Carl Stone is an American composer currently based in both Japan and Los Angeles who is a pioneer of live computer music, having used computers in live performance since 1986. Stone studied composition at the California Institute of the Arts with Morton Subotnick and James Tenney. Stone’s newest album, Stolen Car, is out via Unseen Worlds. Joshua Minsoo Kim and Stone talked on the phone on September 9th, 2020 to discuss studying under Subotnick and Tenney, how his approach to music has changed over time, and more.
Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hello! This is Joshua, is this Carl?
Carl Stone: It is! Hi Joshua, how’re you doing?
I’m good, how are you?
Pretty good, thanks.
How has your day been? Are you okay out there in California?
Yeah, we had a big heat wave over the weekend. It’s cooler now. I was just looking at—I’m down in the south so we have some fires going, but it’s nothing like up north. I’ve been looking at some photos of the sky in the Bay Area. It’s like nothing anyone has ever seen before. Where are you?
I’m a little bit outside of Chicago. It’s definitely nothing like what’s happening in the Bay Area right now.
It’s pretty wild! Anyway, how’re you doing?
I’m good, I just had a busy day. I’m a school teacher, on Wednesdays we have meetings all day long. I’m a little tired, but it’s 6pm now so it’s been a few hours. It can be draining just being on Zoom for an entire day.
Well thank you for making time for me!
Of course! I wanted to ask you, do you make your own hot sauce? Have you ever made your own hot sauce?
My own hot sauce? Well, I make different salsas. I guess they’re kind of like hot sauce.
What’s your favorite type of salsa to make? What are your salsas usually like?
I kind of make it Mexican style. A lot of cilantro, onion, garlic, tomato. This time of year I use hatch chiles, which are in season right now. I like chipotle [peppers] very much.
I’ve been trying to get into hot sauce. I like spicy food in general but do you have any recommendations for hot sauces that I would be able to buy online? I’m just curious if you have any recommendations, because I know you’re into hot sauces, or at least were.
It kind of depends what you’re shooting for. Are you looking for something with a vinegar base, like Tabasco-style?
I’m definitely a huge fan of all things vinegar.
Oh, you are! Well there was this one really good chili lime… let’s see if I still have the bottle… there’s a chili lime hot sauce that I found somewhere… (looking through cabinets). No, I guess I used it all up. It was really awesome. I could try to find the brand and send you a link or something [Editor’s note: Stone later emailed me a link to Frank’s RedHot sauce, of which there is a Chili ‘n Lime version].
Eiko Ishibashi is a singer-songwriter and composer who has worked both solo and collaboratively with artists such as Jim O’Rourke, Merzbow, Yamamoto Tatsuhisa, and Darin Gray. Throughout her 20s, Ishibashi played drums in the art rock band Panicsmile. She has also created music for numerous plays, installations, and films, including the Japanese theatrical release of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire. Throughout the past year, Ishibashi has released numerous albums, including Hyakki Yagyō on Black Truffle. Joshua Minsoo Kim talked with Ishibashi on September 18th, 2020 to discuss the films and albums that impacted her as a child, her recent albums, and more. Special thanks to O’Rourke for interpreting.
Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hi Eiko! How are you?
Eiko Ishibashi: Hi! Thank you for having me.
Of course, I’m a big fan. You’ve been doing a lot of great stuff this year so I wanted to talk. You’re probably my favorite artist of the year.
Eiko Ishibashi: Thank you, thank you.
I was wondering—did you two watch an episode of Law & Order last night (laughter). [Editor’s note: O’Rourke mentioned watching Law & Order every day in our previous interview].
Eiko Ishibashi: I didn’t see it! I usually go to an onsen every day, and during that time Jim is cooking and watching Law & Order (laughter).
Jim O’Rourke: They don’t have it here with subtitles anymore.
Eiko Ishibashi: But I like to watch it, always (laughter).
What do you like about it?
Eiko Ishibashi: [Jack] McCoy (laughs). I just love McCoy’s character. I love how the show always has the same structure, how the first half is about pursuing the criminal and the second half is about how they’re gonna get him in jail (laughter).
Thanks for sharing that (laughs). I wanted to start off by asking you—what’s the earliest memory you have of creating music?
Eiko Ishibashi: I made 8mm films but I didn’t want them to be silent, so I made music with a cassette multitrack recorder. So it was at first for these films.
What kind of films were these? And how old were you when you made them?
Eiko Ishibashi: I was 19 when I started making them. They were more abstract, like me shooting spiral staircases and other architecture—there was nothing narrative.
