Interview with Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith is a great composer and trumpet player. Since the 1960s he has been an important person working with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. I recommend George Lewis’s history of AACM, ‘A Power Stronger Than Itself’ (2008), if you are interested in the relation of oral history and linguistic description of music. Smith’s own texts from the early 70s are also very good. I’m really interested in Smith’s compositions and performances because I have the impression that everyone acts like a soloist, a combination of complex symbolization of harmonic experience and guidance by the body incites moments of risk.


CM: How do you center yourself when performing?

WLS: It starts the night before, where I take stock of what the performance is going to be about. I go through scores that I’ve intended to perform, and at night, before falling asleep, I reflect on that. The next day, the day of the performance, I prepare myself for the sound check, or mini-rehearsal, depending on what the occasion is. Then, after the sound check- which I like to be as short as possible, because often you spend so much time in the sound check, the sound gets nearly good, and yet you get back and there’s all kinds of difficulties, so a short sound check is preferable for me- I try to maintain my reflection, my concentration, on what I have to do. And normally, I don’t like to be around the ensemble, I try to find a space for myself. Because most people don’t look at performance the same way I do, they spend a lot of time talking, and laughing, and telling jokes, and being reunited with people who pop into the dressing room, and stuff like that. And I’m not into that. Even when I’m in a dressing room and I have my family there, they all know that I’m being quiet. They don’t come in and try to start a conversation and do all kinds of things. It’s a moment of reflection.

And then, when the time comes to perform, with the first step on stage, I make extra effort to step on stage with the right foot. And keep moving. And on stage the possibility of holding your composure, and keeping your focus, it means you hear everything that’s happening on the stage, but it does not dominate your awareness. What should dominate one’s awareness is their own self-center, and their contribution to that performance. It’s not that you’re not listening, or not aware of what’s going on. It’s that you don’t allow it to take you out of your state of composure, and cause you to lose your perspective as to where you are, what you are doing, and what you have to do.

CM: What about that way of looking at performance allows you to find such unique sounds for your notes, the notes you play on the trumpet?

WLS: Well, I started out, I was born and raised in Mississippi, and my early music teachers, the first one was called Oneal Jones, the second was Henderson Halbert, and the third was Alex Wallace, who was my step father, who was a blues master. I started playing the trumpet outside, practicing the trumpet outside. And when you do that you have the whole- the Earth, and the sky, and the particular buildings, as your boundary point. When you practice outside on a wind instrument, your volume, how you attack the note, that is, how you make it, and how you sustain it, all become far more confident than playing inside. Because whenever you play inside of a room, that room is actually a resonator. It resonates a certain kind of sound area, and when you play in that sound area, the room booms with great velocity and great visibility and audibility.

When you’re outside, you’re not playing in a resonator. The space between Earth and sky is open. That’s the vertical aspect of it. Also the horizontal space is open. Because sound does go through buildings and it also goes around buildings. When you play outside, you develop a larger scope, of the size of a sound, and the concept of different qualities one sound can have. You have a much more strong way of playing the sound. And because of that I think I developed a good sound quality with the trumpet.

CM: Do you think more about notes one by one or with more of a whole intuition of the octave?

WLS: No, I take a quite different approach. When I’m playing the trumpet, I allow my inner self to be the directing force, the intuitive self. This intuitive self doesn’t need to hear or select individual pitches. What it does is- it has several different ways of presenting itself- as a flash just before execution, I can sometimes see the quality of what I’m about to play; and sometimes, because you don’t see it, there is an inspiration that pushes it forward. And as it comes out of the horn, one does achieve rapid levels of epiphany about the reality of what is happening at the moment. Each of those moments has to happen again and again and again, in the context of a solo or a single piece or over a larger arc, which is the context of a performance. The intuitive force, or that notion of inspiration, epiphany, reflection, and memory, all of those levels of awareness or consciousness are in play at the moment.

CM: I think the role of emotion is really important for making decisions on how to blend tones. I was interested in what you said about the flash. Could you give an example of what lights up, for example if you were to listen back on ‘Ten Freedom Summers’? Listening to it, that would be many flashes, I’m sure. And would it be the same as in performing?

WLS: It will be different. I’m detached from the music when listening to it. Even though it is my music, my role is different then when I’m a performer, as the listener in that moment. The flash back has to do with the hysterical moment. It has to do with the rehearsal, the practice, sometimes even the composing of it.

To give an example, when I composed the ‘Emmett Till’ piece in ‘Ten Freedom Summers’, I had no idea how it would sound. I don’t know why I didn’t try to think about how it would sound, but I had no anticipation of what it would sound like. In the first rehearsal, after putting all the parts together and running through the whole piece, I was surprised by how it sounded. It sounded almost like I was aware of the performance, but in the sense of, “who composed this?” That is just a flash that comes through. At the same rehearsal, everybody in the quartet and the chamber ensemble had similar kinds of experiences. Not “who composed the music,” but they were amazed at how it sounded and felt. That is what I mean by flashbacks.

