Philip Scheffner beeing interviewed by Guillermo Escudero from the webzine 'loop', based in Chile. A spanish version of the interview is available at the loop website.
#There are many elements used in your work such as telephone tones, voices, rain, electronic noises, clicks, beats... How do you merge all this elements into a track?
The basis for all tracks are so called "field recordings". meaning "recorded sound / audio files". So I´m collecting sounds with an MD-recorder and then work with them with simple audio editing programmes on the computer. There`s no big midi-effekt-setup involved. The main focus is to arrange and combine sound events in a certain conceptual structure. I`m very interested in all kinds of experimental narrative forms - which emerges out of the conceptual analysis of the soundmaterial. So both releases follow a vague "story", in which a limited number of sounds are arranged to form some kind of drama structure. It´s actually a very "filmi" approach to sound which maybe comes from my background as a documentary filmaker.
#Your music it's very cinematic and I guess is because of your background as a documentary film maker. Did your films had your music as a soundtrack or were made by other people?
I worked with friends in an authors- and producers group called 'dogfilm'. We developed and produced videos between the genres documentary, essay and video art, in cooperation with various European TV-stations. 'dogfilm' was organized as a collective - so everybody was doing everything - from concept to production, filming, editing etc. Also in terms of sound, everybody was contributing ideas. Actually some of the material on pong01 'fon' has been also used in some documentaries we made - but this is more an exception. The films were developed in a group process - and so were the soundtracks.
#The field recordings in Bombay used in the 'a/c' CD are very interesting, both natural and surrealist. Could you please tell us about this visits you did to India and their purpose.
It`s actually very simple. We have very good friends in bombay who are working in the film industry. So we are visiting them from time to time. If they would live e.g. in Chile we would have gone there. So there was no particular interest in 'India' as such - actually I never wanted to go to India because in my head it was so much linked with all those hippi-clichees - which I really hate. Coming from a relatively small city like berlin, bombay was of course a shock. So I was recording sounds, not really focused on anything..... it took more then 5 years...and several more visits till slowly the idea came up how to structure the material. I never wanted to make a CD 'about' Bombay. Especially if it comes to 'field recordings'/ 'documentary sounds' - I think this is a very problematic approach. You record the sounds on a market and then ... ' hey all you western listeners, this is how a market sounds in a very exotic place' - so what!. I wanted to avoid these elements of exotica, which are normally involved in these kind of sound pieces.So the CD is not about a particular site or city - it´s more about projections towards certain places and in the end it`s about a ficticous place - somewhere inbetween here and there. What you mainly hear on the CD is the sound of the recording device, trying to record audiofragments. Also you hear an indian voice talking about a certain filmsong, which is somehow the unofficial hymn on bombay. The song is something like an 'indian clichee'. So if you would e.g. do an indian documentary on Bombay - you would definately use this song. So the person is trying to remember the phrases of the song, and also to explain to us what meaning they have in the context of bombay. So the 'exotic' is mirrored through another clichee - the filmsong.
#Why did you create the Pong label? I guess the name it was inspired by that old tennis computer game created by Atari in the 70's and early 80's.
Merle Kroeger and me have founded 'pong' in the beginning of 2001.We both worked with the already mentioned group dogfilm - and after the split of dogfilm we wanted to create a new platform for realizing our projects.pong understands itself as a platform for music, video, text and all other things which exist in-between.Depending on the projects pong-members are working on, pong is appearing as record label,video production or publishing house. Actually we`ve chose the name 'pong' cause it sounded good. nothing big like 'boooom', more a small 'pong'. It`s really a shame but I have to admit that I had no idea about the very famous computer game. I was never into games and when we found out it was already too late to change the name. Later I remembered that when I was a child, we really had this game at home - but for us it was 'tennis' and I was not really impressed by it. So I´m sorry - I guess it sounds very uncool - games and electronic music are so much linked and we have no idea....maybe we have to think about making up a story about us exploring the game already in the seventies, maybe we also are the real authors of the game till it was stolen from us by a big company... :-)
#Could you please tell us about the next Pong release called "Break Away... with Pom & Perry"?
"Break Away... with Pom & Perry" will be the first episode of an ongoing mini-drama-audiofiction-CD- serial, focussing on the adventures of the two authors/protagonists "pom & perry". The CD comes along with a 10 page comic-booklet. Each page/image is referring to one track. It has a lot of beats in it and the whole athmosphere is somehow 'childish and funny'. It`s the official pong-telenovela. So the two protagonists are living together in a flat. One is mostly sleeping, the other is having a fight with his computersystem. So one after another is deciding to leave the house and to break away from everything....so they step out into the world, facing a lot of adventures......and they become our friends. We hope to release the cd soon, the audio material is already mastered and is lying around in our office. The graphics have to be finished and then it`s a question of money to release the stuff.