Monday, July 24, 2006

Le Quan Ninh - Interview

Below interview with Le Quan Ninh was taken during Transit Istanbul Improvisation Days by Sevket Akinci, Michal Libera and Volkan Terzioglu on 23rd of June 2006.

Volkan – Actually you were talking about the improvisation scene in France at 60’s and 70’s unless the French Communist Party was there would not be any improvisation scene.
Ninh – Well I mean, no if the FCP was not there, there were some, there would have been some musicians of course, but it is absolutely true that they really supported this movement of music. Very beautiful and very deep and very intelligent articles have been written in the newspaper of the FCP and not journalistic thing; very deep analysis of what it is. Of course it was connected with political means or so, with analysis of Black Panthers and things like that. I mean if you go to the archives of these you will discover so, so, so deep and strong support and analysis. I like sometimes to do that, I am absolutely not a communist and absolutely not a member of the FCP but I think that this detail is quite important. You know because almost everybody forgot it even in France and of course the FCP was stronger in that period than now.
V – What time was that
N – It was from the middle 70’s until the middle of 80’s. 10 years, very strong. And FCP had a lot of cities, they were in charge of small and big cities, they had and some still has theaters and things like that, a lot of free jazz concerts have been organized there with the money of the FCP and because at that time FCP put a lot of money in culture in order to support the popular culture and things like that so they made a quite a good job.
Libera – Do you think that they realized that some kind of philosophy of improvisation maybe somehow close to the communist ideas?
N – Yes, I think so. It was more connected to free jazz not really with free improvisation. Free improvisation was just a part of it. Maybe with group with some people who are considered as jazz musicians. I remember beautiful concerts with Daunik Lazro and George Lewis and Joelle Leandre and people like that and George Lewis of course he was already a figure of jazz even he was so young in that period, he was 20 or 22 years old but he was already a big figure. Even the articles were like a concert review it was really connected with the politics, but not in a heavy way, not too militant way, it was very smart it was like to read philosophy and somthing like that. So of course people do not agree, and there were discussions within the newspaper or magazines, etc., it was amazing. It was very alive. It was in France, I don’t know for the rest. I think it was the same in Italy. Because the Italian Communist Party is strong still, and they have a lot of theaters everywhere but now, I mean the scene, the art they promote is not so contemporary, or something like in the past but in the past Italy was good. I don’t know about England or…Anyway it was in the countries where the CP’s were quite strong. I dont know if the CP was strong in Belgium or Germany I dont think so, especially in Germany, the half of the country was Communist and the other part dont want to hear about it so there was fight.
V – Maybe I think that it was because the late sixties free jazz musicians like Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton moved to Paris because in America there was quite a bad scene for them so the actually escaped from there, and the CP wanted to get use of this situation for the sake of, well they say that America is a free country but you see that it is not free and thus supported free jazz.
N – It is true that there were a lot of American musicians in that period especially in a wonderful place called the American Center, unfortunately it has been destroyed and they made a new one, but it was not the same and in that period it was a quite small house like a regular house not a like a cultural center with a garden and 24 hours a day there was performances of dance and music and free music it was amazing, it was absolutely amazing; I was very young but I was totally amazed and pleased and shocked and everything I saw the very first performance solo by Carol Hermitage, dancer we used to (…) Carol Carlsson then she made her own work with Rist Chatten on guitar and her with 100 electric guitar players oh yesss… it was very good. So many things, Steve Lacy was there too, it was… like an open jam all the time, day and night. It was really something. Of course it was not the official American culture it was absolutely something besides and there was some sort of mix of hippies and jazz scene something very alive, it was something like an island
V – and now?
N – Now the time is more serious, definitely. In that period also there were a lot of clubs, jazz clubs where you could hear so good groups of free jazz I remember that I heard live and very close because the venue was very small the trio Air, Henry Threadgill. This kind of group could play not all the time, it was very often because there were a lot of jazz clubs at that time they were welcoming the free scene also not only the hard bop or … it was very nice we could spend all the year listening to that but now, almost all these clubs closed now they closed very quickly in the eighties maybe in 1984, 1985, 1986, it was gone. Some are remaining but it are not open for free jazz or free improvisation.
