Keith Fullerton Whitman interview for 06:00am

How are you like when you write music?

Motivated ; usually in a positive state of mind. 

What is normality? What does it mean "being normal"?

There is no one "normal" ; there's a series of status quo's that vary from community to community, region to region. For me, "normal" often has negative connotations ; perhaps an acceptance of certain aspects of the futility of life & an unwillingness to seek out contrasting viewpoints.

Can music save the world?

No, but it can give us occasionally give us pause, put things into perspective … provide an insight as to why we're human. 

Do you have order and program or a kind of discipline in your life? Is this due to your mother or your father?

I don't ; I've structured my life to avoid any/all routines as they make me crazy. I do have a discipline, in that I'm striving for a constant balance of helping others vs. working on my own projects … 50/50. Both my mother & father had/have excellent work ethics. They were very dedicated to their careers. Maybe I'm less so, approaching life in a more experiential way … but then again I have multiple careers & little time.

What is it that makes you constantly create?

That's a great question that every artist should confront at some point in their creative lives. I've yet to to so. I have an inkling though. 

What time do you usually wake up in the morning?


Do you like to live well, with lots of comforts? 

I like to live well, WITHOUT comforts. I live in a modest apartment in a modest neighborhood. I'm trying to avoid complacency, keep on hand the basics for contemporary living. 

What do you like the most when you stay at a good hotel?

The quiet. Sleeping diagonal on the bed. Watching television in bed (which I never do at home) … I love going to the bars in hotels as well. Taking the elevator down to the bar. Having a drink, maybe a conversation with a stranger or the bartender. Then back up to the room for sleep without going outside. I love the little towels and the little soaps. That said, I really don't enjoy staying in hotels very much ; I'd much rather stay with friends on a couch in an apartment with others. I spend too much time alone at home.

Do you think that you can critique negatively the work of your friends?

I feel that my good friends who are creative types tend to come to me for critique, knowing that I have their best interests in mind. I always feel sad when I give someone advice or critique that goes against what it is that keeps them positive & motivated. Sometimes the opinions & advice of others goes so far in the other direction from your own that it shuts you down. I'm going for a middle ground between what someone needs to hear to keep them motivated … and what they need to hear to go deeper into their chosen line of exploration. 

Do you think you can gain something from receiving negative criticism?

Yes, absolutely … you gain a sense of how others perceive what it is you do ; whether or not you choose to act on this information will define you as an artist. Personally, I love criticism of my own work … I crave it. My kryptonite are the various "oh … it's really great" … or "it's … interesting" comments I receive when people are less invested / interested in what I'm going for ; when they're trying to be nice, polite. 

When do you believe that music took a central position in your life?

When I was younger, much younger … the act of listening first, then the act of creating a few years later. I've been drawn to both the social and communicative aspects of music for as long as I have memories. 

Titles. How do they come up?

Through exploration, research. But often just through the aesthetics of words stripped from their context and/or meaning. I'll keep the shape of a word, or series of words in my head for months, then decide how it fits into something I'm doing.

Do you have the tendency to work many hours without a break?

Yes, absolutely. Often I'll work for an unbroken 12-hour stretch. Yesterday, I worked for 8 straight hours on an LP design. I knew that if I stopped, my ability to restart wouldn't be there. Coffee is a great way to silence the voices of doubt, to keep me motivated. 

Which record of yours do you love the most?

The one I'm currently working on, at any time … and maybe the one that's just come out. Then I'm immediately the most excited about the next one. 

Are you a man of action or a man of philosophy and thought?

I'm both, in equal measures. 

What does your family say really about your music?

My family has always been extremely supportive about my pursuits. They were integral in my ability to attend music school. They've always been there for me. That said, I think they secretly wish I was making pop music, or producing something of a more widespread popularity and/or social merit. 

Are you strict/hard on yourself?

Maybe a little too much. Sometimes not enough. 

Why do you make music?

I've thought about it a bunch since you asked earlier, and I have an answer now. I create music because I'm afraid of what will happen when I stop. I also create music because I derive a great physiological and spiritual thrill from it, from the possibilities of change within music and the social aspects of inspiration and communication from within it. I'm also constantly asked to make music and/or talk about music with people, which helps me stay ambitious. I'm constantly seeking new ideas & methods to work with ; there's an inexhaustible supply of new ways to think about music. If i get to even 10% of them during my life, I'll have accomplished something.

From the many ideas that might be there in your mind, with what criteria do you pick the one the you will finally realize?

I pick the ideas that have the least chance of success … the ideas that appear to be working against the grain of popular thought and/or approach. The ones that are the most interesting to me. The most unique. But also the ones that are feasible from a technical & an energy-oriented perspective. 

Why did you start Creel Pone?

Pieter Christophssen started Creel Pone in 2005, with everyone living at the Reckankomplex at the time. I chose some of the first records myself from my own collection & everyone helped with the assembly & whatnot. There was a need to augment the printed & oral history of electronic music with the composers & executors whose methods were more vanguard, whose popularity was less pronounced … whose students were low in number, who weren't teaching or working at monied academic institutions with wings named after them. An alternate history based on sound & chronology, based on ideas rather than influence.

Which is your favorite record released from Creel Pone?

I have about 40 favorites, all coming from different backgrounds and angles. There are maybe 40 that I think aren't very good, but tell a great story about an unusual approach or series of events that was ignored until recently. Maybe 40 more that, despite already being part of the "canon" and/or extremely relevant to contemporary music are commercially unavailable

Can you send us a picture that best illustrates your current state of mind to post along with your answers?

See attached … It's a mandala on the ceiling of my apartment ; over my head as I type this morning (although the photo is older) … I'm entranced by it.

Thank you very much.

thank YOU … -keith 

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