Kelly David short interview
Today, the totality of electronic tools available to an electronic musician is seemingly endless. With that in mind, it’s not the gear, it’s what you do with it.
My goal, as a composer, is to take the listener on a journey through a slow, constantly changing musical environment. Sometimes we end up where we began, other times we end somewhere completely different. Either way, like life itself, it’s more about what we went through to get there rather than where we end up.
I do different kinds of listening. When I’m writing words, I love to have music on. It stimulates my subconscious and allows me to focus. Other times I’m listening to music for more specific and detailed reasons: how does the composer develop that bass part or what is the structure of this piece, etc…
I view my work in the studio as musical lab time. Some experiments fail, others give rise to new discoveries. Sometimes, I’ll have a preconceived notion of what I want to do based on some experience I have outside of the studio. I’ll see a landform or experience a sound I want to use. For example, the last piece on Meditation in Green is called “The Bells of Can Tho.” Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and has some very sounds in this city of 1 million people. The piece begins with a swirling bell sound which is a heavily processed version of a sound I recorded with my phone over my backyard fence in Colorado: a bell tune played by the annoying, weird little ice cream truck that drives through the neighborhood in the summer. I took that recording, raised it a few octaves, sped it up and processed it into that swirling sound on the beginning of the piece. That’s a good example of how I incorporate the randomness of the world around me.
I think the audience for ambient electronic is pretty diverse – in age, background, occupation. I think it appeals to folks looking to center into the different meditative qualities offered by this music.
Let’s go back to the beginning of what constitutes music. For me, it’s always an organization of sounds. When I was in the classical mode, I believe there was only one way to organize sounds. One must have melody and harmony both progressing essentially in parallel.
I distinctly remember the day when I first heard the music of Steve Roach. I realize that he had mashed melody and harmony together in a way that I myself was yearning for. I became fascinated with his music. So much so, that when I moved to Denver in 1997, I sent Steve a fax.
Yep. A fax. That long ago.
One of the greatest things I learned from Steve, was how to undo my classical training. We joked about it when he was producing my first album. An amazing learning experience for me.
We were viewing the tracks in the computer and I asked him to move several bars back, and he remarked that it was time for me to come out from behind bars. Yeah. In some ways, I was behind bars in my trained inclinations. I am forever grateful to him for that learning.
That said, my musical organization today invariably reflects my classical training, which I can’t completely undo.