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Interview with S.Q.E.

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you?  Where are you? 
I am resting at home in Brooklyn.

What’s on your schedule right now?

Well Old Europa recently released “Rise of the Vulcans”, after which I found myself working with Dylan (viola player on “Abyss” and “Vulcans”) on allot of new material for a 3rd release. Me and Ure Thrall have been putting the finishing touches on a new recording titled “Plastic Perpendicular Crevice”. Plus I did some production for a friends band called “Pilot(the Morning Fall)”  on a song titled “December” and another that has yet to be released.

How did you establish contact with Old Europa Cafe? They are a renowned name, but "Rise of the Vulcans" is not exactly a typical release for them...
Old europa cafe was the 1st distributor to ever pick up any of my work (Ure Thrall and the Fruitless Hand (1999)). Rodolfo has always had a very special in my heart, and well, it seems it was just meant to be.

Was "Rise of the Vulcans" always conceived to be such an eclectic mix or is it more of a collection of pieces you composed over the last few years?
It was conceived to bounce all about.

Many have focussed on the diversity of the material on the album. Would you agree that the real challenge is not to demonstrate your command of many styles, but rather to integrate them into one seamless new whole? And if so, how did you go about acchieving this?
My main focus was to emulate the world of shit i constantly find myself sinking into.

Your album sounds very "concentrated" and stripped of everything unnecessary. Could it be that this has something to do with you being a bass player and the bass being an isntrument which is oftem on its best when merely sending out clearly aimed impulses?
I really don’t know how to answer this question but I can say that if I sound focused it is most likely because these recordings were my only escape at the time.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist? Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or as part of a movement?
I guess from a musical perspective I could say Christoph Heemann, Duke Ellington, and allot of Cuban and Dub music. Beyond music, I would say that I am pretty heavy influenced by the food that I eat.

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

I think its a safe bet to say that i am pretty much out of the loop as an artist. As for a crisis......?? The word crisis doesn’t come to mind, but we are certainly not in any sort of renaissance.

What does the term „new“ mean to you in connection with music?
Not much.

How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?
They are not mutually exclusive. There are a myriad of motives as to why a personal creates sound, composition, or anything for that matter.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Not very much so. Most of the time, when I approach a song, there is some sort of  engineered back drop, for the musicians to play over. When I worked with Ure Thrall and Paul Locasta, I would say that easily 90% of our output was improvised. But now in S.Q.E. , the songwriting is very controlled, and I usually don’t incorperate any sort of random factors till I get to the post production. It's at that point that anything goes.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
My favorite live performances were always in an intimate setting. Me and Dylan are are currently playing in the subway. Its no major production, just me on upright bass, and Dylan with his viola, playing Al Bowly covers. But as for a proper performance, It would most likely be a small European tour, and I would more than likely seek help from Alan and Tracy (of orchis).

A lot of people feel that some of the radical experiments of modern compositions can no longer be qualified as “music”. Would you draw a border – and if so, where?
This is an argument that has been going on for quite some time. If they can release recordings of ocean waves crashing against the shore and call it music, they why would it be any different to release a recording of cars crashing into each other or cats screaming in heat as music. I could see an artist releasing recordings of anti-aircraft missiles being fired as a political statement. In my opinion if one derives listening pleasure from a certain sound then it becomes music.

Are “serious” and “popular” really two different types of music or just empty words without a meaning?
I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand the question. I have never in my life heard of “serious” music, maybe seriously heavy, or seriously fucked up, but never just serious.

Do you feel an artist has a certain duty towards anyone but himself? Or to put it differently: Should art have a political/social or any other aspect apart from a personal sensation?
Like I said earlier, different people have different motives behind their actions as an artist. There is no right or wrong approach nor is a sense of obligation required, however I am sure there are those who feel they are obligated, whether it stem from the need to want to express grief, or make a political statement or fulfil an agreement of a contract signed. I personally find that if I do not create regularly, then I go fucking bananas.

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

Imagine a situation in which there’d be no such thing as copyright and everybody were free to use musical material as a basis for their own compositions – would that be an improvement to the current situation?
I sample like a motherfucker, but I do it in a way in which it is almost undetectable. Copyright Laws are a good idea which have just kinda gotten out of control. However, if we didn’t have any of these laws in place, you probably would have just as much bad music as we already do.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
Current 93  with Christoph Heemann, Edward ka-spel (with or without the dots), the Twilight Circus, Tom Waits, Tino corp, Horace Andy, AFX, Eddie Izzard, Radiohead, Ure Thrall, Orchis, Ricky Gervais, would be on stage. It would be in dead of winter and we would have access to hot springs, tequila, sushi.

Many artists dream of a “magnum opus”. Do you have a vision of what yours would sound like?
Like a busload of kids screeming at the top of their lungs as they plummet off the Williamsburg bridge and into the east river.


Wahid (2005) Drone Records
Rise of the Vulcans (2006) Old Europe Cafe


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