Copyright : Trung Dung Nguyen
Rrose’s performance at Mutek 2015 was the fifth appearance at the festival for this artist of multiple identities. This year, he performed alongside Lucy at Metropolis as her psychedelic and androgynous alter-ego, dressed in a geometrically patterned dress and with an air of David Bowie. The performance was a major highlight of the 16th edition. So it is with honour and delight that we exchanged a few words with one of the most discrete, though inescapable, figures of this year’s festival.
Marcel Duchamp was considered as the most important artist of the XXth century, he was also the first who introduced conceptualization. Do you think that music should have a concept behind a project?
I think some forms of music benefit from a strong conceptual framework, while others are better suited to exploration, experimentation without a concept to start with. Both are interesting. But to me, the best music, whether it starts with a concept or not, always feels like there is an idea… maybe the composer, the musician, doesn’t event know about it, but somehow she achieves that result. When you listen to her music you have the sense that something important is happening. When I talk about an idea, it’s not necessarily something that you can describe, but something that you can sense.
Could you put some words on the project behind Rrose?
It’s hard – I try to keep the project focused, with a strong identity, but I don’t always understand it myself (laughs). When I make music as Rrose, I play a lot with perception. I try to get to a point where I’m confusing my own mind and perceptions while still making music that you can dance to, music that moves your body at the same time.
I love music for pure listening, maybe even more than dance music. But what I like about dance music is the energy that it gives to the audience. It’s a very different experience. What I try to do with the Rrose project is both : to achieve that sense of deep listening while moving your body at the same time. It’s more than just dancing or just listening, it’s something that grows together… something bigger, I hope. When you can make both happen, it’s really magical. Because when you’re in a big crowd of people, you share some aspects of that experience but you’re also in some respects, experiencing it alone.
Rrose Selavy’s persona was a way for Duchamp to be detached from human sexuality, do you consider your music as an erotic and sensual music?
I don’t know if that first statement is true, but sure, dancing always has a sensual, erotic aspect to it, and I chose to borrow Duchamp’s persona partly for that reason. In more general terms, I’m interested in the way music connects to the body, whether through dancing or other means.
Being detached from yourself, able to observe who you are, is an important aspect to understand better your own work?
I observe myself a lot, maybe too much (laughs). In a sense, having an identity to occupy while making music makes its easier to lose myself in it, without analyzing too much. It can be really informative to move between a feeling of detachment and being immersed. It’s important for me to find a space where I can be lost inside the music and also find a space where I can be detached and listen from an outside perspective. Of course I don’t think that you can ever be completely detached! But for me it helps to spend a lot of time listening to what I do, more than doing it : to hear it from different perspectives, from the perspective of who I “normally” am, from the Rrose part of myself, and from the perspective of the audience.
You say that you have a Rrose part of yourself, how can you stay authentic when you live through a persona?
Everyone lives through a persona, performing in some way, whenever they interact with other people… whether they know it or not. It can be a conscious choice to live through a persona, but there is a persona in everyone that has been built up in some way through their own choices and experiences. Changing your name or appearance doesn’t necessarily make your identity less authentic. Sometimes it’s the opposite. I think you can have more than one identity and still be authentic. I don’t believe there is a fixed, authentic self inside that one can point to. Our inner selves are constantly changing and influenced by our experience in the world.
Do you think it gives something more magic to create a persona around the artist?
Sure, I hope that my presence on stage adds something magical to the music and the performance. I try to allow people to bring their own experience to it, to bring their own imagination into that identity and connect to the music in different ways. My identity on stage is unclear, it leaves room for interpretation. I’m not trying to tell them what that connection is exactly, but I’m trying to create some kind of space where people can make their own connections. I’m giving hints. I’m giving them some material to work with, something to interpret.
You seem to work a lot with the idea of repetition, in an abstract level, does repetition be away to play with temporality?
Yes of course! That’s a really huge topic. I try create tension between repetition and change, so there is a sense that everything is changing, even when it feels repetitive or still…
At this point, the recorder began to burns up in the sun and stop recording.
The rest of the interview remains lost in the ether forever…