But also, there is another realization I had when listening. On one Saturday, I decided I would listen to all of the music in one day, that’s almost five hours of music. And I did. I fixed breakfast, and sat back, and listened to the whole performance of ‘Ten Freedom Summers.’ Before then, I’d listen to maybe one CD, and then another with a day between, and then another CD with two days between, or two CDs with a few days between or some weeks between and then another. But, this day, I listened to everything all in one day. And the realization came to me that, in the very beginning of my musical thinking, and the path that I took, the musical journey I’ve been on was the right path, and the music itself justified my journey.

CM: I’ve read you talk about how, in collective performances, the sincerity of musicians is of the utmost importance. Is what you were saying about not knowing who composed this, and also this realization of the right path, related to sincerity? Or is sincerity more breaking through habits and automatism? And to add one more question, is the sincerity good, or useful, primarily for the expression of sadness?

WLS: I take sincerity to be a quality of the heart, not the mind. Sincerity, if you find it, is a balance. Its usage becomes more important when it is in balance, outside the cognitive experience of trying to think about how you feel. Sincerity should be almost like inspiration, and it’s a quality of the heart. It should spring forward, expressing something about you that maybe no one can see, but you can feel it, and know the authenticity of your feeling at that moment, or your being as a human being at that moment. Sincerity is a very important principle, conditioned by the heart and conditioned by love, and respect, and kindness. All of those one would have to attach to the notion of sincerity. Believing in that heart quality, with the heart asserting itself over the mental capacity, is a strong quality of an artist, a very strong quality.

CM: I wanted to ask about Ankhrasmation, I’ve also read Ankhreanvention.

WLS: That was the first name I gave to it. I discovered, once I started teaching at the Creative Music Studio up in Woodstock, how to deal with this language. I discovered that wasn’t the right name, so I changed from Ankhreanvention to Ankhrasmation. That first name was based around the idea of inventions in music. But, I was looking for something that was much wider, that could refer to a language, so I changed it to Ankhrasmation. The word Ankh comes out of the Egyptian hieroglyphics, which is where I found the word, and where I studied the word. Ankh means the vital life force. Ras comes from Amharic in Ethiopia. In that language, ras means head or father. And ma is, of course, the mother sound, throughout the world. So, if you look at it and you translate it, in the terms of which I put together, to name this language I was dealing with, it is the vital life force and the father and the mother.

CM: I know it can be used for any number of instrumentations, and was wondering if it was noting more the tones or pitches or rhythm relations, it sounds like it is noting more the feelings?

WLS: Let’s get a closer. It is a symbolic language. The name Ankhrasmation is just what it is called. The language itself consists of signs and symbols, colors, and certain kinds of instruction. If you go to my website, the Ankhrasmation gallery, I have four scores there, for the Four Symphonies. And there is an explanation for each of the four scores of symbols. Those are Ankrasmation scores. Any number of players can perform these scores because it is not based off of one number. Any performer or set of performers can start at any direction or place within the score. Normally we use routers, routers for large type or small type, so it spontaneously builds within the context of an ensemble into a whole structure, and to use large and small cycles of material. That means that if I have three people playing that music or five hundred thousand, each one of them would have a different realization about it. And their realization would determine their contribution to the score.

There are some set principles. They should learn at least one or two symbols that are associated with Ankhrasmation. There is a set of symbols that deal with rhythm units. There are six sets of those. There is a set of symbols that deal with velocity units. Of those, there are eight, four slow and four fast, varying degrees of slowness and fastness. If they learn one of each of those, a rhythm unit symbol and a velocity unit symbol, already that person has enough to play an Ankhrasmation score. Although they may not be able to interpret everything in the score, one performance doesn’t require the complete score performed. They would be able to make a convincing performance even if they know two symbols.

CM: So, it is easy to learn?

WLS: At the beginning of learning, young or inexperienced people can have an access inside the music. My hope is, once they have the slightest involvement with this language, they will be inspired to learn more, and from there, they will be inspired to begin to use it in context. And then, past that, I dream that they will begin to dream and visualize ways to add to this language from their point of view.

CM: With graphic notations, do you think it is important for composers to all have their own symbolic language, or do you think there ought to be a universal language?

WLS: Only if the Creator gives you the desire and will to discover it. For me, Ankhrasmation was a discovery. It was not something I made or built. I discovered this because it was already out there in creation. Everyone knows one of the laws of thermodynamics is that nothing is created anew, that everything is and has already been here, and the basis of creation is energy, those energies take transformation in various form, but the underlying face of it is its all energy. So, I follow that notion of creation.

CM: Because the ‘Four Symphonies’ scores are on stars, it seems to have a purpose of showing that certain concentrations of vibrations would have analogue with physical or spatial phenomena.

WLS: The basis of the ‘Four Symphonies’ comes from an image of the sun. As I began to work on it over the years, it became reduced enough so that you cannot necessarily tell that. It could be a surface of any large body that occupies space.

