It seemed that we were talking for about 3 or 4 months - interactively of course. I had to wait weeks for his answers, but finally it was worth, guys! Here it is - one of the most influential and talkative person in the whole post-industrial history of contemporary music.
I tried to leave all his punctuation and spelling without changing to the needs of your readers pleasure - be sure to get hard but meaty reading. All in his words.
"ANSWERS FOR DMITRY FINALLY BEGUN JUNE 5 1999 21:40
You said me before Z'ev is your only name but then I've opened some of your other names and the original one -- Stefan Joel Weisser. If you said that Z'ev is to be one and only why have you changed your pseudonyms before?
I think there's a bit of a mix up here --- Z'EV [note all caps --- will get to that in answer to # 2] is "my only name" in that it is a one word name --- there is no second or third or etc. words attached to it to make up a whole name -- as in "Dmitri" i s one part of your name "Dmitri Kolesnik".
now in regards to the notion of an "original" name --- when I was born in keeping with the tradition I was born I was given two names --- Stefan Joel Weisser was the name outside of "the faith" and Sh'aul Z'ev bn Yakov bn Moshe bn Sha'ul was the name ins ide "the faith". and please note that I have not had anything really much to do with that "faith" for at least some 30 years. and not to be coy about it, the "faith" I was born into was Judaism.
so Z'EV was an original name, although not the only one.
now in terms of pseudonyms or artist name or nom d'guerre or what have you: in the late sixties through to late 70's all work was "signed" as S.Weisser. that work was sound poetries and visual poetries.
around 1977 I began to perform percussion musics in the punk scene in San Francisco. and then a curious thing would always happen. if I mentioned to someone that I was playing somewhere they would immediately ask what the name of my band was --- and the n I would have to "shift gears" as it were and start talking about how I wasn't a band etc. --- so it seemed like I needed to do a little fixing here to remedy the situation. So in thinking about it I remembered that when I was around seven years old I had wanted to start using the name Z'EV instead of Stefan but what parents take their kids seriously so that desire never went anywhere --- so anyway this came back to me and I started using Z'EV as the name for the music performances that I was doing. a nd it worked quite well -- that is if I met someone and mentioned I was playing somewhere and they asked the name of the band I would say Z'EV and they would ask what kind of music and I could just get directly into discussing the music with no longer ha ving to even get into the notion that it was a solo act which at the time and in the context was extremely rare if not non-existent.
anyway back to the name thing >>> around 79 or 80 I started up another project which was known as uns which was as far as I was concerned a band --- but it was never a personal name --- and I also pretty much resisted it being billed as Z'EV because it w asn't that sort of music -- it was pretty much the opposite -- Z'EV was acoustic instrumental percussion based music and uns was closer to musique concrete with me doing vocals --- it only lasted a couple of years but I will admit that it was fairly conf using for people.
I guess the reason for making the differentiation relating to your asking why has names changed would be that I think its kind of a product identification --- if you went to see Z'EV you knew what you'd be seeing --- if S.Weisser was doing something you knew what that would be [works for voice] -- and uns would be electric music using turntables and tapeloops and voice.
What is the origin of Z'EV name? It's hard for me here to clear up its etymology and I even do not know how to pronounce it correctly.
the origin of the Z'EV name etymologically is it comes from the middle east.
which is why I use the all capitals because it is a transliteration for a word which comes from languages which use a different alphabet. and generally speaking when words are transliterated capitals are used to designate that. definition wise the oldest use of the word was in the Babylonian language where it meant a sort of white tailed deer that used to live in the middle east but which has been extinct for some thousands of years and then in the Aramaic and old Hebrew it came to mean wolf --- in the current Hebrew it still means wolf.
its actual pronunciation is as a two syllable word which accounts for the use of the apostrophe --- phonetically it is like "zeh ehv" [the "eh" sound like the first syllable of the English word every] but I never correct people when they say it as a one syllable word. That's a fight I have never been that motivated to take up.
Sometimes people know how to say it and that's always really nice to hear.
Can you name any possible periods in your life in music when you felt real rise in level of your creativeness? This question refers to the history and I'm just interested in the most important and influential moments in your artistic life.
most important moments --- that's a tough one because sometimes things can happen to you and its like it was a seed and only much later does the effect kick in and then its hard to know what was cause and what really effect.
So ill try to list a bunch of things but they won't be in order either regarding time or importance -- because that could take me forever --
time I saw abstract art
seeing the last public appearance of Lenny Bruce in like 1964 or 5
hearing John Coltrane for the first time
the Miles Davis album "In A Silent Way"
first time I heard gamelan music
first time I heard Tibetan ritual music
first time I saw Christopher Tree perform as Spontaneous Sound [more on this later]
when I met the Fluxus artists who came to teach at Calarts in 1969-70
first time I heard East Indian music --- hell the first time I came into contact with any other music
seeing Jimi Hendrix however many times I saw him
seeing The Doors however many times I saw them before they were signed and went Downhill
see the La Group Love as many times as I saw them
time I got to take a rare psychedelic that opened me up to hearing the sounds
of metal [listening to a gamelan record I had] I'd have to say that was really
the major influence on the music known as Z'EV
all the different people I have known who have affected me by knowing them --- other artists I mean but also just people who had all sorts of effects both positive and negative have been an influence --
my goodness all the books I've read --- movies I've seen --- plays operas etc. -- incredible sunsets or thunderstorms or amazing landscapes ---
this is really almost an impossible question to answer now that I am trying -- I'm not sure if this is what you want when I look back at the question ---
real rise in the level of creativity I would have to say would have started in 1979 when I started touring for the first time because being a solo act it was really just me and the instruments knocking around the US then over to Europe and just all over the place for a period of about 5 years there I averaged a performance a week somewhere in the world so I was constantly travelling and being exposed to new situations and that was when -- in being having to be creative 24 hours a day 7 days a week -- no t just playing music but solving all the problems that come up in such a life style -- being in countries where you don't speak the language -- that sort of thing -- that kind of really kicked things up a notch --
How it finally happened that you spent a lot of time in Europe? Have you been living there or just been working and having performances? You've said your archive is in Amsterdam. Are you still having firm ties with European scene?
