= excerpt 3 = KINOTHEK PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE: Steam Fist Futurists
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DNA HOOVER: I do not consider myself a film music composer, although I would jump at the opportunity if I felt I could contribute to the overall effect of a film. The Kinothek series was never intended to accompany film, but rather, to exist on its own as an "auditory stimulator" for the imagination. It was a sort of "assignment" for myself -- a creative focus, a point of departure, like, say, doing Carpenters cover tunes. . . .
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BF: Why'd you move from San Francisco to Winters?
DNA: More space for less money. I can have a larger studio and am able to spend more time in it. It's far enough out of the way that suburbia hasn't destroyed it yet, and there are no crack dealers on my front porch, no boom boxes, no tall fences, no steel window grates, no broken car windows, etc. All in all, I think it's just a much more productive place for me my wife (a painter), and my daughter.
BF: What are your prime concerns in composition?
DNA: Some are influenced by rhythms that occur naturally, some by mathematical equations. It's different for every piece. Self-playing systems for instruments, an image, a sound, a word. For Kinothek, I have a sort of built-in direction -- the theme of the album.
I begin by collecting voices that are representational of the theme. Some of them are rather conventional and cliche (violin tremolos and waterphones for suspense), others may be a bit more unconventional (bb's rolling through a length of guttering). Sometimes the search for compatible voices and/or systems dictates the course of the composition. At times I may conjure up an image or sequence of events (chase, apprehension, torture, death) and compose something for that. Other times I'll watch a TV show with the sound off and play with it.
In the process (and I do consider it a process art) of layering track by track, some tracks disappear completely so the original concept has been transformed altogether, serving only as a catalyst or point of departure. Other pieces become totally transformed in the mixdown with processed treatments, tape manipulations, etc. The finished piece is how it exists on vinyl (or cassette or CD), as every step in the process affects how it will eventually be perceived. So, I suppose, we should also include the home/auto stereo system in this chain.
BF: Where did Becce get the word "kinothek"?
DNA: It's a shortened version of the word "kinobibliothek," which means cinema library or cinema catalog.
BF: On the back of your albums, it says that Becce's work was used for silent films,...
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BF: Has any of your music been used as a soundtrack to footage?
DNA: To date, only one film that I am aware of has used Kinothek Percussion Ensemble material. Craig Baldwin, a friend and Bay Area filmmaker, has used "Anhem's Evil Giant" from the Suspense LP in his latest film Tribulation 99, in reference to the end of the world prediction in the Book of Revelations.
He described it to me as a "black comedy satire about U.S. policy in Latin America, as told in sci-fi terms." It's constructed from found footage to give the feel of a sort of reconstructed newsreel. It will premier at the Roxi Cinema in November as part of the Film Arts Foundation festival.
Several radio stations have used Kinothek as lead-in music for various programs such as movie reviews. . . .
DNA: A few years ago I scored a painting show of a friend who had film loops projected onto painted canvases. I had made several very long tape loops that went with each film loop. The speakers for each loop system would be placed within the viewing aria of its corresponding painting/filmloop. As you walked from painting installation to installation, the loops would merge and fade into some rich polyrhythms.
BF: I'd be concerned about people hearing music from one thing and looking at another. I tend to be a power freak, though.
DNA: Well, there are many ways sound could accompany paintings based on the size of the space, size of the painting, subject material, estimated attention span or "viewtime," etc. Headphones with personal stereos may be appropriate in some cases, but I tend more toward using the natural acoustics of the space. Live musicians would be a little overbearing, I think. Also, I enjoy the challenge of making something site-specific.
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BF: A while ago you mentioned working with Clubfoot clarinetist Beth Custer.
DNA: Last year I did a series of performances with Beth and filmmaker Peter McCandless called The Braggart, the Soldier, and the Parasite, in which the film (actually a series of slide projectors with dissolve units) was accompanied by live clarinet/steel drum compositions. It was a nice change from working on the KPE stuff in that I focused on what I could get out of a single instrument in a live/real-time situation. Also, the clarinet and steel drum have a certain compatibility that at times became one voice.
A few months ago I again collaborated with Beth and Peter and also J.A. Deane (Indoor Life, John Hassel), but this time on a variety of instruments and objects, again as live accompaniment to filmic images. I built a couple of "self-playing instruments" that were pretty fun. I'd like to do more of those.