My whole purpose of Ankhrasmation was not to eliminate or stop composers from working with so-called regular notes. I didn’t look for Ankhrasmation to take over written notes, A, B, C, D’s. I didn’t look for that. I looked for something that had been inspired in me for some good reason. I looked for a period of five years. I discovered the rhythm units first. And bit by bit the velocity units, and a little bit later, create units, and all other aspects of it. The first discovery was in 1967, when the rhythm unit was discovered. And it has been going on ever since. I always come up with different ways of expressing that information.

CM: Could you explain how you use Ankhrasmation to make melodies?

WLS: I would use the word, music, make music, as opposed melodies, because melody is usually referred to as a line. Music has a wide possibility of structure, function, harmony; what happens is this. The person looks at the score. The majority of my scores are now in color. The person sees the color red in the score, and that is a deep red. And right next to it, they see another color, an orange. Not on the level of paleness and not also on the level of a rich orange color, but somewhere in between.

The first thing that person should do is remember from their research, or go online and find the light spectrum, the notion of light in a vacuum, and the first thing they would discover is, that orange color has a different angstrom number than the deep red. Those angstrom numbers are based on the wavelength of those colors, the electromagnetic wavelength of those colors. That means for the person to use the two colors, the deep, dark red and the orange, they know which has the larger waveform, the red. And they also know that in their relationship in the light spectrum, either vertically or horizontally, red is lower than orange. So, they have some sense of where sound is being played, the registration of where sound is being played.

That is the very beginning of the research and collection of material, the next most important thing is, that those two colors need to be put into some kind of form. And what kind of form? You reference them. Say that I reference the dark red as blood, and the orange as an orange bell pepper, in the state when it is more orange than yellow. What do we have now? We have blood, the next thing we do is find out the properties of blood. And all you do is, you just Google it, or get your book out. We know that there are white and red blood cells. The blood has a very powerful function. It carries the vital life force inside of it. It also provides all the organs and cells in the body with oxygen. It has multiple things that it does. It flows through a system, I’ve read that the vessel system, if spread out in a long line could wrap around the Earth, which is a magnificent way of thinking about it. So, that’s the red. We put it in context. We have all these other properties to deal with, the biological property, the spiritual/mystical, and the physical characteristics. Now the bell pepper, look at that, it’s an orangish-yellow. If you cut it in half, you see that it’s wedged. There’s a membrane that runs from wedge to wedge, from the core, all the way down to the bottom. And that membrane, generally, is white. And it’s got this membrane, or wedges, inside of it that informs structure and form. And it’s got seeds inside of it. And it has something else that is very important, vitamins C, A, and D.

CM: It is a lot more complex than just seven colors [corresponding to tones].

WSL: At this point now, and what I suggest to performers in my ensemble is to keep diaries of notebooks on their research. Because the research on each performance should grow, so if you perform five Ankhrasmation pieces, you should have about 28 or 30 pages in your diary or notebook about reference and colors and how to perform and think about things and what the symbolism means. You should have a lot of information by that time. So that on any given day, I could put an Ankhrasmation piece in front of you and all you have to do is refresh yourself through your notebook and you’ll be able to play it. That information will continuously grow because an art piece is a repository for information, and also the discovery of the possibilities of continuous growth. This is the very same notion that they had 6000 years ago in the construction of the pyramids. If you do any study on the great pyramid of Giza- everybody that does a study on that knows, that it was a repository construction and that it was lined up, including the courtyard and the pyramid structure, into the deepness of space and the bottom, all of that was lined up in the cosmology of the sky. An Ankhrasmation piece seeks to do the same thing, but in a different context.

CM: In what way is composing and playing with Ankhrasmation a healing practice?

WSL: The first quality of healing is to bring balance back into the body. Normally what happens in a music performance is the person forgets about what was outside the door before they came into the room or the space or the performance area, they forget about that. And when the music starts and continues, they begin to forget who they are, or what they was, or what they did. And that is already dropping the veils of who that person is, they’re dropping bit by bit, so that by mid-way through the performance, they might begin to be healed. All of this stuff is gone now. Their attention now is on the performance, as a demonstration of how to balance your life, not in a concrete way, but in a sound way, that is non-discursive, where there is no doubt about what to do or how to do it. The intuitive self is listening, and making all of the adjustments that are needed and required. The person who is healed the most is the person who has gotten rid of most of the veils that has covered them. The person who has forgotten completely about who’s outside, what they were doing before, what their family is like, not even knows who the person is sitting or standing next to them. That person is healed the most. Everybody gets some healing. Some get more, some less. But, there is always a healing taking place in performance. That’s why the Creator made performance, so it could heal us.


*This blog is maintained by members of the Oley Freindschift Guild of Braucherei Practitioners and of the Guild of Urglaawe Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners.


