Staalplaat: How to Manipulate Birds to Sing

Staalplaat: How to Manipulate Birds to Sing

The kaiser of the underground Teuton, Geert-Jan Hobijn (1959), has been the organizer of many events sound art and performancein the past and is director of the Staalplaat record label that presents avant-garde experimental music acts, in addition to being home to the Etant Donnes Zoviet France, New Castle, and Bryn Jones (1961-1999), with his electro hop project Muslimgauze Hobijn is an experimental musician, sound artist and restorer of electroacoustics. With Staalplaat Soundsystem, it provides a breath of fresh air to concept art, reminding us of that archaic tradition of a hundred years of noise making machines. Staalplaat is the platform where crazy inventors and various types of carefree artists, operating in the lowest margins of the art world, meet. The works of Staalplaat Soundsystem are generally brilliant in their spontaneity, the first impression leaves no room for technological superchery.

 


Tell me about the work done at Staalplaat Soundsystem, by creating different facilities with machines capable of offering concerts with orchestras built from a large number of objects found in the garbage. Is the philosophy of technology indispensable in Staalplaat?
My focus is sound, not technology. Technology is only a tool, not a goal. So “the philosophy of technology” to me sounds like “the philosophy of a screwdriver.” First I can think of ideas and then, usually, in the form of an experiment or question: would it be possible? For example: integrate animal sounds composed live by the urban environment. Then, technology is dictated by the question I want to solve or answer. So in response to your question: I need technology to do my experiments and now that my experiments are indispensable in Staalplaat; So yes, technology is indispensable too.

What about the instrument construction workshop for children?
Working with children is better than working with adults, children are more honest and not so stuck. But the idea came from a talk I had with a curator from Finland, who wanted to make a festival only with musicians who played with their own children. The idea was if you could break the routine and create a more personal atmosphere. And the strange consequence was that I was asked to do a workshop for children. The central idea is that anything can be an instrument and children are still open to that concept, for them an electric plug can be a spaceship. But to disinhibit them, there were three major challenges. The first, how to let children build instruments from some electronic waste. Somehow, they found something better than I expected. The second was how to do a concert with children who, for the most part, have never played an instrument and have definitely never played the flute with a vacuum cleaner. This took some time, but I built tools that work (most of the time). The last is how to explain the concept of the workshop without fucking them. If I show you examples, I show you the solution to the problem and what I want is for them to find their own solution. Here I feel that I have failed so far, I don’t know how to explain it without showing how it can be done. And on the other hand, I realize that I am the problem, not the children. The last is how to explain the concept of the workshop without fucking them. If I show you examples, I show you the solution to the problem and what I want is for them to find their own solution. Here I feel that I have failed so far, I don’t know how to explain it without showing how it can be done. And on the other hand, I realize that I am the problem, not the children. The last is how to explain the concept of the workshop without fucking them. If I show you examples, I show you the solution to the problem and what I want is for them to find their own solution. Here I feel that I have failed so far, I don’t know how to explain it without showing how it can be done. And on the other hand, I realize that I am the problem, not the children.

The blender motor is perhaps one of the most annoying sounds among the amalgam of household appliances, but you use it to make electroacoustic. How is the process of selecting objects in a piece of sound art?
I don’t think there are annoying sounds, I think it was we who placed them in that context and category. Let me explain: one of my first works was in a small city in East Germany. They asked me to make a proposal for a festival and told them that I wanted to do a concert with eight old refrigerators. This was just an idea that I invented on the spot. When they charged me the toll, the proposal was excepted, I had a problem: I had no idea how to do this. The good thing is that I had six months to prepare. I will not go into details about what and how I did it, but about the result: it was an old warehouse that buzzed with the sounds of old refrigerators, more or less it was heard similar to certain things that we were selling in our Staalplaat store or throwing on our seal. But the public was not the usual electronic crowd, but only the local people: children, the elderly, housewives; everyone was there (we were in the local newspaper) and everyone was smiling. Because they know the sound of home; They could see and understand where it came from, it was as natural as the birds in the tree. So if you make people understand your work and make it transparent, they are willing to listen to the most experimental shit you can imagine. This in contrast to the myths that you have to lower yourself to reach a larger audience. If you compose the sounds of a blender and make people understand that you play music with it, that can open them up for them to like the blender. everyone was there (we were in the local newspaper) and everyone was smiling. Because they know the sound of home; They could see and understand where it came from, it was as natural as the birds in the tree. So if you make people understand your work and make it transparent, they are willing to listen to the most experimental shit you can imagine. This in contrast to the myths that you have to lower yourself to reach a larger audience. If you compose the sounds of a blender and make people understand that you play music with it, that can open them up for them to like the blender. everyone was there (we were in the local newspaper) and everyone was smiling. Because they know the sound of home; They could see and understand where it came from, it was as natural as the birds in the tree. So if you make people understand your work and make it transparent, they are willing to listen to the most experimental shit you can imagine. This in contrast to the myths that you have to lower yourself to reach a larger audience. If you compose the sounds of a blender and make people understand that you play music with it, that can open them up for them to like the blender. So if you make people understand your work and make it transparent, they are willing to listen to the most experimental shit you can imagine. This in contrast to the myths that you have to lower yourself to reach a larger audience. If you compose the sounds of a blender and make people understand that you play music with it, that can open them up for them to like the blender. So if you make people understand your work and make it transparent, they are willing to listen to the most experimental shit you can imagine. This in contrast to the myths that you have to lower yourself to reach a larger audience. If you compose the sounds of a blender and make people understand that you play music with it, that can open them up for them to like the blender.

