sábado, 17 de novembro de 2012

Interview: Modified Toy Orchestra

By Simone Ribeiro
Photos: Capsule
After our debut on one of the best underground UK Festivals, in 2011, we were off again to Brum, this time celebrating 10 years Supersonic Festival. Between 19 and 21 October, Custard Factory, Digbeth hosted the event which is already known to the public as one of the most authentic festivals in the country.
On stage, we emphasize the experimental and sophisticated music of Modified Toy Orchestra, the respectful electronic project of Brian Duffy that consists in five other members using adapted toy instruments and some unconventional gadgets. Having already been compared to Divo and Kraftwerk, the MTO has released two albums and has performed in various parts of the planet. The band played on Friday, first day of the festival and talked to Brian (before the festival begins) to learn more about the MTO.
Ma: What does the “circuit bending” movement represent to you?
Brian Duffy: It is a democratic art form open to all.. simple to do, and unique to each person, both in the instruments they make and their reasons for doing so

Ma: Modified Toy Orchestra is known for using not conventional instruments to make truly masterpieces in the electronic music. How did this idea come across to you mind as a project?

Brian Duffy: It came from a dissatisfaction with my own habit, a tendency to approach the instrument that i know such as piano or guitar with the same kind of patterns, I became frustrated with this and the tendency for music to become confessional or autobiographic. I was looking for a way to break my own habits and also to remove the ego/self reference from the compositional process. I had all ways modified things to suit my own needs and had modified some toys mainly looking for sources of novel sounds to sample. In 1999 I started to realize that the toys had within them hidden worlds of possibilities, not only for new sounds but new ways of playing /composing and breaking my own habits
Ma: How did the Hula Barbie happen as a mascot of MOT?
Brian Duffy: She is a diva and demands to be in the spot light to sing her terrifying songs

Ma: With new technology spoilt for choice nowadays, do you think it’s easy to incorporate instruments or the “next new gadget” to your music?
Brian Duffy: Yes, it would be very easy, but it is not a pathway i choose for the MTO. I find that having a constraint or a limited palette to be more inspiring it forces you to make decisions that you would not make if composing for instance in side a computer

Ma: Being a very creative musician probably makes you more opened about influences in general. What are your currently influences?  

Brian Duffy: Static, white noise, the sound of leaves blowing in the wind. spring reverb, natural reverb, the large hadron collider,Russia, America and China’s  weather modification programs, lisi garrets e8 lie group theory, the book "Hyperspace" by Michio Kaku,  my roland system 100 synth, cigar box guitars, vintage eq and compression, 1960s reel to reel tape recorders, the human urge to unify gravity.
Ma: Having your music has being compared to Devo and Kraftwerk is always a positive thing. What do you think about it?
Brian Duffy:  It is of course wonderful to be compared to the gods before whom we all must kneel.

Ma: Plastic Planet was released in 2010. Should we start thinking about a new album coming soon?

Brian Duffy: We are working on new album, Casio, only this time, exploring some modification types that we have not used so far. It will be very different from any previous MTO recording. It is quite cold and stark and alien with a hint of cosmic transcendence

Ma:    From Toygopop to Plastic Planet, do you believe Modified Toy Orchestra has improved or even changed its music?
Brian Duffy: Each album is different. Toygopop was just me in the studio exploring the toys.. not worrying if it could be played live or not, Plastic Planet was written by me and Darren Joyce to be performed live by 5 pairs of hands and the music comes out of the process of constraint rather than by our desire for it to be any particular type of music, we just explore, see what is there and try not to colour it too much with our own preconceptions of what music should be, self expression is banned in the toy orchestra

Ma:What do people should expect of Modified Toy Orchestra performance at Supersonic Festival 2012?

Brian Duffy: Electropop sub bass glitch out eco ballads ,melodious funny frightening  songs and a new singing android Barbie head, to challenge hula Barbie’s supremacy.

Supersonic Festival 2012: 10 years of underground

Photos: Rob Dann & Simone Ribeiro

In 2012, Supersonic has completed 10 years of existence and there’re loads of reasons to celebrate. Once again, its line-up delivered what we all expect from Supersonic: a variety of bands and artists from all over the planet. A truly adventure through the underground music!