well this last question does lead into this one --- when touring in the US in 79 and early 80 I was driving around in a big GMC truck that I would also sleep in -- but in the us cities are insanely far from one another --- say like playing in Albany N.Y. and then driving 6 hours to Rochester and then another 4 to Buffalo and then from there there would be no other gig till Ann Arbour Michigan --- so I was in this very weird space and then in winter of 80 I went to Europe for my first tour there and my g oodness what a difference --- at that point there were [but no longer, unfortunately] 20 gigs between Amsterdam and Berlin -- believe it or not -- and I could take the train and just relax from one show to another --- it was total heaven --- at that poin t all the youth clubs still had subsidies [which disappeared when Nato forced all the western Europe countries to buy cruise missiles in 81 -- so the culture money was the first to go] --- so all the money disappeared and the incredible circuit which exi sted in Holland, Germany, and etc disappeared -- but at least I was there for I guess what was the last year of a great circuit --- but basically that was one aspect of why I happened to spend a lot of time in Europe --- there were just many orders of ma gnitude of gigs available than there were in the US.
Then on a second level I met Remko Scha who was one of the founders of a place in Eindhoven in Holland called Het Appollo Huis ---
[[Het Apollo Huis was an art space in Eindhoven the Netherlands founded by Remko Scha. but he has had nothing to do with the place since about 1986. they put on exhibitions of visual artists and sculpture and also presented music concerts. from what I un derstand they have also gotten into publishing books by and about artists. they also have an artist in residence program which I had a lot to do with instituting -- as I was the first artist to be in residence there and it was a rather protracted reside ncy as it lasted about 9 months]]
I kind of became the first artists in residence there so it gave me a place
to stay in between gigs --- because what would happen would be I would play
somewhere and someone who was responsible for booking somewhere else would come
and check it o ut and tell me they could book me a few weeks later and because
it was only me and not a whole band where you have people who are touring because
they are on vacation from whatever 'real' gig they were doing to keep their
life together so they have to go back to the states or wherever -- anyway --
the point was I could go back to Eindhoven and hang out till the next gig ---
then in mid 80 I met Dr. Dorothea Franck who was teaching at the university of Amsterdam and was a friend of Remko's and we fell in love and I just sort of started staying with her in Amsterdam ---
but at this point I was still touring heavily which basically comes down to that in between European gigs I would go back to Amsterdam and stay with her and then go back to the US for gigs there ---
at this point I was sharing a loft in Downtown NYC with an artist. In 1984 he died in a car accident outside of Paris so I was in a position to either make a bigger commitment to the US or not --- and at this point it was deep into the Regan administrati on which I could not possibly conceive of living in so basically I decided to leave the US and it was from that point on that pretty much I established residency in Amsterdam and was pretty much of an ex-patriate.
[and I would say that the guys from Tuxedo Moon were the other US band -- coincidentally both of us came out of San Francisco originally -- who became ex-patriates at the time]
yes my archive is in Amsterdam -- in that at the moment I share a studio with a friend there in Amsterdam and all my stuff > instruments, tapes, books, writings, press material, photos, etc] are sitting there in storage ----
regarding firm ties in Amsterdam --- yes my heart is still there --- I came back to the US in 1994 to pursue some projects and then my mother was diagnosed with leukaemia and so I dropped everything to take care of her -- she died in 97 and I went into a very deep depression -- so I was staying with my sister and presently she ended up being diagnosed with a rare liver disorder which will mean that within the next few years she will need a liver transplant --- so there seems to be some very strange karm ic thing going on where the last of my family are dying out -- and in the face of that concerns like 'my career' have fairly fallen by the wayside
but yes very many of my very best friends are based in Europe and lots of them in Amsterdam -- also there is DJ Dano who has been one of my major collaborators over the past few years --- we've done lots of pieces within the trance/hardcore house scene a nd have intentions of doing much more but that will happen when it happens --
the whole experience with my mother's death has been the biggest influence on my life in the last many years -- eventually things will settle down and I will find out what is going to be the next thing that happens carrier wise
You was repatriate from USA to Europe. Genesis P Orridge was also repatriate but from England to USA. You are friends, and I feel it very surprising and strange that both of you needed to run away from his own country. How can you explain it from the p oint of view of your common similarity in such an unexpected way?
well its funny that you use the term "run away" --- and that applies only in fact to Genesis. I think it was in 1992 while he was on vacation in Thailand that an early PTV video caused quite a stir because it included footage of his oldest daughter Care sse's birth -- and the insane tabloid English press found some crazy woman who claimed that it was the ritual murder of a child and that Topy was a satanic cult and so the police went to Gen's house and seized tons of his art work [judged pornographic] a nd all the video and etc. stuff they could find there --- and it seemed that the authorities were quite rabid about him for a time there -- so he felt he couldn't return to England so he went to the US --- eventually the whole witch hunt against Topy die d out and I know that he went back to England for a show in may so I guess the whole thing is over ---
now regarding me --- basically I ended up living in Europe because the majority of the performances I was getting were in Europe, and I was [and still am] involved with a German woman who lives in Amsterdam -- I wasn't running away from anything in the U S so much as that my life seemed to take me back to Europe --- I can say that I feel much more "at home" in Europe than I ever did in the US --- and really for the most part I was only one generation removed from Europe anyway -- so it was more of a "ret urn to" than a "running from" --- although at the time I moved it was during the Regan administration and politically I was very disgusted by what was going on in the US and since I had a choice it was very easy to make the decision to leave the US as my major place of residence --- now circumstances have returned me to the States and I have been in the US for almost 5 years now but I have every intention of returning spend time living in Europe again.
so -- its hard to explain the similarity with Gen viz a viz repatriation with Genesis unless one looks back in time a bit -- and it was quite common for artists at the beginning of the 20th century to leave the land of their birth --- many went to Zurich and of course there was always Paris as the centre of culture --- I DO NOT think it is so easy a case as just saying that the artist is not appreciated in their own country -- that was certainly not the case with Genesis and I always got just as good as press in the US as I did in Europe -- there just weren't as many places or as good of conditions in the US as there were in Europe at the time.
