mardi 14 septembre 2010
1 Hi Ian and thank you for your according time for this interview. For the benefit of Synth&Sequences readers; how Arc was born and what are the definition and inspiration of this name?
Hi, well I've known Mark Shreeve since we first both played at the very first UK Electronica event in Milton Keynes in 1983. However for a while our musical paths took very different routes. And then sometime around 1997 we just decided that this was a good time for us to work together. No real reason it just seemed right - Mark was experimenting with his big Moog modular and was starting to release Redshift material and I've always loved working with modulars - at the time I had a large Roland System 100M set up so Octane was born and released in 1998 on my old Something Else Records label. I really can't remember specifically why we chose ARC but we wanted something short and simple and that seemed to fit the bill.
2 How two persons to the very pronounced creative antipodes (Mark being closer to retro Berlin School and you closer to more contemporary, even experiments tones,) manage to harmonize their artistic visions? Does Arc sounds like Redshift or Ian Boddy? Or it’s a perfect amalgam of Boddy/Shreeve?
I think it's a good balance between our two styles. In any case each ARC album has been slightly different and our music has run the full range from classic Berlin School sequencing to more prog rock tracks with a drummer through to dark ambient soundscapes. It's probably closer to Redshift than to my own solo material although I like to think there is a distinction.
3 Church is Arc 7th album of Arc and the 4th in concert. Does Arc feel at ease more on stage than in studio?
They are two completely different environments and it's difficult to compare. In the studio you have time to carefully shape and mold the tracks whereas live anything can happen! They are both enjoyable in their own ways and we have tended to alternate studio with live albums.
4 Does Arc privileges improvisations or does the duet structure each of its compositions in concert?
A bit of both. From a technical point of view it's very difficult to sometimes reproduce what we do in the studio in a live setting. After all the modulars are not preset machines and if you were to try to do everything live you would be stuck with only a few sounds. So I tend to take some of our more adventurous studio tones and sample and loop these into Ableton Live on my laptop. I can then trigger these in concert and send a sync signal to Marks sequencers who can then improvise live over the top of these. This gives us the advantage of getting a big live sound with the flexibility of being able to extend or shorten sections as we see fit in a live situation.
5 For Ian Boddy, it was your 4th visit on this way side of the continent, how your visits in solo did and how it was playing alone in a radio station? Where did you find Where do we find the energy and the inspiration to play in concert in front of a tiny room empty of people? How was the reaction of the media and the public towards each of your visits?
Actually this was my fifth visit - three as solo performer and once playing with Robert Rich. I've found that with each visit the audience attendance and the reaction has grown and grown which is very gratifying. Of course it's a very different dynamic playing solo than performing with another musician. In many ways it's more stressful playing solo as you have so much more to do and it's difficult to have time to sit back and soak up what you're doing. Playing at the radio station used to be hard as indeed it was a tiny, LP lined room and it was tough to get into a creative zone but when you've been doing concerts of all shapes and sizes for so long you gain this "skill" and it just happens. After the radio station moved to much newer and better premises the space to play the radio shows was much larger and there was a small invited audience which was far more engaging.
6 You also played alone at St Mary’s Church. Was it intimidating to produce in solitary in a sanctuary of prayers?
No not really - you've always got the adrenaline buzz when playing in front of an audience which helps to focus your mind. I particularly remember playing my third solo concert when I was performing tracks from my Elemental album and I was ending the first set with the title track which has a set of very grand chords. This piece means a lot to me and as I played these chords I was gazing down the aisle at the beautiful stained glass window at the far end - for a few moments I was able to be both playing and have the enjoyment of looking at the window - it was very special for me and something I'll never forget.
7 For Arc, and Mark Shreeve, it was a 1st visit. Is offering performances in duet more are reassuring and more stimulating?
Well as I mentioned above it's a different dynamic. Both solo & playing as a duo have their own set of challenges but the one really nice thing about playing on stage with another musician whom you trust & respect is that you don't have to be doing something all the time - it's nice to be able to take stock of how the performance is going at times and to be able to soak up the atmosphere.
8 We think that EM appeals only the European auditors who seem more opened to various musical cultures, do you think that there is a market for this type of music in the United States and Canada?
Of course there is a market for this music over there - the main problem with the USA is it's shear size. I think in the UK we're used to small traveling distances so we assume if there's a concert somewhere in the States that folk can travel to it from all over but it doesn't work like that. It's like several quite large countries all joined together and so sometimes any scene over there is quite fragmented. But I've certainly noticed that by playing these concerts and getting more radio exposure that your profile & sales increase.
9 Church was recorded in a church, while Rise was in the studios of the radio WXPN of Philadelphia. Each of the concerts is totally different; Rise being more atmospheric and more ambient, while Church is sharply more forceful and caustic. How did you approach both concerts
In a nutshell Church was more structured with set themes that we wanted to play interspersed with improvised sections and we wanted it to be bold and grand to suit an audience sitting in those surroundings. Rise was totally improvised and played in very intimate surroundings very late at night so we wanted something more experimental & dark. I think both performances reflect these sentiments very well.
10 In my opinion Church is really amazing, because it depicts marvelously the at once the secret and impulsive atmospheres which represent the paradoxes of every religions. Does a concert in a church take a particular character at the level of the compositions and inspiration?
