Friday, October 11, 2013

Cammisa Buerhaus Interview

Interviewer:Fumimasa Hori

 NY artist Cammisa Buerhaus who is free from specific territories, such as fine arts, music, media. Even if we see only the activity for the past several months, it is protean like self-made pipe organ, performance using a radio, mix-tape with emphasis on the voice, and it is also difficult to predict what next she will do. I tried the interview by e-mail to her who is an artist the writer pay attention to most now.  

The first time I knew you was when I watched a video which was you were playing chroma color organ (self-made pipe organ). I was so astonished your originality. When and how did you get an idea of chroma color organ? 

Cammisa: The Chroma Color Organ was born from the fantasy of a multipurpose + person sculpture. I’ll describe it now.The center is an immense wooden turnstile, so heavy that eight people were needed to turn it. The turnstile pegs are connected to matching fan blades by a tall pole. When the turnstile spins, the fan blades generate an inverse air tunnel, acting as cooling agent and action repellent, in that it would literally blow the people away.

I didn’t have enough money to build this. Instead, I made a pipe organ.To do this, I borrowed my friend Angie’s car, picked up another friend who is very strong  (thanks Josh!!), and went to Home Depot. There we bought the lumber and stuffed it in the car. I drove it back to my studio in lower Manhattan and put it away. I worked on it for three months straight, and finished it in in December of 2009.

When you played chroma color organ at first, how did audience react? You wrote you had made some sound-sculpture prior to this.When were you interested in making sound-scupture? What artists were you influenced by? 

Cammisa: The first public performance of the Chroma Color Organ was in a hallway of a building at 5th and and 12th Street. I set up the pipes on the sill of a large window facing 5th Avenue. The pipes were quite loud in the reverberant space, so much so that people walking past the window could hear the sound. After a few minutes of playing, I looked up to a large group of people watching and listening.

To answer your second question, I make sound-sculpture because I have always wanted to make really big work.  Incorporating sound makes the work even bigger.

Favorite artists? Currently I really like Henri Michaux, Maria d'Arezzo, Fred Herko, Yoshi Wada, Joelle Leandre, Limpe Fuchs, Dieter Roth (even though his sound is very bad it is also very good), Yoko Ono….

I think it was great experience. I wish I watched your play at that day. When I tell my friend a video you play Chroma Color Organ, he said he reminded Yoshi Wada a little bit.You have been working as performer, musican, artist, radio and multimedia producer and so on. What kind of activity did you do first of all?

Cammisa: I started making sound in earnest when I was 17. Everything comes from there.

What kind of music did you make when you were 17? And please tell me where were you born and raised? 

Cammisa: I was born and raised in a small village in upstate NY. It's really small – there is a post office, a church, some houses. No one goes to church anymore, and the government is trying to shutter the post office, so who knows how much longer the village will be a real village. Someone put up a bronze plaque which says that it is a historic place. I think the plaque might outlast the village. Also, the ghosts from back then are all gone. I think they were spirited away when they put up the telephone and power lines.

To be clear, all of my activities that you mentioned are the same because they all concentrate on sound as a medium. Since I was very young, I was obsessed with singing. My little brother was my very sweet guinea pig and would always listen to my songs, and would tell me very nicely that I sang terribly. I was listening to a lot of the Incredible String Band and j-pop at that time, so maybe that had something to do with it.

When I moved out of my parents house, I bought a guitar from a place in the East Village and taught myself how to play using a chord book. Except that I couldn’t read the chords, so I would come up with these fingerings that looked correct, and would write lyrics around those notes. It was bad music, atonal, primitive. 

If you have sound sources at that time, I want to listen to. I feel Incredible String Band and j-pop are interesting combination. What did you like about Incredible String Band? What artists did you listen to in J-pop? And, how did you know J-pop? 

Cammisa: No sound sources unfortunately.I found out about the Incredible String Band and J-pop music through a program called Soulseek. I would go into user libaries and download whatever sounded interesting. When I heard ISB's  'The Minotaur Song' I thought I had stumbled upon a recording of a strange play, and I was intrigued by this cabaret style song. It was only afterward that I learned about the history of the band. I couldn't tell you what J-pop artists I liked, as I wasn't able to translate the kanji. I was teaching myself Japanese at the time, and thought that if I listened to j-pop it would help me with the language.

This bouncing, bright music appealed to me because I grew up listening to 90's industrial + techno, groups like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Dead Can Dance, Orbital, Baby Ford, and Front 242, and I wanted to rebel by listening to the opposite of what my parents listened to. 

I want to know what artists in J-pop you listened to. Were they female vocal or male vocal? Bands or solo musician? You wrote you were teaching yourself Japanese. Since when have you been interested in Japan? I have been concerned that you have played with Japanese musicians such as Tamio Shiraishi, Gozo Yoshimasu. 

Cammisa: I don't know their names. Usually I liked the female vocalists, with full bands. I think you it would be power-pop and rock groups, and I was fascinated by it. I taught myself Japanese for a year between 14 and 15, and then stopped. I've forgotten everything. One of my main projects is an improv group with Tamio and others, and I like to play with him because of his interpretation of sound as an element like wind or water. Performing with Gozo realized thanks to Issue Project Room.

