Pushing and Pulling – Ego Crushing in Improvised Performance
Pete Swanson in conversation.
I record everything live. It’s all improvised on hardware and mixed live to two tracks, which I’ll edit down into something useable later. I don’t really use a computer to make music beyond recording that one stereo track, I throw away 99.99% of everything I record, etc. I do rely on some pop sound vocabulary in my work, but the way that the sounds are forced to struggle for supremacy in the mix ends up producing work that is automatically somewhat avant-garde despite the source sounds that the music is built out of coming from a pop vocabulary.
I wouldn’t say that submission is the right term to think about my work, but there is a serious helping of humility in that embracing of failure and chaos. There’s a serious push-pull relationship that occurs when musicians are improvising and I developed my setup to reflect that sort of relationship without involving another human. My gear pushes back and makes me make decisions I wouldn’t otherwise make. There’s some ego-crush going on there even though everything I’m doing is something that I’ve built up. I’m a bit of a control-freak in certain regards, but I find control to be awfully boring. If I always knew what every change I would make to my gear would result in, I’d get so frustrated. I like a lot of push-back.