After the collaboration with Aaron Martin and 2018’s As Much As It Is Worth, Rotterdam-based musician, composer and sound artist Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek released a new solo album. With Voices is out now via Western Vinyl. It features Peter Broderick, Marissa Nadler, Richard Youngs, Chantal Acda, Terence Hannum (of Locrian) and others. We had a talk with him about his new albums, live shows and experimentation in music. Check our interview after the full streaming.
You recently released your new solo album “With Voices”. An “unusual” work compared to your previous works because of the use of vocals. How it was born?
The idea for the album was sparked by dancer Wei-Yun Chen, when we were bothin Taipei to work on a dance piece. ore specific; the idea was sparked by a video that Wei-Yun posted on her Instagram. It was a song that she was singing, and I had no idea she had such a nice singing voice. So that got me thinking – I wanted to work with her (voice) some how. And I reminded myself that Marianne Oldenburg (also on the album) once told me she’d like to do collaborate. Then I decided that it would be nice to work with vocals in the way I normally work swith instrumentalists; to have them improvise, after which I take these improvisations as starting material of new pieces. And so it happened.
How Did you choose vocals features and in which way you built the full album?
Some of the vocalists I was already friends with, so these were logical choices. But with each vocalist, the most important thing was that they would be comfortable with improvising, which is not self-evident with vocalists. Also, I wanted the singers to be divers; some are singer-songwriters, others come from the jazz world or have connections with heavy music.
Each of the singers received the same 35-minute soundscape I had made, as a base to improvise on. I was curious how different poeple would react on the same sounds, and how this would create a thread throughout the album.
The vocal improvisations then used as building material to create the pieces for the album. The voices were really the main instrument, and the individual contributions very much dictated the shape of each track. I added electronics to it as well, but these are following the voices, not the other way around.
You also released a collaborative album with Michel Banabila (via Eilean Records). What about the creative process of this album?
It’s the fifth album I released with Michel (Banabila). It’s always really nice to collaborate with him, because we both work super fast, and these albums are created in two or three weeks, really quickly, in a burst of energy. And each of them is different. The previous one, ‘Macrocosms’, is relatively polished, and very rhythmical. For ‘Entropia’, the new one, we did the opposite: it’s very raw, noisy and abstract. I don’t think it was a concious decision when we started with it, but it just happened.
Experimentation seems to be the the common thread of your releases. What is your way to give new shape to the sound and what is your idea of experimentation in art?
I can only speak for myself; but for me, experimentation means trying to surpsise myself, and thereby being inspired. I’m not interested in repeating myself; for me, trying new things is way more interesting than establishing a signature sound (and I think since it all comes from the same hands/mind, my signature is there anyway). Also, I do think (or at least hope) that people that apreciate my music are open-minded. I mean; I don’t need to be crowd-pleasing, but rather be a bit challenging.
You are from Rotterdam. I have interest to know more about the relationship between artists and their places and how they affected their art. What about your connection with your birthplace, music and local scene?
I live in Rotterdam, but was born in Apeldoorn, and studied in Arnhem. I’m very much convinced that wherever you live, whatever you do, influences what you make, but at the same time I feel I could make music anywhere. I don’t really feel like a ‘Rotterdam musician’. It might sound wishy washy, but I sort of see my music as a place in itself – something self-contained.
There will be new releases in 2019? If yes, can you tell us something about it?
There sure are plans, but most of ‘em aren’t very concrete yet, so I can’t tell too much… There’s an older album that will be re-issued on vinyl for the first time, possibly a soundtrack album, and surely loads more… The year is still young…
Are you planning live dates? What kind of places do you like more for your live sets and what do you like most of the live part compared to studio recordings?
There are not many live dates planned at the moment, only my live soundtrack performances with the dance piece BECOMING, by choreographer Iván Pérez, in Heidelberg, Germany. Nothing else as of yet, but I’m sure there’ll be some more gigs.
My favorite places to perform live are small theaters and gallery spaces. First of all I love to be on the same level as the audience, not on a stage. And I like to perform in front of the PA, so I’m in the same ‘sound buble’ as the audience. And to have the audience close, that’s also nice. The better the sound system, the more freedom I feel. Which is important, since I’m always improvising. That’s the part I like about it most – I start ‘building’ the sound from nothing, and the audience it witnessing every (mis)step of the process. It’s a hit and miss thing, but that’s cool. I think this way of performing is way more interesting for me than performing existing pieces.
What are the best releases you recently appreciated?
I buy way way way to many records, so it’s actually a more difficult question than it should be… But a few that come to mind: Black to Comm’s ‘Seven Horses For Seven Kings’ (such a bold, strong record, very unique), Sharon van Etten’s ‘Remind Me Tommorrow’ (something completely different – a super self-assured pop album) and ‘Spectric Acid’ by Jan St. Werner (from Mouse on Mars, quite extreme drum manipulations).