Mark Van Hoen interview for 06:00am

What was the event or the series of events that led you towards music making?
To me there are really fundamentally two reasons to make music; the hope for 'fame' or adoration, and the desire to express oneself, and communicate emotion and feeling. When a person begins to make music (or any art), it can be motivated by either, but almost always a combination of the two. Even the author of the most profound music ultimately wants to be recognised, and have some kind of 'fame'. Let's take an example, Arvo Part..it strikes me that his music is untrivial and profound, yet he himself is visible, and it seems that he is happy to take recognition or praise for his work and talents. I'd say he's a 98%. Then there's Justin Beieber, who is obviously vastly more motivated by fame, but he must also have a belief that he's doing something artistically worthwhile. He's probably a 5%. So that's my yardstick for the value of a musical artist/composer. By the way, I can believe that someone is a 99% and still not like their music...that's a different issue. I can also enjoy a 10%...say The Beatles for example, I would say when they started out, they were much more into fame than artistic statement, but it's still great music.
So, my reasons for making music were really the same as anyone else's, that I was swept away in what I heard from others, and felt motivated to make music myself. I would say that I was a 50% when I was a teenager, but that has become more like a 90% now, as the idea of recognition becomes less important. The basic principle is the same though. I want to create a sonic and compositional 'world' that is uniquely mine, and hope that as many people empathise as possible.

Which is your favorite synthesizer?
Despite all of the Analog Synths I have owned and do own, ironically I would have to say the Kurzweil K2000. I am particularly proud of an album I made in 1994 called 'Truth Is Born Of Arguments', and really the sound of that record is down to the K2000 and the GRM Tools plug-ins, which were new at the time. I regret upgrading my recording system, actually (or at least not keeping the old one) as it seemed that first release of GRM had such a unique sound, that I would love to have available to me now. Coming back to the K2000, it was (and still is) an instrument of deep possibilities, that in some ways has still not been matched, even with software synthesizers. I paid something like $5000 for mine in 1994, and later sold it. About 2 years ago, I decided to get one again as it would be a useful tool for live work, and found a second hand model that was even higher spec than the one I had owned for $200!!

Do you remember the first sampling record you ever heard?
The record I first heard that used a sampler was probably 'Shock The Monkey' by Peter Gabriel; I think he was probably one of the few people that could even afford a Fairlight CMI in the early days! That was not really the use of the sampler that most people think of though, which I think is sampling existing music and sounds. My first real exposure to that was via a radio station I worked at in the 80's, which used to syndicate a show by London DJ Mike Allen, 'The Capital Rap' show, and through that I heard more creative use of the sampler in early hip-hop. http://thekoolskool.blogspot.com/2012/02/mike-allen-capital-rap-show.html

Do you think that your music is sexy?
Sometimes people tell me it's Sexy, but I consider it to be mainly sexist.

Which is one of your favorite films and why?
'Solaris' by Tarkovsky is certainly in my top 10. It just has everything, great soundtrack, every shot looks like a work of art. It deals with all the existentialist stuff that is always on my mind, and in a great sci-fi context brilliantly written by the great writer Stanislaw Lem..and it's also go dwarfs. My wife says I'm predictable for choosing this film as a favorite, what I say to that is 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'

Which is your favorite Sofia Coppola's film (if there is one) and why?
I have only seen 'Lost In Translation' which I thought had a great look to it (especially the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which I was lucky enough to be able to stay at...looks exactly like it did in the film!). Otherwise, I found the film a bit empty and flat, so I have never really taken the time to check out anything else by her, but maybe I should.

Tell us about your new album
I'll be making something more beat orientated, and also returning to vocals, a new direction I started on my 2010 album 'Where Is The Truth'. I am very much encouraged by the sales and response to 'The Revenant Diary', as I was with 'Where Is The Truth' so I am now determined to make this decade as prolific as I was in the 90's. I also feel I have opened up a new area creatively for me, one that I'm keen to explore.

Which is for you the record of adolescent rebellion?
I would have to say 'Never Mind The Bollocks' by the Sex Pistols. It was released just a few years before I was really 'adolescent' but I witnessed it's effects, and am also aware of the many great bands that were inspired by this album. Despite what he's done for the last 30 years, I think John Lydon has to be recognized for this, and his work with Public Image Limited on their first three records too, equally as revolutionary as The Sex Pistols, but obviously operating in different territory.

What do you consider to be your biggest success?
This is not fake humility, but I really do consider myself to have been successful every time someone (a stranger, with no motivation other than they really mean it) contacts me to say they are moved in some way by my music. That to me is success.

What made you fall in love with New York?
I'm not sure I am in love with it, but really my choices are few. I loved living in London, as I did for 20 years, but to be honest was getting a little bored. I got the chance to move to NYC, and my family and I decided to make the move. It's been great, a really stimulating time for all of us. Being in a different environment, and away from our 'home' country is a very positive thing.

Who inspires you?
I am constantly looking for new music and art, and with the internet it is easier now to discover things that were made a long time ago, as well as new music. My favorite new music in the last year has been Oneohtrix Point Never, but it's also good to hear older music that I had never heard before, particularly a lot of early electronic music that seems to be emerging more and more.

Is there something missing from your life as it is now?
Only really time, I never seem to get the time I need to do all the things artistically that I want to do. This is I suppose an age thing, as you get older, the more complex your life becomes, and that presents greater demands on your time.

What is your definition of pop?
It's pretty literal, i.e. Popular. If music is intended as 'pop' but actually isn't, then it's kind of failed I think. Pop is mostly bad and disposable by definition, but then sometimes things come along that bring a depth and different dimension to people that would not normally witness these things, and that to me is good pop.

How do you see yourself fitting into the Mego legacy?
I would hope to be considered as one of the musicians that adds to and augments the labels legacy, which is so far a great one I think. I am proud to be associated with the label, and I admire the ethos of Peter Rehberg and others involved.

What did your family think of your music?
My wife is blindly supportive, even though she does not always like everything I do. She respects my aesthetic. My son is a little too young to understand my music, but my nine year old daughter seems to have a genuine appreciation, and says some very kind things when she hears my music...I think she's just proud of her dad, though!

What is your opinion about the situation of Europe?

I thinks it's a sad mess, driven by the same greed and lack of foresight that has created the economic problems in the USA. I also think that the EU should not have absorbed the countries that has in the last ten years, and that the past governments of Greece should have taken more responsibility for their own actions a long time ago...and in fact that the rest EU itself should have seen this coming.


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