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Tim Hecker

Portraits & Paysages

Paru en 2001 sur Force Inc., Ultramarin, réalisé sous le pseudonyme Jetone, présente le canadien Tim Hecker comme un des producteurs techno les plus intéressants de la très médiatisée ville de Montréal. Si on a eu depuis l'occasion d'apercevoir Jetone sur quelques compilations, chez Tigerbeat6 ou Deluxe, Hecker s'est consacré ces derniers mois à des travaux plus abstraits et conceptuels sous son propre nom sortis sur Substractif, division du label canadien Alien8. Hecker fait le lien entre ses premières expériences musicales dans des groupes de rock, sa passion pour le metal et son nouvel album pour Mille Plateaux, Radio Amor, qui lui a été inspiré par sa rencontre avec un pêcheur de crevettes des Caraïbes.

How long have you been producing music ? How were you attracted to production ?
I've been producing music seriously for roughly 7 years now. It's been an incremental development really. It all started as a disaffected suburban garage-rock band gone wrong. Of all of the musical projects I was in during the early 90's, most collaborative processes went nowhere. Drinking in the practice space, smoking too much, passing out with my guitar strapped on. So I began to replace my bandmates with electronic instruments. Bought a sampler, some recording equipment, computers. Before you knew it, I was doing everything myself, and began to make recordings. It wasn't a vanity project (ie it wasn't because I though I could do everything better myself), but I learned the ropes of recording, studio techniques, sequencing, and the liquid world of digital audio.

Do you have any musical training ?
I have formal training from high school etc, having learned the trumpet, piano among other instruments. Beyond early high school, formal musical training ended there.

Which artists influenced you most ?
I came into 'electronic music' from a background of a more conventional Canadian-suburban experience. My parents didn't raise me to discern the virtues of Parmagiani or Stockhausen. My dad listened to Fleetwood Mac and Meetloaf. I did experiment in my late teens and developed an ear for strange sounds, most of which was US and UK indie and punk rock. I think early Aphex Twin brought me into the realm of electronic music. From there it was Autechre, Mego, some UK 'shoegazer' rock, and some heavy metal which kept me most interested.

Is Jetone your first musical project ? How would you define it ?
Jetone is a name I chose early on and had no intention per se.

Is it caricatural to see Jetone as your rhythm-based project, and your works under your name as more abstract, moody, experimental ? Do you see these two directions as complementary ?

My first Jetone album, was essentially a demo which shouldn't have been released, but which was released. From there I did an album for Force Inc which was some form of minimal techno. All other relases have been under my own name, and yes I believe they are complementary. If I ever do more rhythm based work I will likely use the name Jetone, but for this abstract/ambient/noise work I'm currently pursuing I will keep using my own name.

Do you have other pseudonyms, or have you been involved in musical collective experience ?
I work with more group-based and collaborative efforts lately. It is far more interesting and rewarding than the many nights home along in the studio!!! Many more strange and bizarre things come out of the speakers when you're not alone. I am currently working with Montreal band Fly Pan Am right now and we're finishing recording a new album.

Is/was there a special creative dynamic in Montreal and a particular concentration of talents or is it just the result of a good publicity, or thanks to Mutek ?

The 'strange brew' which has occured in Montreal, is thanks to all the factors you mentioned. Montreal has traditionally been a magnet for artists of all genres across Quebec as well as Canada. Mutek has helped musicians develop, by being exposed to a broad spectrum of work, we have a higher standard to measure ourselves against, than say, someone from rural, small town Canada. That's not to degrade in any way the becomings of rural artists, but for electronic music there exists a discourse and history which is helpful for one to respect somewhat.

Most of the artists whose works have been highlighted by the international Press were producing techno music, whereas, in Québec, there is a tradition of "électro-acoustique" and experimental music (Empreintes Digitales, Oral (which is producing both)...), what is your opinion about this ? Do these two trends did/do coexist ? What is really going on today in Montréal, Québec & Canada ? Do you feel part of it ?
These two trends coexist in Montreal, sometimes theres overlap, sometimes not. The electro-acoustic community is sometimes not interested in what goes on in this electronic/techno community. And vice-versa. Oral is indeed a good example of a middle path, working with artists who straddle the lines, bravo indeed! I love what is going on in Montreal, I can't imagine doing what I'm doing anywhere else (except Ottawa where I work). Its special and I love the city dearly, as we say here <<montreal, c'est toi ma ville>>

Apart from Deadbeat, Akufen ... , according to you, which artists are less touristic in the Montreal Musical Touristic Guide ?
Martin Tetrault (the man), 1-speed bike, Christof Migone, Sam Shalabi, Shalabi Effect (+Sam's 10 other bands), David Kristian, Alexandre St. Onge, Hrsta, The User, Desormais, Set Fire to Flames... these are off the top of my head, but there's many.

Why did you move to Ottawa ? Is there a connection with your musical works and your job/main or second activity ?
I haven't completely moved to Ottawa. I keep an apartment in Montreal, where I live on weekends and a place in Ott. for the weekdays (Ottawa is 90 minute trip from Montreal). I did graduate work in Political Theory, which lends itself well to working in the bureacracy. So Im looking for work there, as in Canada student debt levels are bordering on the insane, and this is the only way out for me. Im not interested in doing commercial music to pay the bills, I'd rather keep some things sacred. Having said that, its clear these two pursuits are completely separated.

