In a world where imagination is the definite form of creation, and we’re not referring only to art, but everything that surrounds us, the world’s complexity and the like, are nothing but images of ego. It’s a type of world where I am surrounded by my various forms. And here comes Raul Starcz‘s work. Bosses Hang is based on improvisation and it feels almost physically, a feeling beyond normal reasons, beyond preconceived ideas, logic and known senses.
Hello! Music is, more than anything else, a feeling that connects you with the nature and places you in the universe. However, do you consider that the artist, in its time of creation, thinks about this perspective? Can this feeling become a vanity that might be taken advantage of at some point?
Hello! Well, I don’t know what to say about artists in general, but I can tell you how it is in my case. What I am doing since the beginning of the Bosses Hang project, and even more now, on the upcoming albums, is improvisation, so when I create I do not necessarily think about connecting with nature or the universe, it is mostly my subjective vision, my experiences, feelings, anxieties, anger and the everyday life that is shaped into music. Of course, as an artist you should always feel proud about your work, but I believe it is more important to remain humble and down to earth, to remember that you are not allowed to disrespect people and take advantage of them only because you are making art. As a fan, I often like to chat with artists at shows when the occasion arrives, get an autograph or a photo, and most of the people that I’ve met, especially from heavy and experimental music scenes, were really kind people. Being a good human being is paramount without exception, respect each other, respect nature, respect animals and don’t be a fucking asshole.
Music is like the fruit of many experiments. In this case, Bosses Hang is a project of instrumental improvisation and sound experimentation. Can we talk about ‘new’ in these conditions?
I believe that music in general, not only experimental music, cannot be completely new. No matter what instrument are you playing, or what sound source are you using, the sounds and notes are the same for everyone. Even more, every musician has countless influences that can more or less be recognized in the “new” music that is being done.
However, I one hundred percent believe that we can talk about something “new” in these conditions, especially in the case of improvisation, where what you are playing cannot be repeated twice. Even if you can hear let’s say Fushitusha in my music, no matter how hard someone else tries, or even myself, to replicate the exact same thing that I had played, it is impossible, and that is the beauty of improvisation, the always new that you can find every time and that can take by surprise even the improvising player.
There is also this concept of “Détournement”, developed by the Situationist International, which is described as: “[t]he integration of present or past artistic productions into a superior construction of a milieu. In this sense there can be no situationist painting or music, but only a situationist use of those means. In a more elementary sense, détournement within the old cultural spheres is a method of propaganda, a method which reveals the wearing out and loss of importance of those spheres.” With Bosses Hang it is not about creating something completely unheard before, which I believe is impossible, but about taking elements from the past and hijacking them into my own creation while also putting my own subjectivity and soul into it. As you will hear on my future albums, there are some elements that I’ve taken and recontextualized from my first album and there are also some parts which I took from other artists and made them my own.
‘Five Meditations on Melancholy’ is the first material released under the principles of this project, Bosses Hang Collective. How did the collaboration with Hiroshi Hasegawa went? What does such a production actually imply?
I was in the process of writing my first album and had five songs ready and completely composed. At the time, I really wanted to collaborate with a noise artist, so I’ve reached Hiroshi Hasegawa, which is a very respected artist in this genre of music, and I was very happy when he agreed to collaborate. When he sent me the final version of the song, with his noise added over what I have done, that’s when I understood that I have to do a whole album with him. My other songs just felt like they were lacking something essential. So I basically dropped two of the five songs that I’ve written and made two new completely improvised songs instead. After that, H. Hasegawa added his noise and that’s how the final ‘Five Meditations on Melancholy’ came to be. The process was an experiment itself and the album that you can hear sounds nothing like how I imagined it when I first started writing it. This was also the point when I’ve fully embraced the fact that improvisation and collaborations are the right thing for me to do, so my future materials are completely improvised in one way or another, a thing that I find very liberating. Collaboration for me is a great way to interact with the other, clashing your art with the others art in a non-hierarchical way and forcing it to become something new is sometimes better than using words, especially when you think of the language barrier that naturally exists, especially in this case where I cannot speak Japanese and I mostly collaborate with artists from Japan.
You once mentioned that Bosses Hang ‘is a journey, not a destination’. However, we know that every journey has its final goal. How do you imagine your project in its full fulfillment, in total understanding with the world?
