Dominique Vleeshouwers: “The Crossover Can Only Work If You Know Both [Worlds]”
Then may my inner child ask you, why do we still have chairs in the concert halls? Or in other words, why composed music has to be experienced while sitting?
Well how about the movies then?
Movies are a multidimentional medium, where the story is told thought the sound and images, the goal is to get you fully immersed into the story, curated by the director.
I guess it is the same as watching a movie just that you are presented with one of the mediums which is music and the rest is about you. There is an abstract story that we take you through. We have our own narrative, but we don’t tell it to the audience so that minds would be free to look for their own story.
Listening to music in a concert hall creates an individual experience. It inspires your imagination; the way you think about the world. You go home and you relive it again. That is the magical part about this place, that you can interpret it the experience individually and not be in anyone’s vision.
What compositional differences do you see in a concert versus a club performance?
We are now working on the composition for the concert for the 11th October and then we have the 26th of November we play the club version in the south of Holland (Eindhoven). The concert version is a big line of 70 minutes without any stops. He has a big build-up until 45th minute and it goes down again and it goes totally up, so there is this big landscape with a lot of different styles: ambient, dub step, techno, really classical choral intersects. Meanwhile, a club is a different experience and the composition is one linear growth instead.
What does the crossover have that would appeal to the fans of both classical and electronic music music?
I believe that there is a big group of people who will find it interesting in how you combine electronic sounds with the live performance and what does of live performance add to electronic music.
Because there is a big difference if you produce the music and you play it in the club. There are some live things, but it doesn’t really have to do anything with live performing. So when we were in the club and I heard this beat going and I thought, if you now see someone really playing the drum now, then you add a source of energy that really influences the experience.
Why do you think the collaboration between live musicians and electronic music producers in a live performance happens so rarely? Why DJs don’t have violin or saxophone players on stage all the time?
Because they don’t know each other. When we were working with Patrice Baumel, even though we did our own thing, we stayed in our own worlds, but we worked together and explained to each other a lot. He took me to Trouw the evening he was and then I took him to Concertgebouw, this way we learned a lot from each other
How was the project with Patrice different from the current one?
The difference was that I was playing my instruments at that time and I knew what he was doing but I didn’t know how he was doing that, how he was recording it, which software was he using for it and how it was even possible that he could record me and then have a different sound coming out of the speakers.
This time we are doing everything ourselves. We are playing the instruments, composing ourselves, transforming the sounds, we are recording the sounds, which we are using, then really the worlds meet.
So how much of the performance is pre-recorded material?
We have prerecorded samples, we are not sampling everything live, because it becomes too complicated. There is a thing in life performance which was the big question, if you produce your music what does it add if you play it live? And if it doesn’t really add anything in a concert hall, then why would you even do it?!
That’s where our stage director, Katrien van Beurden, who specializes in physical expression of the body, really helped. She divided the performance into parts where people would be looking at the stage, when only listening, or closing their eyes. It tells you a lot how much it ads to playing a drum live instead of putting it in a track.
So what is it that a live instrument adds to the performance in your terms?
I think that if you have a drum and your play it, when people connect the sound to the visual, it becomes a bigger world. We are so visually geared! Next to that, when you see me hitting the drum, you see the expression and feel the energy I am transmitting. Then you will also feel the vibrations of the drum or a big gong in your body.
Can I ask you, what does it actually mean, classical percussion? To specify, to me, percussion is a very native instrument. It reflects the heart beat and holds the rhythms of all music. Meanwhile the term “classical” hints at definition of something rather complex. How would you define classical percussion?
Indeed “classical” is a super strange word. Because classical reflects the classical period of, let’s say, Mozart and now if you have modern music that is composed years ago they still call it classical but it’s not. Actually, now I mostly use the term “composed music” more. I am not playing any classical music unless I am playing in the orchestra. For me also percussion is a very native instrument. Every different country has their own culture, they have their own drums. However what we learn within classical percussion is interpretations of the Western European music composers.
Then again, the term “percussion” consists of much more than just making beats. There’s also melodic percussion consisting of bells, even violins, synthesizers, almost anything that can produce a sound by hitting it.
In the end, it’s not even about the instruments. You start with the composition. And if it is a sound that fits the idea of the music that we want to play, it can even be a tin box. It is the same if you work with software, you tweak the buttons until you hear the sound that fits you.
We even made several instruments that we recorded and changed with electronic software. Or the other way around – created a sound through software and thought that we want to play it live. So we went through the junkyard until we found something that could reproduce that sound.