vendredi 13 juin 2014

Interview : COH (Ivan Pavlov)

1. Your first musical memories?
Once upon a time, my parents bought a brand new piano. I was around 5, and I still remember the instrument's smell as it arrived – the scent of freshly lacquered wood mixed with something else. I also remember the feeling of opening the lid and touching the keys for the first time. This memory is not directly musical, but now that I think of it, there is this sense of discovery and curiosity that, I guess, attracts me in music to this day. Both as a listener and a musician.

Of course, I also remember my father playing the piano beautifully, and I remember my first music lessons which I've learned to hate very quickly. But the moment when the wooden machine first appeared in our home stays with me.

2. The best record you received as a present? / The worse one?
I don't remember receiving music as a "present for an occasion". But I've met many musicians over the years who gave me their records. Either just kind people I briefly met at COH shows, or those who became close friends. I am not good at defining a "best record", but the strongest memory of receiving records as a gift comes from visiting John Balance at the Coil's house in London back in 1997. John took me to the "vaults" and said "grab anything you like". I know I should have taken much more than I did, but over the years he kept giving and sending records to me, some of them extremely rare – once I got one of the 23 canary yellow 7"s of their Jarman's Blue soundtrack!

3. The first record that you lost?
If I ever lost one, I never noticed – which probably means the record wasn't very exciting. In fact, that might help to answer the second half of your previous question :)

4. The name of your imaginary band?
I find it more difficult to choose a name for a band, than to start one. Maybe because I don't have an "imaginary band" altogether. There are at least two new projects with other people that I am currently involved in, which will require names at some point, but none of us has even started to think about that.

5.  When did you first meet Peter Christopherson? What memory do you keep of your work with Coil?
I met Peter and John in May 1997 – that's when I first visited their house. A little later I met Drew McDowall, who also was in the band. Somehow we quickly became good friends. I remember them all as being very attentive, open and genuinely curious in life. Which made working together very exciting and easy. Up until the very last Soisong recordings we made with Peter, I was always surprised at how quickly an idea would be perceived, even before it's formulated, and how it would be transformed, given a different angle, and enriched. In and out of the studio, a lot of communication was happening at the level of intuition, a "vibe", regardless of how technical or even mathematical our tools would be.

6. Who changed your life?
It would be impossible to pick a particular person. From the day the piano arrived, the world around, and my life have been changing quite dynamically. Back in the USSR, I listened to forbidden music someone introduced me to. Then we used to run from the police with these records. I also secretly played forbidden music in a band [the band never had a name!]. I was DJ-ing at school parties, supplying fake play-lists to school's director to sign. I spent two years in the Soviet army, back at home the perestroika was offering food by coupons – having friends was essential to live. I studied sound and wave theory at university. Later I moved to live in Sweden, studied more. I became a father, I traveled different countries... In all of this, many different people have been involved, helpful and influential in different ways, not to mention the “virtual” encounters through music, art, cinema, and literature. I guess, everyone's life is like that - many contribute to this "continuous change" which, I believe, is what life is.

7. What will music sound like in 50 years / 5000 years?
I'd like to know that, too... Last year I made a record called RETRO-2038, with an expiry date in 25 years stated on the cover. Obviously it's a joke, but I would very much like to hope that in the year 2038 this COH album will be considered "retro".

8. The perfect record to listen to when having a drink?
That depends on what and where you're drinking, and in which company. For example, I used to have large Singha beers on ice, on hot late afternoons, in a little pool next to Sleazy's studio in Bangkok, listening in a loop to an unfinished version of "Ti-Di-Ti Naoo" by Soisong, and it worked fine. Take the same song with vodka on a snowy New Year’s party here in Stockholm, I doubt it will make any sense!

9.  After your work with Cosey on COH Plays Cosey, do you think music needs a human voice to sound erotic?
Not at all. Human voice does have the components that can be utilized in creating or amplifying erotic imagery, mostly due to the associative context. However, I believe non-human sounds can be equally powerful in stimulating desire. Where it comes to the record with Cosey's voice, the intention was not to make music sound erotic with the help of a voice, but rather the opposite – to try and make the erotic, or what can be identified as erotic in a voice, to sound like music.

10. Your dream collaboration?
 COH means "a dream" in Russian so I'm living that "collaboration" on a daily basis! And I am not only joking, because looking back at where it all started, I feel I'm certainly living a dream in music.

I am very lucky to be able to make music the way I want, to release it, to have worked and to be working in projects I couldn't even dream about. There is some notion of "active dreaming" in it, I guess, rather than just wishing for something unrealistic to happen one day, which I don't usually do.

11. The record that freaks you out?
A lot of pop records probably would, which is why I never buy them.

12.  You once mentioned "[being] used to thinking of sound in the graphical terms of wave profiles". Is the graphic quality of wavelengths at the forefront of your musical production?
No, but I always feel somehow re-assured when a waveform doesn't only sound good, but also looks beautiful. After a while, one can know that it will sound interesting by just looking at the shape. Altogether, when creating sounds "from scratch", it feels satisfying to know that these new creations that have just entered the world, these sounds that never existed in nature before, are also of somewhat refined graphical shape... This could take us to a discussion about fashion trends in "graphic sound design", which can easily be a possible direction for music to expand into in 50 or 5000 years, assured we responsibly adopt the visual approach to waveforms! ;)

13. The little-known track that everyone should have heard of?
Certainly, any COH track would do!

14. Could you tell us more about you label Wavetrap and your collaboration with Mika Vainio?
Wavetrap was a record label that me and John Everall [of Tactile/Sentrax fame] started back in the late 90s. At the time, Mika and Ilpo [Panasonic] were living in a squat in London, where I used to visit them once in a while. We were all good friends, as we still are, and it seemed only natural to welcome Mika's album to launch the new label. When the album ["Ydin"] was ready, John had entered a peculiar state of mind, losing most contact with the world. I had to face the challenge of releasing Mika's work alone, without having any experience in “record-labelling”. That's how it started, and I had friends helping me out. Then there were a few more releases on Wavetrap, including COH's IRON, Ost's [of farmersmanual] pxp project. Eventually, the album by John Everall, which he recorded while being "away", and one more record by Mika Vainio.

15. An album you wouldn't want to be?
Why not?

16. The cover version you would love to do?
In the wake of TO BEAT, I have just finished one that tempted me for a long time. It must be my all-time most ambitious effort at making a cover: Giorgio's "I Feel Love". A great [the greatest?] challenge, but it also gave me lots of fun. Hope it makes sense to others when it's out.

17. "Imagine waking up tomorrow morning and all music has disappeared. All musical instruments and all forms of recorded music, gone. A world without music". What will you do?
It depends. If you do not view a computer as a musical instrument, i.e. if computers will remain there "tomorrow morning", the first thing would be to email you with an answer to question 3, about the records I would have just lost. After that, I will definitely proceed making sound as beautiful waveforms on my screen, sharing with the curious people their beauty, possibly starting the first waveform fashion label.

But if all computers are also gone by tomorrow, then... I can not imagine that world!

18. The text you would like to produce a soundtrack for?
I've always wanted to score a few short stories by Julio Cortazar. I would try and make the music match the average reading pace, so that the soundtrack enhances the actual experience.

19. Have you ever had auditory hallucinations?
Hopefully not.

20. How would you like to die?
I do not understand the question. Or, rather, I do not understand the idea of investing time into thinking about such things – myself, I am too busy living.

Read Ivan Pavlov's COH biography from allmusic, go to his website, discogs and facebook profile. Buy his records on raster-noton and editions mego.

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