I'd like to ask your point of view regarding two continents where the majority of music comes from - Europe and North America. What place is more favourable for music innovations, for avant-garde and other radical types of artistic forms? Does it matte r at all from what part of the world comes an idea by your opinion?
is fairly obvious that Europe is more favourable to the notion of an avante
garde anything --- I mean it is designated by a French [not an English or American
this also had a bit to do with my feeling comfortable with moving to Europe --- when dealing with police or border/customs officials when you would say you were an artist that meant something to them --- as opposed to in the US if you would say you were an artist that was pretty much translated as saying you were a bum
in the US art does not have the cultural significance it does in Europe --- think about it --- its only since way after the second World war with the emergence of pop art that America 'took over' the art world --- as opposed to art has had a position cen tral to culture for maybe close to 1000 years ---
this also has more to do with art and culture as a whole than merely music which is just one of the arts.
but in regards
to Europe vs America --- well in music lets look at:
punk came from Europe
industrial was a split decision
house came from America -- although it is a marginal form in the US
so the major innovations in the last 20 years are split between them
with all that being said I would have to say that I don't think it matters from what part of the world one comes from. --- visionary artists can come from anywhere
Have you been in close contact with TG? Have you had common gigs etc?
meet up with TG until 1980 -- even though I had known about them for a few years
before that we only did one gig together in Feb 1982 -- it was there last gig
in London as TG was dissolving at that point --
I didn't do more shows basically because by the time I met them they had a policy to play with different people
at gigs ---
by that point  there were so many bands that were starting up and needed the support of having played with TG in their home town that it was a very good decision on their part to adopt that policy
What is your attitude to what was followed after TG - CHRIS & COSEY, COIL, PTV? How do you find their music now? How do you think was it possible to predict then, in early time of TG and after their split up, what music will they play separately?
well to tell you the truth I never really much followed the whole dissolution process --- Chris and Cosey I knew were more into pop type things and so I would assume that what they do is more ambient pop --I don't think I have ever heard any piece of the irs as Chris and Cosey or whatever they call it -- I know they do have some umbrella organisation they work under
Peter was not called "sleazy" for nothing and so its no surprise that
the last song of his I can remember the title of was "the anal staircase"
PTV? --- there were so many versions of that band that who knows what to say -- I did have the most contact with
them -- Genesis was the only one of the original TG that I became real friends with
I've met Alex he's a great guy -- played with him once with PTV at some Mega festival in England in 1990
I was involved in a few PTV projects -- but none that really came to much of everything -- but Gen and I are still friends and see one another when we can --
I played with him in NYC this last December in his new project called Thee Majesty with guitarist Bryan Dahl --- there was maybe going to be some more gigs but nothing has happened so far ---
That is very pity that the latest thing from COIL you have heard was "Anal Staircase". They managed to produce great music from that time (1984 if I remember correct).
But the question is the following - In the booklet of 1998 COIL's CD "Transparent", which is just a reissue of their very old stuff, there are words from John Balance who was recollecting Berlin Atonal Festival in 1983 where COIL performed with PTV. John said there were Neubauten and Z'EV as well. Can you remember how it was?
well as I remember it Coil i.e. Sleazy [and possibly John as well] was still at that time part of Topy and PTV -- this was PTV's first show in Europe and it was only sometime after that that Sleazy [and John] left Topy and PTV and went off on their own a nd started recording and performing as Coil --- as I remember it John also performed as part of Zos Kia [the other 2 members were also members of Topy as well] --- in fact at that show pretty much the whole membership of Topy came along -- there must hav e been about 10 or 12 of them all together --- I don't remember Paula/Alaura [Gen's wife at the time] being there nor I do have any recollection of Neubauten being there either -- I certainly didn't see them play that's for sure -- I never saw them play that much --- a show we did together at Documenta 7 at Kassel in 1982 --- then I saw them play at a festival in Argus in Denmark in 1992 that I was also at -- and then I saw them again in NYC this past December ---
What's the reason of band's popularity? The way of TG shows they were not very active in promoting their stuff, maybe vice versa - their attitude was very radical and was close to self-isolation. Instead they became very famous and the rests did not. T he rests were not less talented, but only TG became popular and famous? How do you think why?
the reason for their popularity was that they were the first people doing what
they did and they were very astute and smart in terms of promoting what they
did and getting the word and their work out throughout the world---
only at the very beginning were they maybe to be thought of as self-isolating -- only in terms of them vs. what ever else was going on --- but almost all English bands in the early 80's were aware of them and went to see their gigs and etc.
I would have to say that in the same way that the Velvet Underground ended up being ultimately more influential that either The Beatles or The Stones that TG was more influential that either The Sex Pistols or The Clash
TG was very savvy as to promoting themselves --- with starting Industrial Records they were one of the first of the independent record companies --- they did tons of buttons and manifestos and t-shirts and etc. they were heavily into product but then tha t had a lot to do with Gen and Cosey having come out of the art world -- which is very product oriented
you would have to tell me which other groups you would be referring to who did not become famous while TG did--- I cant really think of any off hand
In all of the materials dedicated to you which I've managed to see and read I could not find any definite references to the music, which was inspiration for you. Can you name any bands or musicians who were or could be influential to some extend? Do you believe in a hypothetical artist who could create something without hearing [or seeing] of others' works at all?