V – Is there any financial support from the goverment?
N – Yes, we can say that, but it is not without problems, I mean it is too long to explain but, maybe not so far but until two years ago it was possible to get some money just a few like the dust there are a lot of money but the desk can fall down on the side and then people like improvisers or improvising dancers can get this dust but now they really want to sweep it everything not to leave any space for what they consider something like not very important now they really want to make an official art in a way and there are a lot of resistance I mean artists are still there anyway even if they have nothing to do it is not of course they are more I am sure that there is more money in France for culture and the culture is very different than art but sometimes within the culture true artist can get few things so far.
L – I think that when you get to know Europe, I think that in France there are actually there are the most concerts and festivals that you can find in comparison to Germany for instance or even England so all these most important festivals are actually in France.
N – Yes, yes sure, because there is a real cultural policy, they really decided to make something and so the country is divided in different regions and the regions are divided in different departments and the region department the cities all have a cultural office, or something like that, and so the money is divided in different groups and so the Central Ministry of Cultural can send the central policy in a way but also the region has a sort of independency and they can make, they can support in their way but sometimes the region belongs to the left wing but the department belongs to the right wing so of course it is a problem but sometimes it is not so bad because it is quite difficult but we can try not to swim to try to find something but it is not so easy. I live in Toulouse for 18 years and during twelve years we had a non profit organisation and we did not get anything. So it is not so, so …, of course there are a lot of money but the money does not go necessary to everybody. Maybe if we had this non profit organisation elsewhere maybe we could have received …
L – Is there any some kind of esthetics for example jazz players get money and improvisors dont get money, or electronica guys get money …
N – Yes, something like that and also it is a really a state of mind. Recently I spoke to a French jazz musician who is very well known, I dont like his music but the guy is ok, he was laughing at me because I go on tour without nothing, I try to find a funded place but I like to mix funded place and independent place anyway it is the landscape of the cultural scene, you can play in a big museum and the day after do gigs in a square. I like to move in that way. But when I say that he was laughing at me because he doesn’t move from his house if he doesn’t receive …, yes, yes, of course he received a lot because his main job is to request the money, it is a state of mind, I dont have it. But I must say that I am always not always but so often supported by the French Institute in the foreign countries, not all the time and also because I or the organisation or the organiser don’t request but usually when I or the organisation request it, I can get some .., not a lot but just for travel or something, which is very important. So, it is very strange but it is part of the political policy.
V – I see that you always use metaphors while trying to describe things, do you think that improvisation or art is a metaphor of true life as far as I have seen so far. You are so clear about this matter…
N – Ok, I am not very conscious of this but …
V – The examples you gave for example “this is a possibility you can do this and life is like this”, so you are always having some relations with the life itself…
N – Yes, but maybe and especially when we had this non profit organisation for 12 years, I really realised that we were a small group of human beings and immediately there were some problems of organisation but not only problems also simple way, very easy relationship and easy organisation topics but also some problems and it is like to make an experimentation not like a mad scientist but you just living and trying to be equal and not to get the power or something like that, it is not easy, so I could see that some people like to be driven well, it makes me sad actually; I thought that to be equal and to share everything was something quite natural, I was really very disappointed about that. But we can work on it. For me it is one of the goal of life. We can work on it. To make certain kind of structures but not heavy structures like some principles, very simple principles and then we can avoid power and problem with power.
L – You said the word, I wanted to ask you, it also appeared on the panel discussion. So what do you mean when you say power during making music; it is not only the social thing about organising and so on, but it is also a certain kind of thing that appears or may disappear during music exchange, right, so how shall we understand this term of power?
