FAST FORWARD Interview Lona Foote
His name can be misleading. perhaps a pseudonym like "Steadily Backward" would better describe his technologically-downward trend. Shortly after receiving his MFA in Electronic Music, Fast Forward abandoned his electronic background in favor of the steel drum and found metal objects such as hubcaps, drain pipes, and cans as part of what he describes as a "cleansing process," trying to get to the very core of his musical expression. he refers to his new approach as "Modern Tribalism."
Fast Forward's compositions address the fundamental three-way relationship between performer, instrument, and space. Having established a rhythmic foundation in a piece with his "Base" instruments, he then stretches out to subtly manipulate and shape the sound augmented by the space around him. His audiences are often amazed that a single performer with a single instrument could produce the rich, complex cloud of reverberations and overtones they hear. Fast describes the energy and dynamic of his performances as being like "taking the audience on a trip through a long tunnel."
Though solo performances have been his mainstay since 1981, he has been composing for and performing with an ensemble whose members include percussionists Kumiko Kimoto, Wes Virginia, James Lo, and Yuval Gabay, for three years. The group allows for more rhythmically visually, and theoretically complex material, and Fast's compositions for them push the juxtapositions of structured rhythms and total chaos as far as they can go.
How do you see your music in a context of lo-tech?
Well, I've never given it much thought, but yes, it is lo-tech. It's certainly not hi-tech. At the moment, I don't come anywhere near using anything technical at all. A large amount of the work is in throwing garbage around, using metal springs and cans found on the street, metal pipes and parking signs, soybean oil cans. Yeah, that's lo-tech.
How did your music progress from the work you've been doing over the last ten years into the lo-tech form it exists in now?
Up until I moved to New York from San Francisco in 1981, I was doing a lot of electronically-derived music, using tape recorders, synthesizers, and home-built components that predate the commercially produced phase shifters, digital delays, etc. I remember buying a drum machine kit from PAIA where you had to hard-wire the board yourself and screw together the outer chassis.
Myself, Dr. S.O. Teric, and Vaypid Schmuey had a group that was committed to the production of portable electronic music. We used instruments originally designed by Vaypid, called tubatrons and portazillas, which consisted of a belt with a synthesizer in a cookie tin at the hip, a bank of rechargeable batteries at the back and a hand-control unit with pots and switches. The audio signal was fed to a loudspeaker which was attached to a long plexiglass tube and we went around beeping and booping together -- beeboopbapbeepbooboopbzzz.
It was very wild, non-structured, non-conformist electronic improvisation that was portable. We did it on ferries, in the streets, and once in a shopping mall in San Francisco as part of the New Music America festival. In performance situations, those instruments allowed us the freedom to move into the audience or envelop the space however we wanted to, without the restriction of wires or electricity. That was in 1979 and '80. I think that was a very relevant point to what happened to me musically after that.
Typed by Cheryl Vega 5-20-95