FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004

FMP CD 109

Olaf Rupp, 37, lives in Berlin-Neukölln.
The interview, reproduced in excerpts, was done in his room on January 10, 2000.
The interviewer was Ulrich Stock.


A critic from "Jazzthetik" has called your music "Improvisation without fiddle-faddle and frills, no big gestures, presented to the ear in a seemingly ambitionless manner".
It's a mystery to me.
The "Neue Züricher Zeitung" regarded you obviously to be a classically trained guitarist.
I am self-taught.
"Il Giorno" praised your handling of the Gibson. It is supposed to have added that certain something to the Poschiano Festival.
The Gibson is a 3000 DM guitar out of mahogany! You lug yourself about, it breaks your back and it just sounds like slush. No idea where they got that from. I play a stratocaster!
How does the audience react to your music?
Extreme. Very enthusiastic, very dismissive.
I find your music unyielding.
May be.
A lot of other kinds of musics live from clichés, from transitions, from familiar phrases ...
Other kinds of music are not important to me. To me it is about researching into your own ideas.
What is "Life Science"?
It's just like what pharmaceutical companies who develop drugs against migraine call themselves. Or computer firms dealing with animation. To me it means: free music, knowing about life. I am an anthropologist.
What does every-day life look like to an anthropologist? When does research start?
Between eight and nine.
In the morning?
Before breakfast?
Still half asleep. The daily routine is three hours of Zen and three hours of guitar. I do, for example, technical exercises, picking, very slow, first of all to get my hand in and then faster and faster. Through the speed, the movements become automatic, you write a program into the body. It's like walking: you don't think of every single step, you just walk. I try to be slow. I am good at that when I'm not so fully awake.
What does that sound like?
Nothing at all, those are silent exercises. Only afterwards do I start to play properly.
Sometimes just flourishes I actually don't like, those typical routines I discovered at some point in my music although I usually try to avoid them; but to avoid them is just as bad as accepting them. So I try to play them again and again and not change them at all. Some flourishes disappear when I see how they develop.
You observe your music ?
That's the research.
How did the recordings for "Life Science" come about?
Very differently. One part came from the Festival in Poschiavo in May '99. Some pieces I recorded in a broken-down house in Berlin-Mitte, others here in my room.
How do you record?
Microphone, small mixer, CD recorder, directly! On the disc I cannot rewind and delete. That's a completely different feeling when you're playing.
Did you consciously decide against recording tape?
My Dat-recorder broke and I couldn't buy a new one. I only became aware of the consequences at a later point.
What role does chance play in your music?
I try to not let music be determined either by will or by chance; that's what interests me.
If it is not determined by will and not by chance, what then?
There is no word for that in German.

Translation: Isabel Seeberg & Paul Lytton

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