Interview with

Rafael Anton Irisarri

Rafael Anton Irisarri is an American composer, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer, interdisciplinary artist and curator. Predominantly associated with ambient, drone, post-minimalist, and modern classical music,  Irisarri’s recorded output captures an essential vision of floating tones, deep pulsing bass and textural electronics. His use of ostinato phrases taps into minimalist ideals while atmospheric layers of effects suggests a more cinematic quality in his productions. In all, Irisarri’s compositions are deeply emotive and epic to the point of being symphonic.

Facts

1: A tourist around Wall Street asked me once if I was Christian Bale. I replied: “No, I’m Patrick Bateman.” She looked confused.

2: I’m a rabid atheist, although I find great inspiration in religious music and art.

3: Anti-virtuosity is a way of life. Too many notes are unneeded clutter. Focus on the meaningful ones, as if there were extremely expensive objects which you could only afford a few.

Questions

What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The possibility to create something today that someone could find meaningful many years after I’ve exited this world.

How and when did you get into making music?
When I was 15 or so, I bought a 4-track Tascam portastudio cassette recorder and a Boss DR-5. The DR-5 was a drum machine that also included a sequencer and few sounds like pianos & pads. It sounded pretty terrible in retrospect, but it was all I could afford at the time and a fun way to start writing my own music. Having access to this technology was very liberating since up to that point I was playing in band s with other people and couldn’t just make the music I wanted to hear.

What are your 5 favorite albums of all time?
top of my head:

Harold Budd & Brian Eno – The Plateaux of Mirror
Cocteau Twins – The Pink Opaque
Talk Talk – Laughing Stock
Slowdive – Souvlaki
The Chameleons – Script of The Bridge

more thought out…

Julee Cruise – Floating into the Night
Seefeel – Quique
The Durutti Column – LC
Joy Division – Closer
Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

and the obvious…

Kraftwerk – Radio-Aktivität
The Cure – Disintegration
MBV – Loveless
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
The Smiths – The Queen is Dead

What do you associate with Berlin?
Friedrich der Große, Rosa Luxemburg, “Ich bin ein Berliner, ” “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall, ” the STASI, Bowie & Eno, Basic Channel/Chain Reaction, Hard Wax. All the dumb American expats who think they can go to Berlin, visit the Berghain, have a “life-changing experience, ” make some techno and become rockstars shortly afterward. You can easily spot them by the level of self-promotion on SoundCloud.

What’s your favorite place in your town?
I recently moved to the East Coast. No love lost: it’s overcrowded, dirty and filled with self-absorbed assholes.  For me, living anywhere under the 42nd parallel north is unbearable. If I had to pick a place to settle permanently (in a perfect world), that’d would have to be Bergen, in Norway. It’s one of my favorite places ever.

If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Probably pitch in and help take care of the human overpopulation problem (just like Patrick Bateman).

What was the last record you bought?
Biosphere – Substrata. I just bought it in Seattle at my favorite shop, Wall of Sound. Thought it would be the first album I should buy for my new LP collection. Just another 1, 499 to go!

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Dead or alive? Alive: Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Mark Hollis, Lars Von Trier, or Jan Švankmajer. Dead: Satie, Malevich, or Fassbinder

What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Spectator: Any edition of Substrata Festival of course. I single-hand edly picked every act I wanted to see in the order I wanted to see them play. How can anything else top that?

Performer: MITO Settembre Musica in Milano, IT (2009). The festival welcome letter referred to me as “maestro” and since I’m a huge Seinfeld fan ( http://youtu.be/PqcSnFgL2lQ), my wife kept calling me “maestro” for the rest of our trip. They also printed concert tickets with my full name – properly spelled nonetheless – on them. I’ve never seen my named printed on anything other than a traffic citation until that point.

How important is technology to your creative process?
I’ve discovered last year, not essential at all. I barely owned anything for most of 2014 (as all of my possessions were stolen while moving to NY). I still managed to make an entire film score out of a few field recordings captured in NYC. Knowledge, creativity, and will trumps over it all.

Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
I don’t have a career. I need a real job, are you hiring?

Our favourite: Unsaid | Empire Systems  |  Fractal

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