You are hereInterview for www.zuvuya.net Jan 2009 - Sao Paulo
Interview for www.zuvuya.net Jan 2009 - Sao Paulo
Bill interviewed by Guilherme Konrad Bantel
1.Billy, you've been producing psychedelic music for 14 years now. And before that, many more as a guitarist during the 80's in London, the city you were born. You saw and listened to lots of things, and also composed and must have experimented a lot. What's your thing with music? What keeps pushing you further?
Well, music is a magical thing. It has the ability to give pleasure and evoke positive emotions in other human beings. In that way it's a sublime form of communication and speaks of our common humanity. I strive to create music that somehow expresses this profound and mysterious journey of life that we find ourselves in the midst of...
Also I consider it and honour and a privilege to find myself in a position where I can make my living creating and expressing music for others to enjoy and I make sure never to let myself forget that. I guess these are the kind of thoughts spur me forward. Also obviously some other factors like needing to pay the bills : )
2. You come from a rock n roll scene and, from that time, you kept the guitar and the characteristic live performance. Which attitudes you still conserve from that time?
Not so much a rock background. More like a Funk, Pop, Rock, Sold, Blues and Jazz background. I worked as a session guitarist on the music scene in London so I had to have a wide range of playing ability to cover all the bases.
One of the things that I have brought across with me to electronic music from my experiences of playing in bands is the whole onstage performance aspect. When I used to play in live bands onstage presentation was of prime importance and was something that was discussed, planned and worked upon because it makes a huge difference to the impact of a show.
So personally, I'm still kind of bemused when I see D.J's that stand onstage looking down and frowning at the mixer not appearing to notice that there is a huge crowd of people in front of them waiting and wishing for some kind of interaction. Or live acts that look as if they are checking their emails on their laptops. Now I do realize that it is often just fear and inexperience that stops them interacting with the audience, but still, as a live performer one has to get beyond that stage.
3. When you began producing electronic music, you already had an established career as musician. How was that change? What made you jump from bands to electronic music so abruptly?
It was 1992 when I first became aware of early Acid House music and the whole sub-culture that went along with it. It was an incredibly exciting time in London. It was a whole new cultural shift that exploded out from those days in the late eighties right up until the present day.
At that time I was already a working musician but I became intrigued by this whole new vibrant and creative dance music scene and the huge creative possibilities that it offered. So much so that I dumped the whole playing in bands thing pretty much overnight and got into making electronic dance music. In reality I kind of crossfaded between one career and another, but still the process was quite quick, once I’d decided my direction.
Today dance music has expanded from those more local early days into a global phenomenon and this alternative trance sub-culture that I have been a kind of international representative of for the last 14 years or so has become particularly global, It’s a relatively small scene but it’s everywhere.
4. Apart of psychedelic trance and electronic music in general, what other music styles do you listen to?
How much time have you got? :) I've been listening to a lot of 40's big band jazz lately. I like pretty much anything - if it's good. You name it, Blues, Pop, Classical, Jazz, Funk, Soul, even Country music. It's all music - and I'm a musician.
Strangely enough even if I don't actually like the music itself, I can still find something of value to listen to in it. For example I could analyze the harmonic structure, or appreciate the percussion programming or whatever. Speaking as a composer there is often some idea I can steal : )
I learned a long time ago something from a musician that I greatly admired, and that was " Always keep your ears open."
5. Looking at the cover arts for the Cosmosis discography, i got myself thinking on how visionary art and psychedelic trance have always shared the same space. The first creating a fantastic scenery to the second, and the second creating an ethereal soundtrack to the first. What do you feel about visionary art and how did you first get in touch with it?
It speaks to me in the same way as good psychedelic music. To me visionary art communicates higher states of awareness. It expresses expanded consiousness. It offers glimpses of vast, open and infinite spiritual worlds that exist beyond the confines of our cramped little physical dimension.
6. Long time ago i read an interview with a brazilian politician (Cristovam Buarque), who was asked for an opinion on the Amazon jungle internationalization. He was also asked to answer it as a humanist, not as a brazilian.
Basically, he said that if the Amazon should be internationalized so should the oil reserves and the financial capital of rich countries. "As a humanist, i defend the
internationalization of the whole world. But while the world treats me as a
brazilian, i'll work and live for the Amazon to be ours, and ours only"
Can you see a parallel between this answer and your music making the rounds on peer-to-peer networks?