I still keep that as a central concept for the Bosses Hang project. What I mean by a journey, not a destination, is that the whole process of creating the music and the whole process of listening to the music are more important than the final product. When you are in there, writing or listening to music, there’s a special thing happening, a journey, something which you cannot exactly put into words, and when you finish this process, there comes the destination. For me, this is secondary and that’s why I’m always writing new music, always developing new ideas and new sounds, always finding new people to collaborate and interact with.
I also believe in the death of the author, as Roland Barthes would put it. I am against attributing a definitive and correct meaning to my work, and what I do is intended to be perceived as a different journey every time it is heared, depending on the subjectivity of the listener taken from a precise point in space and time, a point that if changed, changes the whole journey togheter with it. That being said, of course, I also put my own subectivity into the songs and into what I am doing and the act of putting my subjectivity and throwing it out to the world is important. The infinite ways in which it can be perceived is as important. But the expression of one concrete and definitive idea is something which I don’t believe in and also something which I feel that goes against the nature of improvisation. That being said, everything that I do has an underlying concept or some kind of references thrown in there, but I’d like not to reveal them and let the listener find them (or not).
Slavoj Žižek has this example: “We don’t really want to get what we think that we want. I am married to a wife and relationship with her are cold and I have a mistress. And all the time I dream oh my god if my wife were to disappear – I’m not a murderer but let us say- that it will open up a new life with the mistress. Then, for some reason, the wife goes away, you lose the mistress. You thought this is all I want, when you have it there, you turn out it was a much more complex situation. It was not to live with the mistress, but to keep her as a distance as on object of desire about which you dream. This is not an excessive example, I claim this is how things function. We don’t really want what we think we desire.” The same can be said about my music too, what I really want is the journey, what I think I desire is the destination, and everytime I reach it I want to get back to the journey, or process if you want, as soon as possible.
The journey and the improvisation are for me radical acts which cannot be tamed by any oppresing force when they are completely unleashed. My project in its full fulfillment will be when I will be able – if I will ever be – to achieve the state of total improvisation, unrestrained and free, you could call it anarchic improvisation if you want, something that is liberating for me and for the listener, a so called event that can transcend, not to a higher plane, but to the everyday life. Again, journeys and paths to be discovered, not destinations and ends that can be ever reached, my project is a very small part of the continuous radical and experimental acts that existed throughout the history and that will continue to exist until the end of times.
In the present conditions, some not favorable at all for spiritual development, what role can have the artistic act and creation?
I believe that the artistic act and creation are most powerful in times of crisis, there’s where you can distinguish art from commodity and entertainment. It is a well-known fact that music and art always resonated and helped people who suffer, who are anxious, depressed or who were simply kicked in the face by life and are now lying down on the ground with blood pouring from their mouth. I know this is a pretty strong image, but let’s be honest, that is how it feels most of the time and it is even worse when what I have described becomes reality and not just a metaphor. On the other hand, let’s think for example of free jazz and what it represented for the negro community when it was extremely oppressed in the US. Music worked there as a concrete act of resistence and identity which could not be appropriated by the dominant culture (maybe that is why it was not understood for a long time and it is still not understood today either). I find this true in the present conditions too, art should work as something that can lift a bit of the weight from our shoulders and that can help us remain sane. It is also really important to take care of your mental health and communicate as much as possible with friends and music in these times, so if you ever feel like you need help and music is not enough, which in most of the cases isn’t, don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach someone close to you.
Given that we are discussing experimental music, are there conventional artists that inspire you or you simply follow?
I am inspired and I follow a lot of conventional artists, from many different genres, too many to mention here, although each of them has something special, not conventional at all in my opinion. I listen to a lot of heavy music and post-rock, a lot of hip-hop, be it old-school or new-school, I like a lot of Romanian hip-hop artists too, I am heavily influenced by screamo, hardcore, punk, post-punk, grindcore, DIY culture in general and there’s also a good deal of electronic music that finds it’s place in my playlists from time to time. So yeah, you could say that I listen to a bit of everything so I’ll name just a few of my favourite artists here: Mono, Amenra, Swans, Boris, Envy, Toe, Run The Jewels, Ice Cube, CTC, The Body, Thou, Corrupted, Boy Harsher, Lebanon Hanover, Godflesh.
It’s hard to create an image of certain things that you don’t have enough information about. Experimental music leaves several suspension points behind it, no question about it. How it would look like if you’d meet it (the music) on the street?