What was the music like?
Eiko Ishibashi: Mostly just field recordings with piano.
I know you’ve talked about films being a big influence in your work. Do you see films as being the primary influence for you when you create any art?
Eiko Ishibashi: I was always more personally connected with film because I watched films from a young age, and would sometimes watch them with my mother. And especially, it was these stranger films I watched that I felt had a direct relation to my life. I wasn’t ever as close to music as I was with film at the time.
Of course, there’s an influence that film has on my art but it’s never the case that a film inspires me to make something—there isn’t a direct correlative. It’s more so that film has shaped my aesthetics and way of looking at life, and that affects how I make music. Music has to go through the filter of me being me before it comes back out again.
Was your mom really into film as well?
Eiko Ishibashi: Both of my parents watched a lot of films. A lot of war films, especially. (laughter). It wasn’t so much that the whole family would sit down and watch a movie together—it wasn’t that kind of cheery image.
Jim O’Rourke: Film was a really big part of the culture in Japan up until maybe the late ’80s—an enormous amount of magazines, lots of critics.
Eiko Ishibashi: Right, right.
Jim O’Rourke: That’s just some context, sorry.
No, it’s all good, I appreciate it! Would you say that you were close with your parents when you were younger?
Eiko Ishibashi: (laughs with O’Rourke, the two talk at length in Japanese).
Jim O’Rourke: You might be able to tell that it was a bit complicated (laughter). Japanese families are very difficult in the first place. It’s very normal for the father to be absent, and if the mother doesn’t pick up the slack for that, then there isn’t much of a feeling that kids were really wanted in the first place (laughs).
Eiko Ishibashi: My father was considerably older than my mother, about 12 years older. He was definitely from a different generation so it felt like my parents were and weren’t there. Nonetheless, I still feel like I was lucky.
Lucky in what way?
Eiko Ishibashi: My mother was ridden with angst, so I felt like I had the chance to create my own world because my mother wasn’t imposing her world on me.
Tori Kudo began performing music in Tokyo in the 1970s. He has collaborated with his wife Reiko Kudo for more than four decades. Using the band name Noise, they released their first album 天皇 (meaning Emperor) in 1980. Since then they have produced innumerable solo releases as well as several albums of original compositions performed by themselves, and a naïve orchestra called Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Forrest McCuller corresponded with Tori Kudo for several days to produce the following interview. The questions were translated from English to Japanese using Google Translate before they were sent, and the replies were sent back each time in English. The results have been reverse-translated where necessary, and lightly edited for clarity.
Forrest McCuller: How was your childhood? When did you start playing music?
Tori Kudo: When I was born the scars of World War II still remained. There were many movie theaters and individual shops in the town. Eventually, with the advent of large supermarkets and the spread of cars, the town’s shopping districts disappeared. Craftsmen such as blacksmiths and plasterers were gone. At the end of the Vietnam War chemical fertilizers and pesticides were produced by the raw materials that the United States pressed against Japan, and many organisms such as insects were killed. As the riverwall construction work progressed, eels stopped climbing the river. For music, I learned organ from the age of two and a half.
How did you start playing experimental music?
I don’t know why, but I thought the world did not deserve me.
Was it a way to withdraw from normal work?
I had been a construction worker but I’m now a driver of a library car. Did you know John Cage was a driver of a school bus?
Many experimental music and noise were recorded in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s, but still rare in Britain and the United States. Why do you think it became popular in Japan so quickly?
Although the Far East underground as a fringe would have looked like a frontier of music, it was just by dé-re-territorialisation under too deep reading and misreading of Western trends. It meant that Europe found its own strange shadow of itself as an other cape.
I understand what you mean except for the expression “an other cape.”
L’autre cap is from Derrida.
When you met Reiko Kudo, do you think it was easy for the two of you to collaborate?
I found Reiko was a real poet, so it was easy for me to play with her.
In my experience, creative people are often at odds. They are often competitive over ideas of creative control. If that was not the case between the two of you I wonder if you have insights as to why?
Insights came later. I was in struggle, yes. But that led me to explore the issue of the organizational theory of anarchism.
Was Maher Shalal Hash Baz the result of anarchist organizing principles from the beginning? What principles did you get into the habit of using?
It was an inverted triangle, after a study of Eastern Asian, anti-Japanese armed front and NY punk.
You were a member of an anti-Japanese group. In an interview with MTV Europe, you mentioned your involvement in a plan to “[assassinate] the emperor.” Was the group you associated with part of the Japanese Red Army? I’m wondering this because of their relationship with Les Rallizes Dénudés.