Interview with 橋本孝之 (Takayuki Hashimoto)

Takayuki Hashimoto plays sax in Kito Mizukumi Rouber. Also put out a great cd with Shizuo Uchida (bass in Kito Mizukumi Rouber) as UH. And also performs under the aegis of .es with sara. Listening to .es, my skin has the sensation of hematite. See this live performance:

Q: What is essential for your music?
A: Freedom that derives from the beauty of chaos.
Q: What is the role of touch?
A: My music in itself is created through the physical senses of musical instruments.
Q: How do you care for/repair/reuse material?
A: I really don’t do anything. I can compose and play music anywhere, from any material, with instruments in any kind of condition.
Q: What is essential for collaboration?
A: Chemistry.
Q: Does the word compost resonate with your music?
A: Certainly. More than oftentimes, I would first translate the conceptual works of a modern artist into words, and then decompose it into music and perform at their art gallery where the artwork is displayed.
Q: What differs in your live performances and recordings?
A: Exactly the same.

*This blog is maintained by members of the Oley Freindschift Guild of Braucherei Practitioners and of the Guild of Urglaawe Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners.

lié interview


Talked to lié about their music. What is the lie? Or the bind? Whatever it is, it is neither given nor unconscious. I tried to ask the questions more directly about music than usual. As always I’m looking to delimit something close, not far away. Please analyze:

How do you build tension in your music?

Britt: We often do this through replacing harmonies with dissonant tones that can move the bass and guitar apart, often to collide again in the melody of the chorus. If we are writing and something sounds too melodic or harmonious we will just rip the chords apart to create that tension. I won’t sit in a major key or nice sounding vocal harmony for long, and if I do, Ash mangles it with the guitar, and vice versa.

Kati: All of our music and related art is a challenge. In the songs, through collaboration, to create tension I build up the drums, start something arrhythmic, drop the beat, start a beat….

Ash: I often build tension with vocal dynamics, I have certain inflections in my voice that over the years I think both Kati and Brit recognize as the end of a phrase or the moment before we drop into a heavy chorus. I feel like that was actually developed in part as a response to my inability to count bars so rather than keeping track of what bar we’re on I’ll just make it really obvious that we’re about to shift dynamics and hope to god that everyone else follows me. The inadvertent effect of this is a build in tension.

How do you think about the relation of your musical intentions and the collective experience/how it is heard?

Britt: I hope that while listening to our music, folks can get some respite from feelings of being alone in their struggle, similar to what I have received in making it. Listening to punk and dance music has helped me move through anger, grief, pain, loneliness, and I only hope that what we create can do that for others.

Kati: I do what the music tells me to do and I have now let go dwelling on how it’s perceived. It’s 100% pure reactive synthesis, within our framework of course. This might be reason for why we get related to improvisational noise music scene, we are still trying to understand why that is!

Ash: I don’t really know if there is a collective experience of listening to our music. Especially our latest album, i feel that it’s delivered in a manner where it leaves a lot of room for individual interpretation and experience.

In what ways do you judge the authenticity of a lié performance or recording?

Britt: If I can be myself, have fun, enjoy what I am producing, and get a feeling of pride from my work then I see it as authentic.

Kati: I agree with Britt, if it feels natural then there must be at least a small part of authenticity showing through. I am not afraid of a performance or recording lacking authenticity as there are so many elements that can be highlighted by different media.

Ash: I feel like our performances are always authentic, they are moments of release for me. The authenticity of the records is judged by how well it holds up to the live performance…does it fall flat or does it channel that same intensity? That’s what i’m always looking for.

Do you think more of melodies or thematic variations?

Britt: I’d say for me, thematic variations. Usually I write lyrics or bass lines based on a feeling or a story that has been on my mind and heart, or on what I am sonically/aesthetically inspired by during that time.

Kati: melodies

Ash: I’m drawn to melodies, but I feel like I actively work against them in this project. There are some moments where everything comes together and it feels ok to embrace the melody but often it is more of a challenge, to push towards dissonance, which is what we try to harness. So i guess in that way i would say that my approach is more thematic, approaching a song with an idea of how i want it to feel rather than a melody.

How do you agree on how to write songs, how to introduce more or less noise?

Britt: We usually jam it out and decide as a group! We try on different things and see what we like, what we need to add, or what to take out.

Kati: We spent a considerable amount of time trying different versions for You Want it Real, exhausting all options landed us on just the right amount of noise.

Ash: We’ve developed a pretty fluid approach over the years, we will jam on an idea until it either starts to form into something we are all stoked on or becomes something one of us never wants to hear again (in which case we drop it!) I think it’s generally pretty agreed upon in those situations, if its not working we move on rather than get stuck on something because that is the quickest way to burn out and feel defeated on music.

Do the gestures you make in a performance impact the performance or the audience’s reception of it?

Kati: I let the audience choose their meaning, as I cannot control them or what they think. And I like the potential variety of options and viewpoints. There is no right answer, no one intended effect.

