CAMPBELL CRESWICK: VOLTAGE ECOLOGY
An interview with the Denmark WA musician Campbell Creswick.
Tell us about yourself and your current music and/or artistic practice
I’m an electronic instrument maker and interested in sound design and composition/orchestration. I’ve created soundscapes for theatre, performed experimental music and collaborated with visual artists/dancers. For the last 18 months I've been constructing a Eurorack standard synthesiser modules/cases and attending Non Linear Circuit workshops at the Perth Artifactory
When did you start making music - and what or who were your early influences?
I started making music as a child and was inspired to learn piano because my maternal grandmother, Edna Barnett, was an accomplished pianist. I was also very interested in electronics from a young age and constructed devices for listening to music, radio, records and tapes. My musical interests as a teenager included the orchestral works of Frank Zappa and Edgard Varèse along with the musicianship of Harpo Marx.
Can you give us a sense of your creative process? What kind of ideas (sound or otherwise) appeal to you? Are there any challenges?
I feel the closest affinity with Varèse’s concept of “Organised Sound” with an emphasis on timbre, rhythm and new technologies. My creative practice revolves around organising sounds into meaningful phrases, sometimes using random, chaotic or generative elements as starting points. I have a daily creative practice and end up with a lot of work that I curate and whittle down to sets that have meaning to me. Analogue synthesisers can be unpredictable so “happy accidents” happen and are captured during the process. This method doesn’t translate well to live performance. I would like to develop my performance skills and musicianship, particularly with improvised live music.
Tell us about your programming background. In what ways you feel this background might influence your music making?
I started creating music using computers during the 1980s. MIDI standards and digital sound cards transformed music production at that time and are still an essential element today. I studied Information & Communications Technologies and Network Engineering from 1995 as it became apparent to me that these technologies would infiltrate all areas of life. “Network Convergence” and “Digital Media” have led to the complete overhaul of the way people communicate. My music making is now a mixture of analogue and digital devices that communicate with each other using Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and Control Voltage (CV). Computer algorithms allow for the machines to generate and modulate evolving music under my control and guidance and then distribute and share my creations… I couldn’t do what I do without these new technologies! In the end though, they are just tools like screw drivers and spanners or paint brushes and paint, it’s what you do with them. When I’m orchestrating I sometimes think of my instruments like a band, I like it when I plant the seed and they go off and solo and develop the idea.
Tell us about the electronic music community in Denmark? Are there any challenges and/or opportunities?
I had some initial contact with local Denmark people interested in electronic music through David McKenzie, Simon Paris, Jeremy Von Kobra & Robin Thomson at a music workshop they organised. I later joined a facebook group called South Coast Regional Electronic Music Artists (SCREMA) and found more people there and suggested we meet regularly. We have managed to meet regularly since COVID restrictions have been lifted in WA and collaborated on two visits by Outcome Unknown and a concert for Brave New Works #27. I’ve also collaborated with Ruth Halbert, a visual/textile artist, for an exhibition called “Sound Cloth”. We are also planning workshops in electronics construction, sound installations and modular/electric parties.
I think the biggest hurdle for regional WA towns around electronic/experimental music are access to appropriate equipment in shared public spaces, venues willing to host non mainstream music & receptive audiences. I’ve been interested for some time in changing the paradigms about what “music” is and how music is presented. Trying to broaden the very narrow perceptions of Pop/Classical Music as the only valid forms of music.