Your work under your own name sounds more introspective, romantic and referenced. It seems that temporal and topographic elements are very important in "Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again". How did it influence the process of creation of this record ?
Temporal and topographic elements weren't directly influencing the work as it was created, they acted rather, as an afterthought. Haunt me is a distillation of many pieces I had been working on at that time, and is a representation of that period for me, rather than a commentary on any time or space issues. When I put together an album I try to find a theme, a concept perhaps, maybe this is a marketing (artistic, comercial?) strategy, i dont know. Haunt me plundered the cliche of the Candian winter, that album was finished in the summer. Radio amor, a work just finished for Mille Plateaux, is a mock portrait of Latino-Carribean shrimp fisherman. It's not total bullshit, I did indeed spend the winter of 1997 in Central America, where I met Jimmy the "high wire shrimper" in the port town of La Ceiba, Honduras. The cover photography was all taken on that afternoon/evening. Ironically converse to Haunt me 's coldness finished in the summer, Radio Amor is hot heat finished in the dead of winter??? Wishful thinking perhaps, its -25c right now!

Will "Radio Amor" be issued under Tim Hecker's name ? How can you describe this mock portrait musically speaking ? What has been its process of recording/creating ?
Yes this album will be under my own name. This mock portait really is a joke which became a conceptual apparatus. Musically very little in difference from Haunt me, perhaps more between Haunt me for its melodic focus, and My Love is Rotten to the Core for its wall of sound. Honestly I haven't listened to it for quite awhile, which is after having listened to it 100 times a day for 2 months. The process of recording was to archive many many knock-off recordings i do before i got sleep, I had been keeping these for over a year. Then i distilled it to 10 or so strong pieces which i would edit and compose/finish, assembling the pieces in an album format. So that the entire time I was thinking of the compositions in terms of their final resting place on CD/Vinyl. This assured fluidity dissonance/melody etc. And i worked in this fraud-tropical element by archiving and processing short wave recordings i did of nautical SSB stations, latino SW stations.

How did you work on "Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again" ? I think there's guitar ? Do you use field recordings ? As everybody said/wrote, it does remind of Fennesz, but it's far more abstract, it's all about nuances. "Evocation" and "colours" seem to be what it's really about ... What do you think ?
The process of finishing Haunt Me was quite elaborate. I worked with pieces I had knocked off quickly. The laborious process was assembling the album much like one assembles a song in a multitrack recorder. 8 stereo channels fading in and out guaranteeing non-linearity. Pieces would be processed then reprocessed so the original became irrelevant. Most of it was originally guitar and field recordings from me, with a few slices of the counterfeit.

"My Love Is Rotten To The Core" is basically a performance for Volt-AA. What was the concept of this series of performance. Why did you chose to pay an homage to Van Halen and David Lee Roth ? Can it be seen as a mock performance in answer to Fennesz 's reinterpretations of the Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys ? But your scope seems to be wider... since you also focus on the rock peformance clichés and star system hypocrisy by reshaping them in "Sammy Loves Eddy Hates David", though i think i miss a few clues ... can you help me ?
I have little way of explaining it. It was indeed a piece made for Mr. Mattson's Volt-AA soiree's, based upon the theme of 'appropriation'. So that winter i was listening to a lot of Van halen. It started from there. I was thinking of making 20 min wall of sound based on E.Van Halen's Eruption, but it grew wider. I was just enjoying the cock rock attitude at that point, and enjoying the sage wisdom of David Lee Roth. He's truly the sad clown. You should read his autobiography, "Crazy From the Heat", he is the yoda of glam rock! It was in no way an answer or based on anything Fennesz has done. I find our approaches with the two projects completely different. From what I know of Fennesz's "plays" EP, it was more of a nostalgic nod to the past, a wonderful work indeed. However, I was more interested in the melancholic/tragic aspect of the band, Eddie's drinking, Sammy Hagar and D.L.Roth both sad after being kicked out by Eddie, the corporate cock-rock empire as manifested by Howard Stern.

Do you have an idea of your performance for the I.D.E.A.L festival in next march 2003 in Nantes ?
More Metal!

What are your next musical projects ?

I am finishing up this Fly Pan Am projects, working on a new solo album for Alien 8, have a duo with Oren Ambarchi at this year's Festival de Musique Actuelle a Victoriaville, Quebec, and a few other secret projects!

Which form will take the collaboration with Fly Pan Am ?
Its hard to say....perhaps prog rock??!! Im not sure are we're mid-stream right now. All that i know is that we have maybe 10+ hours of material which needs to be hacked down.

(Christophe Taupin)
Interview réalisée en février 2003 par e-mail.

Discographie sélective
Jetone Ultramarin (Force Inc.)
Tim Hecker Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again (Alien 8/Substractif)
Tim Hecker My Love Is Rotten To The Core (Alien 8/Substractif)
Tim Hecker Radio Amor (Mille Plateaux)