- can u say
something about john kannenberg, some biographical info, so readers can get idea
who you are
I'm a visual and sound artist currently living in Chicago; however, I grew up in
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (which is about an hour and a half's drive north of
Chicago) and studied there at the University of Wisconsin, receiving a BFA in
drawing and painting. I've been interested in music as long as I've been
interested in art, and began playing music as a drummer in various bands. It
wasn't until I helped found the duo Wireshock with Scott Kane (http://www.stasisfield.com/artists/wireshock.html)
that I began to experiment with electronics, synthesizers, and
computer-generated music. Wireshock played many shows in the midwest US until
about 1999. Scott moved away from Milwaukee and I began to concentrate on solo
work, first under the name Whistling Pariah (which is why my personal web site
is located at http://www.whistlingpariah.com ).
My first commercial release as a solo artist was on the Crouton label (http://www.croutonmusic.com).
I contributed one disc to Crouton's excellent Folktales series. My piece was
released under my real name instead of Whistling Pariah, and since then I've
decided to use my real name for further releases.
Later I became involved with three other artists (Jim Schoenecker, Jim Warchol
and Ethan Koehler), all from Milwaukee, and have recorded with them as J3. We've
also done some sound installations together, both in Milwaukee and Chicago. Jim
Schoenecker runs the Topscore label (http://www.topscoreusa.com) along with Jon
Minor (who is the newest member of the group Pele). I'm going to be releasing
something of my own this year on Topscore's new audio & visual release series,
range (http://range.topscoreusa.com), which focuses on digital minimalism.
- why did u start to run a label and why exactly netlabel
I've always been interested in artist communities, ever since studying about the
various historical artist movements like the Bauhaus school, Der Blaue Reiter,
the Surrealists, etc. Also, in trying to promote my own music, I was having some
difficulty making connections to labels that released works similar to what I
was doing, since so many people are now making experimental electronic music and
only so many labels can support so many artists.
So it was a combination of wanting to be a part of a community of like-minded
artists and a desire to have a platform from which to release my own work,
I chose a net label format because logistically it was the smartest thing for me
to do...I wanted to reach as many people as possible by spending the least
amount of money, just to see if I could actually make a label work. Because I
had been working as a web designer for almost 6 years at the time I started the
label, it just made sense to me that I should use the skills I acquired in the
business world and apply them to help create an online community of artists. It
seemed like the most logical path to take, especially because there didn't seem
to be very many experimental electronic mp3 labels at the time, although there
are quite a lot of them now!
- can u say that there is diference between net label and regular label in
this conditions of technological development when audience that have to listen
music can download release from site of netlabel and easilly burn it and print
cover so the process is near to cdr label
Well, the biggest difference is that the vast majority of music I release is
available for free! I can't even begin to approach the label as a money-making
venture, and I don't want it to become dedicated solely to making money. Any
money I've made so far has gone right back into the label, and I have yet to
even come close to breaking even on it.
But since there isn't a huge investment other than web hosting (which is fairly
expensive for me, but not that much compared to what many labels have to spend
to create CD releases), I feel like there's a certain amount of freedom allowed
to take chances with what I release. If I was paying for printing and
duplication costs for every title in the catalog, I would be forced to only
release things I thought would recoup my investment. I don't feel any of that
kind of pressure in running a net label, so I think that's an advantage.
- what's the concept of your label
That's something I've been struggling with since before the label launched (in
April 2002) and continue to struggle with presently, although I've recently made
some headway. Originally, there was no concept beyond an overall interest in
experimental digital minimalism. However, as I became acquainted with more
artists who were producing things outside that scope, I wanted to incorporate
them as well. I've always had fairly wide-ranging musical tastes, and I began to
realize that the label should have a bit more of a reflection of those tastes,
which extend far beyond such a narrow focus.
As I mention in the description of the label on the site itself, I like to think
that Stasisfield is dedicated to releasing challenging works of art which may
not have the chance to find a home elsewhere. Even now that I'm starting to
attract some more well-known artists, I still think this is true, since I
believe artists view my label as a place where they can be free to experiment
with something that they may not otherwise have decided to release through their
Recently I came to the conclusion, at least for the Stasisfield label and the
Stasis_Space art gallery (a digital gallery also hosted on my site, http://www.stasisfield.com/space),
that I would like to have more cross-pollination between the label and the
online gallery. Since my academic background is in visual/fine art, I definitely
would like to see the label head in a direction that deals more with
cross-disciplinary artworks...melding sound, image, text, interactivity and even
physicality, sculpture, etc.