Ash: Gestures such as me biting Brit, spitting beer on Brit…? Yes, those have definitely impacted performances in one way or another.

Britt: Screw you Ash

How do you think about the relation of singing and speaking?

Britt: I can often sing things that I would feel uncomfortable speaking, especially because I can wrap the words up in metaphor, poetry or simply sound. I can express the emotion or story while keeping the true details a secret, which is kinda fun.

Ash: My approach to songwriting is generally pretty fragmented. I prefer to collage thoughts to communicate a feeling rather than execute them in a cohesive sentence like manner…the same could be said about my general communication skills though so maybe the two go hand in hand.

*This blog is maintained by members of the Oley Freindschift Guild of Braucherei Practitioners and of the Guild of Urglaawe Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners.




Interview with 工藤冬里 (Tori Kudo)

Suarez first played ‘Osaka Bridge’ for me as a teenager in Florida. I think also the same time I first head the Clean or the Bats. Since I’ve tried to listen to as much of Tori Kudo’s music as possible. Some Guys and Dolls cassettes were recently uploaded to youtube. Noise and the first two Maher Shalal Hash Baz records on Org are my favorites. I also recommend a more recent 7” cover of a 산울림 song. I recommend reading the link he provides, also.

The skies tell of the glory. Both something done and done to us… why?


M: Do you write music or music notes with pen and paper?

T: I used to use those for participants.

M: How do you maintain your instruments?

T: I borrow guitars etc each time from anybody near venues.

M: How do you summon energy for a performance?

T: By drinking spirits.

M: Do you feel anger when playing music?

T: Never.

M: If you capture what you are looking for, how do you hold on to it?

T: I use voice memos of iphone.

M: Do you ever feel confusion in a performance?

T: I manage anyhow.

M: Do you feel your identity when performing?

T: I feel own imperfections that have been succeeded from Adam.

M: If possible, could you describe the experience of playing music, at its best?

T: No mystique or magical moments have been held on. All of them were debris compiled from worldly sonic surroundings.

M: What is your relation to the image of the cross?

T: The horizontal line represents the ground and the vertical line represents fertility. It is a symbol from Egypt.

M: How do you find musicians to work with?

T: I am not qualified to choose anyone to work with.They come to the venue after checking my “participants are welcomed” message.In addition to it, some organisers prefer their act of “matching” someone with me.

M: Could you describe living conditions, do you have good relations with your neighbors?

T: I bake cookies and give them out but they will soon hate me.
Have a look at

M: What memories stand out if you were to look back on your group Noise?

T: The original hummings were very simple, that were taken from worldly tunes.I distorted them. I don’t know why.

M: How do you avoid getting too caught up in your head, or over thinking?

T: I am always getting too caught up in my head and can not avoid over thinking.It is common disease.

M: What inspires you to share so much with others?

T: It is my living.

M: How long have you worked with ceramics? And, is there an aspect of the electrical in this work?

T: About twenty years.There are electric kilns and electric wheels here, to which I succeeded from my father.

M: How do you know when you have found the note you are looking for?

T: It would be a mystery for the half of the human beings.

M: What do you feel is a just way of introducing a listener to your many recordings?

T: I don’t care any distribution medium.

*This blog is maintained by members of the Oley Freindschift Guild of Braucherei Practitioners and of the Guild of Urglaawe Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners.

Interview with… Soot


This interview offers, in detailed interpretative commentaries of their best songs, a sustained assessment of the work and career of Soot, one of the most significant and perplexing artists of the late 20th and 21st century. For Brian Eno, Soot was not only a great composer and a superlative lyricist but also a significant contemporary poet. Marc Almond goes further, ‘an absolute musical genius, existential and intellectual and a star right from the days of Soot’. As Almond suggests, Soot’s work is marked by a continual engagement with existentialist philosophy informing their approach to art, politics and life. In particular, the device of the solitary figure or ‘one-all-alone’ evoked in their songs provides the basis for their lyrical exploration of the singularity of existence – in all its darkness as well as light. Through following their own path, soot arrived at a unique sound according to their own method that produced a genuinely new form of song. Looking closely at these songs, this interview also considers the wider political implications of their approach in its rejection of external authorities and common or consensual ideals.


PR: How does ‘Silt’ change the rules of ‘Tilt’?

T: SOOT BAND are RADICALLY changing th rules of tilt with VIRILE WOMANHOOD and TOTAL INADEQUACY… lol. i was jesting in th byline, it’s not really a tilt album, i just liked that it was a letter off from ’tilt’… drunken gesture gone too far… altho i nod along with scott forevermore… well… an impersonation would be unsatisfying… silt has none of th sapid space… really, any relation between th two deserves th stocks… a joke! please! no, in th stocks I go…

PR: What kinds of methods did you use to analyze ‘Tilt’, or what are the different levels you find in it/what does Scott Walker do for you?

