N O   P A R T   O F   I T
Far more important than baking bread is the urge to take dough -beating to the extreme - Otto Muehl

Monday, April 13, 2020

Interview Series #14: dave phillips

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.   

Scheduled in March 2019
I wonder how many people will read this having not heard of dave phillips.  I started this series of "interviews" partly wanting to pick the brains of a number of people whose work I do not fully have at hand.  In dp's case, I have heard/bought quite a lot of it, he is very prolific, and interviewed him once before already, but I would add that he is still one of the foremost and distinctive noise artists in the history of the genre.  I'm not necessarily speaking in terms of popularity, but the most innovative, yet utilitarian approach to the totally open-ended idea of being able to do whatever one wants with recordings.  At times it is as raw and primal as it is classical and precise, transcending simple "fluxus" or "avant-garde" appelations.  His work is a genuine mythos of its own.  With that, at the risk of saying something less articulate than I have in the past, I'll just add a quote from the previous interview:

When I saw him perform twice last year (2011), both sets were distinctly different, but both succeeded in affecting a certain aboriginal feeling in my body, by way of subsonic frequencies or animal instincts or what-have-you, and bypassed my natural inclination to be turned off by what I would normally call sanctimonious presentations in a performance context. One set consisted of several layers of untreated insect field recordings, like a choir that was conducted into an exhilarating sort of Eno-esque hum. Dave passed around infosheets that expounded upon the importance of bugs in the entire scheme of our food chain, and sat barefoot Indian style.

The second set was even more visceral, a video montage of animals being skinned alive, a live wolf getting its leg hacked off and its head stomped into mush, or a dead monkey with the word “CRAP” carved into its forehead occupied the screen alongside messages like “errare humanum est” or “the self some imagine surviving death is a phantom even in life”. Walking around with a mask on, breathing into remote loop pedals, and triggering various sounds of animals screaming over string samples, Phillips chiseled together a dizzying miasma of tragically unnecessary pain, graphically unrelenting death, and the intrinsically cruel nature of human condition, who in its “civilized” state, refuses to tend to the ugly corners of reality. It was still the most effective exhibition I have ever seen, and I think that Dave Phillips will be remembered as a shining example of someone who transcended academic circles and noise or music scenes alike.

1.  What types of things have you been getting into lately?

cooking, again and again. i love spending time in the kitchen creating dishes and refining recipes. and then eating :o) i've been experimenting with kim-chi since about a year, the way it dances on the tongue amazes me. also my kombucha seems to be improving.
and books, again and again. i'm probably more inspired/driven by books than by music. i just finished 'the dispossessed' by ursula le guin, before that 'sapiens' by harari which i found devastating in places. i just started 'facing gaia' by bruno latouri also been reading lots in connection with gathering texts for my new lp called 'the sixth mass extinction'. happy stuff. 
and music, of course, never-ending joy! new discoveries happen all the time, even when they might only be new to me... 

2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby? 

such dualistic distinctions don't really cover the spectrum of possible realities, if you ask me. i have the privilege of being able to dedicate all my time to doing what i love.

3.  How would you describe what you do?

to live! dealing with the world i live in and the mind i live in and having a channel that suits me. having the privilege to do what i love and following that passion.

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?


5.  How would you describe your philosophy?

ugh. what drives me seems to be a diverse ecosystem of things that work together in conscious, subconscious and unconscious ways. i'm not sure i understand it all (consciously). but i've tried to formulate it, again and again. texts such as the one to 'homo animalis' were a start. the text part of rise was a big step in the direction of defining a philosophy. but there's so many angles to it all, i can't put them in a simple answer here. here's a bit of philosophy but that's regarding the mutations project.... http://www.davephillips.ch/assets/img/pdf/mutations_live_set_leaflet.pdf.. also my website should be including a text page in the near future...

6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?

it's a matter of definition, isn't it? i'd say, i don't believe in things supernatural - i don't believe in "gods or ghosts", but there's often a "but...". cause i don't think "reality" is defined solely by things that can be proven scientifically or empirically. i also don't think human knowledge is as developed as it could be, there are many things we have yet to understand, and there's things out there, connections, energies or whatever you wanna call it, that we just can't describe yet, maybe not even perceive fully. to assume that we have all the knowledge it needs to understand or explain all that is going on seems pompous. also understanding has different levels, not just a rational one, we can understand with our gut, with our heart, maybe with other senses. and then some of these senses might not be quite developed yet (or have shrivelled)...and then we also have the restriction of language, of the formulated, categorical way of understanding the world. a dominant way coz it appeals to simple male rationality, but a loss in terms of understanding the world fully. 
for i do believe life is magical in essence. but what i mean by magic could be something else than what you mean...