Having said that, there is also now a third branch of Stasisfield, the AUX-IN
sublabel (http://www.stasisfield.com/aux-in) which releases live recordings by
experimental artists. This exists alongside but completely separately from
Stasisfield and Stasis_Space in my opinion. AUX-IN began as an homage to live
rock albums, a sort of tongue-in-cheek merging of the attitude and packaging of
1970s and 1980s rock records with the sounds of contemporary experimental music.
I really just wanted to inject some much-needed subtle yet goofy humor into my
label, since the majority of experimental labels never seem to deal with humor
beyond a very dry, academic sarcasm or broad, sort of in-your-face anarchist
humor. I don't know if I've succeeded at all, but the AUX-IN releases have been
very fun for me to design!
- can u say that u r releasing microsound and what is microsound as a term
acording to you
I would say a portion of what I release is microsound, but definitely not all of
it is, and maybe not even a majority of it as time has gone on. But I think the
music Stasisfield offers very much appeals to a "microsound audience," whomever
that may be.
Microsound to me connotes music that deals with subtlety, quiet, minute details,
microtones, gradual shifts, and contrasting tiny and vast acoustic spaces. I
have no idea if that fits the commonly-held definition of the term, but that has
been my interpretation of it. I don't claim to be an expert on the subject by
- stasisfield has started with one cdr release. are you planing to continue
releasing cdr releases in parallel with mp3 releases or maybe start with real
cds in near future
Definitely. I have already planned the next CD-R compilation, which I hope to
release in May of this year. It has become a project that I think will further
help define the identity of the label, as it will consist of a CD-R compilation
and an accompanying online art exhibition on Stasis_Space. The project will be
called "the audible still-life", and will consist of artists creating still-life
set-ups much like a visual artist would use to create a drawing or painting, but
these still-lifes will be documented with a photograph or video, field
recording, and audio composition made from the field recording. I'm very excited
about it, and have gotten a great response from the artists I've invited to
participate. So far, I'm expecting contributions from some great artists like
Jeremy Boyle, John Hudak, Irving + Orser, Neil Jendon, koura, Mou, Lips!, Jon
Mueller, Plank, Hal Rammell, Trace Reddell, Sawako and Malte Steiner, and I'm
still speaking with several more artists about participating.
I would love to release "real" CDs in the future, but that will be determined by
how well future CD-R releases sell. I'd also love to release a double LP (with a
gatefold sleeve, of course!) compiling some of the AUX-IN releases at some point
in the future as well.
- you are making music under name john kannenberg. what can u say about you
My own work has been slowly changing stylistically. I began doing solo works
that were extremely experimental, primarily using manipulated field recording
loops with almost no recognizable beats or melodies and never any vocals or
recognizable song structures. I was very much interested in generative music but
I was also experimenting with some linear constructions, but mostly everything
was improvised or generative. Stylistically my music at that point was all over
the board, and it was pretty obvious I was struggling to find a voice.
I've always had somewhat of a split personality musically, I enjoy listening to
a range of styles from avant-garde all the way down to pop music. I began to
realize that the music I was making wasn't all that enjoyable to listen to, at
least not to me. I couldn't come up with a real context that my music fit into,
which was distressing; I couldn't come up with a reason for making what I was
making. "Lave," the 20-minute piece I did for Crouton's Folktales series, was
really a breakthrough piece for me and has helped put me on a somewhat more
guided path towards what I want to ultimately accomplish.
I slowly have begun to incorporate more traditional linear elements, beats,
synthesized sounds and melodies into what I do, although I still occasionally
use chance and generative elements while composing. Melody is actually starting
to become much more of a factor for me, creating tunes that are at least
somewhat recognizable so the listener has something to follow. My music tends to
be very quiet and minimal, and I am now viewing what I do primarily as
background music, although I'd like to think it would also reward someone who
listens closely and attentively.
I've always felt somewhat uncomfortable about calling what I do "music," or
myself a "musician," since I have no formal training and the pieces I produce
seem more like "organized sound" rather than actual pieces of written music. I
think "sound art" might be a more accurate term, but it's also much more
pretentious! So it's been much easier to just try to pass the work off as music
and let the listener decide what it really is!
