Swedish Interview

David's solo career interviews

Swedish Interview

Postby missouriman on Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:00 pm

David Sylvian Japan started the group who had some big hits in the 80s and is also influenced by Eastern philosophy. He recently completed work on his upcoming compilation CD Sleep Walkers, which contains the music that he made together with other artists, fresh remixes and a song with composer Dai Fujikura.

LY: You are not very fond of that seen in the media and is economical with his touring. Is it difficult to avoid publicity when you're an artist?

DS: On the one hand, it is impossible to escape the public domain, as you would like to tell the world about what you do, so a certain amount of publicity is probably inevitable. But on the other hand, it is becoming more common with communication via electronic media, and then you can keep yourself in the background while they are doing what you need, as publicity and marketing. It is a development that fits many artists, including myself.

LY: You seem to live a secluded life?

DS: Yes I do. When I moved to the U.S. so I noticed that we, as a growing family, came more and more outside the loop. We started in the cities and traveled around. We moved from the middle to the U.S. west coast and eventually to the east, and we became more and more isolated. We have aligned ourselves with the step by step. In the beginning we were never far from any big city that we could not get our cultural needs satisfied, but over time has decreased and the needs we have become more isolated. Internet became a way of keeping in touch with the outside world. The idea of belonging to the culture that exists where you live is not true anymore. Now we are largely global citizens who embrace various aspects of culture and news from around the world. I work with people who live scattered all over the place. We're talking to each other through electronic media and send files to each other in much the same way as we sat and worked together. This flexibility, immediacy and availability of our interaction is something that will only increase with time and that there will be new, even better techniques.

LY: Are you such as going to football game?

DS: No, never. I'm probably completely disinterested in sports. Though it is clear, my daughter started with basketball last semester and I was totally captivated by her to see the matches.

LY: Many think that your music is very bleak, though I think quite simply that it is beautiful. Are you melancholic to your orientation?

DS: I never liked the term "melancholy". Some may well call me it, but they might have been surprised if they knew how easy I have to laugh. And how much by the interaction with my children based on humor, and so on. I have no hard mood swings, but there are some brighter sides of me, and it keeps me more on my own.

LY: I get the impression that you like to be alone and think and try to learn more about yourself. Am I wrong?

DS: It is true that I spend a lot of time to myself. For the most part it is a welcome solitude, but sometimes it may be too intense and when I feel lonely. It is important to have a healthy body and healthy mind. I really appreciate being with people I like, but my ability to socialize with others is limited. It is said that there are two kinds of people: those who charge their internal batteries by being with others and those that charge the batteries by being alone. I belong to the second group. If I have a stressful day may suffice that I may be fourth in private for me to cope with the rest of the day.

LY: What will make you laugh?

DS: It's probably the British self-underestimation of humor. Quick replies. Puns. Being with my daughters.

LY: What inspires you? Japan had hit singles, do not you list the successes?

DS: Are the charts still? I do not track of them, unfortunately. If I do not have to be on the charts? Not at all. I am inspired by many different things, but most of my own life experiences, my mental and emotional life, and perhaps also a few artists. What makes a work authentic is its emotional and philosophical truth. Therefore, there must have been inspired by the culturally melted and processed so that you can not see its influence in what you've done, it has become part of one's own vocabulary.

LY: Sorts you out some music that you get ideas? For example, if you have a real hit in the head, would you make a song of it, or you can blur out the inspiration?

DS: No, that's not how it works. When I write music, I have a goal that I move on. The chances that I would be knocked by an idea for a hit single is not exactly great. But it depends of course on the project as a whole and on who I work with. In general, I believe that the hit singles (are they still?) And success on the charts (I'll trust you that they still exist) is for a younger generation. It is their turf.

LY: What is so exciting with improvised music?