T: not a tilt analysis, just yokel’ng, sorry t disappoint. WHAT DOES SCOTT DO FOR ME? – OH BOY ! rest in peace, O th tears i shed… scott is revelatory cuz he’s given us permission t be “sad”, “deep”, low-key, magnificent, rejecting grotesque americanisms! all n more ‘t once… scott and ’tilt’ and ‘drift’ and ‘bish bosch’ and all and before’s a divine call t sacred, sustained Intention- a word “h” brought t my attention… silt was a penniless rush job… march on.. away from silt… scott is th sun…

PR: In carving out ‘Silt’ from ‘Tilt’, how did you determine the adequacy of what you could do?

T: come again, ro? ‘soot’ and ‘adequacy’ don’t go so kindly…

PR: More generally, what makes your music unpredictable?

T: at th mercy of unruly flesch… th songs dead gone th second it left you… onto th next urge… and on and on and on and on!

PR: Why do you play?

T: issa libidinal charge… i just dumbly follow sound around… body body body i need it i need it i need it… i want it i want it i want it…

PR: How do you relate to the characters in your songs?

T: uh those songs…. if you can call them characters… god… mortifying to look back… I can’t speak for th others… that’s all…

PR: How does soot write music?

T: drunk on guttural gut roll petrol”m. only together works. words alone. everything else on th spot… slot a word in. adapt. nerves… drink it down. Recital…

PR: How does soot’s music transform or dissolve what you think?

T: th word makes you taste life twice i guess… a double life transforms… according t Nin… but still… how obselete th word is !… how much meaning’s lost th more we try t scratch it down… but to live in song… dissolve my body in sound! i must go…

PR: For the zine, how do you find good images and headlines (since there are no bears in Australia, and one cannot simply write about local bear attacks)?

T: usually I send my mage Schenau into th forest for photo material.

PR: Were any of your ancestors monks?

T: no monk ancestry known but I have some bratva in my blood, so dedushka says.

PR: How do you conjure soot?

T: I’m not permitted t speak of th soot legerdemain.

PR: Is it possible to give a strict definition of what you hope to realize with soot?

T: exhumation > connexion… écriture féminine but make it pop… tension, tension, synthesis, drink-ticket… pillage godless noise-province…

PR: Under what conditions do you like to perform?

T: in th divine juxt of diazepam’d and in flames… having fun with th other soots is my favourite too of course.

PR: What does a brief history of soot look like?

T: my memory machine is broke, Ro… it’s terminal… I’ll try… In 2017… I think… Riley approached me wanting to make a zine together (I used to make little ones in high school, where we met, tho we weren’t that close at th time, she was in the grade above and straight-edge and I was derelict) it led to her asking me to play drums with her, I never had but always wanted to… she showed me that world for which I am thankful. James came over with a trumpet. We were born in my attic room on the same street Wolfgang Kuepper (little brother of Ed’s) practiced on allegedly… nice to imagine Just Urbain walking my old street… our first songs were a Hagar Th Womb rip off and a Stooges cover we called “real bummer time”… thankfully never recorded those… We had a guitarist for our first two shows but he had no patience for my slow learning and left (I think I’ve not really learned how to drum still…). made some zines and some songs… saw Japan… Last year I asked our friend Helena to play guitar for us and we wre enamour’d t learn she had th time for us, she allegedly has never played in this life which I can’t believe… she’s got some innate power… R split th night before our biggest show ever– we opened for Sleaford Mods and having to play band farce in front of hundreds was traumatising… she’s in my prayers, no ill will… that was th last show before th world collapsed… Present day it’s just H and I writing in a practice room next to her flat, bothering th pious faults boys when we need a break… James and I dawdle occasionally but obviously plagal grinding is keeping th three of us apart… I cherish song days…


*This blog is maintained by members of the Oley Freindschift Guild of Braucherei Practitioners and of the Guild of Urglaawe Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners.

Electro Haram interview


The Guild is on maximum with these interviews. Here Morey Krishnamurti (Harvard University, Cambridge, USA) sat down with A—- ——– of ———— (St Petersburg, Russia). Like Ligeti’s ‘Artikulation’? A—- functionally implies Electro Haram if A—- implies A—- conjunct with A—- functionally implying Electro Haram conjunct with Electro Haram implying Electro Haram conjunct with the function of Electro Haram.

M: When performing, do you think more about your exterior (physical gestures) or interior (inner experience)?

A: electro-haram is complicated multi-dimensional entity, it has some kind of flexible but vivid structure, but at the same time it requires something like being based on spontaneous acts and coincidences, for ritual purposes, to preserve the magic. for example, one of our latest releases called ‘temporary temples’ on TAKOE label consists of two live acts played in unusual improvised collaborations, first one as a trio with DarkBlack and second one as a duo missing one of the original participants and featuring Mårble as well as another tape released on Hair.Del and featuring also Theo HL. nevertheless the latest release by PMM also consisting of two live performances recorded as an original duo and had another ways of maintaining the level of magic. therefore participants have to keep concentrated on interior processes and mostly minimize their visual involvement in the experience of performance, though physical gestures of any kind might be involved as well to the extend it’s needed according to the inner purposes

M: What are your methods of sound composition?