BF: What sort of self-playing instruments?
DNA: One of the more recent ones is a modified ceiling fan. Brass mallets are attached to the blades that strike glockenspiel keys mounted in a pattern on the ceiling and are raised and lowered via a system of pulleys and counterweights. The blades have also been equipped with various rubber bands that vibrate at certain speeds, like an Australian bullroar.
BF: You don't say.
DNA: The fan sounds like a gamelan and was used in "The Pool of Thanatos," the performance with Beth Custer and J.A. Dane. Also in that performance was a steel gutter that spiralled down and around the entire performance space. At a specific time, several thousand bb's were released. They thundered before coming to rest in a steel drum at the bottom of the gutter.
BF: It sounds like a scene from a John Landis film. Vic Morrow wasn't there, was he?
DNA: Then there's the reciprocating saw with violinbow attachment that plays not only a violin but most anything that vibrates. I've also used a vacuum cleaner that plays a didjeridu, motorized anklungs, a steel drum played by a group of dangling vibrators, and a system of ceiling-mounted garage door opener tracks that move microphones and speakers over the audience or outside the performance space.
BF: Didn't you have something involving carnival rides?
DNA: That's called Singers on a Scrambler. Several members of a choral group are assigned a selection of musical notes to sing while riding on a Scrambler (the carnival ride) or a fast swing. Sort of an updated version of the fila flute players.
BF: Let's backtrack and get into how you learned to do all this.
DNA: I began building instruments as a sculpture major at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1976. I became interested in performance art and transferred to the S.F. Institute in 1978, where I began incorporating my own personal interaction with these sound-producing objects.
BF: Who were you listening to at the time?
DNA: I was turned onto La Monte Young and Steve Reich, and as a result, started experimenting with various "loop" systems. Since I didn't own a reel-to-reel tape machine, I began building and modifying old record players.
Some of them were modified to go very fast (300 rpm) or slow (4rpm). Some were made to go violently back and forth, like a washing machine. Some were made to be "hand-cranked," so that four people on four different phonos each with its own copy of the same record could attempt to play in synch with each other. Another was the "quad phono" on which all four tone arms had corresponding amplifiers, EQ, and other treatments. It gave it that real Pink Floyd surround-sound. Each arm also had a groove lock that would lock in a predetermined loop.
BF: What records did you use?
DNA: They were usually from an old but relatively extensive Folkways collection. The quad phon is the only one I've held onto, and I actually used it again last fall in the show with Beth and J.A. Deane.
Eventually, I began playing around with resonant frequencies and "beat" frequencies. Several performances incorporated the use of fluorescent light fixtures.
DNA: Tubes being stroked with a wet glove produce a sort of helmholtz resonator. I also used a square wave generator in conjunction with an amplified light ballast.
BF: You're losing me.
DNA: We're talking a lot of 60+/-cycle hum.
BF: Skip it. What made you want to explore performance?
DNA: In the early part of 1980, I became interested in the response (or lack of) from a non-art-oriented audience and began doing street performances. It was election year and the material was fairly political in nature, so I went to the national conventions -- Democratic, Republican, and People's Alternative.
When I returned to San Francisco, I co-founded with Randy Hussong the performance group FFI (For Further Information), which was probably the most prolific period, 1980 to 1982, as far as both performing and building instruments and systems. It was really the three-ring wall-of-sound approach.
From 1983 to 1986 I became more interested in building houses and expressing myself through architecture and did very few performances. In 1986 I built a recording studio and started building instruments again and continue...
Kinothek Percussion Ensemble / c/o Audiox Recording 13 East Main Street / Winters, CA 95694
DNA HOOVER AT A GLANCE
1978: Collaboration with performance artist Bill Seaman as Evidence.
1979-83: Solo performances as DNA, or when in New York City, to avoid confusion with the band DNA, as DNA/SFO.
1980: Street performances as Gene Pool.
1980-82: Collaborations with Randy Hussong, Carlos Hernandez, Bruce Gluck, and Frederick Drotos as FFI.
1981: Cassette-only release, Some Recent Changes from the Field, under pseudonym EIEIO.
1988-90: Two LPs released as Kinothek Percussion Ensemble.
Typed by Cheryl Vega 4-28-95