DS: I've been listening to improvised music for decades. In the beginning there was the feeling that total to go up in it and try to understand, music that was almost entirely divorced from my own. But over time I started to become curious as to whether I myself could venture on the type of music, and do it well enough. It took perhaps twenty years before I realized that it could be possible. What attracted was the freedom offered by life as a composer.

LY: What is the meaning of the word Manafon?

DS: I came across the word when I read about the poet and clergyman RS Thomas's life and work. Manafon (a small village in Wales) was his first parish in which he also wrote his first three poetry books. Eventually the word a meaning of the poetic imagination, the creative mind or the origin. That is why the cover of the CD Manafon shows an almost surreal idyll, a place where intuition is in contact with the subconscious.

LY: You have worked with other artists over the years. If I suggested to you, David Bowie and Bryan Ferry should do something together, what would you say then?

DS: If I work with others as it is to reach a specific target, or it is the formulation which requires a special vote (this may be the trumpet, guitar or whatever) and I do what is necessary. It is as a person always subordinate to the composition. It is a fairly simple process. I have not, and never had, a list of artists that I would like to work with.

LY: Do you listen to David Bowie and Bryan Ferry, and what do you think so, for them today?

DS: It is actually less than ten years ago I heard one of them. Maybe I should change it?

LY: You have worked with Stina Nordenstam. Keeps you in touch with her?

DS: Not so much that I would like. She is incredibly talented and a wonderful person. I really liked working with her.

LY: Do you plan any new cooperation agreement with her?

DS: Not at this time.

LY: Can you give some examples of how eastern culture has influenced you as a person?

DS: What I have been influenced by, I took to me altogether, and assimilated with myself. So it's hard for me to see how much my interest in oriental culture has influenced me. I could point to Zen Buddhism and, to a lesser extent, shintoismen. The two directions has guided me in my personal development. The wonderful creation that is popular culture and its own personality variability. Accepting both its male and female characteristics, without conflict.

Since I have developed friendships with Japanese artists, musicians and composers. They all have a special place in my heart. Musicians and colleagues as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Toru Takemitsu, Otomo Yoshihide, Nakamura Toshimaru and, more recently, Dai Fujikura. Visual artists who Shinro Ohtake, Shinya Fujiwara, and Atushi Fukui. I found an aesthetic that I recognized myself in, in many of their works, especially in Ryuchi. I found a community with my contemporaries in Japan that I had not done in my country.

LY: Do you believe in spirituality and religion?

DS: I have a strong anti-religious features, and it's probably because I live in the U.S. where religion often plays a large role in people's moral lives, regardless of faith or personal beliefs they have. I am very suspicious of all institutions, but especially religious. Spirituality need not in itself have much of organized religion. It is increasingly difficult to talk about spirituality, to the language, which has always been a bit misleading, is impoverished and there are a lot of unhappy associations in circulation. We really need a new terminology, so that we can discuss what it really is. We are spirit, as much or even more than meat, blood, brain, and more. It is our true nature. We can channel it, or come into contact with it in a variety of ways. Some think it's best to work with or through organized religion. Others may find it in proximity to nature and some of his creativity is inextricably linked with the spiritual. The different paths that lead to our own spirituality, which may be the flower, are innumerable.

LY: Do you write any new music at the moment?

DS: I'm into something that could be called an orchestral version of Manafon.

LY: When are you coming and play in Sweden?

DS: Then I must first determine whether I can choose to tour now, and I have not done yet.
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Re: Swedish Interview

Postby baht habit on Fri Jun 11, 2010 1:36 pm

Thanks for posting this, missouriman. I am assuming that the interview was translated from Swedish since much of the dialogue seems a bit 'broken' grammatically. But nonetheless, it makes for yet another interesting read. Thanks again.

missouriman wrote:LY: Do you write any new music at the moment?
DS: I'm into something that could be called an orchestral version of Manafon.