A: not much to be revealed — it’s a kind of a ritual plunderphonic, but it’s inmost logic and structure is probably not something someone would like to be verbalized, it’s a permanent happening that one could describe as something religious and other as a battle or as a process of looking for mushrooms in the forest, who knows M: Do you practice any movement exercises to enhance responsiveness? A: if you refer to some gossips about unnamed participants of the greater electro-haram tribe allegedly being involved in some futurist-fundamentalist movements and digital military conflicts — we can not neither confirm nor reject this, as well as discuss it’s role in modern world. and if that’s insinuation about something else, we would probably need to do a separate interview M: How do you coordinate your labor, rest, and music making? A: that’s something we can share — there is an important thing the world should know about this — you don’t need to coordinate if you have your labor, rest and music making at the same time

M: How would you introduce contemporary Russian experimental/avant-garde to the unfamiliar? Starting with Papa Srapa?

A: srapa is a very influential figure of course, but probably he represents only a certain vibe, that can be only partly attributed to contemporary experimental scene, which is in it’s own way experiencing a quiet and modest renaissance — less than some could expect, but more than we deserve — and i would say it can be most easily explored through a certain informal communities, mainly label-centered or having a label as a result of activity of other kind or at least more accessible via labels’ activity. besides the above-mentioned Hair.Del and PMM i would also name Kotä, Klammklang, also Zaimka and other labels run by Vitaly Maklakov and of course Nazlo Records. i would also recommend to anyone really dedicated to the idea of exploring this area to spend 10 hours watching both parts of movie called структурность — it can be considered a bit outdated already, but extremely inventive and representative, tough experience, but for sure necessary for many

M: When you say there is a quiet and modest renaissance, you are referring to the 2010s in particular?

A: not exactly, i would say i have a feeling that that’s a recurring state depending from a lot of social and cultural processes. probably it would be more or less justified to say there was a certain wave in the end of 90s — beginning of 00s (if we are speaking about ‘contemporary’ period, about something made by people, who are still active in this or that way), mainly concentrated in saint-petersburg and to my mind centered around a certain amount of communities like Monopolka label and everything around, Ultra and other related to Lebedev-Frontov or 8th moon art label and all drone-noise-industrial community. all this was more or less inactive by the mid 00s. another one (in my opinion of course) could be said to be around 2012-14 (and is shown in that movie, but from it’s own point and probably could be shown in a really different way) and the next one is happening now (or i just want to hope so) — i see a lot happening across what we could call ‘experimental scene’

M: What is your relation with Post-Materialization Music?

A: well if this refers again to some rumors about us all being a part of a global cult \ cryptomasonic sexual conspiracy — it clearly has a certain point and couldn’t be based on nothing, but we assume it’s quiet obvious that electro-haram could not be involved in all this notorious worldwide criminal mafia business and war crimes etc and never had any of us obtain from pmm any prohibited objects except maybe socks with pmm logo

M: What is your relation to ‘the grotesque’?

A: perhaps if you already found a clue to connection between gothic architecture and contemporary russian underground scene you are aware that we cannot speak much about this for certain reasons, but the direction for the research is chosen right.

*This blog is maintained by members of the Oley Freindschift Guild of Braucherei Practitioners and of the Guild of Urglaawe Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners.



Interview with Zad Kokar


Zad Kokar’s ‘Les 3 Gueules Au Matin Du Monde’ LP from 2018 instigated a renewed investigation of the experiments happening in Strasbourg here at the Guild (it had been so long since the Heimat LP), answering the question, in my mind at least for 26 years, concerning the quantity of Gueules in ‘Tous les matins du monde’. My fav Savall is the one with the rock and roll angel on the cover, music from the newworld. That is not to say ZK is Lully or Couperin, more like XYZ and AWOTT. Since ‘18 they’ve released a great cassette ‘Moon and Earth collapsed on this day’ and now, in cassette purgatory, ‘End all toxic relationships now’. We sent Norman Clay-Shore, the Guild associate most well versed in Norman culture, out across the great state for a chat.

Norman: How do you stay well oiled?

Zad Kokar: If you mean during the quarantine: since i’m alone at home, i try to call one person a day to take some news and not get too lost inside my own brain. I do some stretches, listen lots of music, draw some comics, play Super Metroïd, record some music on my 4-tracks… If you mean in general: i book some shows at our DIY venue here in Strasbourg, which is probably a good way to see some cool new bands, meet weirdos, and stay connected with the underground scene. I’m always curious and seeing bands live sometimes bring me some ideas for my own projects… Lately i really loved the shows of Yor, De Klumb, Handle, Guttersnipe, Andy Ortmann, Viki, Goldblum, Awott!

N: How wouldn’t you describe your new record?

