Interview: Donald Bousted


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Donald Bousted

  • artist biography
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    Interview: 10 questions

    1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?

    I started inventing musical stories when I was about 8. I started learning an instrument (the guitar) aged 14. I wanted to try to work out why I felt like a different person when I listened to King Crimson or Emerson Lake and Palmer. Writing music keeps me on the rails: I don’t need motivation to do it, I just do it.

    2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.

    I live in a pleasant and quiet area of London and spend most of my days in front of my computer in the smallest room in the house (yes, even the bathroom’s bigger). My musical education went on for quite a while but I did eventually complete my PhD in musical composition.
    3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music
    nowadays?
    I am a professional musician but I am also an artist and film maker. Increasingly, I see music as one mode of expression in a mixed media context.

    4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?

    I have a range of techniques that I have used and developed over the years but, as far as possible, I try to consider each project afresh and apply or invent techniques to fulfill any particular concept. Some things I think long and hard about but I also try to write quickly, so I’m forced to live dangerously and use my intuition.

    5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?

    I have written for most orchestral instruments in various groupings but I have also had the great privilege of working closely with particular musicians on a project basis. I’ve written widely for the recorder which I still think is a hugely undervalued instrument and, recently, I have worked with trumpeter Stephen Altoft to develop pedagogical resources (and a large body of concert music) for a microtonal trumpet, an instrument that Stephen has helped develop. I also write electro acoustic music, both high and low tech. I’ve made quite a few pieces using NXT exciters and cardboard speakers and, as a Mac user, use all the usual sequencers and processors.

    6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general and you personally?

    I cannot imagine life without a computer now, even though I’ve only been using one for 15 years and only owned one for 10. The experience of music production on the computer just gets better and better.

    7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?

    Thanks to the computer, production is no problem. Finance is another story.

    8. Do you work individually as a musician/soundartist or in a group or collaborative?
    If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

    I like collaborating and have done so quite a bit. It can be great and is usually educational. It can also be difficult mainly, I think, because few artists are robust enough to find collaboration positive and it can too easily become threatening. I prefer a mixture of the two.

    9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?

    I’m particularly fond of the American mavericks and those, especially, who have pioneered microtonality. The music of Harry Partch is uneven in quality but at its best is sublime.

    10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?

    I plan just to try to keep going, it’s a one step at a time approach. One day I might retire to France and do the same thing, but less of it, and eat pain au chocolate every morning.

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