Interview conducted by and taken from ProjeKction - The King Crimson Discussion Group
Metaphorically, what is TUNER?
Initially TUNER were referred to as TU[n]ER. What, if any, is the connection to TU and is TUNER a part of the TU dynasty? (TU -> TU+2 -> KTU -> TUNER)
Pat: Wait and see/hear.
Markus: Musically and aesthetically Tuner is quite a different beast, I think.
So, if TU & KTU & TUNER had a fight who would win?
Pat: KTU - there are more of us, and Kimmo is the devil.
How did your collaboration come about?
Markus: By chance Trey, Pat and I met on a train in Germany in 2000. Trey introduced me to Pat and we exchanged CDs. Pat gave me Mastica '99, I gave him 'Distant Rituals'.
Pat: things grew organically.
How do you deal with the problem of intercontinental collaboration and can you tell us about your collaborative processes in general?
Pat: Airplanes and email help. We started passing files and then in March of 2005 Markus came to my place for a couple weeks.
How does TUNER compare to other projects you are in, particularly other duos such as TU & Centrozoon? Did you set out to deliberately distinguish yourself from these projects?
Pat: Those comparisons are best left to the listener. We deliberately set out to be ourselves.
Markus: That's true, but being myself in this case was that I wanted this record to be different from Pat's and my recent work in the sense that I wanted the material to be completely composed and structured. I like jam-based music but didn't want to do an album of it.
What have been your major influences, musically, texturally & otherwise?
Pat: Life. And I like satin and velvet.
Markus: For me it's the urge to create, the creative impulse. It influences me a lot indeed.
How did the touring go? Are there more shows planned?
Pat: It was good fun. And yes, I hope to do more.
Markus: Same here.
I understand the shows were all recorded. Will there be a live album in the future?
Pat: Yes they were and yes, I think we might release a live album, too.
Markus: It largely depends on available time and money. The live recordings need to get mixed properly in order to work, I think.
What equipment was used on Totem? Any new percussion toys we need to know about? Is Pat still using Ableton LIVE as part of the recording/composition process?
Pat: This whole record was done in Ableton LIVE, the whole shebang until the mixing and even several mixes came from Ableton LIVE. Lots of Stylus RMX, Drumcore, Absynth, Atmosphere, B4, Charlie, and tons of Ableton LIVE internal workings. As for acoustic drums I used an old Ludwig drum kit with vintage Paiste giant beat cymbals.
Markus: Pat was using Ableton LIVE mostly for live performance before we met. I In turn had used LIVE as a creative tool for composition and serial composition experiments only. I introduced Pat to the more esoteric features of LIVE and doing that we created and finished most of the ideas and pieces for the album within a week or so.
Markus, could you tell us about your gear? We don't know that much about your set-up and methods.
Markus: I am not much of a gear-head. I use whatever is available. For me it was paradise to come to Pat's place and to find a well equipped software studio. I play keyboards and Touch Guitar, mainly an 8-string Warr Guitar. As far as hardware is concerned I think that the creative combination of gear is the key to cool sounds and an individual voice rather than a particular piece of gear. I am friend of uncool cheap digital (guitar) effects processors. It's fascinating to use them in series and to let them feedback onto each other.
Pat, why the fascination with Warr Guitarists?
Pat: Because they ARE fascinating...
Markus: There not a lot of Warr Guitar on Totem that one would instantly recognize as such, though… A lot of the my guitar performances where cut up and re-assembled.
I understand Pat used some King Crimson loops on Totem. Any hints as to which ones and where?
Pat: The grunge drums on "Better take your head off" started with the drums from "Facts of life"... Some stuff was started in Reason & Recycle during Crimson demos and later moved into LIVE. Of course I cut them into new rhythms and retuned them but the source was the drumming from the tracking room with Machine's stomp boxes for distortion and my SDSV and Ableton LIVE distortion.
Markus: I remember Pat using some of tom-tom rolls from Dangerous Curves, but not exactly sure where.
How would both of you describe Totem in nine words or less?
Pat: Rickitickitavy the mongoose is gone.
I've always been curious as to the naming of songs. Do the song titles have any meaning or are they just there to easily distinguish each track while working on them?
Pat: Most titles came as the songs took shape... Yes they mean things, at least to us. Originally they were Song 1, Song 2, Song 3 etc. with a few exceptions. Like "Hands" was "Hands" because Markus had a chunk of vox that says hands in there... That led me to add hand claps and congas (hand drums).
