Stillium Partita: In conversation with Rupert & Espen

Posted on September 18, 2012

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The new Blocknois.es site launched “Stillium Partita” for Bitcoin sale a few weeks ago, and is proud to bring the companion remix album “Stillium Reworked” from next Monday the 24th, a week before its official release. “Stillium Reworked” will be available for Bitcoins from CoinDL.com.

To celebrate the two collaborations, the albums’ creators Rupert Lally and Espen J. Jörgensen sat down (virtually) over a (virtual) coffee to discuss their thoughts on “labels”, “music”, “collaborations” and what the future holds for them:

RL: I know you’re adamant in describing yourself as “a non-musician”, so how do you see yourself? As an “electronic musician”, a “film-maker” or a combination of the two?

EJJ: I don ́t really relate to any of them actually. I think our society is obsessed with status. Describing “me” as a filmmaker was Mute ́s idea. Simon Fisher Turner called me an artist, which is a compliment in many ways, but I don ́t relate to the “artist” bit. I believe in expression – or, I just do things because I feel like it, trying to get something “out of the system”.

But you’re an educated musician and you still don ́t call yourself “a musician”. What ́s up with that?

RL: How do I answer this in less than 2 hours and not make it sound like Iʼm talking to a shrink…

Part of it is because Iʼm not really an “educated musician” – my entire musical education is 3 years of classical guitar lessons (which, at the time, I felt taught me very little) and general music lessons up to GCSE level (the exams you take around 15/16 years old in England)… Most of my experience I learned “by doing” – playing bass or drums in local bands, doing little bits of sound engineering, or supervising the lighting and sound for local theatre groups.

After University, I did a Masters Degree in Music and Sound Design, in London – but nobody taught me music there, it was expected that I knew roughly what I was doing at that point… I spent my entire time there (and also my first year of working professionally in the theatre) insisting I was a “sound designer”, not a “musician” or “composer”. I was so terrified of the “baggage” that came with those job titles…

In my case, there was also the added stigma of having a father and grandfather who were musicians and musical arrangers of some note, so it was a need to escape that “inheritance” too… Over the years, Iʼve come to terms with it – I know where my talents lie and I’ve learned to stick to them. But I still often feel like I donʼt know enough, or that someoneʼs going to point a finger at me and say: “Heʼs not a real musician!” (laughs)

EJJ: So youʼre saying that your genes were more of a curse than a blessing…?

RL: Well, in that respect, yes… Having parents and grandparents involved professionally in both music and theatre meant that any praise I was given was ʻhard wonʼ, and at the beginning of my career I was very conscious of wanting to “distance myself” from the sort of thing my they did.

On the other hand, Iʼm lucky in that I have a certain amount (perhaps not very much, but some nonetheless) of inherent musicality in me, thatʼs always been there.

But, thatʼs enough about me. Tell me, how did you get interested in electronic music/circuit-bending?

EJJ: Electronic music is a long story, but I got into circuit bending as I was researching the sound design for my comic book documentary, “The Sequential Art. I was looking for something special, something people hadn ́t heard before, this was in 2004 if not earlier. Now, circuit bent instruments are “everywhere”, but back then… But I scrapped that project, or sound design idea, as I worked with Bill Gould on the soundtrack for that instead. So it was towards the end of creating the soundtrack that I pulled out those instruments again and contacted Simon Fisher Turner.

RL: Why did you want to collaborate with me?

EJJ: I ́m not answering that. Ha-ha! Ok. It wasn ́t because of the remix you did of “Soundescaped”, that caught my eye, or ear is probably more correct. It was because of your own music, which was very synth driven, and, well, it was actually that “Parallax” song which did it for me. And I thought: this guy can be a good contrast to my stuff, it could be an interesting collaboration if it happens. And the rest is history, right?

Is this where I say: why did you want to work with me?