N – Well, maybe there are different cases, one is sometimes you have group of musicians and one really wants to control everything and of course he is totally frustrated the strength of life is really big and it is always moving and he can not control and so he gets upset, sometimes you see that. Because he is not happy about what the group does but this attitude is absolutely wrong because it has a judgement position and it seems that he has a very back point of view he is not involved in the process to do this. If he puts himself on the process of doing the thing there is no problem of being a judge or something like that this position disappears but maybe, you need a certain kind of sensibility maybe to have this to need to be a part of the process and not to judge all the time. I mean power is in music it is really formulated with judgement. You know to say “ohhh, I don’t feel good or they play so bad”, you know there is a real duty of solidarity when you play.
L – Even if you don’t like what others are playing?
N – Absolutely, because I think it is not their fault, it is your fault. In a way you have to face yourself, if you really disagree, because maybe somebody plays too much, “ok, how can I change my position maybe to enjoy it, how can I change my point of view, during workshop I said, “how can I sing in myself to find the right position” sometimes it is to do almost nothing, I have a good example, once I was invited to a quite big jam with a lot of dancers and a lot of musicians in Germany, in Stuttgart and it was the big mess. Because the musicians were not agreed exactly what they could do together, the dancers were coming from different backgrounds some classical dancers, modern dancers, and free improvisors
V – Very eclectic
N – Very eclectic, from Japan, Austria, Australia, US and it was a big mess but at some point there was one guy came very famous improviser Juliett Hamilton came in the big mess and just did three gestures like this. Like he divided the space in different and it was absolutely clear, suddenly the mess was so readible, so clear. It was amazing. For me it was not a judgement position, it was how can I, not to save the world, how can I do to take my right place, it was not to divide, to impose a division because anyway there were other dancers could not feel the division, only maybe the audience but he had this place to … if he is on the right place in the mess and it was a big lesson.
L – You don’t consider his gestures as the gesture of power
N – No, he did not impose the … it was just to bring something, really. Of course it was difficult because it was an attitude, you know same gestures with different attitude can be totally the opposite
L – Yes, exactly
N – But you can feel, if you are a little bit sensible, you can feel that this guy was not “ok, it is me, I will show off how I can clear the stage up”, no it was just to bring, put something on the table. Some musicians are like that, some musicians can be really, really …
L – When you were talking about it in the panel, I had in mind this splitting up of AMM, Keith Rowe and John Tilbury get some
N – Yes, but I dont know about this…
L – Well I read in the Wire one of the issues the standpoints of both of them what Keith Rowe said was kind of interesting that because he was accused of being in this judgement position person, who plays loud, who does not allow others to beyond the same level of being hearable and Keith Rowe said that actually all this notion of improvisation as a place or a moment where you can really freely talk, freely exchange and so on, and so on, this is kind of a bourgeois ideology that was his standpoint, actually from his point of view, it is absolutely impossible even if you think you are exchanging something, there are always power relations like somebody is playing something, and each time you do something, each time you put some kind of sound, you actually make some kind of power relation that you are changing what others are doing and it not a free exchange but also a kind of power. Am I getting it clear?
N – Yes it is very clear. But I am not surprised that he said that “now”. You know because his position changed and he seems to enjoy this new position of godfather of something which just makes me laugh for it is absolutely ridicilous to accept the position coming from the listener or the fans, ok, but I am sure because I always experience that you can absolutely avoid the power, but it needs work and it needs time, but I think it is a very important work you know to try to, not to remove it is not evil, ok, it is evil but it is not all time, it is not like…, I don’t think about that every second, but I have a lot of friends and we practice together and I think we enjoy to be together and there is no power matter but it took time; that is true I remember, my girl friend is a cellist and when we started to play together with Michel Doneda in maybe 20 years ago, 18 years ago, we had the “male” thing, me and Michel, we didn’t know that but we had this quite male position and you know playing loud and something like that and she was totally lost, because with a cello it is quite difficult, when you play acoustic and it took time that is true, it did not come by magic, we had to work on it to make the balance in order to find the right balance. And at some point we learned “a lot” from her, “a lot”, if we play the way play now it is really because of her.
