Monday, August 06, 2012
Seven questions... with Swartz et
I recently featured an interesting ambient release entitled 'respire' from a chap called Swartz et... the release intrigued me and lived up to this expectation. Whilst discussing the post... I asked Swartz et if he'd be up for completing my wee blog interview. He obliged. This is what he had to say:
1) Who are you and what do you do?
In essence, an appreciator of sound, light, texture and the natural world. But specifically, I am a musician, studio engineer, designer and photographer from Detroit, MI.
2) What are you working on at the moment?
Oh man. I always have so many things I'm working on. Not because I'm easily distracted, but mostly because I'm constantly finding new sources of inspiration around me. There's so many wonderful things to see and special moments wrapped up in each day. I'm thinking about some of the things I would like to explore for my next recording project. There are a lot of ideas, but I have yet to decide on exactly what set of ideas I want to focus on. In the meantime, I've been mastering some albums for other artists as well as prepping to start mixing an EP for a collective group I'm also a part of called Au Revoir Borealis. I'm also working on musical treatments for a film project about Detroit.
3) Who inspires you?
My single largest inspiration has been to watch my 3 children discover the world in ways I've completely missed. My oldest especially. She's so incredibly aware of sound. She was the catalyst that made me listen to the world in a more detailed manner.
- Name an artist who has inspired you.
There have been so many artists over the course of my life that have influenced what I do, but I would have to say that the two artists who have shaped the process in which I work the most are David Sylvian and Wolfgang Voigt. Both are artists whose careers share a sense of restlessness that has allowed them to mold their craft into widely differing forms of expression. However, all of the various incarnations of their work retain a particular set of aesthetic values that become the framework for how they present their work.
- Name place that has inspired you.
Detroit, most definitely. There are others, but this has been the pool of culture that has shaped me the most. It's a tough city in a lot of ways and it certainly has it's problems. But there'a also a rich palette of ethicities, musicians and artists that define the cultural backbone of the city. It's a place that requires resilience and a self starting spirit in order to thrive. There's a great music and arts scene, but no definitive genre or school of thinking. It's a giant melting pot of ideas and experiences. There are absolutely no creative rules or socially unacceptable avenues to explore. There's a great deal of freedom and the creative community is excited to try new things and cheer each other on as we take creative risks and venture into new territories. It's a city with a rich heritage of invention and reinvention and it constantly inspires me when I see how many amazing things have been born from seemingly nothing. It's a place that has shown me there is always a way. There's always a path. Just keep walking.
- Name some "thing" that has inspired you.
I think one thing that has been a regular source of inspiration for me is the sky. It's constantly evolving and changing throughout the day. The color spectrum that happens from morning to evening is not only incredible to watch, but is totally different each day depending on the weather and temperature. It evolves, shifts with subtlety and requires patience to absorb all the depth it has to offer.
4) What drives you to do what you do?
I'm largely driven to do what I do because I hear the things I create in my head and it's hard to sleep at night when I'm constantly thinking about them. So I usually have to do something with them eventually. Another thing that drives me to do what I do is just a sheer fascination with sound and how it relates to our experience of the world around us, the memories we form and the unique sense of place that is tied to those sounds. I always like for the things I create to feel like they are happening in a place or a setting. I don't like creating things on the computer. I need to do things in a place and have the fingerprints of that place on the recording.
5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
A lot of love goes into what I do. I hope that each person who listens to my work will at some point feel wrapped in some sort of warmth and wonder. I hope that people feel a sense of depth and space moves around them and wraps itself around them. I also want the work to carry a sense of authenticity. I want it to feel genuine, organic and human. With all of these traits I desire to be present in my work, my highest desire is that the music would be a conduit for love, compassion, rest for the spirit and an unexpected challenge to the initial perceptions of the concepts in the work itself.
6) What role does community play in what you do?
Community is very important to me. I don't get to be as active in it as I would like since I have a wife and three kids, but it's still quite vital for me. It's inspiring for me to be in contact with other creative minds and hear about the things they are working on or exploring. They learn things on their creative journey that can help illuminate my path as well. It prevents me from becoming an island, challenges me to try harder and also keeps me rooted in a environment of ideas.
7) What is next for what you do?
Good question. There's about 6 albums and a couple EPs worth of ideas and demos sitting in my studio. I have to wrap up some mastering work for a few artists and then decide what collection of ideas to focus on next. But I'm looking forward to falling in love with a particular artistic journey again very soon. The end result is satisfying, but the journey is always the real fun. I have a deep love for the process so I can't stay away from it for long.
Respire is out now and heartily recommended. Have a listen and hear for yourself.