Tag Archives: interview

Dustin O’Halloran interview

Dustin’s fantastic album Vorleben was just released, and I was given me the opportunity to interview him. I emailed some questions, and to my delight he responded with some wonderful answers. who would have guessed us both Simeon Ten Holt fans?

Derek Piotr: who were your influences growing up? of those, which have stayed with you most?

Dustin O’Halloran: I have had a lot of influences at different times..my first experience with music when I started playing the piano was Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy.. but then later I listened to a lot of english bands like Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, Joy Division..and song writers as well like Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Johnny Cash… but also some African stuff too, and also early Jazz records..Miles, Charlie Parker… I don’t know, its hard to list everything.

DP: who are your influences now?

DO: Lately I have been listening to a lot more contemporary composers..and experimental stuff. Alva Noto, Fennesz, and Tim Hecker who I Iike a lot…and also Hans Otte, Simeon Ten Holt, Schostakovitch, John Luther Adams, Gavin Bryars.

DP: do you strive to create instrumental pieces with their own individual “voices”, or do you view your work as a whole, unified “voice” ?

DO: I think I try to give each piece something unique to it, but I think when you write everything in a certain period it does come together as a whole.. its just natural as im always looking for different qualities at different times. Right now I am really into string quartets and this specific sound of four players.

DP: Arvo Pärt is an influence on your work. what have you taken away from listening to his music?

DO: I think Arvo Pärt showed how powerful music can be with the most minimal notes, but I think in a much different way than the ” minimalists”. It has an emotional weight and also something very spiritual and this has definitely influenced my approach.

DP: Lumiere and Vorleben both seem very conceptual, in the sense that they are very tool- and site-specific. Do you think you are open to more experimental forms of developing concept; ie working with other instruments (prepared piano ? harpsichord ?) or possibly other forms of creating sound (electronic ?)

DO: Yes definitely..I actually have recorded and experimented with a lot of things… including prepared piano, harpsichord and more textural electronics… it just has not been released yet! Im usually always kind of experimenting in my studio with things…it just takes time for them to come out..and with ‘Lumiere’ I really wanted to explore piano and quartet with some electronics. I like to digest things for a while as sometimes when experimenting it take a while to get to your own voice. But I do have a more electronic and experimental record coming out in the fall, its a new project with Stars Of the Lid member Adam Wiltzie. The project is called “A Winged Victory For The Sullen“.

DP: lastly: please explain what “minimalism” means to you and why it is (or isn’t) important in your work

DO: I think this had always been important for me. Minimalist pieces are about getting to the essence of a piece of music with the least amount of notes. And I suppose not being a virtuoso player also gives you some boundaries you have to work with…which I like. A lot of times I will try to limit the elements I use just so I can try to be more creative with what I have. More is not always better.


Dustin left me both excited for his coming projects and satisfied with his views on composition. Vorleben is available now through the FatCat imprint. be sure to check Dustin’s website for more news on Winged Victory.

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Paul Lansky interview

When I compose, my main area of interest and exploration is the human voice. Likewise, I am drawn to other composers who focus on this element, so I was incredibly fortunate to conduct a brief interview with Paul Lansky. Lansky is one of the first electroacoustic composers who worked directly with the voice.

Paul Lansky (born 1944) is widely considered one of the original electronic music or computer music composers, and has been producing works from the 1970s up to the present day. He is currently a professor of music composition at Princeton University. He was a pioneer in the development of computer music languages for algorithmic composition, and is a former student of Milton Babbitt and Edward Cone.

Derek Piotr: My first question concerns your first involvement with sound. How did that begin? Do you come from a musical background?

Paul Lansky: I do come from a musical background. My first interest in “sound” as opposed to “music” came in the mid 1970’s when I first worked with speech synthesis.

DP: My next question is directed at your concern with the human voice. It’s a unique sound to work with, being literally the most personal sound on the planet, the most emotional. Words and language are also an important element in human vocalizations, colloquialisms of speech etc. Which aspect is more relevant to you – the language aspect or the emotional impact/directness the voice can convey?

PL: I became interested in the voice because of its expressive qualities within an electronic context. It added something nothing else could.

DP: Now I’d like to ask you for some history on Idle Chatter – it seems very much rooted in aspects of colloquial speech. Am I correct in this? How did the piece come about?

PL: Idle Chatter was directly influenced by my first experiences with rap music in the early 1980’s.

DP: On UbuWeb’s archive there is another vocal piece of yours called Artifice (on Ferdinand’s Reflection). It reminded me very much of the speech experiments of Charles Dodge – was this something you were both using at the time, this speech synthesis?

PL: The piece on the ubu website is my first speech piece and it uses Linear Predictive Coding, as do my Campion Fantasies and the first three of the idle chatter set. I abandoned this technique in pieces like Smalltalk, Now and Then, Things She Carried etc, since it works best at low sampling rates and basically sounds crummy.

DP: Who has had the greatest influence on your work?

PL: Mozart.

DP: Lastly, what works have you yet to complete/accomplish that you hope to in the future? Where do your compositions move from here?

PL: I’ve been working on orchestral music recently. I haven’t done any electronic music since 2005 and probably won’t come back to it any time soon.

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