Ran Slavin

Ran Slavin- Your release Insomniac City - is a strong conceptual model. We are thinking that this is not just a cd/dvd, this is a work with a significant ingenious message. What made you do it?

Thanks. Something in the city made me do it. Something strong and hidden that leapt put of the buildings alleys and streets. An atmosphere. A code.

- For us Insomniac City - is a trip, a travel to the unknown world. Occasionally we see pictures from this world in the news program on tv. What is the message you wanted to deliver by your film?

There is no message. It’s a personal work of art, a film. My story. My fantasy. It’s not connected to the news world.

- Have you been working for long as a film director, film maker? Is this your hobby or have you been doing it professionally?

I have been doing it professionally for some years now.. Since the begging of the 90's. Insomniac City is my first full length feature film.
I don’t consider it a hobby but a profession.

- In Insomniac City you are the cameraman, the director, the actor, the musician and the producer. How long were you working on this masterpiece? Were there any difficulties that you had to overcome? Or was everything smooth?

I worked on Insomniac for 4 years. What got the engine running was an invitation from the Venice Biennial - Israeli Pavilion to do a work about the city.
There was some funding and a great platform; The Venice Biennial of Architecture. This was something which I planned to do anyway and so it was a great springboard.
You know Insomniac is a work in chapters which changes form, length and story by definition. When I took it to Venice, and it had a certain story and edit of 28 minutes long.
After some time, I shot some sequences with Irad Mazliah, one of the actors in the film, and then the film took a 2nd turn. Later in 2006 I changed everything again and that became what is know Insomniac City [3]. Now, I just finished the last and closing sequence which completed the cycle into a feature length film. 76 minutes. I am very, very happy about that. New actors are on the bill and im very pleased with the result.
It’s harder to be the director/cameraman/musician/producer all at once but for this project there was no other way for me to do it, it had to be done this way because the process was very intuitive, personal and delicate.

- What is more interesting for you - working with sound or with video? Or you are interested in all the aspects of art?

I am quite interested in both/all aspects equally, maybe video more then sound or maybe video first.

- Can you go back and tell us what was your first experience in the music world? What were your first steps? What were you listening before you started experimenting? Who influenced you and shaped your views?

The first experience? I went through all music history, got into music when i was 11-12. Went through everything. I remember Hendrix, Zappa, Motorhead, Hawkwind, Sabbath and The Clash and Pistols all the hardcore punk scene then through the hardcore post punk scene etc etc, Psychic TV, Sonic Youth, Neubauten, impossible to mention it all, lets just call it rock and roll and music history.
But then in the beginning of the nineties the indie electronic scene came along. All of these exciting new sounds were emerging and reaching out to me. All the fast Jungle scene at first, then Warp records, Squarepusher, Massive attack, Tricky, the El Dorado label, Smokey dub and abstract hip hop coming from the east coast, Bill Laswel, DJ Krush, and later labels like Mille Plateaux which took it all a step further.
Suddenly small affordable digital studios were offering new endless possibilities to create the music of your dreams. So to pin point exactly what influenced me is hard, probably the accumulation of all of that. But basically the biggest influence was the computer space. The digital space. The computer in contrast to all that was before is more a cybernetic space, non linear, limitless.

- How did your work with Mille Plateaux start? Did you send a sample to them or did they see you playing live?

Yeah, I sent a sample to them, thats how we started working together.

- Everybody has a concept of music. What you are doing is audio design and you are an audio/visual designer. What do you think will happen to music in the future? Will it change and if yes, will it be a drastic change?

I dont know, that’s hard to say. Of course some of it will change and some will stay the same. I think the future is now. In some sense. There are so many mutations of music and sub genres and the market is over loaded. There is no way for you to follow all of it at once. So you pick up what you need, through your known channels.

- What do you use for writing music (which instruments, technologies)?
You can hear on Insomniac City cd a great variety of different instruments, such as acoustic guitar, different fields-recordings.