talk about the hypothetical artist who could create something without hearing
[or seeing] of others' work
this is a fairly deep question obviously --- so you are suggesting that someone managed to grow up on a tropical island somewhere in complete isolation -- no parents or etc. so the question is --- would they have the desire to entertain themselves by ma king noise --- so that would mean that they would have to make some instruments from whatever materials were available to them ---
so were talking about wood and reeds and animal skin --- so basically they would have to end up making a music which had already been invented at some other point somewhere else in the world --- because the materials would be the same --- and the size of the person would be pretty much the same --- esp. in regards to the size of the hand which with wind instruments pretty much determines where the holes in the hollow tube are made which is pretty much why musical tones around the world are pretty much t he same ---
so yes I think that someone in total isolation could be inspired by boredom to try to entertain themselves and they would create something unique but the chances of it being completely different from the music made by anyone else is pretty slim
to me --- what happened was that I had been a fairly traditional percussionist
after having been a drummer first --- anyway what happened to me was that in
the mid 70's I began to play with a group of musicians who used electronic synthesize
rs [the earliest Tchrepnin and Buccla models] --
so I was put into a position of having to come up with acoustic sounds which could match the complexity of electronic sounds which had never existed before --
and my solution was to go to materials which came from the same technological basis as created synthesizers
and this is in contradistinction to conventional percussion instruments which are from wood or brass or animal parts which is very much like all the other instruments which they play with [not counting that since the 60's drums started using plastic head s instead of animal skin heads]
so the fact that all of a sudden I was using instruments from stainless steel and titanium and PVC plastic and not only that but then when I started to perform solo that I realised that I had to play more than one instrument at a time so started tying th em together into clusters of instruments and then started moving them around besides which meant that while with normal instruments the sound is fairly static because --
one of the major determinators or an instruments sound is based on first reflection --- that is the first surface that the sound generated by the instrument rebounds against before being heard by the audience --
so with the fact that I was moving the instruments around on the stage for the first time the audience would be hearing a multitude of first reflections which created a vastness to the complexity of the sounds which the audience would be hearing
so this is kind of the answer to the question you began this number with --- why you didn't find any definite references to the music --- because there really weren't any --
which was influential to me ---
John Coltrane --- Miles Davis --- the very early grateful dead [before they left the blues and got into country music]
the biggest influence was probably Christopher Tree who had a solo project called Spontaneous Sound which was him playing an absolutely incredible collection of gongs and cymbals and drums which he had collected from throughout the world and with the hel p also of some friends of his who were curators at museums and loaned him instruments from their collections. he pretty much only played in Los Angeles in the early and mid 60's and I had the opportunity to see him several times.
but what was interesting was that at the time I was not playing solo and it was only almost 15 years later that I began to play solo that his influence kind of kicked in.
What is your attitude to contemporary music? Do you have a lot of listening experience? Do you see bright names?
really listen to music that much anymore. not even as background music.
the hottest stuff that I think does exist are the scratching dj's -- esp. the 'bands'
The Beat Junkies [la] - the X-Men [NYC] - the Invisible Scratch Pickles [SF] --
they are just so unbelievable --- pretty much as astounding as Jimi hendrix was in his time --- what they do are that say
one dj will scratch a rhythm track --- one will scratch a bass line --- and one will scratch a lead over it ---
the chances are it will not be able to get to be a big 'movement' because it is so hard to do ---
for example I have seen the 3 scratch pickles all use the same record --- so you have 6 records on 6 turntables and these there guys can scratch a rhythm absolutely in synch and not only that but they can speed it up and slow it down and they are absolut ely in synch --- it is the single most amazing demonstration of 'one mind' I have ever seen in my entire life
beyond that it seems that we are in a period of repetition --- nothing really new is happening but old things like punk are getting bigger than ever and worse you see all the old bands getting back together for reunion tours --- that is a very bad sign - --
Are you familiar with THE RESIDENTS' music? Will you agree with me if I say it is the most remarkable band from USA? What is your opinion about their faceless image?
yes I would say that I am vaguely familiar with the Residents music --- although I have never owned one of their records they have achieved such a stature that their music is pretty pervasive --- like probably I heard a lot of it in clubs during the 80's that kind of thing --- but I did know them as people apart from their being Residents
yes I will
agree that they are one of the most remarkable bands in the world -- considering
the time frame they were working in what they were doing compared to what anyone
else was doing they were very very hip.
regarding their image I think that it was really great that they chose to inject an element of mystery into their work
What is artist's image by your opinion? Is it really important for artist to be known as a person? THE RESIDENTS example shows how insufficient it is and there are more bands [ :zoviet*france: , MUSLIMGAUZE] they are not hiding their names and faces bu t you will never find it in a CD booklet or cover art.
I think this was a big difference between them and say zoviet france [ who I am only a little bit aware of -- Muslimgauze I know the name of but never heard any of his music]
The Residents really worked at exploiting the tension which resulted from becoming very well known yet totally unknown -- and that had also a lot to do with their music --- it was very known [i.e. it was in a sense classic in that it seemed to be familia r] yet it was totally unknown -- i.e. very much their own thing and pretty instantly recognisable ---
there's no question but that they got that faceless image to work for them and generate a tremendous amount of interest in their work -- and the fact that their work was as good as it was such that it could hold up to the expectations which was generated helped to make them who the were
is it important
for the artist to be known as a person??
well I would say that within the commercial sphere that it is pretty important -- but that if one is working one of the marginal areas of what is known as "experimental" music or some such then it really doesn't matter --- that one can take the attitude that the music should speak for itself and not get involved with the issues of persona etc.
I think it is natural that people are interested in what is behind the work --- for example if that was not the case I don't think that you would be asking me these questions --- or would have become a journalist which I assume you are so please correct me if I am wrong about that.
so it is natural. and ill put in a little story --- when the residents did their first European tour in 82 after their show in Zurich I was there with the wife of a museum curator that I knew who was writing a book and I arranged for Homer to talk with h er -- it was quite a coup for her because they were not doing any interviews with the press because of the whole anonymous thing --- anyway it was very weird to listen to --- because Homer kept referring to The Residents as them and would in no way admit to the fact that in fact he was one of them ---
I never really talked to him about it but it seemed to me that there was something about that sort of identity crisis [for want of a better word or description] which created a perspective from which to create their music, which was sort of timeless and remote, in a weird sort of way even while seeming so very familiar.
