Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Interview With Kyle Bobby Dunn

Kyle Bobby Dunn is a Brooklyn based, Canadian born minimalist composer & sound artist. His 2CD set "A Young Persons Guide To..." is available now on Low Point Records (check the review).
Here is my interview with the very amenable Mr Dunn.

Could you tell me a little about your background.
Musically? Very little traditional background, aside from loving a lot of classical and traditional instruments like horns, strings, and piano. My method of composing is not easily comparable to someone who went to music school for composition. I used to sneak into music schools and recruit members creepishly and randomly for my works though.

What were your early influences that made you want to get involved in music?
From as far back as I can remember, the first musical ventures were because of what was happening for me in life and how I related to a lot of soundtrack composer's music. I was that weirdo who often liked the musical scores to films almost more than the films themselves, at times. But it was a real concoction of things. I grew up in some odd places, and I think places and faces have probably had the most heft and influence to my work.

What are the processes you go through when creating a piece of music?
The piece starts like a scrap or fragmented idea and even if its all my playing in a piece, it grows in a very small and sluggish way. If I work with other players they are presented the formula and asked to play to it or I dictate how I want it played rather than have them freely improvise over it. When the chunks are in the right places I can spend a great deal or a short time at the computer reprocessing and arranging the piece.

Do you see yourself primarily as a composer or a producer?
I've been heavily both for several years now, but I've been working with better engineers and sound people recently on fresher recordings.

Is there an ambient scene in New York or any sort of underground scene you are involved with?
There might be, I'm not aware of one. I don't really like to consider myself an ambient person or anything like that. The musical zones and people working in New York are spread out but there is a general community that is nice. I really like what has been done with Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, Doron Sadja at Shinkoyo and the Paris London West Nile bunch that recently went under in Williamsburg, and whoever is brave enough to host these ridiculous performances of us idiot kids. New York can be a very disgusting place, so its nice to meet passionate un-disgusting people from time to time, but its hardly a scene.

What led to you releasing your compilation on a British label?
Gareth is a really nice dude and actually recommended doing a release as a 2 CD after he heard the Fervency recordings and some other stuff. I like that he's doing stuff he actually likes and cares for. It's cool that he's up in Nottingham too, I hope to visit England and Europe soon.

What are your thoughts on the modern ambient/avant-garde scene? Are there any particular labels or artists you'd like to work with?
It's kind of disturbing and I don't know if I really fit in anywhere. I've been to a lot of events and shows, but would honestly just rather go see classical performances at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln center, if I had the money. A friend of mine works at the New York Philharmonic and is hooking me up with some tickets for Ligeti's obscure Opera, so that should be nice. I saw Feldman's six hour String Quartet No. 2 recently which was absolutely fantastic. I think I've been lucky to work with who I have worked with and don't know of anyone really special until I meet them. That goes for labels too.

What do you think of the music industry as a whole? Do you think there are enough outlets for producers like yourself?
I think it's pretty awful. Maybe it'll get better in time, but I'm just not that perky or enthusiastic about the music world we live in or what's 'thriving.' I think other people are getting pretty nauseous from it as well. The product that is music is also pretty disgusting at this point and its nice that there are people keeping music alive how they want it, it's also just kind of sad. It's hard for me to talk about because music is almost equal parts negative and positive for me and trying to deliver that in my work is both frustrating and refreshing.

Are you interested in other creative outlets, multimedia or art installations for example?
I've done some. In Canada I did outdoor sound processing of ice, snow, wood, fire, alienated human emotions and tried to cultivate other mental states.

Do you play live? If so what sort of set up do you use?
Play live too often lately, but it's mostly me on guitar or piano and I have a nice crew of string players that have joined me more and more. That's all processed.

Can you list 5 artists or songs or records (or even films or whatever you want!) that have influenced you, or just stuff you like at the moment!
Really into Wagner's masterworks at the moment, a lot of old cheesy soundtracks including Henry Mancini and the 'Wave' album by Antonio Carlos Jobim, a lot Mozart, Brahms, really boring classical stuff and I've been strangely revisiting the Beavis & Butt-head episodes... something strangely static and depressing and faded about that cartoon. The landscapes are usually more interesting than what's being said, even if it's just their living room wall.

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