David Letellier (Kangding Ray)

David Letellier (Kangding Ray)I'm David Letellier, a.k.a Kangding Ray.
I released my first album in 2006 on the German label raster-noton, it's called "Stabil".

- When and how did music come into your life? What was happening in your music life before the release on raster-noton?

I've been playing guitar in different pop and rock bands since i was 16. Around 2000, i started to experiment with some machines, mainly hardware samplers, and i started to produce some tracks.
I met Carsten Nicolai 5 years ago as i was working in an architecture office in Berlin. We first collaborated on an architectural competition, him as an artist, me as architect. Then we worked again together on some of his installation work. So the first contact came through art, it was not about music first. Then, Olaf Bender heard two tracks i was working on at that time, they told me to continue in this direction, they saw in this a possibility to expand the sound range of the label. 3 years after, i came out with 'stabil'.

- No doubt Stabil is a very successful album. Electronic is alive and romantic here... Are you working at something new at the moment? When should we expect a new release from you?

I am finishing my new album now. It should come out in March on raster-noton. It was a very interesting process for me, it will be quite surprising I think.
I'm always very slow in the production process, i need to make thousands of version of one track before knowing where i wanna go. But “stabil” took me 3 years, so i guess i'm getting more efficient now...

- Do you like playing live? What does it usually look like? Improvisation?

Playing live is the main reason why i make music. This is where it makes all sense, electronic music needs the stage, exactly like rock music does.
I tend to always play something different, i have a laptop on stage, but i also have some analog synths, some midi controllers, pads, etc... I even played with a guitar for some special gigs recently.
This gives me much more freedom, even if it's more risky, or more messy sometimes. In the future, i'd like to explore some new formats for performing live, finding new ways to play my music on stage.

- Are you going to do anything to improve your live concerts? Would you like to bring anything new and fresh into your performances, anything grandiose that has never been done before? ;)

There's still a lot to discover in how to perform electronic music live, I'd like to bring more live instruments and machines on stage, but i can only use one at a time, it's always a question of human-machine interface: is the way you interact with the machine of any interest for the audience, and does it really bring something to the music?
Anyway, there is a technical limitation to this idea: that is the 20 or 23 kilos limit you can check-in with a standard airline, after that i'll need to bring more people with me, start a band and get a tour bus:). I need to find the right balance, because i'm at the limit of what i can transport myself. I have some ideas for the new album tour next year, but it's still in process...

- I saw an amateurish video records made at your live concerts. On the background I saw the only video instalation - the picture from the CD cover in motion. Tell us about it in more detals, what it symbolizes, who is the offer and who operates video installations on your concerts?

This is a max/msp jitter patch programmed by my friend Nibo, who also designed the stabil cover, and a lot of other raster-noton releases. He programmed it as a stand alone patch, so i just need to let it run on stage on a computer, and it reacts to the sound, it's a sort graphical sound analyser. Nibo designed it based on the graphics of "stabil" cover, in a more "digital" way, it's a reference to the "unknown pleasures" cover from joy division, a graphical icon.

- Tell us about the atmosphere inside the raster-noton label. Did it impress and influence you when you got inside it?

I feel like being part of a family, specially when we're on tour, like what we just did in Japan. We were with olaf bender, frank bretschneider, carsten nicolai, pomassl and nibo on tour, we played in osaka, kyoto and tokyo, it was one very intense week, everyone has his own personality, his own universe, each of us has different ages, comes from a different country, different background, but there is this "group dynamic", this feeling that we belong to the same creative movement, so of course i'm influenced by this energy.

- We know that beside music you are interested in another arts... Tell us about it.

Even though i'm now almost entirely busy with producing music and playing live, art and architecture are still a big part of my interest. Because of my background as architect, a lot of people ask me if i can connect this different fields, but I still don’t have a definitive answer to it. There are of course some links in a lot of aspect, in terms of construction or textures, or the idea of music “spacialisation”, the fields explored by pioneers like Pierre Henry or Stockhausen. For me, one of the most interesting approach is probably the treatment of music composition and architecture through the same abstract patterns, mathematic rules, one of the finest example being the collaboration of Xenakis and LeCorbusier for the 'poème électronique'.
But at the end, it's all about music first, for me it's more a feeling, it's simple and abstract, i don't usually need a big general concept before starting producing.

- What do you thing the future of electronic music will be? Will it have the future? With coming into our life net-labels and everywhere spreading, a lot of critics consider the development of electronic music to be unsteady. It is said what musicians are looking for soft and various devices for producing music than to create music.

Of course electronic music has a future, it's just a matter of where you fix the boundaries of "electronic". Nowadays even the most basic rock band uses machines and digital technologies in the production process.
It doesn't matter which instrument you use, whether it's a medieval harp, a microphone, or a computer, the important thing is the music at the end.
I believe in hybrids, there's always something to discover when you put different elements together.

- What do you think is the most important for a beginner musician?
Nowdays there are a lot of musicians from all parts of the world who place their music on the internet, net-labels and varoius web sites. Most of them are distinguished. What should a young musician do to stand out against a background of the other similar musicians?

I've heard hundreds of very good album released on net labels, there's a massive amount of music produced nowadays, probably much more than ever before. As the technology improves, everyone can get a "cracked" professional music software running on a standard home computer, and produce something with a quite good sound quality, then put it on myspace. What happens now in music is what happens in every medias that have been "digitalized", the amount of material produced is exponential, it's no more reserved to specialist, or professional. Because everyone has access to the technology, everyone is a part of the system, anyone can add his contribution, it's anonymous, decentralized, and blurry.

- Do you know anything about Russian music? Would you like to visit our country?

I know a few russian electronic artists, like ivan pavlov, a.k.a COH, also on raster.noton, who produce incredible music, or fizzarum, alexandroid, etc... I think Russia has a very long history with electronic music, probably because russian engineers where among the first to build innovative synthesizers, like the theremin. Yes, i would love to visit russia, i had no chance to do so for now, but it's just a matter of time i guess...

- What do you dream of?

knowing what kind of music i'll hear in 20 years...

- Kangding Ray

november '07

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