You don't have to be religious to play a concert in a church ;-) Having said that of course a beautiful church because of the nature of it's architecture and it's cultural heritage brings a certain atmosphere to proceedings and it's up to the audience to interpret how this makes them feel. There's no particular religious feeling in the music we played although we wanted to play in harmony with the building and it's atmosphere. We certainly wanted to play some grandiose themes and hence composed some of these ahead of time so they could be used as markers throughout the performance around which we could build a musical journey. We are both of the opinion that watching a performance like ours should be entertaining and that the music, lights and building all contribute toward what will hopefully be a memorable night for the audience.
11 If the title track; Church, inspires a cosmic Gregorian approach which concludes on the good old Arc sequential measures, Veil is symptomatic of a strangely violent unwinding for a title played in a place of prayers. Can we deduce that every title of Church is an evolutionary chapter of a sanctuary?
Well that's your interpretation but not necessarily what we intended. As I've implied we were after a lot of dynamics and drama in the music we played - it's so easy sometimes with this sort of equipment to just noodle over the top of an endlessly repeating sequence - this is both not satisfying for us or good enough for the audience in our opinion so we often like to play on contrasts. So with Veil we wanted to have this gentle intro & outro ripped apart in the middle by this relatively brief violent outburst. In a way we are almost playing around with some of the structures present in some forms of classical music which have themes, dynamics & drama. Once you introduce these elements into your music you also have a chance of gaining the most important factor and that's emotion - we really want to convey emotion when we perform - for us that's the most important thing.
12 How was the preparation for each of your concerts during this journey for Philadelphia? Knowing the blunder of Mark Shreeve Synth Moog and knowing that it didn’t make the travelling, how Arc managed to reproduce sonority so near your sound reality?
Chuck van Zyl the radio host of Stars End and host of the Gatherings concerts pulled all the stops out for us and 3 local musicians very kindly loaned us a selection of keyboards + a large Synth.com system with 2 Moog clone sequencers for Mark to use. We flew out a few days before the concert and stayed in a very nice B&B in the woods outside Philadlephia whose owner very kindly let use set up all the gear in a large beautiful room to rehearse. This gave us time to iron out any technical difficulties and to combine the pre-prepared material I had on my laptop with the material we were performing live. It was a busy and somewhat anxious time but I think we pulled it off.
13 I know that your two concerts in Philadelphia knew enormous successes. Do you envisage a mini tour the North American?
Well that would be nice but the challenges would be formidable. I've already mentioned the fact that traveling over there is on a different scale than over here and bearing in mind we had a loan of a lot of very precious equipment this might prove very difficult.
14 After two albums in concert from Arc, can we expect a next studio album?
We usually have alternated between live and studio releases but it's too early to tell. Mark of course has his Redshift project and I have several other projects I need to work on first.
15 Apart Arc Ian Boddy has a solo career, as well as a label DiN, describe Ian Boddy’s music and talk about the creation of the label DiN?
Well that's a big question - how do I sum up my 30 year musical career ;-) Simply listen to my music - always electronic in nature of course but constantly exploring new paths both in musical structure and also in collaborating with other musicians. I've never been content to just inhabit a comfort zone of EM and think it's important to always try out new ideas. DiN was set up in 1999 and was really a way for me to present a more focused, planned music label which allowed me to both collaborate with other musicians but also to release albums by other musicians whom respect.
16 What can we expect if we intent to start the discovery of the artists from your label?
Good music first and foremost I hope. Everything in electronic music from old school Berlin School sequencing through to IDM and more experimental "dance" based styles on through dark ambient soundscapes and even modern digital forms of expression. A lot of time is spent in presenting the albums with very good sound quality and with well designed beautiful artwork. All albums are limited editions and I think this combination makes them very collectable. I think there's something for every lover of EM whatever angle you approach this broad genre from.
Well firstly Octane was out before DiN started and in fact there was a reprint on CDr with original covers for this album. However as mentioned above all the DiN albums are limited print runs from between 1000 - 2000 copies depending on the artist & release. If you do a limited edition then you MUST stick to this - that's what it is. For me physical & download formats are both important and gives the customer a choice. The physical CD is good for collectors who prefer to have a nice physical product knowing there are a limited amount of these and the download format is good for those for whom this is not so important.
18 What can we expect for Ian Boddy's next album?
It's 30 years since my very first album release on cassette way back in 1980. I want to produce a special double commemorative CD for this in really nice packaging that is signed & numbered - I'm currently compiling the tracks for this and will make a formal announcement soon.
19 Who inspired Ian Boddy musically?
When I first got into music it was bands like Focus & Camel but I quickly got into Tangerine Dream, Schulze, Jarre, Eno etc. Also classical music has always been important to me with composers such as Debussey, Ravel, Chopin, J.S.Bach ect.
20 What is the work which you would most like to redo?
Honest answer is none - for me a work is a product of what you were feeling at a particular time and place and it's really impossible to revisit. All the reworkings I've ever heard by other musicians of earlier works for me are a failure and are only ever done it seems for monetary reasons.
21 Now, and for the benefit of our readers and in order to understand a bit more the artist in you; what are your 5 favorite albums and your three books as well as favorite movies?
Gosh I should really think about this but it's probably better that I give a quick answer.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Once upon a time in the West
Lawrence of Arabia
The Life of Brian
But really there's many many more.
Books - only 3 - where do I start?
Lord of the Rings
Anything by H.P.Lovecraft
The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson
Rubycon by Tangerine Dream
X by Klaus Schulze
Hamburger Concerto by Focus
Untitled by Sigur Ros
Everything else I've ever liked ;-)
22 Thank you Ian Boddy for your time and collaboration. On my behalf, as well as that of the readers of Synth&Sequences, the best of chances and success for you, Arc and your label Din.
Sylvain LupariCet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le pseudo de Phaedream;