Markus: Titles are part of the composition, as far as I am concerned. It's not that the actual meaning of the words is important, it's the mental representation and feel they give me.
Totem also features many recurrent themes. What was the intention behind this?
Pat: Markus is a cereal composer.
Markus: Yes, I make a fantastic muesli. No intention behind the technique of recurring themes in itself, but it's another expression of my holistic interest in art in general. Composers have been working like that for centuries, why shouldn't we? For the album "Pure" that I produced in collaboration with Ian Boddy, I had started using an approach where mixdowns of complete pieces were used as building blocks within other compositions. I am still exploring this when writing, but also in the musical microcosm of granular synthesis. I have just completed a new solo album called "Trepanation" which explores the possibilities of serial composition and autopoiesis in emotionally engaging ambient music.
Pat: If you don't have Pure you should get it, its a fantastic record and something that made me feel the time is really ready to get working with Markus.
Where did the vocal samples on the album come from?
Pat: Many many places: "Flinch" thats some of Mrs Lenin I found in Russia on old vinyl. The kids in "Kiss" come from some sample Adam Jones gave me. The first part of "Tide" is my laptop reading an email letter from a Russian girl (with misspellings), the back half is SiRenée recorded by Markus in their kitchen and effected by Markus.
Markus: I wrote a couple of lyrics in the past few years and thought that TUNER could be a good place to start using them. It's me talking on 'Test of faith' and 'Forward'.
What is the albums general balance between live playing, improv and overdubbing/programming?
Pat: It's all layered, and mostly programmed.
Several songs on the album could be singles. Have you considered releasing anything in that format?
Could you please tell us about the video clip that comes with the album? Who produced it? And have you considered a long-form project in the audio-visual medium, such as a DVD?
Pat: Renée Stieger (Austrian video and performance artist) did it. She has also done visuals we used in our live shows in Austin and Hall.
Markus: A DVD is an option that we strongly consider. There is a professionally filmed TUNER show and I am also interested in creating some mixes especially for DVD, in surround sound.
Speaking of visuals, TU played live in front of a Japanese film. What was that all about? Will TUNER be adopting a similar strategy?
Pat: Trey prepared footage to use for the TU shows, when we got to the first gig in St. Petersburg they didn't work (wrong format) so about an hour before the show I asked a fan to quickly run to a Russian Blockbuster and rent us any David Lynch (1st Choice was Eraserhead) or Kurusawa (1st choice was Ran). He could only find a box set of early black and whites, we put them up, pressed go, started improvising and waited for synchronicity... after a few shows we started to learn the visuals, in fact before the 3rd Eye show we rehearsed for a day with the videos. Learning to connect the dots… But then the TU tour was cancelled so we never got to apply those lessons.
Are there any unreleased tracks from the Totem sessions? I have read of a Tim Bowness/TUNER collaboration. Any others?
Pat: Yes, there are some things that didn't hold up or fit in and got left off.
Markus: There are no real plans to release those tracks at this stage.
Are there any other artists you'd like TUNER to collaborate with in the future?
Pat: We are excited to work with Damo Suzuki. We have already contacted him. We might call that project "Can o' Tuner". Also excited to do more with SiRenée and maybe Markus Stockhausen, whom we have contacted already, too.
Markus: I vote for Lenny Kravitz, but Pat isn't sure if he'd be interested…
Pat: Hey Lenny! C'mon over!
What's next for Pat & Markus, inside or outside of TUNER?
Pat: Tunisia is my next TU+ project. It's a duet with an amazing Theremin player named Pamelia Kurstin, we have about 5 tracks and we plan to meet again in January to finish an album. Also talk of starting a proper KTU studio record (8 Armed Monkey performances were all taken from our first 5 shows).
Markus: I'd love to do more playing with Pat and would like to work on a repertoire of pieces that we can pull off without having to use any backing tracks. Outside of TUNER there is too much to mention happening. The next release is a new CENTROZOON instrumental album that was mixed by Pat's pal Bill Munyon. It's called 'Angel Liquor' and will be out in late 2005. I am also working on a new concept for solo performance which I am going to test-drive in Warsaw this November.
Pat: Markus is planning another trip here to my studio this December and we should get a new studio record underway, and then of course there is the live recordings to mix and edit. We also have at least an hour of more ambient textural recordings, some of which Markus has tweaked and mixed some and its a great listen, very different from Totem... We decided to wait also as not to confuse people about what Tuner is before we even know ourselves!