This is a very good question and a hard one to be fair. If I’d imagine my own music on the street, it would probably take the form of what Deleuze and Guattari call a rhizome, something that is the opposite of a hierarchic, tree-like being, it would be closer to a root if you want, which allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points. Basically, my music would be this giant living root that stretches everywhere and in the most unexpected ways. (laughs)
If we think that this is a much more subjective and very personal exploration than in other musical areas, can there be created a barrier for understanding and accepting through this kind of selfishness?
You are right, this kind of music and improvisation are based mainly on personal attributes which sometimes can raise a wall or barrier. When I create, I mainly do it from a selfish point of view, I don’t do the music thinking of how the listener will percieve it, I do it so it represents me and what I feel at the time best, it has to be something that I would like to hear in the first place. This is the fun part for me though, to put myself into music and to let it wander through the world and see how it develops and changes through other people lenses and through their own subectivity. Of course, this can also mean a total rejection from the part of the listener, but that is natural too, it is a subjective point from an inifinity of other subjective points that are not hierachically organized in any way.
Improvisation cannot work in any other way except from a subjective point of view and it is at it’s greatest power when it clashes with the subjectivity of the other, be it a listener or another improvising musician with which you are playing, that is where the “new” that we had previously talked about is born, but, as I said, opposition and rejection are as natural. I always hate when artists put up this elitist attitude, that not everyone understands their art and that you have to know this and that in order to understand. I think that is very stupid, putting your art on a pedestal and saying that it is not for everybody. What I do is exactly the opposite, it comes from the everyday life and it is for everyone to be interpreted as desired, so as long as you don’t just spit venom because you don’t like it, rejection is very fine for me too, it is a part of it.
You are currently working on a new material and considering its way of expression, it is obvious we should expect some surprises. If you were given to create an advertisement on a famous television station, your music from this material would be suitable for:
Confronting your inner-self, your fears, anxieties and how you perceive other people and the world around you. It is music for reflection, critique and ideally action.
Artists, in their moment of full inspiration, enter a so called personal movie. (maybe because those who worked on movies get into music, heh) That being said, can you imagine a movie where Bosses Hang’s music would be played the most?
I’d say the movie should be experimental too for the music to work, it should let some space for the viewer to fill. I’ve used Shūji Terayama’s movie from 1971, “Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets”, as a video source for “Man Is No Masterpiece” when I released my first album. Ideally, my music should be used for experimental movies that make you think and also have a social side to them, like the previously mentioned movie, or most of the other movies from the Japanese or French New Wave movements.
We noticed you’ve worked with a series of Asian artists. Why is that? Have you ever considered working with Romanian, European artists as well?
My first contact with Japan was through animes when I was a kid. This has led me to start reaserching more and more about the country and culture of Japan and I developed an ever-growing passion for it. I am still a big anime fan to this day too, haha, I’m currently rewatching Naruto with my girlfriend, Elena, who helped me a lot with the graphics for my upcoming album and also made some beautiful photography for it, and with our cat, Hohenheim.
When I’ve first started listening to experimental music I found noise and it’s Japanese scene which blew me away and made me rethink what I am doing and why I am doing music in the first place. Artists like Keiji Haino, Boredoms, Incapacitants, Astro, Merzbow, Masonna to name just a few. So it was natural for me to try and reach people from that scene. I never thought at first that any of them would like to work with an unknown artist from Romania, but, fortunately, I got to work with some of the best, Hiroshi Hasegawa on my first album, Toshiji Mikawa from Incapacitants, Hijokaidan and other various highly influential projects on my future album which will be released on May 25 through Blutrausch Propaganda and Iniquity Recordings, Government Alpha from Japan and Torturing Nurse from China, two other noise legends, on another future album, and I already have more projects in the work with more amazing Japanese artists.
Of course, I won’t exclusively work with Asian artists, it only felt natural for me to do so because I admire their music and scene very much. I want to collaborate with a lot of people from around the world. To be honest, I’d love working with some Romanian hip-hop artists, I think that would result in a very unique thing.
Do you ever think about presenting your project in a live performance? How do you imagine this to be?
I actually do, since improvisation is best suited for live performances and not recordings. What I can tell you at the moment is that Bosses Hang will not be your usual band, you may see a performance with only me on the scene and another one with maybe ten people. I could play my bass guitar on a performance and electronics only on another. At the moment, there will probably be a line-up of three musicians, including me, and we’re going to do some crazy stuff, but more on that when the time comes!
Bosses Hang & Toshiji Mikawa – DOR will be released on 25 May on Cassette and CD through Blutrausch Propaganda and Iniquity Recordings.