L – Whenever it happens, because I see that it can happen in the concerts that someone imposes power on you what can you do as a musician who is involved in the process and you did not suppose that.
N – It depends on the case. If the person had already a very bad attitude not on the stage or maybe on the dressing room maybe I can quit the stage, I already did it in the past, you know it is useless. Although he does not have or she does not have, because it can be she also, he or she does not have the conscious of the power and so it depends, sometimes you feel that you can be in the process and try to just to sing for me to have your own song within, and sometimes silence is ok. It depends, the moment, the feeling, but it is quite often when I have to play with people who play really loud all the time like you push the button and “PUHHHH”, ok, “ohhh”, I just feel not angry at all, not any more maybe it is the age, I am really glad to have my age now, because I am quiter than when I was younger, but I am not angry but I just feel lonely, it is like, ok, I have to do my job the best I can, maybe it is not the right circumstance I really like but, anyway it is so rare when the circumstance are perfect, perfection is something you don’t know, ok, how I can move within; but sometimes of course it works, and sometimes it does not. It works when maybe almost all the people share the same, and maybe it is the right point, I don’t think about esthetics but maybe esthetics come from where the people share maybe the same very simple principles, even if they don’t say anything. Recently I played with Michel Doneda, a good friend of mine for a long long time and an performance artist in Toulouse, we had a very special theme; one gives to the other a theme, but two months or one month before the performance, I mean in advance. A theme can be two sentences, or a photograph, or an extract of a movie, any kind of theme, a text and we live seperately with the same theme. So we try to live with and to think about it to practice a little bit to see if it changes something in the playing something like that and then we join for the performance with the audience and play the theme and of course we don’t speak to each other about that, the actor, the performance artist prepares like a scenographie with different objects that is absolutely a genious with nothing you know, and can make a wonderful scenographie with that; and we just play and so I talked about that because we did three performances recently but before that we did not play within this project for maybe five years, so it took a long time without doing that and at the very first second we started it was, “pufff”, it was so obvious; the three evenings were totally different because the themes were different and we could have so different kind of not only energy but what we wanted to bring was totally different and it recalled me that we shared the same few simple principles. Maybe we could tell them but we did not speak to them so that was very obvious. And it built an esthetic if you see it from a large point of view. It built an esthetic but without theory. But it took time, I mean time spending is the thing, time spending, we have to practice, practice, practice, year after year, month after month something can appear, it takes time, it takes time, I said maybe in the panel, a composer can be really fast; usually people say “the improviser has a really fast …” because they can make an instant composition in ten minutes, for me that’s absolutely wrong. “But the composer for the ten minutes he spent six months, that’s too long”, it is absolutely the contrary, six months is so short time, and an improviser needs maybe ten years to reach the same regions of dealing with the elements and a composer can do it very quickly, because he can see everything on the paper and he can go back and forth in the composition. An improviser to change something in him or her, it is so slow, it is very slow; that’s why he needs a daily practice, a discipline, we talk about freedom and our risk our talk is always about the discipline of being free. It is really discipline.
L – You also said about the composition I think there was also a very interesting thing just mentioned during the panel about John Butcher, because usually when you think about improvisation in compositions like Pierre Boulez and Evan Parker let’s say, and you also said that John Butcher is a kind of person who is obviously an improviser I dont think he is a composer, but you said that he is almost like a composer in his being improviser. Can you …
N – Just because because I can not hear the composer attitude but he has when you talk with him and you read an interview of him, he has a very (… 34.12?) but he has a very precise point of view in formal point of view. Formal meaning how it begins, the shape of everything, how the endings and everything, he really wants to make a piece of music, which is absolutely my case. When I improvise I don’t feel that it is beginning or an ending, but it makes me happy, there are so many different point of view and practices but which is amazing that two people with two different point of views like this like to have a formal point of view or unformal point of view, they can play together because there is beside this, opposite point of view there are also common, huge common …
L – grounds
N – yes, sure…
L – But in your case, would you say that improvising this actualy not about the form.
