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Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 56
INTERVIEW with C. Goff III
Zzaj: I've been riding this "etherspace wave" for some many years now... how many years since YOU started surfin' that wave?
CRGIII: Your question has two answers. In the sense of a generic ethersurf of recording and performing strange and unusual music, that probably started when I was about 4 years old in 1963 or so. My parents got a reel to reel tape recorder that totally fascinated my innocent little brain. Although I no longer possess any of these ancient documents, I still have a couple of pieces that I recorded when I was about 12: covers of Beatles songs done with Jews harp and kazoo, overdubbed using this same primitive parental recorder and a portable Panasonic. I learned clarinet in third grade, giving me a bit of experience in the world of traditional instruments and western musical notation. Bored with the hokey junk I was forced to learn on the clarinet, I gave up my lessons by sixth grade and havent had any traditional music instruction since. Composing and performing continued to be part of my life thoughacquiring a guitar at age 15, followed by an ever-growing collection of recording devices and instruments as time progressed. Recordings that others might consider to be interesting started to flow around 1979. My residence in Berkeley Im sure influenced these ethereal works. I got heavily into the distribution and exchange of these recordings in the early/mid 1980s, founding the Taped Rugs label during that time.
The second answer
involves a project that I still am a part of, The Herd Of The ETHER SPACE. This is the name given to a vast variety of sonic
interactions with several different audio explorers, core members being myself, Killr
Kaswan, Robert Silverman, George Gibson, Stu Sands, and Steve Schaer. I was involved in a number of projects
(Temporarily K.Y., -Ing, Disism) during the time that many of the first Herd compositions
were created, but the first Herd recordings were never released nor even named until about
1989. At that point in time the Herd became
the project that I was most involved in until I moved to Kansas in 1996. Killr, Robert, and I just recorded together last
summer, so the Herd lives on. Kansas was the
birthplace of my more recent collaborative efforts: Turkey Makes Me Sleepy and Magic Potty
Zzaj: When it comes to musical adventure, you seem to have a premium on "out" composition. Where does that come from? Is it in your blood, or is it "learned"?
CRGIII: In addition to the heavy influences of those Ive collaborated with, I think my work is mostly a reaction to all the various things, audio and otherwise, that my little brain gets exposed to. Often my works are a reaction to those things in my life over which I have no control, attempting to funnel my frustrations into something other than whining and self pity and my joys into celebrations that others can share. I also get bored rather easily, so Im always striving to create something that doesnt sound like anything else. Each composition has its own life, a style that fits the purpose, and while there are certainly elements of just about every musical style in my works, I find no need nor desire to follow anyone elses particular formula unless it seems appropriate.
A lot of my techniques are bastardized versions of what I hear and see. A good example is how I learned to create reel to reel tape loops from watching a number of Frippertronics performances. With Ing and Disism, I worked with individuals who co-wrote material that used the tape loop as a compositional tool for pieces that could be recreated for live performance. Another bastardization is my vocal style, which contains elements of vocal techniques used by Todd Rundgren, Karen Carpenter, Sammy Davis, Homer Flynn, Ray Collins, and Diamanda Galas (now isnt that a potent cocktail?)
Zzaj: Please describe your "studio" setting (no matter how humble or grandiose).
CRGIII: Ive got a lot of tape recorders, phonographs, and a computer. These devices are all used as compositional tools. I have a large collection of odd records and tapes, which includes a lot of spoken word and musical nonsense to edit materials from. I snip up bits of internet samples and TV streams. I also like to make field recordings of just about anything, and these come in handy for composing as well.
As for traditional instruments: some guitars, a clarinet, an alto sax, a micro moog, a (very warped) bass, a large collection of flutes and whistles, and a whole bunch of percussion goodies fill up the tool box. I also have a great big bunch of toy instruments, of both the acoustic and electronic variety, and I often find ways of monkeying the electronic ones to do things that they werent intended to do. One of my faves of these is a thing that creates both train and animal sounds which I augmented with a pitch bender. Of course I enjoy making my own instruments from scratch too, and I have a large collection of wind and percussive types.
