KN: Hello and welcome dear readers, as you can see I’m at a Dog Park. I came here with my dogs not just to play, but to actually meet one of the people who run this place (the director is Trevor who happens to be a dog) …
I say people, but it’s probably better to say her real name; Furchick! She is a music and sound maker of the experimental order, making sounds in particular ways with a ton of creativity and a bucket full of ‘don’t give a fucks’. Well I’m not so sure about Furchick not giving fucks, but that’s why we have arranged this interview… To get to know a bit of the real Furchick, or simply just have a nice conversation going on.. If that’s possible between all the dogs running and barking that is… Ah, here she is emerging from the field full of playing dogs…
KN: Hi Furchick, so glad you could receive us on your Dog Park.
Thanks for being here and making some time available for this well awaited interview. First things first, what would you like to drink? I have brought a magic back pack full of drinks, so just tell me what you like and I’ll magically arrange it for you.
Furchick: Hi Karel. I would like a fresh young coconut drink. Its probably my favourite drink. However, I must confess I do like a damn fine wine too. Lets start with that.
KN: First of all I would like to congratulate you on the Dog Park. It just opened and looks like it’s already a success, and it looks gorgeous too… Lots of dogs running around, and I even saw some cats running around (probably running for their lives)… As an experimental artist, why did you create a Dog Park? Was it your idea, or more an idea of Trevor?
Thank you. So far things have been going pretty well and I set it up in the middle of an international tour. I find that the busier I am the more energy I have.
I started Dog Park so that I could continue to introduce interested listeners to new obscure underground sounds, to connect musicians and ultimately to collaborate with other musicians around the world.
I had been thinking about it for a while and how I wanted curatorial control and to do things as I felt like it, and when I felt like it after being kicked out of the sand pit of another on-line label that I was a volunteer for that saw me as a codependent mummy butt burning in an ashtray of cigarettes. I have been involved in music internationally for a very long time and I enjoy networking and collaborating. Living in Perth, Australia, I am very isolated and so on-line is a perfect platform to keep connected.
Plus, it gives me something to do… its good for my mental health. If I sit around thinking too much, its not good for me.
KN: Do you hang out a lot at your new Dog Park, or are you more likely to be found at home?
Furchick: I have been having a bit of a doggy nap lately with Trevor dog who hates noise and experimental music. He is going to the kennel soon so I will be getting active again soon.
KN: Is the rumor true that you are also having plans to add a Chicken Park?
Furchick: I am a pet lover and so any animal is welcome in the park. A new project that I am working on involves field recordings of birds, so yeah, this is highly likely. Mind you, I suspect that the wretched seagulls might take over.
KN: I just realised that I do not know you that well, but that’s good as it’s a perfect setup for an (hopefully) interesting interview. Did you do any interviews before, and if so how was it?
Yes, I have done plenty of them. I enjoy radio interviews and giving talks because I always get surprises even to myself with the crazy stories that just pop out. If you click the big arrow on the top of this page, you will see what I mean.
or here… a live to air on our really supportive local radio station RTRFM.
I always feel like I have made a fool of myself but I don’t really care. I have a strange way of speaking and I am a bit of a weirdo… something i am proud of.
KN: I have a feeling that you have been around in ‘music’ land for quite a long time,
do you remember how you became a music maker? Do you remember perhaps what triggered or inspired you to go down this road?
Furchick: Yep, I have been around the block a few times with the dogs. I spent many years playing instruments in “normal” bands with songs… if that is possible for me to be normal. What inspired me to go down the current path of contact mic madness was that I got bored playing songs, my being involved with improvising in several experimental outfits in New Zealand, the USA and Australia, and then getting frustrated with trying to organise people … so I decided to go solo, and simultaneously I did a residency at Symbiotica attempting to make sounds from plants… which was partly successful.
Further to that, I am also very interested in visual imagery. I have been making a bunch of videos, using stop motion, digital microscopes and also some live online shows.
KN: Could you tell something about your time being in bands? I mean, I presume you have been in bands… If my presumption is right; how did that go & what was your task? Did you enjoy playing music together?
Furchick: Being in bands can be both rewarding and a pain in the proverbial arse. Mostly it was a park load of fun. I played in numerous bands in New Zealand from 1987 to 1996. Toured New Zealand several times, released a ton of music and wrote a bunch. In my first real band, Katerpillar Tractor Concept in New Zealand, I was a vocalist.
But I had been playing a bass (larger than me) and a ukulele as a child. I played bass and wrote the songs in KTel Dancers. After that I started playing drums in New Zealand in C.U.N.T. after Dave White dumped me in the deep end to play drums one day when I was doing sound and the drummer didn’t show up.
I also ran a music centre for youth in New Zealand and as a part of that, a zine (Valve) and label (Yellow Bike Records) with Dave White.
