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Tim Hecker

Interview von: Matthias Rauch mit Tim Hecker, am: 13.11.2006 ]

Der Titel des sechsten Albums von Tim Hecker umschreibt schon einmal sehr treffend, um was es hier geht. Es geht um Gegensätze, Widersprüche, scheinbare Dichotomien, die Hecker jedoch mit einer Eleganz und Leichtigkeit auflöst beziehungsweise miteinander in Verbindung treten lässt, die schlicht begeistern. Wenn man klare Schubladen braucht, könnte „Harmony In Ultraviolet“ mit den hilflosen Kategorien Ambient, Noise, Drone und abstrakte Elektronik gefasst werden. Jedoch schreitet Hecker diese vermeintlichen Eingrenzungen traumwandlerisch ab, so dass sie ineinander laufen und ihre Konturen gänzlich verschwimmen. Angesichts eines so fantastischen Oeuvres ließen wir es uns nicht nehmen, bei Tim Hecker etwas genauer nachzufragen. In unserer Reihe „10 Fragen an“ sprachen wir über Improvisation und Struktur, das Potential der Abstraktion und die Zukunft des physischen Tonträgers.


Musicscan: Please tell me a little bit about how you write your tracks? What material is usually the starting point and when do you know when a track is finished? Did you approach “Harmony In Ultraviolet” any differently than your previous releases?

Tim Hecker: I don't really have a particular "approach" that I bring to each song. They're all really different in terms of what I think they need and sometimes build up huge multi-track collages, other times really just tinker with small melodic movements that I find interesting. In that sense I usually start with something really basic that hooks me - either melodically or texturally - and go from there. In terms of the new record, there was no major difference in approach, just a different sensibility I suppose.

Musicscan: How would you describe the essence of your music?

Tim Hecker: Harmonic dissonant cathedral electronic goth-pop drone.

Musicscan: Did you have certain musical or aesthetic goals when you started?

Tim Hecker: Yes I wanted to fuck sound up as much as possible.

Musicscan: What makes for the perfect song in your opinion? Have you ever achieved something like a perfect song? How would you define a perfect song?

Tim Hecker: I would probably tend to reject the notion of a "perfect song." It’s a kind of sensibility that isn't really interesting, because it’s impossible. And if that was realized I'd probably move on to becoming a full-time philosopher or brew master.

Musicscan: Is it necessary to create a certain distance between you and the music in order to get a better understanding of its inherent quality?

Tim Hecker: Yes, it definitely helps to give a nice break between composing something to get a slightly less involved opinion of the piece. I tend to think everything I do is fantastic at the moment of inception and it is really only true 10% of the time.

Musicscan: Do you think there are still genuinely new sounds to be discovered or can modern music basically be said to be a recombination of already existing forms and elements within postmodern concepts of collage, pastiche or bricolage?

Tim Hecker: Absolutely. Technologically involved music has been so process- driven that because there has been a technological plateaux for the last 5 years or whatever that there is nowhere to go because of granular synthesis developed to its fullest extent. I think there is lots of ways to recombine, both aesthetically and technically.

Musicscan: Do structure and improvisation constitute a dichotomy or do both also rely and depend on each other as well?

Tim Hecker: They are linked to me. Improvisation is the root of most of my pieces -- through developing a piece they become structure.

Musicscan: How come the new album is released by Kranky? How has your experience working with them been so far?

Tim Hecker: I've been a fan of the label going back to my wild years post-suburban teenage life, being rocked by the spaced out sounds of early Labradford and Jessamine. The label has been great.

Musicscan: Is “popular” music always already global these days or do you think that there are always local specificities/aspects that mark and distinguish certain regional and cultural aspects?

Tim Hecker: Tough question, I'm not a musicologist. I think there still are specificities, but it is now geographically and electronically mediated communities that cross both geography and the fluid ether of the internet. Obviously less than before though.

Musicscan: What is the difference between art and entertainment in your opinion?

Tim Hecker: That is such an open question that it’s tough to answer. I will have to pass on that one.

Musicscan: Do you think the CD as the primary medium for music will last? Do you think a change of the medium will also entail different approaches towards the music and therefore also the songwriting process and how songs or tracks themselves will be conceived?

Tim Hecker: Despite hearing some major label CEO announce the death of CDs last week (he wishes!), I'm sure it will still be around for a while as the primary means of physical musical dissemination. Of course, the format contextualizes music, so if and when the format will shift that will probably change how people approach it I guess.

Musicscan: Does music have a social impact or is it another entity that does not really have any direct effects on social life?

Tim Hecker: "Social life" as collective or individual life? It does have an impact on small dispersed communities like I said above both local and mediated. I think it’s important in many ways. Taken from the big picture it looks dwarf-like and small, but music is still important to people, to communities and so on.

Musicscan: Can music have political dimensions? Do sounds have a directly political semantics or is any attempt to politicize music always only achieved through discourse about the music?

Tim Hecker: Music CAN have political dimensions, but really modern music is stripped from the most part of significant engagement with politics. Early avant-garde composers often had political and aesthetic dimensions to their work, but that is largely surface if at all these days. I find the timid Green Day/Dixie Chicks take on politics a spark of hope but really weak and pointless at the same time. You wonder how much that overt exercise in political engagement really serves PR functions and record sales maybe more than anything.

Musicscan: Does art have responsibilities?

Tim Hecker: Who are you -- Jean-Paul Sartre? Just kidding. I suppose artists have the responsibility to be true to themselves, you know aesthetically or whatever, but I'm not so comfortable with the language of responsibility.

Musicscan: What can we expect from Tim Hecker in the near future?

Tim Hecker: I have a 10" to finish for Audraglint, a 12" for Alien8 and that's it, working on another record hopefully.

  Tim Hecker
  Kranky Records