Those folks in Denton have the right idea. Below is their Violitionst Sessions: that features 3 Questions and 3 Songs. Today’s set comes from Ross Edman of Datahowler. Unbelievably cool does not even begin to describe the concept behind these raw, uncut tracks which are recorded in someone’s living room.
“The Weight of Dreams”
ONE: What inspires you to create music? What led you to your current format?
Ross Edman: Wow, that’s kind of a lofty question. I mean, I did a lot of music before. I’ve done all kinds of music, but…I guess what led me into this was that I started doing hip hop, and at the same time I was doing that, I was studying philosophy and I was studying postmodernism and technology, and how those things are integrated into our lives, sometimes for the worse. I studied a lot of Heidegger, a lot of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, stuff like that. A lot of phenomenology…This set-up came about because I think that, in the postmodern era, we need to be able to control the mechanisms that usually control us. A lot of times, people see a computer, and they think, ‘Oh, you’re not anything. The computer is doing all the work.’ I feel like there’s a new way of looking at music and art where we can program and build systems in computers and then manipulate them live. It’s a way to take control of technology and be an overlord of it again, you know? I feel like phones and the Internet and all of these things are so integrated into our lives that you can’t even have a social life without having technology. You can’t even talk to someone without having a smartphone. And so, technology has created these barriers in between people, and I think that it’s our job and our duty to kind of wrangle and manipulate that technology to do what we want, and make it creative. I mean, a computer is kind of a cold, hard, calculating machine, so if you can make it do something creative and wonderful, then all of a sudden I feel like you’ve won. So, that’s what led to this set-up.
DJ: Wow, that’s kind of a lofty answer.
Ross: Yeah, sorry. I wrote a huge thesis on synthesizers and all of this stuff. I don’t know, I just see a lot of correlation between all of it, so…it kind of resonated with me.
DJ: And that’s different from, I guess, organic music? With traditional instruments?
Ross: Well, I play…I mean, I probably played 15 instruments on the album, but when I play live, I’m manipulating them. So, I’m doing all of the organic stuff, and I’m using analog synthesizers, and I’m trying not to…really edit it a lot, and things like that. I’m trying to do actual takes. But then, after the fact, I like breaking it all down and putting it in the computer and then manipulating it.
TWO: How does your visual art tie into your music?
Ross: For me, it’s more of trying to create an experience. That’s what it’s always been about. I’m currently doing visual art and the music, and I’m starting to add projections, and I’m starting to do interactive website builds and stuff, so, I just want all of it to eventually tie together to just create a story or experience. I think people…I don’t know, I think people are inspired by that, you know? It’s not just an album anymore. People want to see video and projections and lights, just everything that makes the story actually happen. And I don’t think there’s many artists who try to do all of it themselves. I think that it’s good for an artist to push themselves and try and create as much as they can and tie everything together themselves, because it’s hard to include other people and have your vision come out correctly, sometimes. Or it changes the vision, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way.
DJ: Do you see yourself doing installations of your integrated work in the future?
Ross: Yeah, I have some installations that are going to be coming up in August. It’ll be like projections and music kind of tied together. More like interactive installations.
THREE: What’s your take on the North Texas music scene?
Ross: I think there’s good and bad. I think it’s small, but I think there’s a lot of talent. I guess I worry about some of the closed mindedness. I feel like there’s a large amount of people that are behind what’s happening in other parts of the world and other styles of music, but…I think one of the best things that it has to offer is that DFW is humongous. It’s so big. It’s one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the world, so to be able to make it— or, you know, make money or play shows or all of that in this scene, is a little bit harder I feel like, in some ways, because there’s not the infrastructure that there is in LA or New York, so there’s a lot of room to create new things and new scenes and new pockets of culture, and I think Denton has a lot of that. Denton always seems to be at the forefront, and I feel like Ft. Worth is kind of starting to do a lot of interesting things, too. There’s so much music coming out of there. Dallas is always kind of centrally…had music going on, but I think there’s some outskirts that are providing different artists and different viewpoints on the conversation.
DJ: You said that there are a lot of close-minded people here. Do you mean that people here don’t want to try anything new?
Ross: I don’t think it’s necessarily that they don’t want to try anything new. I think that they have a hard time understanding new things unless it’s presented to them in a certain way. And Dallas is a very capital market-driven city. It has a lot of art, but it’s not artistically driven like Austin, Portland, LA. A lot of those cities are artistically driven. Dallas has a lot of art and a lot of musicians and stuff, but it’s not driven by that, so to have new ideas in this city is hard. It’s hard to have those sometimes, just because…I don’t know, I just feel like the culture here is just kind of like that. I don’t know, maybe it’s from…maybe it’s from political leanings, being in the Bible Belt, I don’t know. I’m not really sure of the cause, but it’s interesting to try to break new ideas here.
- Interview and transcription by Dale Jones