INTERVIEW WITH I-SOUND / CRAIG WILLINGHAM
1. Could you give me a bit of background information on yourself - how you began your DJing activities, and what your early influences were as you began to produce your own music?
I was born and raised in central Florida and have lived there all but the last 5 1/2 years of my life of which I have lived here in New York City. My background in regards to any kind of underground stems from my early teens when I was listening to a lot of US hardcore and skate punk groups. From there I criss-crossed through various strains of leftfield cross-referencing artists I liked with their influences a pattern that has stayed with me as I've transitioned in the last few years from a listener to an artist. I don't really have any traditional musical training and really didn't do any proper productions or DJing until the last few years.
2. How has your approach to DJing evolved through the years? I read an interview with To Rococo Rot where they describe what you were doing that impressed them most when they first saw you - "a vision of sound... intense and harsh" - What do you think of that description?
I think that my DJing has been refined over the years but the general concept is still the same, a kind of "free improv experimental approach meets formal club DJ aesthetics" sort of thing. I think the articulation of my desire in a DJ environment is a process of constantly discarding styles or creative devices that either become dated or cease to work after a given time frame be it five minutes or five years. As far the description by TRR I think for the set at that time it was a fair description and quite flattering actually.
3. Could you talk about the working process for the "Roots and Wires" CD with Koch, Schutz and Studer? How did it differ (if at all) from your work with To Rococo Rot on "Music is a Hungry Ghost"? What are your thoughts on how the finished CD ("Roots and Wires") turned out?
The Roots And Wires recording was more of a typical improv type setting. Most of the album is built around a series of duos, trios, and group improvisations, some with pre-established themes and others built in the process. The center of that project was the idea of the K.S.S. trio engaging in a dialogue with DJ/electronic dance culture and vice versa, which must be said is a very difficult thing to do well. The process with TRR was leaning more toward a pop/techno/ambient music template with clear song and themes for the most part. Both experiences hold elements of one another and share certain creative devices. Ultimately I am proud of the Roots And Wires disc although it has its short comings and we are a much better group now. For better or worse it as a fair document of mine and that group's development.
4. Could you talk about Soundlab and how you came to participate in their live events? Do you share the 'cultural alchemy' view on music that Soundlab creators have spoken of?
I played at this kind of a bedroom DJ scene night called Abstrakt when I first moved to NY. Howard Goldkrand who is one of Soundlab's founders was there and liked what I did and on the strength of that he asked me to play some opening slots on a few events over the next few years and that's how the association started with them started. In regards to my opinion of Cultural Alchemy I have a healthy respect for Howard and his Partner Beth and what they have done both with their events and philosophical approach, they are great people.
5. You played a "Roots Rock Ravers" party in NYC on December 1 2001 with DJ Scud and others - was this a (belated) release party for the Transparent 12"? If, not, was the "Roots Rock Ravers" title a theme perhaps? How did the show go?
It was just the theme of the party. Toby (Scud) and I have a new live project and the event was a device to premier the group which we have gone on to call RRR. The party was dope, it went off.
6. Could you give me an update on your current activities as far as DJing and recording are concerned? Upcoming gigs and upcoming releases? You mentioned you and DJ scud have a new live project.
I haven't been really DJing that much in the last year, more focusing on live stuff. I'll always have DJing in my tools of expression but on a much more equal basis with live performance and studio production. Upcoming shows are all various European dates in the summer both solo and with my different collaborators. On the release tip there will be an album by the new project with me and Toby, along with a solo EP and LP all for Transparent along with lots of compilations all in the near future. The project with Toby and myself will also do a tour of Eastern Europe in the fall once the album is released (we haven't come up with a name for the project yet). The work is pretty different than any work that we have done together. I'll be curious to see what people make of it. Half of the record we recorded here in NY and the other half will be in London.
7. What about Full Watts?
Full Watts is on hold until the right material comes along.
8. Finally, what are you listening to right now? What new music is impressing you the most?
As far as new music goes most of the stuff on Def Jux is what I'm feeling the most right now. I find it pretty compelling and just plain old bumping. Most anything produced by Masters At Work, Blaze Timbaland, Neptunes, Rufus Wainright (mostly but not all) and Jim O'Rourke also moves me. Other than that just lots of old soul and folk as well as music by my friends.