interviews with pauline strom – michelle musser – lauri paisley
q: for someone who has 3 lps released in the last 6 years (trans-millenia
consort, plot zero & spectre), you are for all intents and purposes a
complete unknown on the us synthe scene today. so let’s start with
some history of how you first got into electronic music.
a: as so many, i have been strongly influenced by the works of schulze,
t. dream eno, etc. i could go into the usual general reasoning of
musical interest since childhood, but i view that as a minute part of
my musical development. as i am a completely self-taught musician,
composer, synthesist, and sound designer of multi-dimensional sonic
technology, i feel my intuition and philosophy as well as my ability
to mesh myself into the soul of the language of sound are of far more
value here. music and sound are of one language. i have always been
lured by the depths of the ancient past and the far-flung reaches of
an untapped universal future. i sometimes feel i have been placed in
this chaotic, confused present to draw into it the elements from these
opposite realms in order that my interpretations of them through sound
and music may in some sense benefit our as yet largely imcompetent and
immature population. we seem to be living in a world where to create
uniquely, to challenge, to dare to be adventuresome and
individualistic are discouraged.
q: one of the more interesting aspects of your work is that all 3 records
sound very different. perhaps you could explain a little about how
you conceptualized your different ideas?
a: i strive to be as versatile from project to project as possible. the
first album, trans-millenia consort, was designed as a hauntingly
blended sculpture of past and present energies. my ideas for this
project sprang from the metals of the earth, the easy flow of the
human voice and much that it poetically emotional and spiritual in our
world. plot zero, the spacy mind trip without chemicals, is powerfully
and simplistically just that. frequency vibration and pulsing sounds
can go extremely far in subjecting the mind to hypnotically stretched
out states of consciousness. as for spectre, the welding of mysterious
vampire legends, modern violence and desolateness of which produces a
cobalt mix of subtle gothic chills, fulfilled its purpose with a
whispered gloss of steel, from cold arctic temperatures and elusive
q: your music seems very much dominated by the imagination as opposed to
the equipment. do you record at a professional studio or at home?
a: yes, i would say my music is virtually dominated by my imagination. i
program all of my sounds. the music and sound is literally one. my
compositions grow as if on canvas. i never previsualize a piece. it
grows layer by layer, track by track, sound by sound. i just know
internally when it is complete. yes, it is composed, programmed,
processed, engineered and recorded by myself in my home studio, i am
proud to say. for the final mix, i utilize the facilities of a
professional studio basically to mix down to a good two track master,
for pressing purposes. i hope someday to eliminate the need to do
that, however, as being in sole control of my work is vitally important
to me. i believe one should be his or her own highest master.
q: being a woman in the predominantly male controlled music business
could present obstacles. have you found this to be true? or perhaps
it’s just the opposite; it opens doors?
a: the business side of the music industry literally sucks. to be quite
frank, it’s not how talented you are, or how tastefully crafted your
art. in reality, it matters not a damn how beautifully chiseled your
compositions are. no, what it comes down to is that if you’re not
taking the right drug, holding the right guru’s hand, or sleeping on
the right couch, you’re fucked. . . . yeah, i would say that women
have a harder time because of the macho, male ego bullshit that
dominates the industry. however, looking at it honestly, i would say
that most men are also falling all over each other, as well, trying
to screw each other out of every opportunity imaginable. the
hypocracy, greed, jealousy, and spiteful intrigue that permeates the
music business is disgusting, and in my opinion, anyone who sees it
otherwise is naive or deluded. also, don’t leave out the financial
factor: money opens a lot of doors. try being an artist living on
the fringes, tying to hold onto your individualism in creativity, with
just enough dollars to pay for rent and food, not to mention being a
woman, blind, and divorced. now, i ask you, where is the justice in
this mainstream american system? i’ll tell you, it’s in the hands of
the rich, the bigots, the righteous hypocrites who shove it down down
the throats of those who have been brainwashed into thinking that it’s
a moral honor to be poor . . . screw that nonsense.
q: how does being blind in fact affect your music?
a: i feel it has helped rather than hindered my musical abilities. my
hearing and inner visualization have, i feel, developed to a higher
level than perhaps they would have, otherwise. and it doesn’t affect
my abilities from a technical standpoint, either. it’s quite possible
to program synthesizers, effects units, accurately record one’s work
and handle a mixer. i do this all by sound. in fact, i rather like
working in the dark.
q: the electronic music genre seems to be exploding, these days, as the
industry wants to push “new age” music as the next big thing. coming
from the “new age capital of the world,” s.f., what do you think of
the music and all the hoopla, in general?
a: well, i have mixed feelings on this one. a good portion of the music
covered under the “new age” banner is simplistically beautiful. let
me say this: i will not critique anyone else’s work. what it comes
down to, anyway, is personal taste. i don’t think anyone has the
right to judge another’s work; i believe the creations of all artists
have a right to existence and exposure equally. now, as to the hype
that surrounds the new age genre, all of this is bullshit propaganda
just like the other aspects of our hype-oriented culture. have no
delusions, the whole business structure surrounding the new age field
is just about as corrupt, political, and superficial as elsewhere.
talk about purity . . . better talk about pure hypocricy.
q: it’s been awhile since spectre–are there any plans for a new release
in the near future? have you got an new material?
a: plans for another album, there are always plans. music is the center
of my life. i have a lot of unreleased work; there will always be
more. i, frankly, do not have the finances to release my own records.
of course, one could say, there are always record companies. i
believe i’ve made it clear that i want control of my work. and,
unfortunately, this attitude is penalized in our society. the fact
is that if severala people can’t have a piece of your work, then they
stomp you into the ground. yes, i do want to release something else,
but until someone with the financial resources and necessary knowledge
is capable of backing me, the reality as yet does not exist.