.......We had sounds and people placed through the entire complex. Joseph and I were on the dancefloor, Lynn was doing performance art and dance on stage, and Andrew was in another part of the room, playing a TV set - sampling it through his 'effectron'. We had a drum machine on the disco floor and a vocal mix up on stage. So as you walked around the room, you got different mixes of the music, everyone was hearing something slightly different!............
Soft Option Magazine 1984 Ian Mooney
Modern Jazz is not necessarily a band as such; but the name for a collective of musicians, co-ordinated by former Models keyboardist Ash Wednesday, who come together in various lineups, perform, disintegrate, and then restructure for the next performance.
No two performances are ever the same because of the constant transfusion of new musical blood.
I'm trying to establish a group which will continuously evolve. Groups I've been in the past worked so well for a while, then stagnated once they became popular. Popularity often walks hand in hand with stagnation. Having different people moving through the group overcomes this problem. Their individual input changes the format of the group automatically. Although the song titles might be the same, the performance is different everytime.
The name Modern Jazz is reasonably specific in so far as we use modern equipment such as synthesizers, sequencers and computerisation but at the same time it is spontaneous music. We don't try and define or rehearse the songs too much, it is a 'here and now' situation. People equate electronic or synthetic music with very precise music. Certainly we have the capacity to get a song out and repeat it exactly the same - every performance. I'm trying to do the exact opposite to that, and a lot of people were initially very alienated from it, by the rough edges and impulsiveness of the whole thing. Recently, however, over the past six months or so, people have been coming along to the gigs because they're not quite sure what is going to happen next.
The last few gigs we have done have been really quite diverse. At 'the Venetian Room' we brought in our own PA to compliment the house system. We had sounds and people placed through the entire complex. Joseph and I were on the dancefloor, Lynn was doing performance art and dance on stage, and Andrew was in another part of the room, playing a TV set - sampling it through his 'effectron'. We had a drum machine on the disco floor and a vocal mix up on stage. So as you walked around the room, you got different mixes of the music, everyone was hearing something slightly different!
The concert before that we played 'the Glasshouse Theatre' with Dono Detti. We utilised the actual cinema space and set up four 16mm projectors with film loops running through them, superimposing film loops over one another, changing loops, dropping them out - with just Lyn and myself on stage - a fairly minimal set musically.
I like the idea of film loops imposing a visual sequence over a musical sequence, the music is sequential by nature, if you can exaggerate that visually, then you've got something going for you! I was very pleased with how that worked.
So you're changing the music to suit the environment?
Very much so. That's just it, really we can do anything. We can basically adapt to any environment whatsoever, which is the beauty of the whole thing. By the nature and spontaneity of it, it can fall flat, sometimes it does't work. But I like that sort of challenge, that risk. It keeps everyone on their toes.
How do you think people will react if they have heard you on a recording, go along to a concert and you sound entirely different?
It is hard to say, at this stage, what is going to happen. But I'm trying to take a very firm stance from the start and keep it evolving. I almost feel that it's your duty to perform a song how you feel at that particular point of time rather than recapitulate something from a time before. Really, recording songs is like taking a photo - a snapshot from a particular point of time......... I'm going out of my way to NOT define songs, to keep them very open so that people can just walk in and whatever happens, happens.
What are your thoughts on the future?
I think technology will eventually negate itself, you'll have Fairlights the size of pocket calculators that operate on brain-wave interaction. It will take time, but that will bring it back to the people - if you've got good ideas you've got good ideas.