Paul Schütze interview 2010

PAUL SCHÜTZE ist ein Künstler, dessen Arbeit wir bei aufabwegen schon viele Jahre verfolgen und schätzen. Besonders seine CDs aus den 1990er Jahren, in denen er filmisch-abstrakte und meist elektronische Klänge mit geheimnisvollen Feldaufnahmen und gamelan-Sounds kombiniert gelten hier als Klassiker. In den 00er Jahren haben wir Schütze etwas aus den Augen verloren. Ende 2009 spielte er ein seltenes Konzert in Hamburg, im Rahmen des Ausklang-Festivals der Hörbar. Dieses Ereignis nahmen wir zum Anlass für ein Interview mit Paul Schütze. Das Interview wurde per E-Mail geführt, die Antworten von Paul Schütze stammen aus dem Januar 2010.

AA: Can you give us a brief update on what you have been up to musically in the last years? My impression was that you have been mainly focussing on your work as a visual artist and making archive material available online. Have you been writing/producing new musical material lately?

PS: While it is true the last few years have been spent making photographs and installations for my gallery shows I have not abandoned music. It was time to take a step back. I was very unsatisfied with a lot of the music being made and the context in which it was assessed. I have no interest in a world where every composer sits only with a laptop or performs with a laptop.
The concerts I was hearing were entirely pointless. I had to be passionate about the idea of music again.

I have made some works for film and installation including the five hour piece for Roden Crater and a soundtrack for the film Island Universe by the American artist Josiah McElheny. Recently I have been playing concerts with Simon Hopkins again. We also have a new project called Nape.
This could be described as perhaps Art-Metal. This is my passion. Super minimal works like early Feldman or Steve Peters or the super maximal sound of  Meshuggah and Zu.

AA: Your name was strongly associated with the so-calle „fourth world“ subgenre of ambient, espcially in the 1990ies in the UK. What are your thoughts about that period in your work when you look back now? I personally think there were some great artists and some new ways of reassessing Eno’s and hassell’s early work but it didn’t last too long.

AA: I agree there was some great work but not much of it evolved beyond it’s infancy. Hassell’s early work now sounds far better than most of the music it spawned and I include my own in that. It is very unsatisfactory simply borrowing elements from other musical traditions. Almost always the results will be kitsch. The novelty will age very badly. What Jon did so brilliantly
was take these traditional elements and then develop his own voice. This takes a lot of work and skill.

AA: You have been working closely with Andrew Hulme of O Yuki Conjugate and produced one of their albums. how did this come about, are there new collaborations planned, are you in any way involved in the anniversary activities of OYC?

AA: Andrew and I became good friends soon after I  moved to London nearly twenty years ago. We have worked together on Fell and also on some music
for films. I produced the album Equator for the Conjugates but no, with the new anniversary celebrations I am enjoying it from the sidelines.

AA: Can you give us some insight about your working methods in music? How does a track unfold? Does it sometimes start from extra-musical inspiration or is it always developed out of trying out things in a studio environment?

PS: I used to have a method which was to start with a sound and allow the sound to lead me. i need to be seduced. I am a sybarite! Now I do not have a studio and this is quite liberating in many ways. I have to develop a working method for each new project based on the needs of the project. For Island Universe I wanted to record my friend Takuya playing oboe so I came to Paris with my Zoom and got him to improvise to a set of images I proposed. I then returned to various studios and added components, edited, re shaped things and then sent everything to a studio in Melbourne where Franc Tetaz mixed the final five pieces. With the Nape project I wrote all the pieces in Logic and then Simon and Kevin Pollard (bass) learned every note and recorded the parts. All the Logic audio was then mixed and mastered again in Melbourne with Franc who I love to work with. While we mixed we watched Holy Mountain on a big screen with the sound off.

AA: I remember some of your earlier works being influenced by gamelan music and the intricate patterns of gongs. Is this something you still relate to?

PS: I am still fascinated by Gamelan. I think it is enormously sensuous while being rhythmically almost aggressive. The first time I heard it was in Java coming across a lake in the middle of the night. I will never forget this. I bought two very beautiful large javanese gongs specifically for the Roden recording.

AA: Some work has been wirtten for films and dance productions, do you still work in those fields?

PS: Yes, as I mentioned Andrew Hulme and I do some sound design together and I have just written for Josiah. I also worked with Isaac Julien on a film of his which later evolved into a dance performance.

AA: You have been working in a more techno-like vein under the aliasses of Seed and Uzect Plauch. Is this something you still want to persue in the future?

PS: Not really. It doesn’t excite me at all now.

AA: One of your early albums appeared on the german label „Stimme des Volkes“ (SDV). What was the connection?

PS: They approached me when I moved to London in 19992 and in fact released two albums Rapture of Metals and Isabelle Eberhardt. Immediately after the second release they disappeared completely and I never heard from them again.

AA: Lastly: do you see a continuity in your work between Laughing Hands and your solo work? Are you still in contact with the original members of that group? Do you know what they are up to musically?

PS: This is an interesting question as I have been thinking about it a lot recently. With the solo work there is a limited connection but the real thread is with my duet improvisations with Simon. I was listening to the recording of a concert we gave at the Hörbar in Hamburg last week and it really has a similar quality of communication to that in the later Laughing Hands recordings I made with Ian Russell. I think this is possibly because I have close friendships with both of them so the lines of communication are very deep. By coincidence also they are both guitarists. Also by coincidence a German label (VOD Records) has expressed interest in re-issuing the rare cassette material Ian and I released on vinyl sometime in 2011 so I am thinking more about this period as a consequence.

I still have contact with Ian who has become a very interesting visual artist and designer. He is not making much music. As to the other member of LH I believe Gordon works in music and Paul Widdicombe I do not know.

Das Hörbar Konzert als kostenloser Download:

Interview: Till Kniola
Besten Dank an Robert B. Osten, Aurinia Verlag, für die Unterstützung.