From: Matthew C GregoryHello squelchy friends,
Date: Tue, 31 May 94 14:39:25 +0100 Subject: Eno interview in UK newspaper
Producer and pop intellectual Brian Eno is in a constant state of flux. So is his workspace, where furniture roams freely and ideas bounce off the walls.
Eno:This place is still in progress-I haven't quite got it comfortable. You'll notice that a lot of the things here are on wheels. Everything I had built for this place, tables, shelf units, I had built on wheels, because I knew that it was going to take me a long time to settle down.
Next month he'll start work on the new Bowie album in Switzerland.
As far as his workspace goes, Eno says his aim has been to make it functional and flexible. He reorganises it depending on what he happens to be working on at the time. At the moment the front part of the room, is his office. In there is his desk, Apple Duo and bookshelves with books on artificial life and complexity theory and Tomes by philosopher Richard Rorty, alongside piles of CD's (he particularly likes the new Underworld album), Afro-pop samplers to his current fave, a Frankie Valli and the four seasons collection.
The back part of the room is devoted to his more hands-on labour. On one side is a small home studio-basically a few DX7s.
Eno:I do quite a lot of what i'd call programming there. What I do is invent new sounds, or work on sounds for, on average, around an hour or two a day. i'm absolutely hooked on it. Actually I want to make a recording studio you can fold into the wall. i'd like it so you can put it away, pull a curtain across it and there's no sign of it any more. I really hate seeing Equipment lying around.
The most striking visual element in his whole room is the huge pinboard above his desk covered with postcards featuring enigmatic slogans like 'scenius','David Bowie's wedding' and 'the top 40 and the high plateau effect'. This, he explains, is a flow chart of his current project-a book he's writing for Faber and Faber. It's also a kind of map of his current ideas on high art and pop culture.
What links the different strands of his career together, he explains as he gestures to the chart, is his interest in ideas. When he goes into a recording studio, it's not just to work with sounds but to play out theories. Recently, thanks to his involvement in the Global Business Network, an international think-tank composed of economists, futurists and the odd wild card like himself, he's moved more directly into the ideas trade, and has wound up lecturing business men and European diplomats about the value of culture, the diffusion (as opposed to the death) of the author and the rise of the consumer as a producer of cultural meaning.
All this will find it's way into his book. Actually, 'book' isn't quite the right word, he bridles at the authorial control it calls to mind.
Eno:I couldn't face all that. I just got embarrased every time I tried to write. It doesn't flatter the way I write. I tend to write well in short bursts.
Instead he decided to construct a computer-generated 'hypertext', but ditched the idea because the technology wasn't up to scratch. As a compromise, he is bringing out a book composed of a series of cards on different subjects, each of which offers different suggestions about what card to turn to next.
Eno admits he spends more time these days at his computer than in his home studio. In part this is down to his involvement in the Global Business Network, which runs a private conference down at The Well, the San Fransisco-based virtual community, whose members meet to swap ideas. Eno is wildly enthusiastic about the potential of cyberspace and on-line networks, praising their generosity and openess. At the moment he's hosting his own conference on The Well entitled The Future of Culture, which he says has generated lots of ideas that will find their way into his book. He's also engaged in a long digital conversation with Stuart Brand (one of the founders of The Whole Earth Catalogue), which he's thinking of publishing, perhaps in the book, primarily because he thinks on-line communication has led to a new kind of writing that's direct but friendly, throwaway yet permanent.
When he's not surfing the Net, Eno is in the habit of doodling around with various programmes on his computer, in particular an image-generating program called Stainsd Glass (which he has customised). He boots it up and a series of fractal geometries gently spool through a series of intricate, endlessly changing combinations. It's a little like the digital equivalent of staring at the fire. Again the attraction seems to be flux, constant change.
'Oooh, look at that,' he whispers as an opal cluster catches his eye then melts back into the screen.
Eno:I never know what I'm going to see. I've watched this one for hours and I keep seeing different things. This is like several of my records -they're machines which generate music. I don't have control. I just set the machine going and it does it for me. I think this is a whole new direction for the art of the future. The whole history of records has been things that you play over and over again. I think the future will be things you buy knowing they're never going to do the same thing twice, machines that will be a system for generating versions of a work, rather than just re-presenting the 'perfect' version of it. Out this month is The Essential Fripp and Eno, a useful catch-up collection of his early collaborations with guitarist Robert Fripp. However, when I mention it to him, he looks vaguely bored. Instead he reaches for a tape of the stuff they've been doing in the last few months. 'It's a really interesting sound'.
He's so keen to get the stuff out, he says he's thinking of using it as the backing tracks for the new Bowie album. So how come the two of them have renewed their collaboration?
Eno:David asked me. I wrote to him saying what I thought would be an interesting direction for music to take now. I sort of said i'm not really interested in doing anything other than that. And he said yes.
He finally puts on the track he's been searching for. A guitar sound that's both rubbery and metallic crashes around over a stuttering beat which manages to mix jazzy virtuosity with a punk rawness.
Eno nods his head.
'I'd like to have voices on this, and I think David's could be the voice'.