What are your influences or persons and works that have inspired you?

I think, in my case, inspiration is always linked to the way I perceive the real, the way the things are. So inspiration is not something abstract, inspiration is not something up in the air. Music is also something very concrete. And the inspiration we could say is linked to reality. This is the way that I perceive things in music too which has to do with processes of transition, processes of the instrumental body, connections between voice and instruments, all these things.So, inspiration is linked to the real. And the real for me is the voice.

 So voice, is dominant you say. The 1985 album “Maximizing the Audience” marks the introduction of the vocal element in your music. Do you have any visions or stories in mind when you sing with falsetto voice in your own language?

This is very much linked to specific situations or problems in Belgium. As you know we have three official languages, French, Dutch and German, three communities, so we never have a total identification of one single language. In fact, I only started to sing in this way at the end of 1984. It was my first concert in Japan and I started this way of singing in a non explicit way and in periods I tried it in front of the audience. But before that, from 1980 to ’85, when I was composing , I was thinking this way. So in my instrumental compositions like “At Home – Not At Home or “Struggle for Pleasure” , it was the element which guided my hands on the piano. So, this went in that direction, from the voice to the percussion instrument which is the piano. Guided by the voice. Even in the end of the composition you cannot hear the voice. So, yes, as you’ve said, in “Maximizing the AudienceI staretd working with singers.

 Is there any connection between your studies in the field of social and political sciences and your work as an artist?

Well, I must say that after my studies I really wanted to get far away from the atmosphere of studying – I studied between ’71 and ’75,’76. So, I really said at the age of 18 that I will not continue as a professional musician but I think I need to go to do some studies. At the end of my studies, I knew for sure that I don’t want to be in this world, academical university, but I want to start as a journalist or as a music producer at the National Radio in Belgium. So, this kind of rapture was very important two times in my life. But when you ask me now the question about the influence of the political sciences, I already in your question hear my answer. Yes, indeed. The studies and this switch, being able to do an appropriate switch at the age of 18 and later at 25, were very important. And probably I had the time of intuition that the music studies in Belgium and many countries in the 70s were not giving enough information to young people. They were too academic or much concentrated only on the technical part of music , in terms of composition, in terms of playing an instrument. So, it was very important for me with my studies in political sciences to see in the long run. How positions in society, positions of power, positions of solidarity, positions of economic cruelty, economic effects, how all these things change in the history of Europe (because first of all we are Europeans), the political, cultural situations. How they change music. At the age of 18 we know very little about all these kind of things, because in society people don’t tell us these things. Society is based on things, which do not change, which have to be controlled, which have to be guided at a certain way. And what I understood all these years is that even in music or other cultural extensions man is manipulated by political power, etc. But it’s always interesting to see how through the ages in different centuries the notion of music pulse changes together with society. Therefore, my old position as a composer in Belgium (a very small country) was to be aware of how my music could change or how my music could be useful for the future society. There was a kind of awareness that things are not as they are and that as an artist you can create your own role . And I think that since 2004, Western society, Greece and central Europe make a very big change. It’s the end of probability. We cannot project, we can no longer forecast financially, politically, economically. All these, of course, are extra in your own society in Greece, so therefore I am very happy to come now to Greece when everything is being put under question. And I hope with my concert and the music that we’ll play to be a part, a little bit of, this very exciting and tumultuous period in Greece. It’s important for the musicians to be, to perform in locations where all these things are happening right now.

 Are there any contemporary composers or film composers that you admire at this period of time?

Of course, many. It is very interesting to see how different composers live in the same era. And of course we are very happy that there are no confesses of style because each composer has to follow his /her own voice. So we are not moving to an ending point or something which is close. We are moving to something which is open. And that’s the idea of my new album which will be performed for the first time in Athens, “Zee versus Zed”. Zee is the dutch word for the open sea. You can choose between the open sea, something which is open, something which is future directed, or Zed, which is the last letter of the alphabet. It’s something negative, that you are closing off.

 I was reading your book “American Minimal Music”. Do you still believe in the liberating role or force of minimal music nowadays?

In any way, this was a very liberating force in the 60s and the 70s. That is for sure. Not in terms that European composers started copying techniques but in terms that the European avant – garde music, like in Greece with Xenakis, in France Pierre Boulez, in Italy Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio, Karlheinz Stockhausen in Germany, in Belgium Karel Goeyvaerts, etc. We were really at the end of a period. And although I studied this music in my musicology courses I also felt that something new had to come very quickly. And at that sense, the world of the American composers was far away from central Europe’s influence, because in Europe everything in radio, in concerts, in publishing scores, etc. was dominated by this post – serial music form. So in that sense this music has played an important role. And that gives young composers in Europe and all over the world the insight and that even today is important. Give them the convincing point that they could start finding, first of all starting with the beautiful experience of finding your own voice. And also, as in the title of my new album , finding people. Because you have to find people as a young composer. You need feedback. In my case it was in Greece, in Spain and Italy. It wasn’t in Belgium my first audience. But when you are 25, 30 years old it is very important to find your feedback, the spontaneous way that people react to your music.

 If you were to write another book, on what would that be?

That’s a very interesting question. Honestly, after your first question I said I wanted to stop the intellectual approach in 1975-1980, that means I wanted to start something musical, in terms of sound, but without starting up predetermined system in terms of composition, in terms of music. So, I did a very long way, actually between 1980 and 2001. In 2001 I finished this 37 hour cd production named QUA , which was released last year(37-CD reissue of the complete cycle previously known as Alle Dinghe). That was in four big parts and now released as one volume. Actually, I would like to start this interpretation afterwards. In german you know the term is interepretierung. You got permit to make an interpretation after that you have already made a musical work, a musical way. That’s interesting and maybe that is something that one day I would like to do because right now there is a distance, almost ten years since I finished that production. And that production is a kind of a parallel event. There are many types of music genres that I would love to examine but I didn’t want to be immediatelyavailable for the world, for the English speaking world. There was something I had to do by myself in a very strong way. Three times in seven years. Twenty one years. 1980-2001. And this production goes in many parallels with my solo piano and voice pieces and also with my ensemble work.

So, to answer your question, I don’t know if it would be in a form of a normal book, because it would not be written in conventional syntax. I have to find a kind of musical, not to say a kind of political, language to use those words connected to this music.

What kind of music do you prefer listening to?

I must say, at that time right now, we are all exposed to music. So it is very important to stay in touch with the fact that every year there is a new singer presenting himself /herself. So, Thom Yorke or Lady Gaga and others are very interesting musicians. In popular music, singers come very easily and quickly because they are not entered through an academic approach. So, every young generation and this is the natural way, discard their own voices and get identified. That’s exactly the same with composers.

 October 2010