Continuo a pubblicare le interviste fatte anni fa ai musicisti che venivano a suonare al Btomic. Z’ev (pseudonimo di Stefan Joel Weisser) è stato un poeta e musicista statunitense che purtroppo è morto nel 2017. Questa intervista è del 2013, credo sia la prima che ho fatto.
So, how did you like the evening? Did you enjoy it? What about the energy here?
It’s a great place. Wonderful people, excellent food… where I live we did the same thing with the walls, they took the paper down, saw the different color plasters and left it, so where I live and here has the same taste. I felt just like being at home. I liked how it all came together into an experience, I think the majority of the people were “there”. It was a very good concentrated audience.
You have a very broad experience in art, you have done some translation work too… how do you relate to the word in your work? Can you explain your interest for Hebrew texts?
I relate to the sounds more as a manner of speaking than as a manner of playing “music”. The rhythm comes from a kind of language. When I was doing the early stuff in the Seventies, a very complex sound with a lot of moving the metals around, I was listening to them speak, shaping the sound as though it was language.
For fifty years I haven’t had anything to do with Judaism, but the people who lived in what should be called Palestine borrowed a lot from various cultures. What’s called Hebrew now was the esoteric alphabet of Samarians. The letters are a hieroglyphic system and if you get information in this form, it doesn’t shift its meaning. It’s all in the glyph, especially the more pictorial ones, the Mayan, Egyptian. They animate: you meditate on a glyph of Ra or Osyris and it will come alive.
Do you practice some form of meditation?
I just did forty minutes of meditation on stage. Presently I’ve got some health issues and I’ve been doing a lot of healing meditation, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done a serious meditational practice. I just try to be aware always, to stay open to what’s going on. I’ll give you a very mundane example: I was in Sardinia with some friends, walking through a car park, and I picked up a couple of things off the ground, little bits, one piece of rubber. And I had this instrument and a bit I picked up was exactly what it needed, just the right size to slip over the wood and against the mallet head… It’s all a matter of being, standing inside your shoes when you’re walking, being aware of what’s going on, of who you are, why you are, though maybe not too much: the why is a tough one.
You have a physical relationship with your instruments, you build your own…
I don’t make them from scratch, I go with something that’s already there, and I like that they have a certain history: they’ve been around, they picked up energy here and there and they have a story to tell… there’s one instrument I have, a rectangular box, I got it on the river Thames in London. They used to have garbage skips and driftwood would go into them and stuff people would throw… Stuff retains energy. I’m animistic, I think everything has its level of awareness. It doesn’t mean that the energy in a glass is the same as the energy in a human. It is energy though, energetically related to everything else. All wood is related, all metal’s related, all glass, everything has its place and awareness… Rupert Sheldrake says it forms genetic fields. Western religion has this ultimate sense of what is absolutely good or bad, but nothing is absolute, everything’s relative: what’s good for me may be bad for you. It goes past this planet to other planets and across space to other galaxies.
You seem to have studied all kinds of music, all over the world. You’re living in Europe again, now?
I lived in Amsterdam for ten years; that’s one of the great cities for world music. They have the Tropical Museum and this church, the Mozes en Aäronkerk, where every week, back in the ’80s when African music caught fire, I saw Fela, Franco, Yussou, Salif Keita… Amsterdam was just fabulous. I saw Korean Pansori, shaman women who played an orchestra of marble. There is very little of what was going on between ’83 and ’93 in music I haven’t seen. Now Franco’s dead, Fela’s dead, but there are some great musicians from Cameroon. Best bass players in the world.
Now I work in Europe, and in between travels I’m in that weird fucked up island, Not-so-great Britain. It’s not as bad as it was in the ’80s, when you went in and you would hear the fucking jail door click, during Thatcher’s time. Now it’s back to that with those fucking morons who have the nerve to say “we’re all thatcherites”… all they do is lie. In the UK a lot of people in my generation are depressed. They saw national health come in and saw the difference it made in the amount of kids who stopped fucking dying… They’re supposed to have this referendum and if Scotland ever actually leaves, Labour will never win an election in what will then be England. The only reason they can, at times, is because of Scottish votes…
I don’t think there are any Tories in Scotland. They kill them at birth. The best thing about Thatcher was said by a Scottish comedian. When he heard they were spending 3 million pounds on the funeral he said, give that money to Scotland, we’ll buy everybody a shovel and I guarantee you we’ll dig a hole so deep that we’ll personally deliver her to Satan. And it will be the first time that the 21-gun salute is shot into the ground.