I figure that Sylvian is referring to the recent work he is creating with composer/arranger/orchestrator Dai Fujikura. I am really looking forward to hearing their collaboration which will be included on Sleepwalkers in order to get a definite feel for where Sylvian is heading musically.
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Re: Swedish Interview

Postby missouriman on Fri Jun 11, 2010 3:00 pm

Thanks for posting this, missouriman. I am assuming that the interview was translated from Swedish since much of the dialogue seems a bit 'broken' grammatically. But nonetheless, it makes for yet another interesting read. Thanks again


Indeed, Baht. I merely used Google's Translator and copy and pasted so it does read kind of stilted. If there are any fluent Swedish speakers up to try a better translation... But it is quite an interesting read and he is more human in it than the Brain Trust interview from the Russian interviewer. Glad I found a link on Paul's page.
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Re: Swedish Interview

Postby InVogue on Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:16 am

I can confirm that the translation are pretty accurate. Of course everyone can understand what the interview is about but automatic translators are not always 100% correct. I have pm'd some corrections to missouriman if there's need for editing.

If anyone would like a copy of the paper edition of the interview you can pm me. In addition to the interview itself there's a nice full page picture of David and a small pic on the front page. It's a free magazine (like Metro) but you will have to pay me for the postage cost via Paypal.
Last edited by InVogue on Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Swedish Interview

Postby kitaj on Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:28 am

I've actually enjoyed the 'Brain Trust' interview :-D very much. I think profundity of meaning calls for profundity of means.

although I myself like to joke at David's expense from time to time out of a sense of endearing familiarity I feel with the man, I continue to think he's not at all 'pretentious' (I loathe that term because it gets misused all the time) - he just means what he does, and vice versa. a rare currency today as ever. when we call on him to 'lighten up', I think we're really demanding a respite from that seriousness of intent for ourselves. and hope we'll just once be able to drag him to a pub with us somehow. :-D
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Re: Swedish Interview

Postby Hawk on Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:49 pm

Ahh Hawk has just found this interview! :-) :-) :-) Mr Sylvian is so open-minded. Hawk likes the questions asked here, they are very succinct. But Hawk likes all interviews Mr Sylvian does.

Hawk was puzzling over the word 'pretentious' the other night for a long time. Hawk related it to 'making mountains out of molehills,' whereas Kitaj is right, Mr Sylvian is always just speaking the plain truth, at least from where he sees things, sometimes when you see yourself as a very tiny part of the world and the grander scheme of things, you do see many mountains as opposed to molehills. But because they didn't start off small, you can't criticise yourself of pretending they are bigger. Hmm... Hawk believes that everyone sees the world differently - as though through invisible contact lenses that our dreams and thoughts and experiences create. Therefore all words in our unified language have slightly different meanings. Like the word 'beautiful.' Perhaps we can only cast judgement if we are around those with comparable pigments in our lenses so the line of comprehension is clear. When introverts are around introverts it is easier to see who is the recluse, whereas introverts around extroverts are commonly stereotyped as being reclusive... As someone who has been called 'pretentious,' I do not think Mr Sylvian is so. But I can understand it may seem different to others. And nothing is right or wrong.

But Hawk does think it is funny sometimes when Mr Sylvian is so serious. Hawk laughs at himself when he is serious too, but only inside. Hawk often goes into Blackadder mode.

Mr Sylvian talking about basketball makes me miss PE lessons at school.... Hawk was not so good at basketball but exceeded at solo tennis... (Hawk works best when competes against self)... but I did enjoy the physical activity and running about all over the place. Hawk never understood the attraction of watching sports... am avidly avoiding the football season but was made to wear an England badge at work today :evil: .

Hawk likes it that Sylvian does not know about the charts. Hawk would like to be in that position one day, but it is an impressive stature, Hawk doesn't even have a television and yet knows roughly what people are watching at the moment, just from hearing people around me speak to each other. Maybe Hawk just lives in a place where people talk about television a lot.....

Hawk is going to go and ponder some more...
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