Will Guthrie - I will forever be a student of music

‘Nist-Nah' is a contemporary percussion album marked by music from Indonesia and made by Nantes-based Australian drummer Will Guthrie.

Why did you want to make a Gamelan record?  

Will Guthrie: I am careful about saying this is a ‘gamelan record’, or that the music is Indonesian. It's more like a contemporary percussion album that continues my work using gongs, resonant metals and other percussion, but of course it is influenced by different Indonesian music(s). I wanted to make a record using Gamelan as I have been interested in different music(s) from Indonesia for a long time, and I'm also very interested in using the different instruments and also wanted to work with a set of tuned percussion that had the same tunings. And even with that in mind, I wouldn’t call it a ‘Gamelan record’ as such.

Do you feel you master the Gamelan genre?  

In terms of music, I like to think I have mastered nothing. I just keep working on the things that interest me, in their different and evolving forms. 

Do you see yourself as a student of Gamelan music?

There is no one ‘gamelan music’, it’s like saying jazz, or classical music. There are many different musics played in Indonesia, and even just looking at Java and Bali the music is incredibly different, and within that there are many different musics that are played for different religious, ceremonial, and cultural events. I will forever be a student of music, including certain things in Indonesian music(s) that interest me, but also many other music. 

Who are the other players on the record? 

It’s just me on the record. But I have formed an ensemble to play the music, with 7 other musicians.

Why are you interested in metal percussion? 

Because gongs, bells, bowls etc allow me to use a melodic and harmonic element in my music.

Are these recording impovisations or compositions?

They are compositions, each piece was conceived before I played them, and I had very specific ideas I wanted to achieve for each piece.

What does the title ‘Nist-Nah' mean? 

Nist-Nah is an invented word I use often when talking to my kids, we often talk in ‘invented (silly)’ languages. 

Joeri Bruyninckx
www.will-guthrie.com