The matter is I honestly thought that no one in the world know them and never talked to them and never saw them. Here I occasionally find out that this is not so forbidden and they have names and even someone managed to talk to them and know their name s. Frankly speaking I even never tried to seek for all their credits just because I thought it was useless. You showed me that they are same people as any one else and though I do not know who is Homer I start to feel very different towards this band and I want you to give me larger picture of their real existence. I only want you to take in consideration how much I felt tabooed even to think that anyone can know them [though I always asked myself who could they arrange such anonymity].
I'm sorry I don't remember his last name] is the singer
Hardy [and I don't remember his last name either] is the main visual etc. designer and the both of them collaborate on the music.
and yes they are very nice and very warm and very honest and refreshingly normal people in fact. I can tell you that they are both from the Midwest of America though exactly which state I don't know but Oklahoma seems to ring a bell as the birthplace of Homer. or maybe Kansas. I really can't remember.
I don't know how I can give you a larger picture of their existence as you ask for. I haven't seen either of them since 1988 so have no idea what they are currently up to. how they arranged their anonymity was that they never performed until that first E uropean tour in 1983 -- they might have played some more shows since then but I wouldn't know about that --
so they were also one of the very very first independent labels -- so from the very beginning they were in control of the dessimation of information regarding themselves. and if you notice they call their company the CRYPTIC CORPORATION so it was just t hat they set out to be this sort of eminence griez [if that's the way its spelt??] [I hope you know what I mean]. they never did interviews, there were never any pictures of them ever sent out to the press, so no one ever saw them, so of course they cou ld be anonymous.
if their music was not as good as it is it wouldn't really matter --- they have managed through their example to prove that it is possible to be successful in the rock music world and not to get caught up in the cult of persona which seems to attack so m any musicians and to adversely affect their work as well.
Have you ever faced the problem of definitions - is what you play music or not? For me it is somehow wrong to call it music and I was always wandering for any new term, which could describe these sounds with better exactness, and more deeply. Is the pr oblem of terminology important for you at all?
yes I think terminology can be important -- especially to a young artist who is developing what they do -- so that they can think critically about what they are doing and examine it very rigorously to know exactly what it is they are doing and why they a re doing it -- that is not to say that they have to apply that to the composing process [i.e. that they can integrate mistakes and embrace spontaneity in their composing and etc.]
definitions are important --- I think had what I did been easier to define it would have become more well known to a point which would have equalled its influence which would have made it very well known indeed.
yes I consider it music -- but to be exact I consider it a music composed of
acoustic phenomenon and not notes and chords and the etc of traditional musics
throughout the world ---
in that regard it has more in common with ritual musics from around the world than it does with secular musics
and because there really is no place for ritual musics in western cultures what I did seemed very out of place and impossible or improbable to define ---
which of course then limited its chance for more mass exposure -- but really from this point in time this limiting had very much more to do with certain career choices I made than the actual nature of the music I was making
if you are looking for a term to describe what you hear on any of the Z'EV records which come from live recordings then Acoustic Phenomenae is what you are looking for.
Don't you think that the 'sin of categorizing' just can help people in going towards right direction? I think that you'll be categorized anyway, and not because of show business rules but just because of people who have to communicate and call things w ith their names. I'll never pay attention to Z'EV's music if anyone didn't tell me about it's similarity to musique concrete a bit and Einsturzende Neubauten a bit and BMBcon a bit and that it is a very experimental type of industrial. How can you avoid categorization if categorization exists in the sense of human nature?
I have no problem with categorization --- did I say that somewhere??? in some interview or something --- if I did I no longer do --- and with regards to the two bands that you mention in this question they are a bit like me --- I'm not a bit like them -- - in that I was doing what I was doing long before they were and in fact if the Neubauten boys hadn't seen me play they probably wouldn't have used metal at all --
That was your decision to work alone. Have you ever felt that you need someone else with you? Or you'd say you are still against of collective work? Are there any particular people whom you would like to have a record or live gig with?
actually I don't consider Z'EV performances to be working alone --- it is a quarten made up of me the instruments the acoustic possibilities of the physical space I am performing and the energy the audience brings to the performance --- the last two elem ents [space and audience] are what make every performance different and something beyond which I have control over but something that me and the instruments adapt to.
grown up playing drums which are an accompanying instrument I really never considered
that I would be primarily a 'soloist' for the majority of my career --
but I have always been working on other projects with other people constantly and consistently through my entire career.
of Rhythm And Noise now Asphodel Records
Tim Wright of Pere Ubu and DNA
Rudolph Gray of Red Transistor and Blue Humans
Gylan Kain [poet actor founder of Original Last Poets]
Andrew McKenzie [Hafler Trio]
Genesis P Orridge
Genesis and Alora [as PTV2 and PTV3]
Simone Forti [movement artist]
Joan Jonas [performance artist]
DJ Dano [house musician]
Monoton / Konrad Becker [media artist]
Lydia Lunch [rock and word artist]
Ria Higler [movement artist]
Christine Svane [movement artist]
Dorothea Franck [poetess]
Haino [Japanese sound artist]
John Duncan [sound etc artist]
Maryanne Amacher [sound artist]
so that's a fairly complete list of the people I have worked with over the last 20 years and I'm sure there will be more people that I will work with in the future
In one of your interview you were talking about distinctions between music and noise. Quoting you - 'there is a connection between liking and understanding... a sound that is not understood may function as noise... when it is understood, it can functio n as music' -- I start to think about the meaning of understanding. I understand the noise produced by my mother's needle machine but it's not music for me. Do you really suggest that it is possible to "understand" your music? When I listen to your album s I cannot say I understand them. The feelings I have are of absolutely different origin, it is not understanding, but more of trying to understand...maybe it is more important to be in process of exploring than to get immediate result. What do you think about understanding and what can you suggest to people who do not understand but have other kind of relations with your music?