N – In my case, in my practice, but in others. Of course, for example, Butch Morris has a very strong formal point of view, I think Joelle Leandre has a very strong formal point of view; but my girl friend Martin or Michel Doneda, me we don’t have any, any, we don’t even think about it. I know that of course a form appears, because it is a …, I hope, it is music. But we don’t want to put will, or we don’t want to be or, I don’t know know, why, maybe we want to remain teenagers, or children we don’t want to be conscious. But maybe it is also an attitude, I have a very bad memory, in terms of …, I already can not say what happened yesterday night. It is already gone. Of course I have few images but I can not say how it began or something like that, it is already gone except when I have to play notated music or to play this music by heart of course I have the memory of the score, but when I improvise I have a very, very short memory of what happened, so of course it is not the right thing to have a very strong sense of form because the form is gone so quickly and because I have a very bad memory, it is also very difficult to think “ok, maybe, I can do this, that”, it is not like that, it is step by step, it is instant after instant but I am sure that it is a kind of to be immature.
V – So you feel much more comfortable when you work with for example Michel Doneda compared to other musicians who takes care of form
N – No, no, I can feel comfortable except if one of them say “maybe, we could begin like this, maybe we could continue like that, maybe we could make a duo at some point”, “ohhh, no, no, no way”, I say “stop, I don’t want to”. Once I was in a project, I was not happy about that; there was a poet and this poet has a very strong feeling of power, he wanted to say, “we will do this, that”, I said “no, no, forget it” and he was really upset and I said “ok, ok, I will play, trust me, I don’t know what but I will play” and we played and afterwards and he said “ohhh, it was so wonderful”, I said “it was not wonderful, I just did my job, I just played and I am not deaf so I can hear and I can adopt myself to the circumstances it is not necessary to make a plan” except I really like to follow the dance score. I work with a lot of dancers. Some dancers like yesterday, we saw a score of dancing it was a very simple one and I really enjoyed to do that, of course it is not musical, but they have to follow some rules but it is not a rule of timing; rules are being stand up, being on the floor, or different speeds, and maybe they speak about colors, and like to follow this kind of scores, because it is related with space not with time, maybe I am more attracted by space, the distances rather than time.
L – Did they have the score before
N – Yes, yes. Yesterday for example …
V – Did you have a rehearsal?
N – No, yesterday when we played, absolutely not. But when the dancers dance for the musicians at the end of the evening, it was a score, a very simple score. I was amazed because I thought the score was quite very complicated and I talked with Kirstie about this and she said “no, no, it is so simple, it is only to sit down, to be up, and it is sooo simple, even it is not dance” but they were so diverse, it was pure music for me, pure music.
Sevket Akinci – I want to ask you something, yesterday performance was so magical that I want to hear it a few times more. But in order to do that I want it to be recorded and I remember that in the panel that you said it was the morbid thing.
N – The morbid thing is, when you … I think so, of course I speak a lot with my friends, for example my deep friend Michel Doneda records a lot. And I absolutely agree about what I said about the morbid attitude. But …
A – Is it because a poet writes a poem or a painter paints a painting because he wants to create something that lives longer than him or her. Is it what you said about morbid?
N – It is because that, it is more that an improvisation is really something related to the moment, to the place instant by instant, it is here and now, it is not a joke, it is not a cliche, it is really here and now. And why would we like to grab to become the owner of this moment, why? It is part of life, of a long process of life, to be certain kind of owner of this moment, I feel it is not very good, sometimes, I am not totally against that of course, but maybe to record too much, it is maybe a problem of death or something like that, you know you want to block every moment you live something like that. Do you know the sentence by Jean Cocteau, the poet, he made movies, so beautiful movies and he said “cinema is filming death at work”, he is absolutely right. I absolutely have the same feeling when we record improvisation. I don’t mind when people record if I have to do this all the time, I don’t feel good. I really prefer, ok it’s gone but, this moment I hope is now written me in the memories of the people, in the memories of the walls, in the memories of the roof, in the memories of the floor and of course this memory is not very perfect, the memory we change that moment and it is still alive because it is changing, for me life is always changing it is not something always the same. I hope so. Of course I know that for some people life is always the same which is very sad, the same work, everyday, same schedule, same actions but maybe we have this job to show that life can be something always changing. I hope so.