Z: It’s not a linear/one path album. It’s not dedicated to one instrument, sound or universe. It’s not carrying only one feeling, one color or one emotion. It’s not always easy but it’s not always challenging either. It’s not in tune. It’s not an album that you dance to the whole time, but it’s not an album you listen to sitting on your couch the whole time either. And it’s not an available record yet since all the tapes are quarantined here with me (waiting to be released by the Strasbourg label Urin Gargarism and my own miniature label Petite Nature).

N: What are some differences in your approach to ‘End All Toxic Relationships Now’ compared to prior releases?

Z: Compared to what i’m doing with Les Combi Beyaz, this new album is solo and self-recorded. Most of the songs were recorded at home (with some extra voice in my practice space). I had a total freedom to experiment with the recording process, try some stuff, add layers, overdub, cut, or reverse some parts, etc…. So instead of a dialogue with some others musicians (in a band dynamic), it’s more a dialogue with myself and my different moods and energies – i record a beat at one moment, then add/delete something later, etc…. It’s more a home-studio sketchbook album that believes in the beauty of stains and imperfections.

N: Could you describe the environment that you usually produce music in?

Z: It’s usually a bit messy around the 4-tracks recorder. With effects, tapes, cables everywhere. I try to have colors around me too, maybe some weird toys and dinosaurs, and also my sketchbook, linking visual ideas to music. It’s the object i refers to the most when i feel stuck or don’t know what to do… I have two main places where i produce music: at the apartment, which is a more intimate place but also has volume restrictions with our neighbors; or in our practice space, which is a bunker-cave with radium on the ceiling and where the music is definitely more live and loud.

N: What kind of emotional material do you like to work with through with Zad Kokar?

Z: Sometimes i feel nervous or mad or sad for example, and doing music at this moment might be a way to transform those emotions into something musical. Noise guitar playing is a quick spontaneous way to vessel tensions for example… But i think most of the time, it’s the reverse process: i’m playing music without a specific emotion in mind (i think i work better like this). I have a little vision to start with, then the song is evolving on its own, just like a little creature it starts developing its own personality. I see a bit of my initial vision in it, but it’s not totally me anymore and I have to accept the shape it takes whether i find it good or not. If i succeed to accept this distance it might brings me some clues about my own emotions, what i’m feeling at the moment, or even draws back an old abstract emotion that i had forgot about (or didn’t know i had in me before the music reveals it). Making music is a way of exploring my own psyche, and most of the time i don’t know what i’m going to maybe find, and i like the surprise!

N: How do use the word ‘music’?

Z: I’m more like this sort of person who uses the word “music” in a very wide way. I include under the term some really radical almost-silent-contemporary pieces as well as pop songs. If an intelligence organizes a piece of time and sounds and turns it into some personal weird language then it’s music to me.

N: What other musicians do you interact with in Strasbourg?

Z: When i arrived in Strasbourg ten years ago now, i was connected to this collective La Grande Triple Alliance Internationale De L’Est. I arrived at the right moment, because there was lots of shows and cool bands (The Dreams, Scorpion Violente, Delacave, Headwar, Noir Boy George, etc)! Nowadays, i’m still playing synth in this noise band Sida (that used to be based in Strasbourg for a while). I’m also playing in this punk noise trio called Année Zéro. And we have this secret DIY venue/practice space where weirdos such as Slaylor Moon, Travail Rythmique, Heimat, Ville Noire, Black Metal For My Funeral all gravitate.

N: Do you achieve your performance methodology through abstraction, and if so, of what?

Z: I think it’s really connected with my practice of drawing. I need it as much as music. Both interact in a weird abstract inter-connected way. Drawing can bring me ideas for new music and likewise… Like i said before, both in drawing and music i love to find some shapes and patterns that will carry some abstract feelings. It’s not always easy to achieve, sometimes you just end up with a totally dark or happy song (but it’s fine too! I take it the way it comes). But it’s like when you draw a happy face with a smile, or a sad face with a reverse smile: the line of the character’s mouth will carry this understanding of their emotion. So you can play with the shape of their mouth’s line until you find some ambiguous and abstract emotion… Also I remember borrowing this adult science-fiction book at the library when i was young (i have no idea what book it could have been). It was far too complicated and abstract for a child to read. But i remember being super fascinated by the total abstraction and absence of any understanding. I didn’t understand the words; i didn’t understand what it was about, etc. But in a weird way i loved diving into this incomprehensible universe that also gave me headaches haha…

N: What is the conclusion of Zad Kokar?

Z: When i won’t have anymore tensions to release during the live shows, shyness to overcome, abstract feelings to explore, or if the colors of my music will narrow to just one predictable path it’ll probably a good moment to move to something else… But, i still feel pretty eager to explore these days, both in music and drawing!

*This blog is maintained by members of the Oley Freindschift Guild of Braucherei Practitioners and of the Guild of Urglaawe Braucherei and Hexerei Practitioners.