that interested about them after what they produced in the 80's, though.
As for John Duncan, other than for his impressive art works and performances, I respect the way he has been standing up against the controversy his work has often evoked and for staying faithful to his own ideas and ways of doing things - even if this has often meant a hard and austere life.

By Tobias Fischer

Image by Tommi Grönlund

With Pan Sonic:
Vakio (Blast First) 1995
Kulma (Blast First) 1996
A (Blast First) 1999
X (Blast First) 1999
Aaltopiiri (Blast First) 2000
Frost 79° 40' (FM 4.5.1) 2000
Mort Aux Vaches (Mort Aux Vaches) 2000
05/10/995 (Jenny Divers) 2001
19/01/995 20/01/995 (Jenny Divers) 2001
V (Les Disques Victo) 2003
Katodivaihe / Cathodephase (Blast First Petite) 2007
Live DVD Atak Night 3 (Atak) 2007
Kuvaputki (Blast First Petite) 2008
"Shall I Download A Blackhole And Offer It To You" Live In Berlin 15.11.2007 (Blast First) 2009

As Mika Vainio:
Onko (Touch) 1997
Three Compositions For Machines (Staalplaat) 1997
Titanikin Juhlakantaatti (Titanik) 1998
Untitled / 20' To 2000.October (Raster-Noton)    1999
Ydin (Touch) 2000
Invisible Architecture #2 (Audiosphere) 2002
Flame On (Chicks On Speed) 2003
In The Land Of The Blind One-Eyed Is King (Touch) 2003
GRM Experience (Signature / Radio France) 2004
Nine Suggestions (Allquestions) 2005
Revitty [Torn] (Wavetrap) 2006
Aíneen Musta Puhelin / Black Telephone Of Matter (Touch) 2009
Time Examined (Raster-Noton) 2009
Trahnie (Editions Mego) 2009
Vandal EP (Raster-Noton) 2009

Mika Vainio
Pan Sonic

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