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Apr 10, 2016

Kangding Ray: Beauty at the Center of the Debate

“I feel that beauty is at the center of the debate. That’s what interested me over the course of my creative life: the search for beauty in all its forms.”

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In three words, what would be the artistic direction of Kangding Ray’s project?

Texture. Emotion. Structure.

Is music a way for you to organize chaos? 

It’s a way to organize chaos that paradoxically creates chaos. I see music as something organized that in turn would be a way to give a meaning to it all while producing it in a literal form. The difficulty lies in finding the source of the chaos and re-transcribing it so that it’s understandable to a larger number of people and not just oneself.
Chaos is all the artifacts that are inherently linked to the production of music with machines. The idea would be to create chaos by changing the way we work with machines. I’m just trying to create the conditions that would allow me to surprise others. I have the knowledge and the technical conditions to create almost anything I want, but if I only do what I know I can do, it would quickly become very boring. What’s interesting is what happens between the two: a non-functional dialogue.

For us, Cory Arcane would be an allusion to Petite Poucette from Michel Serres (French philosopher and historian). Would you also be optimist towards tomorrow’s generation? 

That’s right. It’s a story about a contemporary woman who is navigating this post-modern mess and I do find that it’s fairly optimistic. Actually I believe it can lead to possibilities. ‘Embracing chaos’ : accepting this chaos and using it. There’s a positive attitude, and a slight irony, which allows for things to be taken more lightly. There is a seriousness that exists in exchanges, the link with the trend of making everything important and viral, this quality that the internet has to make things shocking, to take everything very seriously. There needs to be some distance in order to survive all this, otherwise all the little details become too important. That’s only noise to our ears!
Cory Arcane is the story of someone who is trying to do things well. She’s trying to get inside the system, but she’s completely rejected because of her originality and the purity of her intentions. She tries but she doesn’t want to compromise and that’s why she fails at integrating herself and, little by little, she is rejected by this centrifugal force to the illegal fringes of the society.

Is it necessary to be individualistic to be free? 

I see two movements that are evolving in parallel form, one being a type of individualism that is more and more pronounced as everyone becomes a kind of PR agent for themselves. I’m actually surprised to see all these young people constantly working on their image as though they were creating a brand. But at the same time, there’s a real need for community, something that is becoming more and more important when faced with this latter trend; a kind of refuge where we can create real connections.

Do you feel the academic system has become obsolete facing the new technologies?

It’s a good question. Is it obsolete or is it a conservative refuge ? Like a necessary archaism. In my artistic practice, every time I had to learn something new, I didn’t go back to school to learn it, i’d rather open a book, search an answer on the internet, watch a youtube tutorial, or even ask a friend. There’s always someone who has asked themselves this question already. In fact, are there any more questions that haven’t been asked?
The practice of having to go through a professor’s mediation or through an establishment is becoming more and more questionable, as information is necessarily filtered. However, the problem with learning on this thing that is the internet is the question of the truth, as is with the occasional lack of sources for example. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, it all becomes a kind of fiction. Most people aren’t interested in the truth, but are looking for the spectacle. The source, often shittier and more complex, will be replaced by a fiction that is sexier because what’s true isn’t necessarily pretty. Even history can be made up. In fact, I think that historical figures are more romanticized, and we’re turning them into fiction. Like the history of the Middle Ages and how it was painted as a dark period by Renaissance historians because they wanted to feel that they’d changed everything. And we do know that history was rewritten by those who would benefit from certain changes. But now I’m straying from the question (laughs).

Electronic music was associated with the TAZ of Hakim Bey, can we still find these concepts in the scene nowadays? 

Yes, absolutely. In a society that is completely media-dependant and under surveillance, the clubs and the places where you can find electronic music are often the last remaining spaces for real freedom — when they’re not a kind of platform for the expression of individuality. More clubs are banning pictures and cell phones, and I feel a real openness to create temporary zones. Today’s urban space is privatized; it has lost the ability to create autonomous temporary zones. We’ve exchanged our freedom for security! When we look at the biggest newspapers’ ranking of the best cities to live in, it’s usually these insipid places which are very controlled, the complete opposite of the urban spaces in which true individuality can survive. And people have accepted this…

Taking references from Hakim Bey and Noam Chomsky, you don’t seem to believe in authority. In what do you believe in?

Ha you want to know if I am an anarchist! (Laughs) I believe in the individual and I don’t believe that anarchy could work on the global scale, maybe only in disconnected, or smaller communities ; I have faith in some sort of laws, as long as they make some sort of sense ( which is sadly not always the case ), because a lot of people are not ready, or don’t even want that total freedom.
I also believe that people do not have the same desires and goals in life, and I don’t want to force my way of thinking on society as a whole. One of the worst things is when someone starts to think that everyone has to act and live exactly like he or she does, wanting to impose their values and education on other people. We have to accept various lifestyles, ways of thinking and aspirations. I’m fairly idealistic and I believe in the strength of thought and in the individual expression. However, I also accept that people will want to live simply and safely, may want to buy a house and raise a family. I don’t think that’s crazy; there are as many truths as there are people on this planet. Laws should be based on that, not on trying to satisfy the greatest number of people. We should include minority opinions so as not to fall into one model, which wouldn’t work anyway because of different cultures, religions or sexual orientations. Whether it be political or social, we can’t use just one model. What works for me, as an electronic music producer living in Berlin, won’t necessarily work for someone else. I try to organize my own space for freedom, and I have thoughts as to how that should be. It’s a large part as to why I’m in Berlin, because it’s a place that allows me to live in closer proximity to this philosophy.

What has become of Cory now that the album is released? 

I think it’s going pretty well for her. (Laughs) As you understood, the albums that I make allow me to transmit fairly abstract ideas, to create characters and images and to transmit something that goes beyond the medium. It’s not just a question of making music, it is also about the concept that makes it as well as the whole process of its release.

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