I was influenced by a thinker named Ryu Ota. Yes, there were many acquaintances in the Red Army.
What happened with the plot against Hirohito? Could you tell me that story?
Some of the members pretended to be campers on the river beside the railway bridge and ambushed the royal train, but they were checked by the police and the plan failed. After that, volunteers from the Ainu and Okinawan gathered and talked about killing all the Japanese people, but they ended up getting drunk.
When I was at a publisher called Black Front, my boss was detained for throwing feces on the emperor’s face, but it was for making himself more important among the anarchists.
24th September 2020 - Stream begins at 9PM - via les ateliers claus Facebook page.
Thurston Moore and his band will be performing live from Rough Trade East, in celebration of 'BY THE FIRE, his incredible new solo album released 25th September on Daydream Library Series. This is a world exclusive event, with an epic 60 minute performance set to be streamed live and direct from the iconic Rough Trade East stage, for the first time.
With a multi camera in-store production, and co-Direction from Marc Swadel (DOP on 'Stone Roses: Made of Stone' documentary and The Chemical Brothers Grammy nominated Japanese concert film 'Don't Think), the band will be performing songs from the new album live, exclusively for the very first time, on the evening before the album is released. Thurston will be performing material from BY THE FIRE, and will be joined by My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Googe, and percussionist Jem Doulton.
16h00 - 16h30 Ben Bertrand
16h30 - 16h50 Limpe Fuchs
16h50 - 17h30 Caroline Profanter
17h30 - 18h30 Aksak Maboul
18h30 - 20h00 dj Frans Claus
Philip Corner is an American composer and founding member of Fluxus who has studied with composers such as Otto Luening, Henry Crowell, and Olivier Messiaen. He’s composed numerous works for piano, resonant metals, and more. In light of his new release on Recital, Joshua Minsoo Kim talked with Philip Corner on the phone via Skype on August 27th, 2020 to discuss his interest in dance and architects, the composers he feels closest with, and his love for François Couperin’s The Mysterious Barricades.
Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hello! Can you hear me? Sorry, I’m a little late.
Philip Corner: Yeah, I can hear you.
Good, perfect. Sorry. It’s a little early, I needed to make sure I had everything right with my phone’s settings. I just wanted to say thank you so much for doing this, I really appreciate it. I’m a big fan of your work, so this is an honor for me.
Well I’ve heard good things about you too!
(laughs). How has your day been? How are you doing?
You know, I’m fine. I’m very happy to be in Italy. I can go out and have a—this morning I went out and got a prosecco, I usually have an iced coffee or something. I go out with my wife in the morning and sit at a café outside. That’s permitted with face masks and spatial separation. Aside from that we don’t go anywhere. I’d like to go visit family in Amsterdam but I can’t go because I’d be afraid to come back—or not be able to come back—into the country. Traveling across borders can be difficult, but we’re not anxious to do any travel. Basically I’m just hanging at home, and yeah, I’m doing some stuff.
That’s good. I wanted to ask, I’ve been curious—your wife Phoebe [Neville], how did you first meet her?
Before I answer, can I ask you why you’re interested in that?
Well, I guess, for my interviews I like to ask questions that are more conversational in general—
I’m kind of resistant to anecdotal details.
Okay, no problem!
Personal things—I find most of that irrelevant. In a certain sense you can say very simply that I met her in the context of the Judson Dance Theater, so that brings us together aesthetically, acoustically, and physically.
She’s been a dancer and improviser and choreographer. That connection comes way way back to the early ’60s on a professional level. Then it just kind of grew over the years into something more. The funny thing is that I’ve never written anything for her, in the sense of writing music for her choreography. She was really mostly a choreographer. I was doing these improvisations and I went through a long period when I was doing a kind of at-home improvisation every day, like a meditation for myself or for whoever else that wanted to be there. I had several private sessions with Phoebe where I improvised and she would, in a spontaneous way, do what you can certainly call improvised movement.
Then we developed that. She was the first person I had ever done anything like that for in a more developed, professional sense. We did something at The Kitchen; that was the big coming out of my private improvisations. After she came to Italy we were especially doing a lot of things where she improvises and I improvise with her. We hadn’t done that for quite a few years, but there was a time in the early ’90s where we were doing it a lot in Italy. When I went back to New York there were a whole bunch of dancers I worked with there. We would all get together and Phoebe would dance with some of the other dancers. So that’s the connection.