Is your favourite band Shounen Knife or Lolita No.18? Why were you interested in Japan? You have been collaborate with a lot of Japanese. So, I guess you have special interest in Japan.

Cammisa: hahaha shounen knife, maybe!!!! maybe that was it. It was a long time ago. I never knew how to translate the kanji. Lolita No. 18 is also good.I was intrigued by Japan, yes. I loved Sailor Moon manga's, and I remember searching all over the mall for some years until I found a Sailor Moon tshirt.... It was the only one that I ever saw. I didn't know about buying things on the internet. I didn't have any money to do that anyways. 

Do you know Kyary Pamyu PamyuShe is a Japanese singer debuted in 2011 and has already gained a popularity in worldwide.This music clip is very weird.

Cammisa:The video is AMAZING. KPP is demented. I'm very attracted to this visual execution. I also like the song 'Candy Candy' because it has the same name as an old pop band of mine.

-You and Mr.Shiraishi formed duo group Daikyoufuroshiki (大凶風呂敷). Please tell me about the circumstances that lead to group formation.

I met Tamio at a space called Paris London New York West Nile, which was a intermedia performance space, artist studio and experimental residence in Brooklyn, NYC. He was friends with my studio mate, Doron Sadja, and Tamio performed a few times at West Nile. Two years later, I was playing in a short lived psych pop band, and he came to one of my performances. Afterwards, he came up to me to tell me that he liked my 'low and deep sounds', and asked if I would be interested in collaborating.

A cassette tape of Daikyoufuroshiki was released from Wild flesh productions. Is this your own label? Would you tell me a concept of Wild flesh productions?
Cammisa: YES, Wild Flesh is my label. The label focuses on releasing diaries, ghosts, and sensory fields. 

Ghosts? Please tell me more.Works of wild flesh productions 
( Daikyoufuroshiki&Haribo ) were also released by cassette tapes.Why do you select cassette tapes?

Cammisa: Ghosts..... homosacre/homosacred - women do not exist - "one reaches out for us but gets no hold of us"There will be further releases on Wild Flesh. I choose cassette because I can't afford vinyl yet. Cassettes are also very special objects which hold the fourth dimension inside of a three dimensional shape. I'm very interested in this concept of time travel.

Would you tell me about release plan of Wild Flesh?
Cammisa: The next releases that are coming up:

DAIKYOFUROSHIKI - 'Working Title' - with Keith Connolly, MICO, Tamio Shiraishi, Cammisa Buerhaus.... recorded on the Bowery in the spring of 2013.
ELIZA AND PARRY - MAYDAY  - is radio, russian synth, female vocals, and tape collage. recorded on the bowery in 2013. 

I was so intrigued with your performance 「faceless」, because I had not watched such playing style. How did you come to mind this unique idea?

Cammisa: Faceless is a very very old performance of mine. i'm not sure how to feel about it these days. but at that point i was interested in the idea of 'speaking face to face,' '1 to 1,'  and 'self portrait' . that instrument is one of my very earliest sound sculptures. 

You seem to have various projects now other than Wild Flesh. Would you tell me about the content of the projects currently in progress? What is the project which you are putting into the power most? 

Cammisa: I have 3 other major projects running in tandem with Wild Flesh, which will all be presented within the next six months. I'm sorry I can't be more explicit but I prefer to incubate than present a half finished idea. I will say that I am heavily involved with Cage, a space in Chinatown which emerged from a desire to create and play a different game within the context of reality and art. Cage is an art gallery with(out) a gallerist, artworks with(out) artists, an ongoing group therapy with(out) a therapist... This space is host to exploration of sound and movement, a safe space for conversation and exchange, and a polyvalent think tank that allows multiple subjectivities to independently coexist. 

I'm looking forward to seeing your new project. Your activities are versatile, so I'm always surprised at you all the time. Recently, your new mix-tape really excited me. I felt your mix is so ingenious, because you seem to put emphasis on song or voice. I have hardly listened to such mix. Especially, the last track is amazing. Do you have a special concept on this mix?

Cammisa: The concept for the mix is one of catharsis and conversation. I recently went through quite a bit of personal strife which hinged upon communication (or a lack thereof), and the space between lies, sabotage, and freedom. Sad Wednesday is a mix of songs that made me cry during the most recent Indian summer. Each song incorporates the voice as a main instrument, and can also be understood as a dialogue between my logical center and animal responses. The internet is the poor mans therapist, which is why I chose to publish the mix via online only Sex Magazine. 

I really appreciate your cooperation for my interview. I would like to ask you a last question. If you were able to listen to music only one more time, what tune would you choose?

Cammisa: If I only had one more chance to listen to music, I would choose silence. When I write, compose, or brainstorm, I will wear my headphones but turn off all sounds. Listening to music is a very conscious activity, and in moments of conception (or annihilation) I require absolute quiet.

Cammisa Buerhaus Info:    

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