Nobody is more workaholic in producing noise as the Buenos Aires, Argentina based musician Ariel Chapuis aka Playing with nuns! His backcatalogue is big, straight and good quality, why we support Playing with nuns a lot in kulturterrorismus! Now we’re proud that Ariel Chapuis is part of our interview series “13 questions to…”
kulturterrorismus: Hello from Germany! We hope all fine with you?
Ariel Chapuis: Hello to all!!
kulturterrorismus: Where are you? Please, tell us your story!When did you start composing music?
Ariel Chapuis: Hello to you and thanks for the questions! I’m currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.I spent some time living in Spain and France in 2002. So I think that I’ll keep living here till my final days, and to use the free time to take little trips around the world from time to time… we will see. I started composing my own sounds in 1990 I think, just stuff for myself, private music with keyboards and guitars. After that I decided to make something different and I created Void of Coil in 2008. That was my first project to show it around the world and it is still active. It is basically Dark ambient and minimal music creating deep atmospheres using bass, keys and field recordings. Void of Coil has 4 albums made till now, the first three albums are part of a trilogy, a conceptual trilogy called Deadly Winter Snow. The last one till now is called Towards Nothingness, just one long and atmospheric track. You can download the full discography at the official webpage http://voidofcoil.weebly.com In the middle of the process with the first Void of Coil’s album I decided to start a new project, something wider, not just Dark ambient. So in May of 2009 born Playing With Nuns. With this project I’m able to experiment much more with the sounds, creating walls of noise, harsh, pretty experimental sounds with stuff like pedals, metals and circuit bends. Basically I make sounds with lots of things I find around.
kulturterrorismus: What or who were your early passions and influences?
Ariel Chapuis: My passion comes from long time ago with music in general, not just noise. I started listening heavy music in my teenage years, then I opened my mind to rock and roll, soul, jazz, progressive, thrash, death, martial, industrial and then NOISE arrives to my life. My early influences were Raison d’être, Black tape for a blue girl and all the releases of Cold meat industry label for my dark side. Also K.K. NULL, Merzbow, Odal and some more were part of my experimental and noisy early side. But I think that the most important influence, the “why” I decided to start a DIY project is all the tape underground movement in the 80′s. Things like If-Bwana, Dog As Master, Viscera, Het Zweet, Big city Orchestra and all the catalog of Sound Of Pig Music Label. I think that they are really great artists and the pioneers. That was the biggest influence for me and even today I find pretty interesting things on those tapes. These influences of which I speak are merely focused on what led me to start with this, and if I must speak about the influence on my compositional style, I must appoint to Big city Orchestra for my experimental side, and Merzbow for my noisy side.
kulturterrorismus: What are currently your main production-challenges? Give us an example! Do you work mostly alone or with other musicians?
Ariel Chapuis: With Playing With Nuns I always work alone, because I have my own time and I will not wait for the decision of anybody. I enjoy it that way because if the project is mine I prefer to satisfy myself at 100 percent and wont have to be complacent with anyone if I share participation. This is how I work with playing with nuns… may sound selfish and in fact it is. Something different happens with splits, are two or more projects sharing a common space, and if I manage the release under my own label, I always try that the final result will find mutual liking. Casually awhile ago I started a new project with the Italian composer Francesco Perdoná from Arte Sacra Atelier. Previously I worked with him in several splits and compilations and I found that his style is very eclectic and strange, so we decide to create Mala Culebra. This is the space where I share a common project, ideas and decisions. I must admit that Francesco is a person with whom I work very relaxed and I really enjoy that way.
kulturterrorismus: What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?
Ariel Chapuis: I will usually start a new composition with a background sound, which is generally the length track, after this I add some metals or pedals effects. I have thousand ways to start with the production of a track, the most of them are improvisations mixing digital effects, voices or field recordings. Always when I finish a track I pass it through a filter and distort it by giving a new form, except of course when I create live compositions and the sound is raw.
kulturterrorismus: Do you strictly separate improvising and composing? What is better, free jazz or classical style?
Ariel Chapuis: Not so strictly. Perhaps in many cases improvisation is just the beginning, when the musician starts without a specific idea. After that, improvisation is turning into composition. Into Playing with nuns I have not a single way of working, I’m always experimenting with different things and ideas. Sometimes I have specific ideas to start working and the project begins with a composition, seeking to create what I have in mind, creating sounds textures and atmospheres, and sometimes are just pure improvisations based on any particular idea. About which is better…are very different and are merely separated based on the moment of the artist. I enjoy both styles.
kulturterrorismus: Is any relationship between sound and live or working day? Please tell us your opinion!