V – Maybe it helps to students actually, who are working improvisation just for the analysis of the works of improvisations. For example ruptures, interruptions that we talked in the workshop so that they will see that how the ruptures have been used in the performances. But for an artist I think that it is true that death thing. Also seeing the improvisation performance means much more than listening to it.
N – Yes sure. That’s why when we record improvisation, we have to do a very special job, a special work, a special project, especially for the microphones.
A – In Turkey, we had no chance to see improvised music
N – You are right
A – The only thing we could do is I listen to Derek Bailey, Fred Frith, that’s what I could do. And about death, the thing is when you come close to death, this happened to all of us in Turkey especially living in Istanbul when the earthquake happened, my view of life changed a little bit. I have to grab something, because death is very close, bombings and everything happened and now I am at a point where I want to record things not because I want to own the moment, but because, …, I don’t know why
N – Ok, that’s a good thing, you don’t know why you do it. Instinct is also very important.
A – I don’t know if it is very egoistical or …
N – It is always a balance of many things, it is a very generous, in the same time it is very egotistic, what’s I like, you can sing within this thing, try to. The only thing is not to become cynical. Cynical people has a very strong conscious …
(tape ends here)
They are very ready in terms of mental, but the body does not move enough and then there is conflict between what they want to put in the music and the result in terms of the body can not make it. You see that they are stucked after ten minutes there are tensions and because there are tensions in the body, there is tension in the music. That’s why it is not a very good circumstance in a way. That’s true. It depends on the people, really. I think that we don’t have to forget that it is very good to be surprised. To be surprised, then you say “well, maybe tonight that the performance will be this and that”, and it is absolutely another thing. I always expect surprise, not necessarily good surprise, surprise. Because that was a part of the workshop, because I like to be uncomfortable not being very stable on points of view, on thoughts something like that, shaked, moved, be pushed, like that.
A –
N – But you know the work is not finished, even if you break the habits, very very quickly you build new habits. I have a lot of habits with the instrument. But now, I feel that it is a chance to have certain kinds of habits because it is chance it is like what I said it is a support to jump to something. Maybe it is also related with techniques, but it does not matter because the technique is something from where you can jump where you don’t know.
A – You must have habits, otherwise you would not know what it would sound, with the things you did with the cymbals, rocks, or so on,
N – Yes, yes, sure, for instance when you listen to Derek Bailey’s recordings, or I had chances to see him many time, in a way you say, “ok, he always play same way”, but not. It is the same way, yes, because he uses harmonics and he has a very sharp way to “ting ting” like this, but it always something new, because he tries always to have a new hearing, new listening of what he does. So it makes something new all the time. And if you listen to his recordings from 1971 and almost the last ones, of course it is the same Derek Bailey but you can “whoooow”, a world, a universe between them. It is amazing. That’s why I also say it is very slow process. But I did not have any chance to listen to his very last records where he could not play anymore.
L – You know his last album is actually a diary of dying. When you see the cover it is certain kind of sketch like a medical sketch of this exact disease that he had and I think the pieces are entitled “10 days after I got to know I am sick”, “15”, “25” and so on, and it is amazing.
V – Well Michal told me that you can feel the sickness
N – A lot of people told me that they listened to him in the concert, so he really could not play with his right hand, but so it was like somebody who discovered the guitar playing, but with a 45 or 50 or 60 years of experience of it. So it is to be a child suddenly has a very strong meaning, because he is a beginner but with a 50 years of experience. I would like to listen to it.
