Student Henry Plotnick, whose father describes him as a 'minimalist, electronic music fanatic' was doing
a research project on electronic music for school and needed to interview subjects about this. I partook in this questionnaire, focusing on the OHM- Early Gurus of Electronic Music box set that I co-produced, and here's the result.
1. What musical discovery (do you
think) has lead to the most progression in electronic
I think one of the most important things that came out of electronic
music in terms of musical discoveries is the re-imagining of what is
considered 'noise' and what is considered 'music' even though that battle and the surrounding arguments are still ongoing (and will always be around in some form).
2. Do you think new pop musicians
have been in any way influenced by the avant garde
artists, or do you think the 2 genres aren't related?
There's definitely been a connection, which has grown stronger over
the last few decades and they definitely feed off of each other more
and more, especially as some artists drift back and forth between
the genres. I covered this topic several years ago in an EMP
3. In your selection process for
the box set, how did you choose what to include and what
not to include?
We wanted to include some of the giants ('gurus') of the genre but
we also wanted to cover several decades and styles as well as some
lesser known composers who deserved recognition for their
individualized work. We also didn't want to limit it only to
America, especially as there were very important movements in this
area in other countries going on. Even though there were 3 CD's,
we had material for a 4th CD or a follow-up volume planned too
(maybe which will happen someday).
4. How have electronic music styles
changed in the last 100 years?
It's definitely evolved but the full answer would be a book length
essay. What's most fascinating are the different strands and
combinations that have come up, often in surprising and unexpected ways. For instance, the hundreds of sub-genres that are lumped under 'techno' were pretty much unimaginable before krautrock pioneers like Cluster and Kraftwerk.
5. Did people want
electronic music to happen, or did it just evolve by
Several people willed it into existence (thanks especially to
gadgeteers like Thermin, Moog and Buchla) and led the way for
others, some of whom took very divergent paths. As I mentioned in
one of the OHM booklet essays, it all seemed to be a natural extension of
the atomic age and the industrial age happening at the time.
6. Were there any unexpected
discoveries made while making the box set?
It was amusing to hear about certain rivalries (both friendly and
unfriendly) that arose between the German (WDR) and French (INA/GRM
movements. I also learned about composers like Hugh LeCaine
that I wasn't familiar with before but I thought that they
were unique and significant enough to include there.
7. Who do you think are the 2 most
influential musicians in this category?
The standard answer is 'Cage and Stockhausen' and while that's
probably true, it's become kind of an over-used cliche
the pinnacle, usually cited as a stock answer. La Monte Young
should also be included in that elite group too though.
8. Why do you think people were
suspicious of electronically produced sounds at first?
Any art form that's new and revolutionary always causes
confusion, anger and suspicion- the same thing happened with jazz,
rock and roll, rap, techno, punk, etc..
9. Where do you think electronic
music is heading?
As the tools to participate become easier and cheaper to obtain, I
think it has a rich and long future ahead of it.
Labels: Electronic Music, John Cage, La Monte Young, Stockhausen