Interview by (I forgot...), February 2002
When was the Monolake project born? Did you make and release music before the first Monolake 12 inch?
Monolake was born when the Chain Reaction label started and we had the chance to release a 12 inch without any effort. I released an ambient CD, Piercing Music prior to the first Monolake release and I wrote music for short films.
Monolake's music was straight away a fairly definite one... Was there some sort of concept or compositional systematism that you decided to explore when you created the Monolake identity or is Monolake's music just reflective of your own aesthetic taste and musical ideals ?
Just our own personal preferences.
Would you agree with the fact that some sort of 'recipe' can be found in Monolake's music ?
I still do not know what makes a Monolake track even if I try to think of it. But I know that the music can be described more by words like space, time, continuous change, color, rhythm and not so much by song, melody, chord progression. I had a time when I thought this should change and on Cinemascope there are some of the results, but I now feel more like finding another structural approach. We will see. Fortunately I do not have the impression that Monolake is bound to a specific style or sound. Monolake is not just dub, and berlin minimalism is fine but not our entire musical cosmos.
How do you start working on a track ? Do you start with a sound, a rhythm, an atmosphere? Also, Monolake's tracks seem to be almost melody-less, the melodies being replaced by blurry atmospheres and vapour-liked drones of sounds, which contain as much textural activity than melodic suggestion. What is the very essence of a Monolake track, its core? Is it sounds, rhythms, atmospheres?
See above. Some Monolake tracks start because I want to explore a specific sound generation technique, some because I feel like doing some techno, some for other reasons.
You seem to like to play with the listener's perception of time and space, to distort the features of his/her reality. Is it a conscious gesture or do you just like long lenghts? Your music seems to follow no pre-determinate temporal construction...
I like this idea of music as something which could go on forever, like a sculpture in time. Often I do some pure atmospheric structures which I just let go for a few hours... Tracks like Nucleus on the Gravity album show this idea. But as a nice contradiction i feel the need for beats in order to create a structure which can contain, hold, counteract the light and floating spaces...
Also, in a way, Monolake's tracks seem rather to be linear sound installations occupying portions of time than true time compositions, evolving vertically"more than horizontally. Your musical art could be compared to painting, except it's painting with sounds on time canvas. Would you agree with such a comparison?
Apart from that, how would you explain the extensive use of repetition and linear rhythm in Monolake's music?
Whenever I explore more nonlinear beats I end up finding one specific part in it which could go on for ever. Then I take this part. But I still would like to create more broken beats, see Cut on Cinemascope, and I will continue doing some experiments in this direction. I find it essential that music never fully repeats, there always has to be some change. Thats why I am still using an analog console and MIDI synthesizers. I enjoy the fact that MIDI timing is inaccurate and unpredicteable. It is much more complicated to make good sounding lively music if you actually do have sample accurate playback. I would asume this is why so much laptop productions sound so dead. It's like early computer animation - to perfect geometry to be real.
Where does the Cinemascope title come from? How important is the visual aspect in Monolake's music ?
I studied sound engineering for film and I like film. Most of the time I do not have specific images in mind, but I like the idea of music as color and as film without images.
You create your own sound applications, within Max/MSP or Reaktor. Do you think it is necessary for an electronic artist to be also a sound designer and a programmer?
No. It is necessary for me because I love creating software. It is good to know your tools / instruments very well if you want to become a master. Every serious artist I know does obviously have a profound understanding of his/her instruments. But with understanding I do not necessarily mean technological knowledge down to writing c++ code. Just learn to use your tools, what ever they are.
How would you rely to the world beauty? Would you agree with the statement that Monolake's music is above all a quest for beauty in sound?
I completely agree. I love beauty, but what is it? In general I find a complex mixture of sound more beautiful than a melodic love song and this somehow reflects my general approach towards life.
You seem to be really attracted by Asia (Hong Kong, Korea...). Where does that interest come from? How is it related to Monolake?
I am just fascinated by Asia. I love the density of the cities, the way they are illuminated, the way they build houses, the contrast between extreme hectical moments and silence... it is always refreshing to come in contact with a culture that is so much different from the western, American, European culture. I do not have the impression that western culture is so much changing these days but that the most exciting things go on in asia. Just look at cities like Shanghai which really seem to explode.
Do you think it is necessary to create your own tools in order to create a completely original music, far from the standards of mainstream music which also undermine the conception of music software?
No. A million more books can be written using a pencil from the last century. Or Word, which is the same.
Are you a perfectionist?
How painful is the compositional process of a Monolake track?
Unfortunately I am a perfectionist.
Is its a long, painful task, or do you also keep more spontaneous first takes? Do you work a lot with sequencing or do you just edit real-time performances?
I spend quite some time with creating tools that allow me to work very fast once I feel like doing some music. The result then is going thru a long and often painful process of re-organisation, editing, mastering...
Being an artist of the label, you were first affiliated to Chain Reaction's very peculiar aesthetic did you use to rely to that aesthetic or did you always feel different to other Chain Reaction artists (who all have their very own distinctive aspects, but who also often explore similar grounds) ?
I do not like dogmatism. I spent most of the last 32 years of my life with re-defining what I am. Of course I do like early Basic Channel tracks but I also like so much more music and that's why I felt the need to free Monolake from that closed circle a bit. And by freeing I do not mean changing from Berlin Dub to Clicks and Cuts.