INTERVIEW: Ken Clinger of Bovine Productions, etc.

Ken Clinger

Ken Clinger

AUTOreverse #14, Summer 2011
KEN CLINGER
interview
by Ian C Stewart

SO……DID YOU MISS AUTOreverse?
There was a definite void in the Universe, which has now once again been filled.

MUSICAL INFLUENCES QUESTION. GO.
It’s always been fairly mainstream. The first influence was Pop Music circa 1966-67, with a heavy Beatles bias. I loved how pop music got into colorful sounds, and surreal strangeness, while still being popular on a commercial level. Unfortunately at the time, I could only play rudimentary piano and even worse guitar, so the divide between what I liked and what I could do was filled with frustration.

But I also liked to play around with tape recorders, and occasionally would come across mention of people doing this seriously. In the late 70s, the combination of classical avant garde attitude and awareness of the DIY aesthetic made me realize that a minimalist approach was valid, and I started trying different things. Brian Eno was a strong influence at the time.

When Wire turned pop (after 154) Colin Newman inspired me to return to use major chords and pop progressions. The Cocteau Twins got me more back into hazy textures. Other influences are just things that momentarily catch my attention.

KEN CLINGER – SMILING PILLOWS

WHERE IS YOUR MUSIC HEADING?
I seem to have a place for anything I try in one of my series. My “KC” series, for when I pretend to be a pop/rock musician, “KCollab” for collaborations with others, and “KCX” for anything else. Basically I’m mainly continually exploring sounds, and see where they take me.

KEN CLINGER – CHAOTIC FLOWERS

WHAT MUSIC SOFTWARE DO YOU USE?
I used MOTU’s Performer from around 1991-2005, with various sound modules at different times. Now I just use Apple’s free Garageband software, supplementing it with new sound from time to time. Last year’s addition was a collection of mellotron samples, which I’m still exploring. I’m more interested in music than software, and wasn’t using most of what Performer offered, so when Garageband became available, it was great to return to a basic sequencing program. My approach isn’t that different from the old cassette 4-track days, but with more tracks, and the ability to edit.

ARE YOU PLANNING ANY OTHER SOFTWARE UPGRADES?
Not at present, other than occasional web music generation programs, like Tonematrix

WHAT’S IN YOUR STUDIO SETUP?
Right now, just my iMac and a microphone.

DO YOU WRITE ON GUITAR OR KEYBOARD?
Keyboard. Tho really just as an input device. I’m pretty much sequencing from the start. Once I have something basic to build on, I start adding new parts, and quickly am beyond what I could actually play on the keyboard. My guitar skills are so rusty and rudimentary, that everything would end up sounding like bad campfire folksongs.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SONGWRITING METHOD?
I generally have some basic style or genre in mind when I start, but intentionally mutate it. I usually start with some basic progression, and then begin adding layers and then removing layers, twisting things around, etc. Basically wherever my intuition leads me. Since my influences are usually pop song oriented, it’s easy to play around with the basic verse, chorus, middle eight format, so I tend to have the next section/part in mind as to where I’m heading, whenever I’m doing anything. I rarely start with lyrics, but because of my very limited range, I’m thinking about vocals fairly early on, with nonsense words. If something starts to gel, I shift to lyric writing, and then go back to music. I’ll often have a theme for the lyrics in mind before I start. In other words, I decide as things develop.

VISUALS BY IAN C STEWART, MUSIC BY RAY CARMEN AND KEN CLINGER “I KNEW YOU SO WELL”
THAT’S MY 1997 VACATION VIDEO OF NICK DRAKE’S GRAVE, AND MY EX-WIFE WALKING TOWARD THE CAMERA, SAYING “POOOOOPEEEE” WHEN SHE SAW ME LOOKING SO SERIOUS.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START MAKING MUSIC OF YOUR OWN?
A combination of things. As I said, I liked to play with tape recorders as a kid, and doing things like playing with speeds, playing backwards, etc. I also like to rewrite lyrics to popular songs, usually just for humor with friends. But after awhile, it would evolve into a parodying a style (usually folk ballads in the beginning). So it pretty much grew out of goofing off.

ARE YOU ACTIVE IN YOUR LOCAL MUSIC SCENE?
Nope. Unless I’m just with a few friends, it’s not fun. I get self-conscious and freeze up.

WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO COLLABORATE WITH?
Generally anyone who’s (still) interested in collaborating with me, after hearing what I do. I tend to prefer to “finish off” material that’s sent to me. It’s always interesting to find out what the result will be like.

IS THERE ANY OTHER MUSIC STUFF THAT YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT?
Nothing’s blowing me away at present, with my rather conservative tastes. The last exciting time for me was when Trip Hop was big. The attitude towards sound was similar to the mid 60s, but with new technology. I still follow bands from that era, such as Massive Attack, Morcheeba, Lamb and Hooverphonic. I always pick up anything new by Radiohead or Death Cab for Cutie. But I have a fondness for bands like neo-60s pop bands Pugwash or The (recently disbanded) Pillbugs. My latest purchase was actually Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” which has only recently been released in real stereo for the first time.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU, MUSICALLY SPEAKING?
No plans. I’m working on KCollab.28 and KC.57, and some KCX around KCX.30. After that I’ll be working on KCollab.29, KC.58, and the next higher KCX.

WHAT DID I FORGET TO ASK YOU?
You’ll have to go under hypnosis therapy to find out.

OVER THE YEARS I’VE NOTICED THAT YOUR WORK HAS A CERTAIN … insouciance…. HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THAT?
Not really caring how things turn out.

WHERE CAN PEEPS FIND YOUR MUSIC ONLINE TO PURCHASE OR WHATEVER?
Since I do music for fun, I don’t like to get money involved, so these days the easiest way is to just download at various places. But I still do trading CDRs, for people into that.

WHAT SERVICES DO YOU USE FOR PEOPLE TO DOWNLOAD YER STUFF, AND DO YOU LIKE IT? SHOULD I USE IT?
The main places are soundclick and last.fm, because they’re free, and don’t have limits on how many tracks can be uploaded. I occasionally upload individual tracks at soundcloud and reverbnation, if I want them out before the project they’re on is finished.

The easiest way to find downloads is by going to http://bovine.productions.angelfire.com/
which has links to various sites.

WHERE DO YOU FIND THE ENERGY TO KEEP CREATING AFTER ALL THIS TIME?
It’s just something I do after I wake up, on days I don’t have to work. After a few hours I’m tired, and take a nap, and then wake up and live my regular life.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
This weekend, I hope to upload some unfinished pieces for anyone to collaborate on, on Bryan Baker’s Homemade Music site and encourage others to do the same, with their own neglected, unfinished pieces. I still have to figure out how I’m going to word it. Once I’ve done it, I’ll post it here and elsewhere.

WHAT’S THE URL FOR YOUR MAIN WEBSITE?
Ever since AOL shut down the website I worked on for several years, I didn’t feel like starting over. So all I have now is the Angelfire link pages at http://bovine.productions.angelfire.com, as well as the Facebook Ken Clinger and Bovine Productions pages.

full discography
KC.01 to KC.57
KCX.00 to KCX.32
KCollab.01 to KCollab.28
KCM.00 to KCM.21
Winnie & Friends compilation series.

thank you, Ken!

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