In Front of My Back
From an interview 01/10/07... Dave Segal: Please discuss the most important formative experiences and influences on your music. Ndcv: I moved to Seattle after living in Montana for a few years, in order to play and pursue music. I moved in with a group of like-minded musicians in Ballard.... Basskamp! I've been playing music most of my life, and I've touched on and been touched by a number of styles and genres through the years, but my 'residency' with the Basskamp crowd has probably been my most formative. Playing jazz/trip hop with Oggmung, later live electronic/dn'b/downtempo/blahblahblah with Skylobby, but mostly living and playing with these diverse influences (and great people) did a lot for me. This scene later evolved into the Basskamp weekly at the Lower Level, which is where I was introduced to the wider Seattle techno/electronic crowd. Short answer: Basskamp, Seattle Dave Segal: Was your music study at Wesleyan University beneficial or detrimental? A surprising number of musicians have negative experiences in academic settings. Ndcv: I was very happy with Wesleyan. It wasn't like what I suppose a traditional music education would be. There was a focus on improvisation, experimentation, and creativity rather than structure and strict theory. And I had amazing professors; theory and history classes with experimental jazz genius Anthony Braxton, avant garde-ists Alvin Lucier and Ron Kuivila, and inspired jazz improvisation training from Jay Hoggard. I studied piano with Fred Simmons. Sometimes I think...'If only I had actually been a decent musician back then, just think of what I could have learned!' I practiced a lot though... Short answer: Beneficial. Made me what i am. Dave Segal: Can you reveal some of the sources of 'the sounds around,' you use to create your music, or do you prefer to keep them mysterious? Would you care to expound at all on your creative process? Ndcv: My music is created entirely from sounds that i have recorded. Percussive noises like me kicking my furnace, hitting everything in my house with a drum stick and then my hand, an old typewriter, the vacuum, a tea kettle, the coffee grinder, walking through the leaves... I enjoy choosing an object and then trying to 'provoke' as many sounds as possible from it, a bike for instance, or the fireplace. I also record some of the more traditional instruments at my disposal. A note from my Rhodes, a bit of my own voice, a guitar. Lately I've been doing a lot with guitar. Most of the drum sounds I've been using lately all came from hitting an acoustic guitar, not like I'm mad at it or anything, but, you know, guitar players get all the attention. My creative process goes like this: Pick some samples. Create an instrument out of them. Come up with a melody or harmonic progression. Beat. Arrange. Fix. Frequently I get inspired by this or that, and then try to copy it, or at least produce with it in mind as an objective. Either because I'm using my own sounds or because I am not that talented, I fail to copy whatever it is that inspired me. This is what I term 'originality', and it is all that I can aspire to. Failure. Short Answer: 'Failure' Dave Segal: When I listen to your music, the adjectives that most frequently come to mind are tranquil, wistful, pensive, melancholy, understated, and impressionistic. Do you think I'm missing anything? Ndcv: I guess, what about 'dope'? Dave Segal: Do you view your music as having utilitarian value or are you trying to create beauty for it's own sake? In other words, what do you hope people DO to your music? Ndcv: To some extent, I do it for myself. I make music that I hope to enjoy listening to, (at least until I've mastered it). For everyone else, beyond that, I hope to create combinations of sounds that are in some sense familiar, (harmony), but in other ways new (texture, beat structure). I attempt to ride the line between groove-able 'dance' -what-the-hell's-that-mean-music and something that keeps you guessing and listening and guessing. Shorter Answer: Dance like crazy and stroke chin like mad. Shoot. I think my short answers keep getting longer. Dave Segal: How was your experience composing music for the film Police Beat? Are you actively seeking more soundtrack work? With which directors would you like to work? Ndcv: PoliceBeat was an interesting experience. Interesting meaning difficult. And invaluable. Rob Devor knew what he wanted, and what his film needed. Within a few days I had composed some music for the final scene, and it was pretty close. The next three weeks were spent refining and revising. It was occasionally a bit tedious, but worth it. I love doing music for video. I love what happens when the right notes hit under the right picture... 1 + 1 = 5. My day job is editing video for World Famous Edit. I get some of the same jollies from editing video. I'd like to do some more soundtrack work, but I haven't been actively seeking it, mostly because I'm so busy. I'd actually really like to work with Robinson again, but don't tell him I said so. There is no short answer. Dave Segal: What do you see as the biggest challenge as you sit down before your workstation to make music? Does the weight of music history bear down on you or do you filter out all of that and simply go with your instincts? Ndcv: Neither yes nor no? The weight of music history weighs down on me and says to my instincts, 'Don't do that, you've heard it a hundred times before.' The process of creating an instrument usually yields harmonic or percussive ideas as a byproduct. 'The sounds write the music by themselves, man!' They do actually, sort of.