I recall that interview regarding the relation of noise to music --- it kind
of comes down to one of the basic definitions of music which is "sounds
that you like" as opposed to noise is defined as "sounds you don't
it is similar to the notion of a weed --- a weed is a plant that you don't like or don't want in your garden or etc. whereas someone else [and many times from some other culture] might like that plant or appreciate it for some medicinal use or something like that ---
understanding >>>many times when people first hear a music from a very
different culture where the instruments and the timbres and the scales and the
rhythm patterns that the music is built up from ---
well when they first hear it they are prone to think of it as 'noise' -- but if they take the time to spend more time with that music they eventually come to recognize the rhythm patterns and the melodies
I think that here I am talking about the relationship that exists between recognition and differentiation in regard to understanding --- so maybe understand is the wrong word --- maybe appreciation is a better word for this process that you are talking a bout ---
is a good question --- is any music capable of being understood --
and even more precise would be that we should be discussing instrumental music here because obviously when there is music being played that is there to support lyrics obviously the lyrics are meant to be understood and the music to convey the emotional t one that the lyrical story is telling
[because I think that most good songs are in fact telling some story]
now as to whether there is an emotional content in my music which can be appreciated --- yes I think with much of it being rhythmically based that there is a sort of proportional logic to the compositions which I would hope would function in a similar wa y to the way that symphonies have movements which is somewhat based on classical dramatic form ---
so do I mean to suggest that someone can understand my music in respects to having a meaningful emotional experience from listening to it --- then I would have to say yes ---
after about 1985 however I started to perform primarily in the dark -- and in that context the music triggers a synesthetic experience --- that is it triggers the naturally occurring phosphene activity --- like what will happen if you close your eyes rig ht now --- you will be seeing some sort of something there --- when you are in the a place that is so dark that when you open your eyes there is no light the phosphene activity is enhanced and begins to respond to the sound stimuli which is occurring as I play ---
people have a variety of experiences ranging from abstract imagery to geometric imagery to cartoony type things to visuals which are as very representational as if it were a dream
the Acoustic Phenomenae which I am generating is being translated by there sensory apparatus and creating a pretty unique experience ---
but I guess that that is not in the realm of semantic understanding ---
if you told
me which pieces of my stuff you were listening to I would have a better idea
--- you do mention "Ghost Stories" -- which is total Acoustic Phenomenae
so I would advise listening to it in as dark a situation as possible with either headphones or fairly loud
It seems that you are sure that the form is dominating over the content within the all forms of fine Art. War between form and content lasts a lot of years and I think time to time people manage to display one pure and true thought, but always forget a bout it then - there is no domination, every content has its form and there is no form without content. To be formalist or to be ideologist is the same and the same primitive. What do you think about it? What do you think of the statement that form alway s [!] correspond with content and vice versa?
seems that you are sure that the form is dominating over the content"
I think here again we would be considering my thoughts at a certain point in time.
in the mid 80's mixed or multimedia type performances became very much the thing at festivals and etc. and at that point a lot of pieces were produced where there was a lot of visual activity but with out much content --
for example a German critic referred to the genre as multi-mediocre which sentiment I could quite concur with.
I do think that there is a tendency to produce work that is not really rigorous with regards to the content -- that is that it is not really trying to say anything or to provide the audience with some sort of tools that they can walk away with which will be helpful for them process information in new and positive ways -- i.e. get more out of their life
do you think of the statement that form always [!] corresponds with content
and vice versa"
well in terms of like I said before regarding music and lyrics in good work there should be a reciprocity between the two where the line almost dissolves and the content can become the form and vice versa but one doesn't come across that that often with the work of young artists and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I think a lot of young artists make a choice to not investigate the history of the work that they are engaged in in the mistaken notion that they will be better off if they are trying to come from what I guess they feel is a pure or perhaps uncontaminated point of view..
Dorothea Franck for example is part of the staff at the multi-media department
which is part of the opera school there -- and she always is amazed by how ignorant
the students are of the work of the futurists and dadaists and constructivists
fo r just a few examples ---
she also introduced a class which studied Ovid's metamorphosis because the students had absolutely no real knowledge of mythology
I don't know how far this has gotten from the form vs content issue so ill let this rest and get off the old soap box.
What is your attitude to the idea of musical or artists' organizations made with nationality's identification. There are examples - label by John Zorn called Tzadik. How do you think will you ever join this kind of label or artists movement only because of your nationality?
quote Groucho Marx -- "I wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member"
--[[Groucho Marx was one of the Marx brothers --- they started in Vaudiville
around the first world war and very early got into the movie business making
movies from th e early 20's [their fist movie was one of the very first talking
movies] -- through the 40's --they were very surreal -- and very very funny
--- Groucho lived the longest dying sometime in the late 70's or early 80's
and was very funny till the very end --]]
having said that I've never really been in that position. having said that I will say that John Zorn and I have spoken about my doing a project for a subsidiary of Tzadik which has to do with Jewish music -- and as it turns out I have had a project in m ind which could fall into that -- it is based on kabalistic translations of the song of songs attributed to Solomon which I did around 1984 and which I had the idea of setting these poems to music and I will be working on the project with an old friend o f mine Barbara Barg who is a poetess and singer songwriter [one of the founders of the NYC band homer erotic] and percussionist. and we've wanted to work together for a long time and this seemed like a good project and Zorn was interested in it even tho ugh it has nothing to do with Judaism. but I would like to just do the piece as long as I'm not supporting a fascist organization [which would be where I would draw the line] I don't really care about the context that it is coming out on.
to be a little clearer -- I do consider the state of Israel a fascist state but just because Zorn has somehow got 'into his Jewish roots' really doesn't concern me.