A three day of festival- taken place from 19 to 21 October- with several events such as printing screen workshops held by Get a Grip shop; as well as art interventions that included exhibitions, films and documentaries, speaks and so on.

A walking tour through the city to unveil the first steps and history of Black Sabbath and an art installation made by ex- Sonic Youth Kim Gordon were highlighted in the event’s program.

It was a cold weekend, to say the least, in which Midiativa moved to the coolest area of Birmingham- Digbeth- to check another year of Supersonic Festival; having some ( many) drinks and eating- the already traditional between us- veggie pizza at Yumm Cafe.

To start with, we’ve interviewed the brummie band Modifield Toy Orchestra, well before the festival begins, to get a taste of what would be their gig on Friday, first day of event and you can check the result here.

As might be expected in this 10th edition, the public in the festival has increased. Something noticed on Saturday, around 5 pm, when Custard Factory was already packed. The sound coming from the three festival’s venues, the turmoil in the local bars and shops already indicated that the second day would be pretty interesting. And it was!

A quick stopping by at Vinyl Rally, one of the most interesting event facilities, and a sort of "racetrack" made with vinyl discs where sound and visual art mixed perfectly. Created by Lucas Abela, Vinyl Rally was a success on the weekend among those who wanted to spend a bit of adrenaline racing through this pretty unusual racetrack.
Another very popular area during the event was the Tea Room, with fanzines, posters, illustrations, vinyls, Cds and of course, tea and cakes. Highlighted for the presence of Leeds illustrator (raised in Birmingham) Bissoux Bunny, who came especially from Japan to expose her incredible work in Supersonic this year.

The first performance to be highlighted on Saturday was the one of the Finnish  singer Lau Lau at Warehouse stage. A very sweet voice; keyboards; nice conversation with the public and some good Scandinavia folk songs.
Another Folker was in the Boxxed stage thereafter, the British guitarist Dylan Carlson also did not disappoint.

Psychedelic rock   with a touch of jazz musicians made the performance of Flower- Duo- Corsano, one of the most exciting of the night. First signs that the combination of music styles was already spreading at the festival stages.
Perfect time to check what was going on Old Library stage. 

Two great gigs, actually. Starting with The Warm Digits, the best performance of the night, by far. The duo composed by the keyboards and drums of Andrew Hodson and Steve Jefferis brought some experimentalism with influence seventies, powering the audience and headbangers.

 It was around 10 o'clock when the Californians of Carlton Melton also had debut on stage Old Library. Quality psychedelic space rock performance!
With the last day of Supersonic scheduled to begin around 2 pm, we have our traditional Graffiti hunting in Digbeth. Impossible not to walk around the area without seeking new walls painted. We also spent some time at a pub crawl on that Sunday with no high temperature.

Islaja was another interesting Scandinavian on the festival, while some exotic experimental music took the Warehouse stage, with American guitarist Ben Chasny (aka Six Organs of Admittance), the hardcore of the Ruins Alone attract those interested in some quality noise, at the Old Library.

Between one and another performance I have fit a visit to the Custard Factory's theater to check watch some short films presented at the event and it was glad and surprising to see that there was Música da Lagoa by Hermeto Pascoal was on the programme.

The highlight of the day was supposed to be the gig of ex-Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon, with his project Body / Head, if there wasn’t the incredible performance of Swedish psycho-collective  Goat on the way.

I stand in front of the stage while they were rehearsing and it was enough to spot the excitement of the public and press. A promising performance and what else to say about  an impeccable instrumental that recalls the good old Black Sabbath, but also incorporating elements of tribal percussion that make me think they reincarnated Secos e Molhados and Mutantes, right there. Fantastic! Voodoo magic is not enough to describe Goat! Best gig at Supersonic 2012!

I wish I had not left the stage before the gig ends not going to Wahehouse to go check out the salt less and not exciting at all performance of Kim Gordon, in Boxxed. Without seeming too interested in playing, but in making shrill noise (nothing resembling the old Sonic Youth, by the way), Kim presented her set without communicating too much with the public. But even so it was a surreal experience to see one of the most influential indie voices so close, making some noise to celebrate 10 years of Supersonic.

This way Mídiativa ended its coverage of this amazing festival in 2012! Cheers Supersonic, see you next year!

Check out more photos of the festival here.

The amazing performance of Goat at Supersonic 2012: