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11/1*, Vol.4: Erik Wøllo

Erik Wøllo is a composer and guitarist living in Norway.

#2. What is always worth the price?

Expensive concert tickets will always be worth the price, if the music is good. And you know that you at the same time, you do support someone who work in a branch who really need it these days. Regardless of fame.

#4. It’s not working: try something new or persist?

Kill your darlings, start all over! Took me some years to handle this. The most crucial question for all artists.

As you get more experienced, you will be more clever to know early in the process that things are not working. It is harder to start all over if you have been working several days with a track and kind of gotten used to it and even gotten a little blinded. So, the sooner you hit the delete button, the better.

#5. In general; start from chaos and reduce or start from silence and add?

Usually I like to start from silence, that is more in common with my artistic concept. I guess that is a more usual way also, because I work with sound. Any other artforms may use the chaos method more often.

All music breaks the silence, and it places organized elements in time.

The very first element I choose is very crucial and will affect the further process, like the first line in a drawing. But this is also the most difficult task. To get started.

#6. When does a piece fail? When does a piece succeed?

Music or art is successful when the audience will be drawn into it, and be immediately fascinated. And they never know why, because there are hidden secrets in it. But only the artist know.

When the constructions of the works are visible, you have failed as an artist!

You have to bring the piece of art to the next level. Where it exists as an independent creation, kind of living its own life. It is like your house. You do not think about the carpenters who build it, and how much time they spent building it. (But if it is not well built, you hate the carpenters!)

#8. You can bring one thing with you when you go, it must be inanimate. What is it?

A guitar, probably. The first thing I do in the morning is to grab a guitar and play a few tones. Just to wake up, and sharpen my mind. Other people will do yoga exercises or something like that, but for me it is the guitar.

#10. What is your favourite machine?

The looper! As a composer and musician, I use it as a tool for creating spontanious ideas which never would have existed if I were dependent only on regular recorders. I have many loopers around in my studio, all of them ready plugged in and instantly ready to be used.

#11. What incredibly useful thing doesn’t exist yet?

An electric guitar with some not yet known electronics device built in. Something that can extend the guitar, which lets you control a lot of parameters more easily, both ergonomically and spontaneously. The length of tones in time, for instance. There are solutions available now, but we are yet not there.

#13. What famous artwork do you like least of all?

Jeff Koons: Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988. To me that is the most brutal example of the genre kitsch art. Reminds me of these cheap creations you can see in the exhibition windows in any toy store, before Christmas.

On the other hand, kitsch is a serious artform like any other, and I respect that. But I do not like it.

#14. What work of yours is the favourite?

My latest album, Blue Radiance! My intuition really served me well here. But it was hard work for many months! I managed to collect all my musical ideas into this selection of tracks. I had a lot more material to chose from, but I think I picked the best songs.

#15. What is the one thing you fear about your work?

A future scenario: 200 years from now, with a new media situation and new technology, all my work is wiped out, and no one will ever have the chance to hear it.

You never know how the future will be. I guess this is a problem with all stored data. Will it be possible to hear and see it in the future, or will everything be lost? Some years ago I read an article about this. It concluded by saying that the most safe and future proof media for music will be the printed score. I do not know. Not easy to print a score of electronic music, which is only made to be listened to from two stereo speakers! Not possible to write this kind of music down on a paper, and to be performed by other musicians. But I have written a large amount of music for acoustic instruments, which are all notated on scores, so….

#21. What is your favourite plant?

Juniper. The smell, the look. And it can survive the most extreme climate situations. You can actually make licorice of the berries!

*I’m sending 23 questions to artists, designers and musicians and asking them to answer 11. I think these questions give revealing answers, especially regarding creative work. Here are their responses. As these are interviews I’m publishing their answers as they are, fully appreciating that English may not be their first or preferred written language. Thanks to all the participants.

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