7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?

there's many, hardly just one. hearing insects at sunset in a tropical rainforest for the first time. meeting people who have become parts of my life - the intense magic of love and friendship. some concerts played and tours made and the energies these generated have had impacts that are beyond words and could be called "definitive" or "transformative". my first astral projection. the first time i experienced the swans live. some friends dying in front of my eyes or in my arms are pretty definitive experiences. and when one's body chemistry combines with a loved other's body chemistry and takes you to new dimensions...

8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?

there's been some short-lived side-projects that i'm quite sure you don't know about.
and i like to think there's a good enough reason that people don't know certain things about me and it's okay if it stays that way - until someone asks.

9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"? 

on a desert island i reckon i'd prefer to listen to insects and waves...

as for 'perfect' albums, hm.... morton feldman 'piano and string quartet', rothko chapel', 'neither' and 'for samuel beckett' and more.... venom 'welcome to hell'. amebix 'no sanctuary'. coil 'horse rotorvator' - actually, a lot of their stuff is pfp. nurse with wound 'homotopy to marie' and 'salt marie celeste'... and a few others of their's too. non 'blood and flame'. etant donnes 'bleu' and 'aurore'. john duncan 'dark market boradcast'. die kreuzen's first lp. autopsy 'mental funeral'. ustvolskaya symphonies 3 and 4 and her 'composition II'. ligeti's first string quartet and his requiem. lots of penderecki's 60's and 70's orchestral works. extreme noise terror's side of the split-lp with chaos uk. rudimentary peni 'cacophony'. butthole surfers 'locust abortion technician' and a lot of their stuff before that. the mob 'let the tribe increase'. rattus lp on ratcage. carcass 'symphonies of sickness'. foetus 'hole', 'nail' and 'thaw'. luigi nono's tape works. akira tamba's 'musique de nô'. stations of the crass. the shining soundtrack. laibach 'baptism' and 'nova akropola'. jerry goldsmith 'omen II' soundtrack. scelsi's orchestral works. schnittke's requiem. swans' first two lp's. septic death's first album. melvins first lp. killdozer 'little baby buntin'. big black 'atomizer'. godflesh 'streetcleaner'. cryptic slaughter 'convicted'. sortsind 'sår'. silencer 'death pierce me'. john carpenter 'the fog' and 'halloween III' soundtracks. 'the exorcist' soundtrack. corrupted's 'llenandose de gusanos 1' and their early singles. charles m. bogert's 'sounds of north american frogs'. captain beefheart's 'trout mask replica'. gore's first two lp's. the haters 'in the shade of fire'. the shaggs 'philosophy of the world'. those 3 lp's of tibetan rituals recorded in bhutan by john levy. tiny tim's early works. that thai boxing music cd i picked up in thailand in 1994. mob 47's early stuff. the mrr 'welcome to 1984' comp lp. diamanda galas 'divine punishment' and 'litaneis of satan'. 'gong gede 3' by isi denpasar. repulsion 'horrified'. terrorizer 'world downfall'. napalm death's 1st and 2nd peel session. a lot of rudolf eb.er's work. abba 'gold'. the more i reflect the more stuff pops up... 

10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?

there are two. one is coming home from a visit to france, arriving at our appartement block - there was a special atmosphere, something in the air. and the other, not being able to get into this green short-sleeve overall that i had grown out of, which upset me. i was around three years old in both of those memories, but i don't know which one came first.

11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent? 

sure. it would seem impossible to imagine one's self agreeing fully to everything a person stands for or does, whose music or art one likes. i mean, we're all flawed...

12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?  Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out. 

this can change every week. last sunday it was tiny tim was (not for the first time) during many hours in the kitchen drinking wine and preparing vietnamese spring rolls with my partner. early this year it's been greta thunberg.
other than that i've always had a soft spot for people who stand up for and fight for their beliefs and prioritise this fight more than their personal well-being, their comfort or safety, especially in defence of animals, the environment and human rights.
13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote? 

i like collecting quotes. some of them end up as song titles or in my video works. a "favourite", hm.... maybe "it's better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven't done" that i know from the butthole surfers.
an epitaph - i'd prefer to have none. i have different ideas about ways to die where my body would not be found... thus maybe forfeiting the necessity of a grave or an epitaph...we'll see.