Ariel Chapuis: I could say that this kind of noise I crate is a way to destroy music, or music management, but is not true. Talking about myself I really enjoy noise, harsh and all the non-music side, and I enjoy also all kind of music as I said before. There is no relationship between sound and daily life for me. If I make noise and experimental sounds I do this only because I enjoy it and I cannot find a link between that and my daily life.
kulturterrorismus: Do you feel it important that your music spread a message?
Ariel Chapuis: Not really, I am not a preacher. I started with Playing with nuns just for my own pleasure, I’m not thinking in other people when I work on that. Of course I share with the world all things I create and I love to do it, but the primal idea around “the nuns” is making it for me. If people enjoy what I do… for me is a bonus joy and I appreciate that but even if nobody liked I would continue with this.
So there is no message in what I create, its just fun.
kulturterrorismus: How conceptual is your music or only for hearing without thinking? What await your listeners?
Ariel Chapuis: If I have to talk about something conceptual in Playing with nuns I must refer to an idea that is transferred to an entire album as a conceptual work. I have lots of conceptual albums that basically share the same topic. But definitely my entire discography can be heard it without thinking. How the sounds are perceived is up to the listener, there are not much lyrics, so those who listen to P.W.N can find different emotions or feelings. It is up to each one.
kulturterrorismus: The role of an artist is always subject to change. What’s your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
Ariel Chapuis:For my part I try to be as honest as possible, I don’t see myself as an activist in a social or political side. I think all artists are looking for topics to connect with the audience. Some of them seek to recreate in his work the majority side of the people just to get more followers, are few but there are. Others only reflect his convictions and I respect that. But I think that the artist’s role should be only entertaining the people. I understand that you can mix entertainment with media or political tasks, but is not my way to do it. If I wanted to convince people of my political ideas, I would study politics. If I wanted to know more about history I would read a book, and if I wanted to transform people into my religion, I would be a religious man in a church or something like that, not into my music. It’s just the way I see it. Some time ago I made a split with Elizabeth Veldon called “Activism” and if I talk just about my side in that split, there is not a political message in my tracks. There is impossible to distinguish any political message, even if one of my tracks is called “Politician’s motors”.
kulturterrorismus: There seem to be two fundamental tendencies in music today: On the one hand, a move towards complete virtualisation, where tracks and albums are merely released as digital files. And, on the other, an even closer union between music, artwork, packaging and physical presentation. Where do you stand between these poles?
Ariel Chapuis: Playing with nuns stands between the two poles. I see the virtual world interesting, where people may be able to reach more albums and listen to them in a simple way, just with one “click”. I always make physical copies for myself of the Playing with nuns digital albums, and I encourage to people to do the same, not just save them in the computer. Sometimes, depending on the country, is very expensive to make delivery in trades for physical copies, so for that people is a good way to have albums without pay for a package, just must to buy a cd-r and a cheap printed paper. And… for the rest of people I release also a tons of physical albums. I never sell my albums, I just do trades, and it is awesome to send packages and receive some good works in exchange. Most of my physical copies are hand numbered in limited edition and are discontinued when they run out, except for a few albums that have been reissued with some bonus tracks and different artwork. The others physical works are continuously printed after last copy available.
kulturterrorismus: Music-sharing sites and -blogs as well as a flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What’s your view on the value of music today?
Ariel Chapuis: I like the idea about music/art reaching everyone. Its easy and a good way of promotion for artists. The value of music has changed significantly over the years, cos today there are tons of people doing their things and in a way the “road” is saturated. Now is easier to produce an album itself and show it to the world. But is not a bad thing, cos we have always the chance to choose what we like and follow our favorite artists. The music market underground is huge but people always have their favorites and this has the potential to reduce the space.
kulturterrorismus: Do you see Facebook as blessing or shit? Is it right, that musicians can not work without Facebook, if they want near by their fans, make cooperation with other artists and so on?
Ariel Chapuis: I see Facebook as a blessing, and as a shit if you don’t know other way to manage your things. I use it daily to keep in touch with my friends around the world, to promote my works and to keep myself updated about my favorite artists. But I also use e-mail and messenger to make splits and compilations. Lately I’ve created a web page where I am also in contact with other people. In the beginning was myspace a kind of Facebook, but then became useless and many artists have closed their accounts. Facebook is just a way to promote your things and to know updates from other, but not the principal tool for Playing with nuns.
kulturterrorismus: Is money the only thing to be recognized artist? Or could non-mainstream music same successfull as mainstream?
Ariel Chapuis: For massive musical culture the money is the only way, but not for the kind of art we do. There are many projects well known out of money. Always will move into the under or non-massive world, and its ok. If we continue doing what we do together is as if we maintain the under active.
kulturterrorismus: The last words are yours!
Ariel Chapuis: I want to thank you for having me in mind for this interview, I found it very interesting and it is an honor to know that you’re interested in what I can say. I really appreciate that! Cheers