Notes from Keith Rowe press conference Festival Internationale de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, 2004
This press conference really should have been video-taped. A stare-down between a handful of journalists and an artist is, more often than not, a pretty drudgerous thing, especially if it happens before noon. But Rowe is a fantastic conversationalist, and would much rather be interesting than be bored. The meeting culminated in him taking one of us witless scribes to the doorway to look at a vase of flowers in the hallway and to consider how they change with just the slightest shift in vantage. It really should have been filmed. Below are the direct quotes I managed to gather.
"If you put four very clear things together, you get chaos. If you take four very clear colors and spin them, you get brown.
"The fetish of sound of the Berlin school in the last three to four years is beginning to break down. The fetish of volume that get in Tokyo in the last two or three years is beginning to break down, just in the last few months.
"What is the meaning within this? What is profound?
"When we listen to Brahms, we have a sense of what profound is, but what is profound electronic music?
"Personally, I think interplay with other people is horrible. I really don't like it. We have interactions and we have juxtapositions. I think juxtaposition is much more interesting.
"If I'm sitting here playing and listening to the piano, suddenly I'm not here as much. The interesting thing is to listen without thinking about the history of the piano.
"When I laid the guitar flat, it changed from an expression to a reflection. The consequence of that is I think we ditched gesture very early on. You tend to be reflecting the environment rather than reflecting your expression of the environment. I can put an electric motor ext to the pick-up and it reflects the environment.
"The room is a highly complex concept. The room involves the physical nature of the room you're in but it also includes the history of painting, the history of music. It includes you and whoever is in the room. It probably also includes the war in Iraq and all the Palestinians that have been killed. It doesn't just include the acoustic properties of the room.
"The most profound music that has been made probably has been in quartet form ... you could argue that.
"Tal Farlowe, Charley Christian, Wes Montgomery, all my favorite guitar players, they really developed their own languages. You have festivals where they're supposed to pay homage to Django Reinhardt, and they rip him off."