JARBOE: I’m really curious: What music were you listening to as a teenager?
BRIAN WILLIAMS: I could lie and say that I was listening to all those bands who were latter considered “cool”, such as The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls and Iggy Pop etc. But in my early teens (13-14) I was listening to people like Gary Glitter (the first album), early Slade, Alice Cooper, T. Rex, normal stuff, nothing exceptional. Latter (15-16) I was listening to early Hawkwind (!) , Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and trying to pick up on other interesting sounds coming out of Germany at the time. In school I was surrounded by friends who listened to crap like Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis and ELP (shudder) then punk happened, which really was a breath of fresh air.
These days, it’s pretty much as it was before punk came along, and for a long time I’ve considered “rock” as being dead, it’s just that sales of back catalog on CD by the dinosaurs created the illusion of it being still alive. But then, I never did like “rock”, and find it pretty much irrelevant from the late 50’s..
JARBOE: How did you keep focused and productive through your early lean years in London?
B: London was easy, apart from the usual distractions of living in a major city. Earlier, living in Wales was harder, but then, there was always the train…
JARBOE: Has that famed character building hardship/struggle affected your views/artistry?
B: I’m very aware of where I’m from (working class background), and yes that certainly does build “character” ! I feel it’s important to have a healthy sense of humor, and to view life with a touch of cynicism.
JARBOE: How do you view yourself: soundshaper, musician, artist…none of the above?
B: I don’t think of myself along those terms, I’d rather like to be thought of as a reliable friend to those that matter, far more important than any of the above.
JARBOE: What techniques do you utilize to keep your hearing fresh?
B: In the literal sense, ear plugs whenever I go to clubs or gigs. In the abstract, it’s all part of the ongoing process. No specific approach, I’ve never lost the excitement of discovering new sounds, be they in music by others, good sound design in movies, in life or in my own work, and I don’t think I ever will.
JARBOE: What do you do to avoid burnout in shaping, creating sounds and textures?
B: I don’t do anything other than make time to hang out with friends. Getting drunk and falling over can be a important activity after spending too much time in the studio.
JARBOE: Is there a point in the day when you are working on a project when you must have silence of listen to something completely different – like a gently babbling brook or bluegrass- to refresh your ears?
Though after a few days I can get a touch of cabin fever and need to get out and browse a bookstore or two.
JARBOE: Can you turn off your critical ear when you hear music or do you analyze how the sound was made, etc.?
B: I turn off, I have a few friends who can’t listen to anything without analyzing, and in doing so, they’ve lost the enjoyment, for the actual music. I prefer not to be that way. The music comes first, the sound making process is only there to deliver the finished result.
JARBOE: Does technology direct/determine your compositions or do you attempt to create something first heard in your head (whilst in the shower for example?)
B: The technology I have available these days is a very useful tool, but it is only a tool, so far, everything I’ve done is an attempt to create a sense of place that only exists in my imagination.
JARBOE: How much of your output is involved with film soundtracks at this point?
B: Zero. After about 37-38 movies I’ve moved on.
JARBOE: Did you consider this work challenging or did it ever become a day job?
B: If you’re referring to film music, very much a day job, but a very challenging one at times!
JARBOE: Are you ever restricted in what you create or are you a library- a bank of sound, which is utilized as a resource? In other words- are you project specific or do you create for a catalogue of potential sounds?
B: For my own projects, the sounds are created specifically for that project, for the movie work, it was a mixture of both.
JARBOE: With what software programs and /or other technology and hardware- are you most excited now?
B: Apple’s G4 (the revised Sawtooth version), for the first time there’s a computer available that has the power and potential to fulfill hopes we had years ago of “one day a computer powerful enough to…” I’m also looking forward to the Playsation 2.
JARBOE: With technology such that anyone who can access it now being able to record, mix, master, and burn their own c.d.âs at home- how is this affecting the future of recorded music?
B: Obviously, it’s affecting it in many ways, and doing so now, but the main point is that it is now just too many releases for anyone to keep up with. This is a good and a bad thing, coming from the punk perspective, it’s good thing that anybody can do it, but unfortunately, it now means that there is even more shit out there than there used to be. Just about anybody can record and release an album, all you need is the equipment. But what you need for a good album is ideas not technology.
When samplers became affordable, there was an onslaught of bad sample based music, but at the same time it’s accessibility was directly responsible for other, more exciting music developments, from rap to techno, so there are benefits, it’s just a shame that we’ll have to wade through so much more shit to find the gems.
(Michael Gira used to say :”Give a monkey a sampler….” about all that bad sample based stuff years ago..-Jarboe)
JARBOE: What are 3 things in life you embrace as truths?
B: Interesting question, as I’m not so sure on the validity of any given truth. It’s a question of perceptive, and any given truth seems to change over a period of time, based on new found knowledge. There are things that I believe in, but I’m afraid they’re just as flawed as any others.
JARBOE: What inspires you?
B: I have no idea.