Interview. Beat Magazine January 2011

An interview was conducted with Tobias Fischer back in 2010. It turned into a 3-page article published in the January 2011 edition of the German electronic music magazine Beat.

The interview covers, what Periskop has been for the last 5 years, and has now been cleared for digital sharing.

Read/download it here: periskop-beatmag-jan2011.pdf

Extracts from the original English interview transcript:

TF: Why did you consider submarines to be an interesting point of departure for a music project? How did Periskop begin?

DK: It began in 2003 during a period of personal fractures, and the notion of the periscope as a way to see the light of the surface was very meaningful. During that year I did about an albums worth of dark melancholic dub tracks with friends of mine on vocals. Things brightened up again and I never got back to finishing the demo. While working on a bunch of other projects the project was derelict until 2007, where I was becoming gradually more uninspired musically and felt a need to redefine some basic premises about how and why I made music. This process was completed about a year later, where I stopped all other music solo projects.

TF: Periskop is said to deal with, among others, a „posthuman environment“. Is this perhaps the expression of a rather bleak perspective on humanity? Is there some kind of a political message behind it all?

DK: I certainly don’t think of it as a clearly formulated political message, but we do live in a period of time, where what it means to be human is under negotiation. Posthuman is not to be confused with postapocalyptic, but is rather the notion, that we are increasingly in technologically mediated relations with our surroundings. I’m not arguing for or against that, but am rather reflecting on the obsoleteness of a free creative subject using technology as mere tools to achieve some sort of artistic vision. Instead I try as Periskop to subject myself as fully as possible to the technological mediation of creative work.

TF: The first musical aspect one will notice about these tracks is their „restrictions“. How did the idea come up? Which restrictions have proved to be most demanding, which were most rewarding?

DK: I tend to fall into perfectionism, but the restrictions are an excellent way of dealing with the seemingly endless possibilities of software based sound creation, and I think a lot of electronic music producers use them either subconsciously or fully consciously. Restrictions have for me always been closely connected to a notion of consistent aesthetics, and thus not something to overcome but rather to harness. With Periskop I’ve found it very rewarding to start with an artistic vacuum where nothing is allowed, and then gradually open up for controlled experimentation towards a balanced set of restrictions, that makes it both possible and exciting to redo the experiment numerous times. The most demanding one is by far the 15 bpm standard in the 8 click-doom tracks I’ve made so far, but in the end it’s also the most rewarding to pull off, and as a whole I think they are probably the most original thing I’ve done musicwise.

TF: Other than respecting the relevant restrictions, how do these tracks take shape? In which way, for example, do you conceptualise and arrange them with the theme of submarines in mind?

DK: All work within the project can be clearly separated in two different types of work. There’s the experimental work, where I try new things out and work towards a new framework. And then there’s the ritualistic work, where I redo the experiment eg to make another track in one of the ongoing releases. The submarine sound is a completely causal extension of how the rituals are predefined. At the moment I’m doing more experiments than rituals, which results in less new tracks in the existing ongoing releases than previously, but should also result in new exciting rituals to perform in the future.

TF: Periskop questions or at least complements the relevance of traditional formats. Do you feel as though the freedom of ongoing projects like this is preferable over the static notion of an album as a fixed entity? In which way do you see your entire output converging towards this idea?

DK: Yes. Very much so. It has certainly allowed me to do exactly what I want when I want to. This is also where the choice to give the music away for free came from. When there’s no economy involved in the project, I don’t have to worry about promoting it either. It’s just there for people to find, which they still increasingly do here 3½ years after the first track was uploaded. If there wasn’t any traditions for how to release music, I’m confident this is how most musicians would prefer it done. And indeed what is happening right now, is the dynamics of the social web are turning the output of a lot of independent acts into growing playlists of single YouTube clips or tracks on SoundCloud. In this sense, I don’t see what I’m doing with the ongoing addition of content to the Periskop website as something extraordinary.

TF: The current minute count of Periskop stands at 835 minutes. Can the sheer size of the project and how far you’ve come seem bewildering at times?

DK: Actually no. Since I’ve considered every step fairly thoroughly, I mainly feel I haven’t come far enough yet.

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