- can u say some influences that can be seen in yr music and those that are
just indirect influences musical and maybe non musical
Many people have told me my work sounds influenced by Brian Eno, which it
definitely was a few years ago. I went through a very intense period of
listening to Eno's work and I'm sure that has had a prolonged effect on what I
do, but I'd like to think I have more influences than him. Steve Reich has been
a tremendous influence--the first time I heard Reich's "Music For Eighteen
Musicians" was a really pivotal moment for me. Morton Feldman, Miles Davis, Arvo
Part and Bernhard Guenter have also been influences at various times, Guenter
especially so at the moment. I've also listened to a lot of so-called "world
music," deeply spiritual works like Sufi ritual music, Qawwali singing
(especially Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan), Tibetan Buddhist chanting, Indian ragas,
African ceremonial songs...I'm very interested in ancient Egyptian history,
which has led me to listen to a lot of traditional Egyptian and other Middle
Eastern musics as well.
On the pop end of the spectrum I'm a big fan of people like Peter Gabriel, David
Bowie, Paul Weller, Peter Murphy, Marshall Crenshaw, XTC, Talking Heads,
1980s-era King Crimson...newer bands like Sigur Ros, Interpol and Travis...I
could give you a huge list of people I listen to, but these are probably the
most directly relevant. I sometimes try to apply some of the ideas and
techniques I notice in pop music to what I do in an experimental situation,
which might sound like a travesty or contradiction to some people...but I think
it's important to remember that making music is also about entertainment, not
just experimentation, and that to completely ignore the notion of making
organized sounds that are pleasing to the ear leads to some pretty dreadful
stuff. I'd like to think my work may someday achieve a balance between being
ear-pleasing and experimental. I don't think I've come all that close yet, but
I'll keep trying.
Zen Buddhism, specifically Soto Zen, has also been a big influence on my work. I
have tried several different approaches when composing, but I invariably come
back to treating the act of composing as a form of meditation. I don't consider
myself a Buddhist and I don't practice it (although I did attempt it for some
years), but the philosophies related to it seem very relevant to creative work.
In relationship to this, the writings of John Cage have been influential,
particularly his notion that music exists in the everyday sounds which surround
us -- 4'33" has got to be one of the most important works of art ever created.
The 1992 film Baraka by Ron Fricke was and still is a tremendous influence on
me. I have probably watched it over fifty times since it was first released and
still enjoy it. It sounds very cliched, but I take something different away from
the experience each time I view it.
My studies in visual art, though, have probably been the biggest non-musical
influence on me. It was in art school that I first encountered concepts like
field painting, gesture, planar analysis, and spatial relationships which I
think all translate almost perfectly from a visual medium to a sonic medium.
It's these concepts that I'm hoping to continue to explore both in my solo work
and with the Stasisfield label.
- you are doing the design of the releases and also the site of the label
looks great. what can u say about the design and look of things connected with
music like design of covers and websites. is that perspective same important to
you as the music it self or...
Thanks for the kind words! I'm always grateful when people comment positively on
the visual aspect of the site, because it's been very important to me that the
design be as successful as the music.
When I first began concepting the label, the three most important guidelines I
set for the site's design were: 1. To create an easily-recognizable visual
identity that reflected the aesthetic of the music on the label, 2. To make the
interface simple, intuitive and user-friendly, and 3. The visual and interactive
design of the site should enhance, not obscure the work of the artists being
represented. When I go to a website to download music, I want to be able to get
to the music as quickly as possible. If I want to find out more information
about the artists on a site, I want that to be right there as well. If I want to
contact the label to see if they're currently accepting demos, I want to be able
to find that easily too. I've tried to apply this to Stasisfield and I hope for
the most part I've succeeded. Of the comments I've received about the site's
design, they've been almost universally positive, which is a huge relief to
me...it makes me feel like I must be doing something right!
As for the packaging designs on the releases themselves, I see them as existing
within a certain style that is evolving over time. I've definitely hit upon
something of a "house style" which I want to continue to explore and expand
upon. Although many of the releases don't sound the same, I want their packaging
to reflect a common visual aesthetic, which is why I'm doing all of the package
design. Since I'm curating all of the sounds, I think it's fitting that I
"curate" the images as well.
I think visual design is integral to the process of running a record label; I
think without good visual design, no matter how good the music is, a release
will still ultimately be somewhat unsatisfying on some basic level, which is why
I believe raw mp3 files will never completely overtake any physical format for
the distribution of music. I'm very much an obsessive when it comes to the
package design of music CDs and LPs by artists whose work I admire, and I want
to translate some of that same, almost fetishistic, feeling into the digital
packaging I create for the releases on Stasisfield.