Experimentation is one of those fickle beasts within any creative scene. With subjective meanings juxtaposed against industry standards, as well as the ever-present search for acceptance and “cool”, it is an approach to creation that frequently gets lost in an interconnected system of artistry and promo.
Many an artist (and brand) have found themselves on the cusp of experimentation, only to yield to the financial pressures of sponsorship, branding, and template, ultimately killing any artistic approach that once allowed for the very platform off which they once thrived. Mostly a result of financial stability, and the sirens call of corporate influence, it is few and far between those who buck the face of the “norm” and do so with longevity.
With that, this month’s Lente Kabinet (now, weekender) Festival has invited several experimental acts to perform across its two day event. As the “little sister” to the, always experimenting, Dekmantel Festival, Lente Kabinet may even one up that event in terms of experimentation given its intimate focus and envelope pushing lineup across genre without the constraints of the former’s eponymous brand awareness. At this event there will be several acts who can be (in my opinion) categorized within a blanket term “experimental” context, however, given the differences in everything from genre, performance style, origin location, age, and more, I wondered how each defined this term and how those definitions shifted from artist to artist.
Here, three of Lente Kabinet’s acts, from the dub pop psych duo from Los Angeles, Peaking Lights [DJ], to the Philadelphia post punk stylings of Crash Course in Science [live], as well as the multi-aliased Frenchman, Black Zone Wolf Chant [live], went in conversation with me, providing their subjective impressions on a standard set of questions touching upon definitions, approaches, sustainability, and the affect of capital within the artistic space, these three acts each provide a total and complete look into the world’s of the “artist’s artist”.
What is your definition of “experimental”?
When you have and EXPERI-ence with the music and it’s fully MENTAL! Ha! 🙂
It’s a hard question because there are lots of experimental elements even in pop music, but truly i think
experimental is embracing failure. Most of the experimental elements in Pop music were ripped from the underground, but just at a time when the general population was ready for it.
Describe you own approach towards experimentation within your own work?
We just kind of let it all hang out, we try not to be afraid to fail. I think that pushing the limits of ourselves, composition, arrangement and the machines we work with has been a big thing. In Peaking Lights live sets they are essentially improvised even tho there are “songs”. I essentially play a mixing board and am constantly warping and tweaking the sounds…we do a lot of tape manipulation when we record but it’s hard to bring those machines on tour so we have to find other ways to achieve that.
Where do the lines of experimentation begin/end? Do they end?
There is no beggining and no end. It’s all just part of being creative.
Describe your own personal creative path and how it led you to the place, and with the approach to music, you have now?
Indra and I both came from punk & experimental backgrounds so in a way it’s all we’ve ever done. There’s always new thing to learn so I think we approach our own music with a “we don’t know anything” attitude and just see what comes out based on where we’re at.
What are some vital aspects of maintaining an experimental approach to art?
Staying free, being open to new experiences from others and have a desire to learn. Experimentation kind of ends when you think you know everything. Not to say that one can’t master a certain type of experimentation.
How do you reconcile with the marketing and branding aspect of the creative industry?
In the US we don’t have the ability to get any funding for projects as creative people. For us we want to invest our time in becoming masters of our art, so there is some compromises we have to make. Indra and I really want to make music that is healing and makes people feel good. The marketing and branding is just a thing that helps you get somewhere, it’s not everything. The music is everything.
Is an experimental approach to creativity conducive towards financial benefit?
Depends, I think doing what you love and sharing that love with others is conducive towards financial benefit, so if you love experimentation, then yeah, why not?