In New York in the late 90s, I played drums in Air Traffic Controllers with Gerard Cosloy. That was awesome fun and scary too, because Gerard would just change his guitar playing at the drop of a hat mid “song”.
Then back in Perth in the early noughties I played drums with Chris Cobilis and Chris Hudson as the short lived Sexy Band.
Then there was WOTEVA with Nathan Kelly and Malcolm Riddoch.
There is way more than this out there but I could go on forever….
KN: Do you like animals more than humans? And if you could start a brand new band with either one of them; what kind of animals or humans would they be?
As far as that goes, I would work with Trevor dog. He only has an interest in food but I have tricked him into being a musician on a number of occasions.
KN: You are an artist that seemingly uses a lot of unorthodox ways to generate sounds and music. When I watch a video of you doing a live performance it’s almost like a science project taking place. You are doing all these kind of live experiments and I can see microphones, cables, wires and odd objects. Are you inventing your own tools to make sounds? Could you explain how a ‘furchick’ setup for a live show works?
Furchick: I sometimes turn science toys into instruments. Such as Euler’s disk and a slinky on a cup. But mainly I am a contact mic artist, anything can be an instrument. I also use a bunch of cheap effects pedals and a looper. The best way to know my set up (which changes… I never do the same thing twice) is to check these videos out.
KN: Can you recount a funny reaction of people in the audience, or some nice anecdote of a gig? I mean when you do experimental music there is an form of interaction with the audience that is (I presume) more interesting than with a band playing some pop songs…
Furchick: Kids don’t often get to see me play but when they do its gold! Generally they cant help but get involved because of the playful nature of what I do.
Here is Oscar helping me out and giving me the thumbs up at a park gig with no pedals.
KN: Hope you don’t mind me asking… But how did you become so furry? Does it run in the family?
Furchick: I am an animal. We are all furry underneath. But just to be a clear I am not a “furry”.
KN: Did you use dogs in your music? Or perhaps other kind of furry friends?
Furchick: Trev Dog of course!
KN: You have been doing lots of live gigs as Furchick, rolling into one adventurous adventure into another. Is there a message that you would like to submit through your live performances? And if so, is this a different one then on your albums?
Furchick: I create impulsively… sometimes I set a “game plan” like a set of rules, but mostly once I start playing it comes from some kind of parallel universe in my mind. I guess its almost meditational.
KN: Next to running the Dog Park and doing all the things that you do, you are also providing a crash course in science named… Furchick’s crash course in science!
Could you tell something about it for the people at home who are curious? What is it and can people join?
Furchick: I am a science communicator and I find some people who do this to be almost evangelical in their approach which drives me insane. I guess I created this in response to a bad day at work.
You can join in here and like all my creative endeavours, things will happen in fits and starts.
KN: It probably goes against science, but what is your favorite colour, and could you explain why?
Furchick: Green because I love plants.
KN: Perhaps a stupid question, but I was wondering what in your own opinion and meaning is ‘good’ and a bad ‘music’ or ‘sound’ piece? Do you as an experimental artist have a line with strong boundaries?
Furchick: You can find an essay I wrote here as part of the free download for the Swift Noise project.
I could go on and on and on…. and yes, I can be quite opinionated… Here it is here:
Whatever, I don’t care
Rantings from the inside of my head – tongue in cheek and foot in mouth
Dr Claire Pannell (aka Furchick) http://fur- rants.blogspot.com.au
I have stuck my neck out a country mile here making up my own meaning for a word. Is that OK? Does it even matter? Whatever. I don’t care.
In this article, have decided not to focus much on the strictly
political meaning of whateverism (“I will uphold whatever policy decisions the leader made, and follow whatever instructions the leader gave.”), because if you are interested in this, there is a plethora of information out there you can find easily with a quick search. I have decided to think about the idea of whateverism as an opposition to the fundamentalists and traditionalists. To do this I have chosen to think about whateversim in the context of the new music world. I could just as eas- ily chosen pop music culture as a starting block, but that would have been too easy, and I find ques- tioning new music practice much more fun.
Before I get started I would like to point out that I am being a bit of a devil’s advocate here, as I of- ten do on my blog page, however at the root of this is my opinion. Just to remind you what that means before you start needing to put your knickers back on because I am pissing you off for what- ever reason, I would like to remind you what the job of a devil’s advocate is.
devil’s advocate (noun)
a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.