Do you feel any impact or influence on your musical works from that point? Have you ever tried to apply ethnic music and other ethnic sources to what you do in music, poetry etc?
would depend on what you consider ethnic.
but I do have a very large collection of Indonesian and Indian and Tibetan instruments back in Amsterdam which I used on the "Opus 3.1" recording which came out along with "Ghost Stories" ---
also the little time I went to college I studied ethnomusicology for a little bit but got out of music and went into art --
however I have studied the musics of most every culture that I have been able to and it has helped me to develop a fairly universal style of music --- the sounds may be different but the structure of the music is fairly traditional when compared to triba l cultures throughout the world
What were your relations with labels? You've been on Touch for some time and how it has happened that now your CDs appear from Soleilmoon? Does it matter for you what label are you with?
not that much I can say about this
I've gotten along fairly well with all the different people who have put out my stuff.
as long as I get along with the person and trust them it doesn't matter what label I'm on -- I mean they have to be a certain sort of label to be interested in putting out my work so I think its a sort of self-selection --- they like my work and want to put it out so it would seem to follow that when we meet we get along and agree on most of the points and so things go pretty smoothly.
What is your attitude to drugs, alcohol and other stimulators? This is very often when a musician gets inspiration and creative forces from drugs of different kind. What do you think about relations between legalized drugs and society development?
drugs generally do more harm than good. psychedelics are really the only drug which have the potential to affect society development --- but we really haven't seen that happen for 30 years with the hippie movement
Please tell about what you do behind music. There are mentions about your activity in other forms of arts, like poetry, multi-media/conjunction of art forms etc.
music I've worked with visual art, and writing both non-fiction, fiction and
poetry. The last several years I've mostly been doing the non-fiction thing
-- first with a book which Temple Press in Brighton England brought out in 92.
entitled "Rhy thmajik" it was subtitled "Practical Uses Of Rhythm
Sound And Number".
and that was pretty much what it was concerned with.
the last year I have been working on a book called "Ear Drumming" subtitled "Mantic Animistic Musings On Metaphors, Mythos, Metaphonics And The Trance State".
the notion of the "metaphon" is a word I coined for sounds which are capable of altering ones state of consciousness --
I wont be looking for a traditional publisher but hope to explore the net for distribution --- using the share ware model --
so people can download the first two chapters for free and if they want the rest then they can send away and get a disc or 2 with the whole thing
It is also interesting what is your main occupation and where you income comes from, if possible?
you the truth I don't know what my main occupation is at the present. Presently
I am in extremely poor circumstances but things will probably change.
Until then I just keep working on the book and waiting for something to happen.
( "Opus 3.1" decorated with poetry and seemed to be inspired by Greek epoch. Is it just a temporary passion or serious research work?
I've been writing poetry and involved with language since I was about 12 years old so I guess you could say it's pretty serious.
well to tell you the truth I've never really read any Greek epoch -- the style is just one that has evolved over time and probably is a good example of the content defining the form, no?
You've been interesting in kabala for long period. Do you still have interest in it? What is the main connection between this occult theory and your works in arts? Have you ever tried to apply kabalistic methods to music or (what could be more applicab le) to you poetry? Have you ever felt that you've been told something directly from Higher Powers or had been dictated by God etc? 26. Can you say that there is always idea behind your album or any other piece of work? How and where can you usually get i t from? I suppose that your music is more intuitive and improvised then thought out. Can you really mature any idea for a long time?
the language work comes out of the kabalistic work.
"Rhythmajik" was basically the resetting of a classic kabalistic text called the book of formation which is divided into 4 or 5 sections. basically I adapted the content to deal specifically with sound and number [and by extension rhythm] --- the origin al text deals with the inner workings and applications of the 22 letters of the Babylonian alef bet [which later became known as biblical Hebrew].
I deal with it more from its Babylonian perspective and really with none of the trappings of Jewish mysticism which have accrued around it since the alef bet was adopted by the Jews.
anyway the letters also are numbers so it was from that perspective that I dealt with it --- that way anyone can use the various systems available with out having to learn a new alef bet -- what you basically get is a reliable and workable and non-arbitr ary semantics of numbers -- and of strings of numbers -- which then brings you to rhythms.
unfortunately the book is out of print --- Temple Press went out of business sometime in 93 or 4.
when you deal a lot with kabalistic systems it gives you a certain perspective which has allowed me to deal with the language work I do and also the sound work I do
since kabala is involved with dealing with and understanding levels of energy and forms of phenomenae it came in very handy and I guess was very responsible for my developing a form of music which was based on acoustic phenomenae.
the poems in "Opus 3.1" were composed using kabalistic methods ---
while I don't really formally engage in any kabalistic practises nor have for many years its influence is fairly all pervasive -- its like always there without my having to even think about it.
Can you say that there is always idea behind your album or any other piece of work? How and where can you usually get it from? I suppose that your music is more intuitive and improvised then thought out. Can you really mature any idea for a long time?
there is always some idea behind doing any particular piece of work --
otherwise why would I do it??
ideas come from all kinds of things --- things I see or hear or feel or hear about or read about or where or what or who or when or why ever
well there are 2 kinds of music that I do --- one is the instrumental music -- and that has a very rigorous aspect when I am working on the instrument -- then there is the process of learning how to play it --- finding out what it is capable of and how i t fits in with instruments that I already have --- at that point in a performance the music with them is improvised but within very strict limits which are imposed by the limits of the instrument and what the space produces -- so that is always the proce ss of discovery which occurs in any performance --- I know how I am going to do what will happen -- I just don't always know what I am going to do i.e. will it be a slow piece or a fast piece or what order will I play the instruments in etc.
on working on a piece for a long time ---
I've been working on "Ear Drumming" for a year now -- but that's writing
to the other form of music that I do that uses midi with a voice module that
has drum sounds and other type of sounds like brass, and string, and flute sounds
and with those sounds I put together cut ups from all sorts of cassette tapes that I find at used appliance stores and thrift stores etc. like I go into places where they sell used telephone answering machines and ill take the tapes out of them and mayb e there will be some phrases or words that ill use in conjunction with other kinds of words or phrases that come from all kinds of other kinds of tapes.