Zzaj: Our readers need to know the whereabouts of your WWW lair... please point them in the write direction... & expound a bit on what your website "means" in the greater scheme.
CRGIII: Well, the site is
Taped Rugs Productions at www.geocities.com/padukem. As for whats in there, theres a whole
lot of sounds from various projects, some reviews and interviews, a bunch of visuals,
links, and, of course, a catalog. Theres
about 100 recordings in the catalog. As far
as the sites meaning, hmmm
.: a place for the exchange of ideas
maybe, certainly not a place for making profits. As
is the case for most avant home recorders, I spend a lot more money than I make on my
artish endeavors, and my intent is not to capitali$e from my work, but to share it. My little brains definition of what
art is: an expression of human interaction, a close approximation of something sacred. I dont have any first hand memories of what
went on in human prehistory, but I get the feeling that musical expression started long
before the idea of profit was ever conceived
of. Music for money takes away some of its
power, and I want all the musical power I can get. People can buy my recordings, but I try
to charge just enough to cover my expenses. Mostly I trade them with other sonic explorers
for the sake of expanding mutual experiences.
Zzaj: There are many players in today's "underground" scene. The truly great ones (in my opinion) are those no one ever hears of until they happen upon a tape or CD by them. Who are some of these "unknowns" (in your opinion).
CRGIII: Well, for me, having
been involved in the whole home recording underworld for so long, unknown is a
very relative term. Id rather refer to
these individuals as heroes who havent entered the consciousness of mainstream
society, but who have made a significant mark on the world of audio exploration. It would be difficult to name them all, and I
certainly dont want to offend anyone I leave out.
Some of the pioneers who immediately come to mind for having stuck with their craft
with persistence and ever-progressing creativeness include Hal McGee, Chris Phinney, Don
Campau, Al Margolis, Bret Hart, Zan Hoffman, Brian Noring, Amy Denio, Tom Sutter, Michael
J. Bowman, and indeed you yourself Rotcod. I
have a collection of home recordings that is so vast, its hard for me to find ways
to store it all in my house. Among those
tapes, CDs, and records, I have way too many favorites to mention here, including large
collections of material thats all from one person or project. A couple of the more recent entries into the fray
who I believe are producing a lot of
excellent work are Tom Bollinger of Yippee Bean, Tim and Terry of Stone Premonitions, and
the one-of-a-kind Buzzsaw.
Zzaj: Are you a blood (or by marriage) relative of Sun Ra?
CRGIII: No, but I did feel
very much at home watching him perform. Nice
of you to ask though.
Zzaj: You (like myself) seem to be greatly aware of the necessary junctures of words/music. Why is this so? Did you lust for your English teacher, or what?
CRGIII: Ive got two
writing degrees from UC Berkeley, for whatever thats worth. I started writing creatively when I was about 6. My English teachers were always very supportive of
my writing skills, but seldom sexy. Language
is just another art that Ive practiced extensively, and, as with anything else,
practice leads to developing techniques. Communication
seems to come in many forms, and I enjoy dabbling in as many as I can. Im not sure whyprobably just brain
Zzaj: If you were writing the Zzaj-Rant (as guest ranter), what would you rant about first?
CRGIII: I think Ive
done a bit too much ranting already here, but if you want more, Ill rant about how
the potential for humanity is so great, but those who hold so much of the power to fulfill
that potential are so lame. More of the
worlds resources are used to kill, hurt, and control people than for any other
purpose, and thats just plain stupid.
Zzaj: What "projects" do you have coming up in the next year (or so)?
CRGIII: Working right now on
a collab with Bret Hart and Hal McGee that I thinks gonna be a winner. Got a lot of solo stuff going on with computer
edited compositions. Hoping to do some cover
songs later this year. Just recently I
started some minimalistic projects with local collabors Mike Adams and Josh Duringer. I hope to get my old Turkey buddie Eric Matchett
involved in these too, and after enough stuffs collected, issuing it for public
Zzaj: Words of wisdom for all those aspiring "ether-junkies" out there in D.I.Y.-land?
CRGIII: Feel it, express it, share it, and always keep in mind that the suns gonna melt the earth some day
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