I thought I was a nothingarian, a person with no particular beliefs,
however as I also have high moral and ethical standards it seems that
I may be a follower of whateverism. Seemingly apathetic, not caring
about the consequences of my actions necessarily, but having ethical
standards yet enjoying eliciting a response. I have used the term
“whatever” repeatedly when discussing my music with others who
largely seem totally perplexed at my attitude to my creative pro-
cesses. I used to play in bands but I got bored. I also hated the way
marketeers appropriated ideas from music to make money. My music
is a big fuck you to traditionalists and marketeers. I actually make
conscious decisions about how I go about this. I am constantly break-
ing the rules about how I make my music, the sounds and the rhythms. If I could count the number of times people have given me unsolicited advice I’d need more fingers…. you could use autotune, to avoid feedback you need to.. use a metronome to keep in time… you should get a laptop and you wont need pedals, you should get Ableton… Why? So I can sound like everyone else and make notes and rhythms that feel safer and more comfortable? Well I explain that I am not interested and they usually persist to which I sometimes respond “whatever” and smile. I love to confuse people like this. It means that they have noticed that things are not quite right.
Consider this. New music these days sometimes seems like covers or interpretations of the early contemporary new music composers. Many a contemporary music academic is classically trained and has the difficult task to attempt to unlearn this in some senses to try to create new music. How- ever, from this platform and a set of beliefs that things must be done a certain way, its is difficult for such people to actually create truly new music. I have seen way too many performances of new mu- sic of the works of early new music composers, or something that emulates this, or using the same tools used by the early new music composers, such as graphic scores. Many are using laptop com- puters and live mix some sounds (probably some found sound they found somewhere). This sounds more like an electronic music producer to me than a new music composer, although the sounds used will of course determine the final result. None of these things are new anymore and are wrapped up in the notion that to be accepted that they must follow a set of rules created in the academic world for what new music is.
Another restriction in the creation of new music is the obsession to name and categorise everything. Musique concrete, microtonal, free improvisation and so on. This encourages the creation of more music of the same kind. I was recently asked to make a track for a harsh noise wall compilation, and it was emphasised that it had to be wall, not just harsh noise. Immediately I am hemmed in and so this project has come to a sudden stand still. It’s really not all that different in its function to say a country music singer songwriter writing new songs that can be recognised as belonging to that genre.
Surely new music can only be new once? Once upon a time the new music composers would have been groundbreaking and exciting. How about ignoring what acceptable notes and rhythms are? No? Whatever. Things are supposed to be in time with each other… why? Also, why do we have to document it with a score? I feel that to create truly new music a person needs to shed the restrictions of these rules (whateversim in the political sense) and state a big “whatever” to all this.
Even if a musician doesn’t want to do this as a final result, why not just stop worrying about the structure of the composition and just go with your heart and feelings and see what happens? You don’t need everything to be like something else. You don’t have to do everything to achieve some socially constructed measure of success. Stop thinking so much and be yourself. You just might have fun with it. If someone questions it, you can always just respond with “whatever”.
KN: Considering you are an artist that can turn seemingly any object, tool, building accessory into an instrument, is there any traditional instrument that you would love to be an expert in?
Furchick: Drums…. easy question at last. 🙂
KN: What if you could use all the things on the planet that aren’t necessarily made for music; which one thing you would love to use to create sounds with? I mean for example I would love to do gigs with a crying baby on stage amplified to sound like a grunting metal singer… yet I feel it might trigger an angry mob that wants to take the baby away… But still… It would be so good… Is there anything, even though ‘controversial’ that you would like to play with?
Furchick: I want to play with electric fish in a tank. I just don’t know where to get one.
KN: Through the internet, but also through your gigs you must have met tons of interesting music and sound people. Sometimes this evolves in collaborations, (I’m thinking of your ‘Furchick and friends album) how do these things come together? Do they come over to the Dog Park, or are things being done digitally?
Furchick: Generally I collaborate online… backwards and forwards, but I occasionally collaborate in person when I travel. For example, I have a project with Belch Kitchen in the Netherlands that we created at Clara sitting on my desktop. I will get to it one day… we want to release a cassette. I also have recordings with Peter Bramley in Melbourne waiting for my vocals to be added.
KN: What are your plans for the upcoming future creativity wise?
Furchick: I am in an UGH phase… this year has been full on (having visited the USA twice, Melbourne, London, Berlin and Arnhem) and I needed a break. I am slowly getting my mojo back. I am currently working with Microwave Windows from the USA and I am playing drums… but I also have the unfinished projects I just mentioned. I am also awaiting on people to send me music for Dog Park. Seems that many people are dog napping at the moment.
KN: I really think we should take some time to play with our dogs now,
they are seemingly having so much fun and us being so serious with all our questions and answers feels a bit silly when they are being so playfully running around… Shall we join them? Maybe you have anything you would like to say to the readers at home, something important, or perhaps a shout out before we engage in a run and barking session?
Furchick: Don’t forget to take time to pat your pets. Off to the park…. come on Trev! Woof!
Bye Furchick! Thank you for this interview!
and for you people online, here is a quick reminder of important Furchick links:
Have a nice day!