has been one of these type projects out --- John Zorn commissioned it for Avaunt
in 93 --- the music had been composed from 92 on and then it took about 6 months
to put the words to it --- but then John didn't get around to putting it out
till 1 996
in 95 I started working on the next in the series [because I see all these type of works as being related -- a kind of volume 1 volume 2 etc kind of thing]
and worked on it until 1997 when it was finished
so yes I would say that I can mature idea for a long time
Soleilmoon will be bringing out volume 2 one of these days -- they've had the master and the art work since June of 98 - don't ask me why these things take so long --- once I've delivered the goods I pretty much stop thinking about it
Do you always use instruments of your former constructions? If you start creating new sound device what are the main principles of its form, content, sounding, image etc? Do you still have problems with transporting your sound instrumentarium via borde rs?
happens is that either I go looking for instruments or they find me -- either
way that happens is that it must be from either stainless steel or titanium
and then its pretty much similar to the classic notion about sculpture -- that the image is in the stone and the artist just releases it ---
that's pretty much the process -- listening to what the piece has to say and try to help that process along as well as possible
no I haven't had a problem with instruments except for one time going into Brussels and one time going into Italy from what was then Yugoslavia -- both times it was pretty much because the customs guys were bored -- it was late at night -- and they were looking for some entertainment
Are you concerned of how your works been interpreted? Aren't you afraid of wrong interpretations of what you compose? Of course you works don't have direct meanings and may be it is even hard to interpret them at all. But I can supply with example - when I'm listening to the "Ghost Stories" I always imagine a type of friendly ghost but with bad character, his living in a garret of my house and this record is seemed as the process of his usual day, his getting awake, start to clear his garret, prepare breakfast and so on till the late evening when tired he's going to bad. This is my interpretation of "Ghost Stories" and I ask how far it is from your own meaning?
your interpretation of "Ghost Stories" sounds fine to me --- I would think that the longer you have it and listen to it that other stories might suggest themselves -- or not
I liked the term ghost stories for a title --- and it gave me a notion of how to order the sound events for the performance --- but there were no actual stories I had in mind
basically there's not that much one can do about how people take the work they do --- that kind of goes with what I said above where once I've finished a piece and delivered it I don't really think about it any more
What are your current literature preferences? Have you ever had serious impact on what you do in music and in poetry from the literature you read?
I read lately:
Robert E Howard a collection of his short stories
a complete collection of E.A.Poe -- never really read him before
yes I would
absolutely say that the literature I have read has had a major influence on
all aspects of my creativity --
those are writers that if you read them they change the way you think and will thus change how you do anything but especially if you do creative work -- and I think basically it comes out to doing work that tries to exist on as many levels as possible
What other types of art are of you interest - cinema, painting etc? How do you understand arts' conjunction in so varied artistic world with antagonism in many spheres of art.
it would be easier to say what forms of art aren't I interested in --
what is known as 'modern dance'
the kind of 'performance art' that's nothing but stand-up comedy
those are 2 things that I would pass up without really thinking that I would be missing anything
other than that pretty much anything else could get me to go see it -- but to be totally truthful I very rarely go out to see anything anymore
Please, tell about your current and future projects. What do you have in plans and schedules?
project like I said is the "Ear Drumming" book
besides that a guy named Blake Edwards brought out a really nice package of some old uns stuff
a guy named David Cotner is going to be bringing out a performance from 1997 on a label called Harz/Lion
future projects? yes they exist -- I mentioned the song of songs project for Zorn and there are some other things that I really don't want to mention because they are pretty tenuous -- as when they do come through I will certainly let you know -- but the y are not music related
Have you ever had desire to change your direction in music? Just to try to explore new forms, electronic, computers, samplers, voices, etc? Is it evident for you that sooner or later you'll have nothing to do but to repeat yourself.
well I think
if you listen to "Ghost Stories" and "Opus 3.1" you will
hear 2 different directions in music --
plus there is the music you haven't heard ["Heads And Tales V.1" out on Avaunt and the V.2 "Face The Wound" which Soleilmoon will eventually release --
so I've been doing it you just haven't heard it yet
and regarding repeating oneself ---
Pablo Cassals was a great cellist --- did anyone ever worry about him repeating himself --- and he was even playing music that was written when???
[[Pablo Cassals was a French/Spanish cellist who was considered by many to have been the finest cellist of his generation --- I guess like Yo Yo Ma is considered now --]]
I have to say I find that whole mind set that somehow an artist has to worry about 'repeating' themselves as one of the most vile things that has arisen in so called avant garde culture
How do you think what trace you music leaves in time? Will your works be heard in the nearest and far future? Do you want to leave a memory of yourself for the future generations?
well I think
my music stands up pretty well --- I think it will stick around as long as companies
continue to put it out --
I think I have something to say -- esp. in the non-fiction writing and I think that that stuff will stick around for quite a while once it gets up on the net --- and I think that "Ear Drumming" will make the opportunity for "Rhythmajik" to come back into some sort of circulation -- possibly net based also
What would you say to your Russian-speaking listeners? Can you imagine this type of audience?
can I imagine
this type of audience?????
well I've played in about 20 countries and audiences are all pretty much the same -- they are coming for an experience and I would say that I deliver them
an experience that they generally have never had before
say to my Russian speaking listeners:
its been a pleasure addressing you and I hope you got something of value from it
Selected discography of Z'EV:
1982 - Elemental Music (Subterranean)
1984 - My Favorite Things (Subterranean)
1987 - Schonste Muziek (German Dossier)
1988 - Bust This (German Dossier)
1992 - The Ghost Of One Foot In The Grave (Touch)
1996 - Head And Tales Volume 1 (Avaunt)
1998 - Opus 3.1 (Soleilmoon)
1998 - Ghost Stories (Soleilmoon)
1999 - An Uns Momento (CIP)
1999 - Face The Wound (Soleilmoon)
Dmitri Kolesnik (as a part of "THE EGG AND WE" magazine #1)
March - June , 1999.