CULTURE

‘The objective is to experiment with new things’

The lead musician in Method of Defiance, Bill Laswell, spends a few moments speaking with Kathimerini. One critic had written that your work involves bringing musicians from various cultures into contact and then reaping the rewards of the collaboration. Do you agree? Definitely. Music progresses when working this way. So now that fusion has become a trend, this is a good time for you. It’s definitely encouraging, even though I don’t always work this way. The objective is to experiment with new things, which means new people, too – either artists just starting their careers or established ones seeking something new. How does contemporary music sound to you? Generalizing would be a risky thing considering the quantity of music being produced annually nowadays. I can’t even follow what’s going on in so many different places in the world where something new is always happening. Does the invasion of «world musicians» into the Anglo-Saxon culture of rock music imply that the latter has reached a dead-end and is seeking new direction? I don’t think that rock is seeking new ways because a large part of it keeps reproducing itself. It’s become folklore-type music. What’s the best record you’ve heard lately? Such an appraisal is improper for the following reason: Records comprise a small part of a musician’s offering. Musicians often hide behind them, sometimes they’re not even satisfied with the result because it’s the product of contract demands or choices made by a producer or mixer. Do you have any spare time and, if so, how do you spend it? All my time is free even when I’m loaded with work. I don’t do a job like other people. I don’t need holiday breaks because every day I give my energy to something that I find fulfilling. Will Pharoah Sanders, one of the greatest living jazz sax players, perform with you in Athens? Unfortunately not. The band will be made up of young musicians. But Bernie Worrell of Funkadelic will be with us. Your latest work is drum’n’bass, and high speed, too. Will the audience handle the beat? The instrumentation at shows is entirely different to what you hear on record. There’s also always the interaction with the crowd which changes what you have in mind before the show. If you could put together the best band in the world, who would you recruit? I’ve always avoided long-term involvement with bands and preferred projects, or a team of musicians that gather to execute a specific plan and then go their separate ways. After all, the lineups of long-lasting bands change as a result of withdrawals because of disagreement, or death… Is it necessary to have a chemistry that binds the musicians, or is individual dexterity enough? They’ve got to be dedicated both to the music and the relationship. How is this chemistry created? It usually takes just a minute, as long as the communication comes naturally. Sometimes it takes years. Sly and Robbie in Jamaica, the Meters, and Z. Z. Top are such cases. What do you enjoy more, working with the computer or bass? I don’t work with computers. I offer ideas in the studio about what the sound should be like. I am a man of the mixing desk. I come from another era. Is the Internet killing music? It’s influencing it in every way, because people can listen to, buy, and distribute music over the Internet. The positive thing about it is that it’s pushing live music forward. As a result of falling royalty fees from recordings, artists must start performing live again and stop hiding behind contracts. This interview first appeared in the July 15 issue of K, Kathimerini’s Sunday supplement.