Tell me about the creation of Lola & Geert-Jan Hobijn (DE / NL) and, above all, the Composed City project.
Once we were in a half-year residency program and Lola (LOG) had just dropped out of school and started her company. There were many artists in the program, you know: videographers, painters, installers, among others. I realized that they didn’t give a shit, as long as they had money for their project. Lola was the only one who asked: “why are we here, what can we do with this micro budget and minimum support”. The residence was, as you can imagine, a disaster, but when it was done, Lola and I said: “we should work together”; so first we gave a few lectures and for that reason I received an invitation to build a sound installation with Lola. We wanted to make that installation from a forest, which was a big problem since it had to be in the center of the city. I cheated them and that was our first real collaboration making a sound installation with 64 trees in a nearby forest, each with an engine shaking the tree. Now Lola is a large and successful company that does projects around the world with six-figure budgets, we have a work budget of 12 thousand euros for our tree installation, so they can no longer waste time with losers like me. Composed City is working on the question of whether I can use the “refrigerator concept” on a macro scale. It’s like testing myself if it’s a concept or just a trick. For example, right now I am working on a bird project, I want to build houses for birds that have a computer, a microphone and a speaker, I want to send the sound to places where people can listen, A kind of bird scenarios. Manipulate the birds to sing. It was something simple on paper, but I have to work with biologists and they have better things to do than talk to me, so first I have to interest them, then I need a software that can analyze the sound in real time and then I need to build solar energy systems. This makes it the slowest project I’ve done in years; I hope I haven’t thought of something I can’t handle.

 

A floating musical instrument built entirely from plastic waste collected from the beaches is Plastic Souls, a piece of sound art about the transformation of plastic waste into sound, how did you come up with this piece?
I was short, I was on that Italian beach and I was angry. I kept asking for plastic bags and collecting bottles and my children asked me to stop doing that because he seemed stupid, as if his father was a homeless wanderer. The same people on that beach asked me to make a residence and I told them that if I came, then I would have to work with all that pollution and I didn’t know how to do that, so I couldn’t do it. The strange thing is that when you’re free from pressure to deliver an idea, you get the best. Almost the same day I said no, I had this idea: I called and told them that I had a concept, all I had to do was a couple of tests to see if it was possible. After that, I packed and drove two days to southern Italy and worked every day. I always hoped to return, but that never happened,

Is there an object in which you have not found music?
Not yet. But if you find one before me, I’ll be glad to try to get something out of it.

A hooligan question: what is worth more, the sound gold or the sound of gold?
It shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve never heard the sound of gold. I come from a country that claims to have lived a golden age, but when I am in the presence of gold I do not feel welcome, I should not be there and would be collaborating if I stay.

Frank Zappa referred to the underground with the following phrase: “official culture always meets you, but you have to go underground.” What is under for Geert-Jan Hobijn?
The place where you are alone.

“The counterculture is a stand in the toy store section of the supermarket,” says Fernando Savater. How have all these years been of swimming against the tide in the sewers of the underground with Staalplaat?
Yes, that happens to all of us or I should say that it is a danger created by time. El CheGuevara is now a shirt at best and in Berlin it is a brand of cigarettes (not even a cigar). We had to change the course of music to avoid that destiny; You don’t have to pay close attention to what people think of you. Still, if it is time to leave, then you are on the road. Actually all this sound art is giving me the chills lately, it’s just fashion, maybe it’s time to start a sonic terrorist group, make it hurt, I should have thought about this when I was eighteen, but then I didn’t give a fuck. I have doubts most of the time.

How do you conceptualize sound art and what does it mean to you?
I don’t think much about the history of sound art, that pollutes my brain a lot. Sometimes, after doing some work, I like to see how others have solved the problem, but first I don’t want to know to be able to think freely.

What was it like to sign Bryn Jones (Muslimgauze)?
I asked him to come with us because his record label was polishing his music and changing the titles extremely. The first thing I did when I heard that story was to call him and ask if it was true. He said: “They can, because they paid for it.” I told him that as soon as he was free he should come with us and that I would not change anything. A year later I received a call from him.

Tell me about your album Celullitis Iluminati , when will it go on sale?
I don’t know yet, it depends on the maquiladoras. But I’m curious to know what will cause you when I’m in your turntable.