INTERVIEW: TAYLOR DEUPREE: BLEEP (2010)
Bleep Interviews Taylor Deupree
(from 12k Records)
The 12k label has been a vanguard of abstract and minimal-electronics that shift between the musical realms of gentle, pastoral ambience, dissonant noise collage and micro-techno. We are very happy to have this exclusive digital sampler curated by label-head Taylor Deupree. We also wanted the opportunity to speak to the man himself…
Bleep: Tell us about your formative musical years in the late 80’s, apparent sonic-worlds that are seemingly far removed from your output these days?
The 80s were huge for me, and still are. bands like New Order, Cabaret Voltaire, Early OMD… electronic and then industrial music of all kinds. Music completely ruled my life since I was about 14 and there was so much exciting music and developments at that time. Factory Records and 4AD Records were big influences on my understanding of the presentation of music and, ultimately, on 12k.
B: We read that you are heavily involved with graphic design. Does this spread towards the aesthetic of 12k and which graphic artists/designers to you admire past, present, future?
I’ve been working as a freelance designer in New York for the better part of 20 years and have done all of the design for 12k. With 12k, and my design in general, I’m very much into anti-design, as I call it. Design that is so simple that it doesn’t draw attention to itself. Trying for the most minimal of flourishes or accents. Pure and simple. The designers I discovered in the 80s are still my design heroes. I don’t know much about designers or the professional world of designers, I don’t pay attention. Peter Saville, Neville Brody are pretty much the only names that meant anything to me. Edward Tufte, though not strictly a designer, is a big influence as well.
B: You are one of the most prolific, constantly changing artists on the experimental landscape, how do you mange to cram it (collaborations, solo-work, label duties) all in?
Passion, really. I mean, I love doing what I do. I live it and breathe it, I’m completely dedicated and I’m a workaholic. Somehow I manage to write and release the music, run 12k, have a family and house. As the saying goes… if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life…. and that pretty much is what I live by. I don’t know how I manage it all, but I do, and I do it all with equal passion.
B: Do you see your music as part of the minimalist canon in music, what’s your personal relationship with this form?
Minimalism sort of guides my whole lifestyle. I’m always conscious of it on the day-to-day… whether it’s with music, or my house, or cooking,.. anything. I have no problem being categorized as a minimalist musician although I think what’s considered minimal now doesn’t necessarily relate to the classic Reich/Glass minimalism. To me minimalism is about shaving away the excess and the drama and the decoration. I think music that is densely layered can still be minimalist, it’s not just about space or silence.
B: Your latest record, Shoals, features a selection of Javanese and Balinese gamelan instruments -albeit heavily processed- how did this come about?
I was asked to do an artist residency program at the University of York by Mark Fell and the Music Research Head Tony Myatt. I love these opportunities to go places and really concentrate on working, free from everyday distractions so I quickly accepted. The idea, however, was for me to find something to do there that I couldn’t do at home. I needed to make the experience unique.
Because I’ve been working acoustic instruments so much lately, the discovery of the University’s Gamelan collection was the perfect basis for the project for me. It’s quite an impressive collection and nothing I have access to here at home. The idea then was to develop a simple software simple (I used Kyma in this case) to record and manipulate the instruments. After some experimentation I settled on long, very repetitive looping structures and spent a week creating these long passages. I recorded many hours of material and then took it home and edited down into what became Shoals
. That part was very difficult as I had a lot of material to go through. I could probably make another album with the remaining material. I probably will some day.
B: How do you divide composition between computer technologies, ‘real’ instruments and field recordings?
My practices are always changing and wandering… but lately I tend to do most of the *recording* in the analog domain. Acoustic instruments, hardware looping pedals, tape, pre-amps, all that fun stuff. My music is really about beds of sound that I like to humourously describe as “going nowhere”… a vertical approach to sound is more interesting to me than a horizontal or linear one. I want to try to take time out of the equation and concentrate on the moment. You can avoid time with music, but I try. When I’ve created sounds or loops these get put into the comptuer for editing, layering and mixing.
B: Does Brooklyn, New York City inspire your approach to making music?
I lived in Brooklyn for over 15 years and I think it definitely made me want to write quiet music… as a way to escape the over-stimulation of the city. Now that I’ve lived in the country for 5 years I find I’m equally as inspired to write quiet music but it’s taken a much more acoustic and organic turn. As has my photography as well. New York City has a strange electronic music scene. I’ve never really felt part of it, or accepted there. There are a lot of micro-scenes and not a lot of inter-scene support it seems. I think New York has so much going on and people from so many places that it no longer functions as a contained ecosystem.
B: How do you see the current state of electronic music on a worldwide macro-level?
I try not to think about these things really. The music is always changing, new genres splintering off, more and more people making music. ITunes and Beatport have changed things so much, illegal file-sharing, net labels, MP3s…it’s the Wild West.