First of all, I agree with him , but yes for sure. In a perfect world I'd be happy to give my work away for free to whomever would want it. In that world, every single person would be encouraged to find their unique gifts and talent and their daily occupation would be to express and share that unique talent with others. Everybody would share their talents and wealth with each other and nobody would want for anything.
This is the basis for the "Like, everything should be, like, free man." ideology which people often use to justify their downloading habit.
However, currently we don't live in that world. Hopefully one day but it's not here yet. For example, when I have to pay my rent, if I say to my landlord, "Dude, everything should be, like, free man." for some reason he doesn’t buy it. He wants the greenbacks instead.
So, until such time as we live in a perfect world, I have to charge money for my time and my work.
Rocking Out At Respect 2008
7. During all these years touring the world as Cosmosis, you had the opportunity to meet different cultures, to know different people and places, always using the universal language of music as a bridge. After 14 years, what did you learn from all
those life experiences?
There’s an old cliché that says “travel broadens the mind” a cliché but also very true. Perhaps the most important insight I have gleaned over the years is that despite very minor and superficial cultural differences, everybody, everywhere around the world are all fundamentally the same. All human beings have the same essential wants, wishes and desires. The cultural and language differences while seemingly large, are a overwhelmingly minor when compared with the commonalities.
8. I can imagine that this question may have been asked loads of times, but would you tell us a presentation that was really special for you?
You're right, I do get asked this a lot! But hey, at least it's not "What's your favourite colour?"
All the different parties and experiences kind of melt in to one big party after a while. But really there’s been too many good ones to mention. The ones I tend to remember are always in locations of outstanding natural beauty, like outdoor parties up high in the Swiss Mountains, on beaches in Goa, Bali or Brazil, in the English countryside, desert parties in Israel, rainforests in Australia that kind of thing. I’ve been to several beautiful party locations in Brazil.
9. During last weekend, the party you played (Respect) has gotten its parking lot invaded by a social movement that demands Brazilian government immediate agrarian reform (MST). Curious situation that was - the encounter of two different groups (and realities) in the same society. Both, at least in concept, want equalness of rights for every one. The question is... do you believe that psychedelic
parties can still be a tool for behaviour and, in longer timeline, even social
Well perhaps it's possible that groups attending psychedelic parties with the intention to expand their awareness with a view to understanding their proper place in the universe combined with rigorous self-reflection can have a liberating effect upon those individuals. As individuals make up society then there would be a net gain in freedom and creativity for a society. This would be manifested as more freedom from any disempowering cultural baggage which one inherits by virtue of being born into a pre-existing culture, greater creative capacity among individuals and greater personal responsibility individually.
Maybe even a long overdue resurgence of interest in the spiritual dimension of life. But this path isn't without some very real risks.
However, we don’t have the idealistic psychedelic party scenario that I just outlined above. What we actually have are hedonistic free for alls where many people blindly stuff themselves with random combinations of whatever powders and chemicals they can put into their bodies in a quest for greater and greater sensory experiences. Perhaps it’s fun for a while, but to be perfecly frank, I don’t see any potential benefits in this kind of behaviour on either the individual or social level.
10. Now you must be working on your next album. Can you tell us what influenced you during the producing? What can we expect for your next brazilian tour?
I recently began to enquire into what exactly it is about music that makes me want to continue create it. What is that essence that I want to express and that I am sometimes successful at expressing and sometimes not? I’ve been digging down to find that essential diamonds that I’m always mining for. I recently revisited all the music that I’ve made over the 14 years past and listened to it to evaluate when I succeeded and when I failed in order to identify the nature of what it was that I was trying to express.
It’s difficult to put in words, which is why I need to use music to express it, but I’ll try: It’s a certain vibe and feeling. It’s otherworldly but beautiful, strange yet familiar, it whispers it’s language of higher worlds from beyond space and time, and yet when you hear it, you recognize and understand it. So, I’ve been creating this past album with the intention to capture this ghostly song in sound.
I’ll be playing most of my new work combined with some Cosmosis remixes and Cosmosis live favourites in my new live shows in Brazil.....
The new Cosmosis album (working title: Fumbling for the Funky Frequency) should be finished and ready for release around springtime 2009 keep an eye on www.cosmosis.co.uk for details.