V – I would like to ask you your relations with the anarchist movement, your history…
N – I had, I still have, but I had a very strong, strong connection because I joined the Anarchist Federation in France a part of the International Anarchist Federation in the world, I joined this organisationwhen I was 15, I was very young, before that I was attracted by the French Communist Party, the Youth Organisation. I did not feel good there I was maybe 13 or 14, as soon as I got in contact with the anarchist texts, I began just because, I found the weekly newspaper “Le Monde Libertaire” in a newspapershop and immediately it was exactly what I was looking for. In this newspaper there were articles about what happened in the world and also some old texts by the theorists like Kopothkin, Bakhunin, or Proudhon, etc. I was immediately, totally not agreed immediately, but I felt that it was the way I was trying to think the world, 15 is quite young, and I felt very good in the organisation; except when I was more… I devoted myself to this, in the same time I was a student of music, during the evenings I could go to the concerts or to glue some posters in the streets or to organise meetings or demonstrations. In 1981 I began a radio show for free jazz and free music with a few friends for an anarchist radio from the same organisation. It was a very nice period because during five or six years I invited a lot of musicians for as three hours long interviews for live radio shows. In this period I was not so comfortable in the organisation because, it is a political organisation quite small, there were and still are 2500 or 3000 militants which is very small (…. ?? 55.43), I felt that there was lack of creativity we were always fighting about …, because we had this radio show so we could some music and there were a lot of artists came to make radio shows about art, new art and the rest of the militants said, “well, it is a bourgeois thing” and I was not happy about that. But, I said ok, it is not an artistic group and I really feel that it is useful, I do not know that exactly why but I think that it is to remain in this organisation because I could think that to make music even to organise things in an equal way to share what we do or what other people do is not enough. I always felt that it is not enough. It is not enough socially, of course it is a very beautiful and important thing and we can put all our energy in it but I feel that socially there is something missing. Also I was glad to be militant in different groups, they were groups in suburbs Paris and then Toulouise because you meet people you could not meet in an other situation you meet people walking on the airport or engineers, poor people, rich people different kind of people who are militants in the organisation. It is very good to come from, because well, you can speak or think themes with different points of view even if we share a minimum of principles which are, you know, equality, freedom and anarchist way to manage the society, how the structures could be… I really like that organisation because the structure of the organisation is in a way the same like anarchist society would be, there is no leader, absolutely not; there is no (…?? 58.12), and it is really a federation, every federation is independent, horizontal communication …. But it was in my work, in music to be a militant was very parallel. I could not see exactly the link for years. I am now conscious of the relations between them for maybe three years, very recently. I said “Ok, now I understand” It took me a long time, maybe I am stupid but it took me a long time that the way to improvise and improvisation was totally linked with my political interests. And of course, in our non-profit organisation I put a lot of experience of organsation or what the structure could be to make this non-profit organisation working but unfortunately, because I had this experience of what the structure could be I could see that everybody wanted to leave this part of this job to me. Ok, it is not dangerous if you do not centralise the communication, but it was obvious that, if I had that, everybody left the communications to me. And that is the big mistake. I always say that “ok, it is not right, I don’t want this kind of power, I just hate power and like Friedrich Nietsche said I am an anarchist I hate to be led as well as I really hate to lead. I mean an anarchist hates to lead also. Power is evil, something I can not go further. It is my limit. Power is evil. If anywhere you have a small amount of power, ohhh, problems, problems. And my disappointment, personally and collectively maybe it was maybe a big failure, almost all the people felt that it was easier to leave everything to me. And “ohhhh!!”. So at some point after 12 years, “ok, I quit, I need some vacation”, and you know what, the non-profit organisation was gone. They decided to close, it was painful, painful. You put a lot of energy like in the workshop, “an energy, ok, we could do this way, that way”, and then with this way normally sharing thing, no power will appear but…
V – Well I think that we need power to organise the things, well if we didn’t have the power we would not have the organisation of our lives in for example in Istanbul.
