Thursday, 11 October 2012

Interview With Kreng

I sent Pepijn Caudron 10 questions. Having posted one answer separately due to it's length, here are the remaining 9.

Do you make a living from music, or have a 'proper' job?

Yes and no... I don't think I could ever manage a 'proper' job. I have been working as an actor since 1994, that's how I got involved in theatre. When I saw a performance by Abattoir Ferme I solicited for them. Strangely not as an actor, but as a composer. That is 10 years and 35 performances ago. I cannot make a living from the records or the live performances. But scoring a performance gives me 2 months pay. We make 3 performances a year, so that's 6 months of income. For the rest I try to get by doing random stuff as an actor or composer. Short films, dance-performances, voice-acting for radio, etc... I also do dubbing for cartoons. Yes: Kreng's voice is in various Disney-movies.... oh my God... the irony...

If you could invite five actors (past or contemporary) to dinner, who would you choose?

I don't know if I want to be at a table with 5 actors. Usually they are very loud people. I don't really like actors.... and trust me, I've seen some... I'm more into directors, they tend to be a lot more intelligent... But OK, some of them are very talented: Daniel Day Lewis, Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, Vincent Price, the list goes on and on ...

Your favourite contemporary music-makers?

That would be a whole list of soundtrack-composers. I truly think that a lot innovation is being done in that field. Some of it really gets better on repeated listenings. Last year I saw Hans Zimmer perform his Inception-suite with a 75-piece orchestra. Those were the most intense 20 minutes of live-music I ever experienced. What I like so much about soundtracks is that the music is often incredibly complex, almost avant-garde, but it serves a very commercial product. It is the perfect way to bring strange sounds to the masses. Alexandre Desplat's works is downright beautiful. Roque Banos, Christopher Young, Javier Navarette & Angelo Badalamenti can be pretty creepy. The way Marco Beltrami, Alan Silvestri, Elliot Goldenthal & Brian Tyler can use the different textures of an orchestra is as astounding. Abel Korzeniowski & Jospeh Bishara are two new names to keep an eye on. Thomas Newman, Zbigniew Preisner, Wojciech Kilar, Jon Brion & Cliff Martinez are simply amazing... I also like the fact that soundtracks work within a certain tradition. The older scores by people like Bernard Herrmann (probably my favourite), Ennio Morricone (his 70's period is stunning!), John Barry, Lalo Schifrin, Miklos Rozsa (the score for Spellbound!!), Les Baxter, Max Steiner, etc... were very innovative & sometimes very out-there, yet they laid down the foundation upon which a whole new way of writing music was built.

Your thoughts on file-sharing.

Tough one... I'm 37 years old.... meaning I come from a generation that used to pay for their records. Having the actual artefact in your hands and having paid for it creates a connection to the music that cannot be obtained with downloads. However I do download music myself... a lot...I see (illegal) downloading as a way to check music. If I really like it I will buy it. But even then... There is simply too much stuff out there... 
My relationship with recorded sound is pretty bizarre: My record-collection is my instrument. I need sounds to compose. The good thing about file-sharing is that it gave me access to a lot of sound that simply doesn't exist on vinyl. A lot of the sound out there is not for sale anymore, anywhere... 
I realize that my work is being downloaded too and there's nothing I can do to stop that. However, I try to make the actual records as beautiful as possible so that people will actually will want buy them. Erik Skodvin (head-honcho of Miasmah Records) is a big help in this. But we have to face the fact that there's not much money to be made in 2012 with selling records. I think you have to look at them as a way of advertising: hopefully they can get you gigs and commissions. And off course they are the perfect medium to communicate your work with your audience and colleagues.

Is Jazz dead, or does it just smell funny?

I think it's alive somewhere... but it sure knows how to hide!

The last vinyl LP you bought was?

Caspar Brotzmann Massaker - Black Axis (finally found a second-hand copy)

Does an act of creation keep you sane?

Like John Cage once said: That is such a perfect question.. I don't want to ruin it with an answer'

The idea that an album made over the last 20 years can be heralded as a ‘classic’ to stand alongside works by Sun Ra, Kraftwerk or Stockhausen is true, or a case of misguided optimism?

Hmm... another good question. Interesting when you start to think about it. According to me the last 'classic' album was Endtroducing by DJ Shadow. But this was 1996, so I'm afraid you're almost right. The reason why it's no longer possible to release a 'defining' album has a lot to do with how subcultures keep dividing themselves into smaller and smaller sections. Which isn't bad.... Feed the specialists... Internet has a large part in this globalisation of music.... and strangely enough it doesn't get bigger, but smaller.

Do you have a new album in the pipeline?

I have so much material lying around that a new album is not really an issue. It's about sitting down, finding a focus, compiling, reworking and finalizing. So yes... I always have a new album in the pipeline. But first up is a retrospective compilation of the scores I did for Abbatoir Ferme on Miasmah. A lavishly designed four LP + 10" Box set, including download codes & - I must say - pretty stunning artwork.

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