Yes, each cd is a different story. I maintain the freedom to use whatever i want. Be it old instruments or glitches and noise. Digital processes etc. Whatever turns you on.
On the previous cd i used a bulbultarng - which is a n old indian banjo, and an Ud - which is a traditional arabian 3 nylon string.
I am mainly an audio player/recorder/editor, some midi but not heavy. So for editing i am using pro tools fro a long time. For processing i use a big variety of softwares.

- The art work of Insomniac City has a man on fire, this reminds me a record Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here. Was it intentional or just a coincidence?

Just a coincidence... I actually never thought of it. Pink Floyd were not a big influence on me.

- What are you listening these days? Do you prefer listening to music or recording it?

Now days im rediscovering Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, i loved the new Mettalica album, The sea and cake, Dub Trio, Jamie Liddel just to name a few. But I just listen to music on shuffle most of the time. I like not knowing what will come up next so a big mix of geners occurs.
The current audio projects im involved with all have to do with video. Video installations and sound tracks.

- What do you think about modern video-art, art-house? Have you seen the film "П" (pi) by Darren Aronofsky? What do you think about it? Is the work direction of this director and art-house itself familiar to you?

I dont like most of the video art i see. It’s usually very boring. But there are exciting things going on in cinema! That’s where I’m going.
I have seen Aronfskys [pai] a long time ago but i didnt like it much back then. Im looking forward to his new film with Mickey Rourk though, I heard its real good.

- Where do you get inspiration? Is there some special energy in Tel-Aviv that does not exist in other cities that you visited? (Tell us the secrets of this city)

There probably is! I guess so. It’s a very dynamic place and Mediterranean. Tel Aviv is situated in a very interesting junction geographically, between east and west.
But i won’t tell u all the secrets.

- We do not know anything about your electronic music scene. Can you name a few outstanding experimental projects, groups or musicians? Is there an electronic music scene in Tel-Aviv?

The electronic music scene here is existent. But it’s not strong. A small scene. A lot of stuff but I don’t keep track anymore. It bores me most of the time.
Occasionally there is a good audio-visual evening. It’s not a very vibrant scene - the electronica. Instead there are other things. Like a good beach for example, good food and good weather.

- How are live concerts of Ran Slavin arranged? Are they more like a performance or a film show with your live soundtrack?

They are live video-sound concerts. A performance. All in real time. It’s wild. I control sound with my video which is triggered randomly most of the time. The sound gets generated in real time from the video sources.

- What else are you involved in, apart from Ran Slavin? Is music making your main activity? Is there any other job/activity in parallel?

As iv mentioned above, i have just completed Insomniac City [4] the feature [76 minutes shot in Tel Aviv and Shanghai], so ill be promoting that soon. Aside form that and some planned exhibitions im in the final stages of completing a new script for a feature film but that will take some time.
Im getting ready for a solo exhibition at Netwerk centre for Contemporary Art in Aalst-Belgium opening at the 29th of November. Insomniac City 3 channel installation at the Petach Tikva Museum of art. And participating at the Plateaux festival this weekend in Torun in Polin.

- Tell us, what is happening with Mille Plateaux now (we know that you are a musician, not a producer, we only want to hear an the 3rd party opinion)? Is Mille Plateaux going to release music or your and Edith Progue releases are the last splashes from this legendary label?

I think we were the last splashes unfortunately.

- Please, say some words about your new album Nocturnal Rainbow Rising. Is this the result of long-time creative work or it was created in a burst of inspiration?

The tracks in Nocturnal were on my hard drive for a few years before i decided to release them. They were done at various times and continents. Many parts of them are featured on Insomniac City [4].
I love this album. Once i play it i just want more of the same. Music as a drug. Free download here.

- What should we expect from you in the future? Which albums or films you are working on right now? Have you got any other ideas? What kind of projects would you like to make in the future?

Well like i said Insomniac City the feature will be out soon and im looking for distribution now in cinemas etc [if your a distributer and you are reading this article, please get in touch] so hopefully ill be touring with it.
A new feature is in the pipes and exhibitions as well.

- Ran Slavin
- Ran Slavin's photostream
- Ran Slavin at myspace

november '08

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