N – Yes, that is true. There is a difference between power and to be a kind of animator. Big figure of anarchism is Durrituie, during the Spanish Revolution and Aventure Durritie was an anarchist and he had so clear visions, even military visions, because they had to fight agaings faschists, he was a very good military strategist. In a way he did not have power but he had a very strong thing and people called him “animator”. It is not really power, of course I did not have the power to decide for the others in this non-profit-organisation, but it was already too much. Even my friends, I found them quite lazy, they did not want do the dirty job, hard work, papers, etc. Maybe I did not have the power because the guy who has the power does not do the dirty job. Maybe I am wrong, doing that, because I decided for something but I did also something else. So I was the slave also. But I think I was not the slave of the people but I was the slave of myself. I wanted to do the job quite well, I was the slave of my demand or something.
V – There is quite an edgy thing in this I mean to deny power, I think to organise things, globally or in countrywise, call it an animator or a person who has the power I think we need some power.
N – Well, normally, to organise things there is a necessity of has to be active, not all the time, but … And at some point I can see that in this Anarchist Federation in France, all decisions are taken collectively, and because there is a long experience of that, not the decision can be taken very fast because there is the skill to take the decision collectively very fast. It is absolutely a practice, you become faster and faster even it seems very heavy but after years, it is very fast. So I am still confident in such an organisation, but I don’t think it is for tomorrow. (Laughter). But we never know.
V – Well thanks for everything…
N - I have a question for you, what about the improvised scene in Turkey, not only in Istanbul. Do you know other musicians or dancers or any other artists?
V – As for improvisation music scene, we have scratch. For example, I met Sevket just last year, and we began to improvise. There are few persones who worked in United States, but they are much more related than free jazz compared to Free Improvisation. I have been listening to this music for 15 years, and you know that I came to Poland two years ago, and nobody has any interest on this kind of music as far as I know. Islak Kopek is the only free improvisation group I know so far in Turkey.
S – And yesterday for example, what do you think about the group that played yesterday?
N – I think it is not a real group yet. They don’t make collective music yet. They have to practice more. I think there were four individuals and they wanted to be themselves, there was no group cohesion, they don’t share the same principles.
V – Schools and conservatories they only care about the composition site of the music. Improvisation is something that should be avoided.
S – For example in Sunday there were lots of group, they perceive the improvisation something else.
V – They have the domain of genre in which they improvise within …
N – Yes, I arrived maybe around 4 pm, so I could listened to them, yes.
S – It is not really free
N – Yes, yes
S – It is really very hard to have a scene. When we play we have our girl friends coming to listen to us. When we play tonight, we would have other musicians, or friends from workshops, nobody else.
V – As for yesterday’s concert for example, there were no musicians, I mean from the possible …
N – It is the same everywhere, even in Europe, sometimes we have one person…, but maybe, I don’t feel it is bad, I am not happy when improvisation is taught in conservatoires. Because now in France we have a lot of improvisation classes, not only jazz. They like to put new names on the process, for example, “generative improvisation”, because they need some theories. What I see that, of course sometime in the classes you can have many good students, and if they go on in this practice, they could be very good improvisers, but I can listen that it make not a generative but a generic improvisation. They have some rules and …, it is very …
it is dead. I am not very happy about that. Because we could think it is a good thing that improvisation is now really considered because now it is taught in the conservatory, but the result is that it makes a very generic improvisation not everywhere, it depends on the teacher, but … and after that I could see that people coming from this conservatory, seem to have, a lot of them I met, seem to have pretention. Improvisers not coming from the conservatory and they never go to the concerts. Because they know what improvisation is… they are self taught and … And it is also very rare that you have the teachers from the conservatories at concerts.
M – Who are the teachers? People from the academy anyway?
N – No, no, they are usually some very bad improvisers, I can say that, I don’t like to say that but when you go to the concerts and you see that “ahhhh!”. Sometime not all the time, they found this job and it is comfortable, but for me improvisation is exactly something opposite the comfort. It can’t be good. You can not be comfortable at the same time you make improvisation.
V – Thank you for everything.
N – Thank you.