AUTOreverse #14, summer 2011
Ian C Stewart
John, thanks for answering a few questions. Let’s start with that old chestnut, influences. Who are your biggest musical influences and why?
If you mean who do I think I want to sound like, that depends on when the release came out. My style has changed a couple of times since I started in 1986.
My earliest experiences with electronic music were Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. I was crazy about anything with synthesizers in it.
I also liked a lot of Prog bands because they tended to use synths. Then I found some of the academic stuff, musique concrete and the like, Karlheinz Stockhausen, etc. I moved into noise and actual experimental stuff when I discovered RRRecords.
Where do you see your music heading?
I’m building my own synth right now so I expect I’ll be spending more time on that kind of thing. I’ve gotten tired of the virtual synths because of their lack immediate gratification. I have been researching different ways of controlling them through MIDI but there can be a bit of a learning curve sometimes and I’m a bit lazy at the moment.
Hey, me too. What music software do you use?
For composition I usually use Fruity Loops Studio with lots of VST synths and effects.
Is there any other music software you plan on getting?
Not really at the moment. I hardly use the ones I’ve got and have dozens of free virtual synths and haven’t spent any time learning how much they can do. Just gone through the presets, which was not my way of working at the beginning.
This is part of the problem for me. I always tried to make my own sounds. But now there’s too many choices. It was much easier when I only had my CZ-1000 and a few effects. I was forced to squeeze everything I could out of them.
That’s true. What’s in your home studio setup?
A dual-core computer with virtual synths. Absynth 3,4,5 being the primary instruments, MTron Mellotron virtual, Arturia Modular Moog virtual, two keyboard controllers and an M-Audio Trigger Finger, and various outboard gear I don’t use very much unless I’m working live.
Do you write on keyboards or guitar?
I use the keyboard most of the time.
Can you tell us a little about your latest release?
I have four music projects running at the moment. ‘kirchenkampf’, >wirewall<, JDG, and The Oratory of Divine Love. The latest release was a collaboration between me as ‘kirchenkampf’ and Pixyblink. I thought it came out quite well.
I agree, it’s one of the cooler things I’ve heard this year.
I had heard Pixyblink’s stuff on Myspace and contacted her about collaborating. Her stuff is a bit on creepy/horror/Gothic side so I thought it would be interesting to see what came of a collaboration. The release is called Nevermore and Nevertheless. There are track samples on the label web site.
I’m planning another solo ‘kirchenkampf’ release soon. There was a new JDG release on Soundcloud with my first use of cloud generator program called Atomic Cloud. Not real deep but I liked the result. The other projects will be released when I get an idea for them.
Can you describe your writing methods?
Well, each project was set up to express a different way of making music, so it will vary on each project. ‘kirchenkampf’ is the main expression of electronic music for me and primarily uses synths.
>wirewall< is my noise project using really harsh electronic sounds with no reverb.
JDG is my conceptual project, a sort of catch-all of music that won’t fit into the others.
The Oratory of Divine Love is my radio-based project. It only uses a radio run through my effects gear. This is the only project that has had any live expression and even when I record there are no overdubs. It’s primarily a performance project, which has made it the most obvious to do live.
As to methodology, when I’m doing a ‘kirchenkampf’ recording there is usually a period of playing around until a sound grabs me and then I build on that. Sometimes a title comes to me for a release and then I start building parts for that. I usually like to have some kind of over-arching theme for the release but considering the kind of music I make it really doesn’t make all that much difference. But the theme is usually played out in the titles for the tracks, when there are any, and it’s all in the imagination of the listener anyway. As far as I’m concerned you can pay attention to the titles or not.
What made you decide to start making music of your own?
It is one of those “I have to do this” impulses. It’s not as strong as it was when I was younger, but I can’t see myself ever NOT making music no matter how many other people are interested in it. I primarily make the music for my own amusement anyway.
Are you active in your local music scene?
Not really, although I’ve started to become more interested in playing live and so have joined an electronic music group centered in Indianapolis, IN called IEMC, which sponsors live concerts a couple of times a year. I did one this year in the guise of my radio-based project The Oratory of Divine Love. About 35 people were there and I enjoyed myself, so I guess it was successful. I’d like to do more live work and am in the process of getting a portable rig set up for just that. And when the synth is built I hope I will get an opportunity to use that live as well.
That sounds like fun. Who would you like to collaborate with on new music?
Anyone interested. I would like to create a jazz/drone/noise trio based around a sax, my synth gear and drums/percussion – real, or prerecorded loops. So if anyone is interested, get in touch.
That also sounds like fun. What other artists are you’re excited by?
I really don’t follow a lot of experimental bands, although I have the new Yen Pox 10″. Steve Hall and I are friends from the 80’s. That’s very good. I tend to relive old favorites from the 70’s and 80’s music-wise, jazz and 70’s rock, 80’s synth pop bands, big surprise, and replacing my vinyl with CDs.
I’m also interested in avant-garde classical, John Cage, Xenakis, Ligeti, Penderecki, Messiaen, along with early modern classical, Stravinsky, Mahler. I also like the minimalists as well. Anything that is interesting sonically will usually turn me on. I don’t make much a distinction about when it was made. I can enjoy Bach, Beethoven and Brahms as well.
What’s next for you, musically speaking?
More live performances, I hope.
What’s the URL for your website?
Where can we find a discography of your stuff?
On Discogs. I’ve got some friends who have been keeping it up to date for me.
thank you, John!