RL: I guess so…Well, for me collaboration is simply another form of randomisation. That doesnʼt sound very flattering, I know – but hear me out:

One of the biggest problems I find in doing any creative endeavour on your own is avoiding your own bad habits, and not simply doing the same thing you did last time. Of course, if you work in a group this is easy because no matter how clear your original idea was – the very nature of having to use other people to “realize” your idea means that the idea will change. When you work alone you donʼt have this – so over the years Iʼve looked for other ways to achieve randomisation in my work: generative or algorithmic composition methods, limiting myself to certain instruments or software, using FX processors to change what I play as Iʼm playing – anything to stop it just being “me”, if you know what I mean. So I was excited to see what working with someone else would bring to the music.

So – Did the work turn out differently than you expected?

EJJ: In a way: yes and no. All of the tracks were pleasant surprises. What do you think? Did “Partita” turn out the way you wanted? You said that you liked “Reworked” better. Why?

RL: I tend not to have a preconceived idea of how projects should be, or sound, until theyʼre finished. Itʼs the only way I can work effectively – otherwise I find Iʼm constantly second guessing myself – you know, how will this fit with what Iʼve already done, etc. The only thing I was clear on from the beginning is that I didnʼt want it to sound like either “Soundescapes” or one of my solo records – which I donʼt think either “Partita” or “Reworked” do, so thatʼs good.

I didnʼt say I liked “Reworked” better than “Partita”; what I said was I preferred “Reworked” as an overall listening experience – it feels more like a complete suite of music as opposed to separate tracks. In a way, itʼs similar to my feelings about my albums “Growing Up On Mars” and “Feral” – where I also had too much material for just one album – “Growing Up On Mars”, which was released first, has the better tracks, but “Feral” is a better album in terms of how its tracks work together, and I feel itʼs the same with “Partita” and “Reworked”.

Getting back to collaborations: How was it different than previous ones?

EJJ: Well, for “The Sequential Art” soundtrack I was more of a consultant – some could say a co-producer, but I don ́t want to go that far. “Soundescapes” with Mr Turner was similar, but still not. I like to just record stuff and forget it, and let others play with material as they like. I commented very little on Simon ́s stuff as we kind of had an agreement that he had … ʻcarte blanche’. “Stillium Partita”, “Reworked” and a few other things we ́ve worked on after that again has been open for discussion, which I like. I like that every collaboration or attempt is executed differently – working methods, communication, and so on.

RL: Where would you like our collaboration to go in the future?

EJJ: Well, my collaborator is taking a vacation, so I don ́t know… I ́d like to continue, BUT, it needs to be on the right terms, or, we both need to feel like it. If I don ́t then I don ́t want to continue. Then again, I think we can explore other territories, and can come up with, hopefully, something groovy.

SO, what do YOU want to do in the future? Go solo or disco? Remember: we ́re labeled as “Dance and DJ” at Amazon.com, maybe we should do that “genre” next?

RL: Thatʼs funny when I was preparing the albums for iTunes, I had to chose a genre and I nearly picked “Unclassifiable”…

Well, first off Iʼd like to actually take that vacation – I havenʼt had it yet as thereʼs always some message from you waiting for me in my inbox, asking me if I could just fix this or that! (laughs)

I want the collaboration to continue too, but Iʼm pretty exhausted at the moment both physically and creatively – “Reworked” is my 3rd album release this year and I need a break, otherwise the music will suffer; plus we have enough singles, EP’s, etc “in the can” for us to be able to release music until the middle of next year. If I want to take a break, now is the perfect opportunity; and Iʼve got a bunch of my own projects that need to be finished – like the “Processed” album, due to come out early next year, which is to my last album “Process”, what “Reworked” was to “Partita”…

EJJ: In other words, we might be back after this commercial break…

 

“Stillium Partita” is available now through CoinDL for BitcoinsiTunes, Amazon (.com.co.uk), and via Rupert and Espenʼs website/Bandcamp.

“Stillium Reworked” will be available on Bitcoin from 24/09/2012 and on Bandcamp/iTunes/Amazon from 01/10/2012. A free preview track is available now.

For more info:

www.rupertandespen.com

rupertlally.blogspot.com

For all inquiries contact: nooostudio@gmail.com

 

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