Sunday, October 17, 2004

Brian Eno (interview/lecture) / New York University / Oct. 7, 2004

Random notes by Jason Gross and Kathy O'Lay

Eno looks an awful lot like a college professor. This happens to a lot of prog-rockers as they get older, it seems. Not that they're necessarily any wiser, but they look it sometimes. Wonder why white guys get this kind of treatment-- isn't someone like Jay-Z just as much of a renaissance man?

He showed examples of his multi-media work, including drawing diagrams on plastic sheets in a viewer of how he set up lighting for some gallery exhibits. I felt a little bad for him then-- he obviously didn't relish going into this kind of detail and kept apologizing for boring everyone. He was much more fun talking about how he got into music despite not knowing how to play-- hearing doo-wop as alien music, starting with performance art at school. As it was, the visual arts aspect was interesting, but not as interesting as the music-- he hadn't returned to it since school, finding music a much better outlet for himself.

Going along with a promise he made to the NYU people to steer clear of politics, he referred to Iraq as Cupcake. Perhaps North Korea is Cheesecake? Iran is Pineapple Upside Down Cake? His speculation on the election: vote for Bush because his whole empire is about to crumble and he should be around to take the blame for it. "I can toy with this because I don't live here," he explained.

Eno! Has! A! Sense! Of! Humor! He urinated in the same place Marcel Duchamp had, huh? Interesting...

He gave props to Holger Czukay of Can for use of tapes. After seeing him use the radio as an instrument, he got the idea to do the same on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Jon Hassell's concept of 4th World music also had a lot of bearing on that-- creating new, alien cultures somewhat based on our own.

"I think of myself as a sonic painter- I think in terms of color or space"

"Even the crappiest ideas can be made to work with enough stamina." His examples were "Milkshake" and Donna Summer's "State of Independence"

"The great thing about America is that everything is do-able. The sad thing is that some things are un-do-able."

When he came to NY in 1978, he was amazed by the radio there. "Mad people who managed to gain control and broadcasted their insanity every day." He compared that to the polite, screened presenters he'd hear on the BBC up to then. He made endless tapes of the NY broadcasts, filing up all his shelves until he realized that he didn't need to 'cause it was happening every day there anyway.

He came to NY originally just for a visit and just liked it there so decided to stay a few years. When he was overseas and heard his place got broken into, he decided that was a sign and moved on. Which is all good and well if you have to dough to do that of course...

No Q&A session, alas. That would've been fun.