Ex-V/Vm prankster James Leyland Kirby made an ambitious triple compact disc album with the brilliant title ĎSadly, the future is no longer what it wasí. Itís a concept album about how our initial euphoric optimism about the world wide web eventually turned us all into isolated voyeurs.
The title is very ambiguous. I think it mainly refers to the lack of spirit anymore for everything. There were times in the past when we all collectively seemed to have so much to look forward too, we were sold dreams via the media, the same media which now tells us we have nothing to look forward to and leaves most people living in fear. Itís about that lack of optimism and the fact that we seem to go backwards when in actual fact itís a great time for many things. Itís about time we retook control of our future instead of having it mapped out for us. The title is also personal in many ways.
At the start of recording my own future was not what it had to be and I had to adapt to that situation. Itís also more personal in the sense of its creation as itís not based on any samples or reworking of existing audio. The Caretaker work for example always feels a little dislocated whereas the new work was created from nothing, so all of the piano playing, the melodies and sounds I worked on myself to create how I was feeling. Itís really an audio scrapbook of one calendar year from September 2008 to September 2009.
Itís the first time in all of the years that finally I am at a position so that whereby if I have an idea musically I could reproduce that idea in sound, technology wise now itís never been better to be able to make music which we can connect to ourselves with, and yet many people out there seem to be focussing more on the technology they are using trying to outdo people with little tricks which when used usually sees the music actually get worse. I think this is where electronic based music seems to have lost its way right now, too many tools being used by too many fools who are following all the rules.
A lot of people have been telling me that this music provides them with an emotional response, that is great, the intention was to create a body of work this time around, something which should stand the test of time that doesnít rely on the sound of now, but relies on many things. There for sure is a hint of loss and sadness, but I feel through this there is still an optimism in there that things will work out in the end. A trust in life to sort itself through entropy. I just made a video which documents in a basic way that year, I will show it in England and it will be available to stream online soon, it uses the track ĎSadly, the future is no longer what it wasí from the release.
I think I am a realist, things arenít working right now in society for many different reasons. Iím not a political man but I can see politics donít work, people on the whole seem lost, tired and bored. Music has gone the same way, maybe itís the overwhelming choice out there, but there seems to be no focus now from both people making things and also to those who wish to consume what is made. Current music seems devoid of ideas and of quality as it has become easier to make things so more make less and less music which is of any value. I am sure in the past I have been guilty of this too, but now itís a good time to take more time and focus totally on the work coming out and take a little more time and care.
Ambient sadly was ruined in the 90ís with those awful chill out series of releases and Cafť Del Mar style CDs. What I have done with the new work will be seen by many as being ambient as it has taken many ambient reference points from the past using them with new technology. There are some interesting things happening in this field right now, the amazing work of William Basinski, the work on Ghostbox and Mordant Music, itís great for me to be mentioned alongside their work and also to work in such an uncool field of music these days. Ambient is kind of dead but something new is happening again.
I can work very fast and very slow, itís nice not to have the pressure of making something everyday, although I would like to have more time right now to make music. Day to day living and surviving gets in the way. Plus when you do more or less everything yourself, like mail order, contacting people who have mailed, promotion, distribution, itís all consuming. Sometimes I wish I could just make the music and let somebody else deal with everything else as it would be so much easier, but it was never going to be easy for me anyway. I do the best that I can do with the one pair of hands I have.
Oh believe me in Berlin I still party hard, I just spent a week at the Incubate festival in Tilburg and it was one long party there. I think it was just time to switch the program for myself and show people that despite all the hack ups and destructive music I used to make it was always possible to make something of sadness and beauty. Itís nice also to prove some people wrong who constantly said over the years that all I have done is detune a pop song, that period when I was doing that it was important to use new tools and push copyright laws. Now everybody is doing that, itís totally normal and accepted as a style. I was watching that documentary ĎRIP-A remix manifestoí, I mean V/Vm was the ultimate in Ripping It in the late 90ís, nobody ripped more. Of course on the film there is no mention, most of the main people on there were influenced by V/Vm but itís kind of been erased as they still trade on that style which is kind of tired now but more popular.
Yeah itís all been run by myself since 1999, itís the future way of working where you control everything, old models are out dated now you just need to be able to adapt and move fast. I have been on the outside of everything for a while now but prefer it that way.
Itís great New Beat is coming back over there, I remember it first time around, going out in Stockport and Manchester and hearing this dark music. Itís strange, when I did the New Beat pages it had almost been erased online, itís the forgotten music. It influenced so many people in Britain that style to make music of their own.
I never got to Belgium at the time as I was too young, but in Ď89-Ď90 there were some great parties with that music and it was so new, totally underground. Manchester totally responded to the style and even released some of the music, Rhythm Deviceís ĎAcid rockí for example was released by Eastern Bloc and was one of the biggest tunes back in the day. Great energy and good times in the clubs back then.
I did make it to Destelbergen when I was making the New Beat audio, it was a cold winterís night and I went with an ex-girlfriend and we got super drunk on Duvel in the only open bar much to the amusement of the locals. Itís a super quiet place now, but an important one in the evolution of electronic music.
I had to get out of England as itís just not good over there these days, itís a real depressing grind. An opportunity arose to move to Berlin so I took it. A lot of people move here, itís a very transient city which brings its own problems. I guess it has the advantage of the big city but you still donít feel like youíre in a city. Itís relaxed here compared with England so it makes sense to be here now though itís not an ultimate destination. Iím eager not to return to England but will have to see where and when I will go somewhere else. Iím settled here for now, but things can change quickly.
Yeah, the old V/Vm shows could often descend into chaos, the one in Tienen was a classic, I ended up rolling down a flight of stairs and dislocating my kneecap. I went to hospital after in LiŤge, my friend who played me also sliced his hand open, so we were in casualty till 4am and flew back at 6am. They had to carry me off the plane in Berlin, three shows only on that trip, and I couldnít leave my third floor flat for three months after... No wonder I donít do many of those shows these days.
I try not to have any fears musically. For years people and musicians laughed at me when I was giving audio away, from back in 1996, online. Now they all do it. They also laughed at the work I did abusing copyright for a long time and then in the end they all dabbled in that too. Now with ambient I guess itís uncool but it will come around again. For me I just go where I find some energy where music and life are concerned. I was lucky to grow up when I did through some amazing musical times, if I was 10 years younger I would have missed out on so much innovation.
No but maybe I should contact her when I next visit Britain.
-- Joeri Bruyninckx (21 October, 2009)