IURY LECH, EXPLORER
OF MULTIMEDIA WORLDS
By: Jorge Munnshe.
Iury Lech is an unusual occurrence of a versatile artist who provides his music with a visual, and even a literary dimension. He has just recorded Aspersions by Instinct, his most recent CD to date. In the following interview, this musician of an Ukrainian origin currently living in Spain replies to our questions and speaks about very interesting issues with respect to his musical ideas.
Tell us about the album you have finished recording. Is it inspired in some determined question, or with it you intend to express a given idea? Which has been the process you have followed to compose it?
"My new musical work is titled Aspersions by Instinct, because almost everything in life starts from an act of irrigation, of sprinkling, from the fishes to the mammals, a world where a great variety of symbolic images has room, although I also felt strongly attracted to another synonym that would shape the title "Slanders by Instinct", a certainly very human attitude. Somehow this refers to the dividing line between the natural existence and the artificial world, or between the music that boils with metaphysical activity and that other kind lacking a life of its own that copies the fashion. As you already know well enough, since the late eighties I have been working with the help of the computer and the sequencer, which are the basic tools, besides synthetic sounds, which accompany me from the first to the last step in the musical creative process, which is later complemented in our digital recording studio Insolit. As a general rule, at the beginning I let myself be inspired by the harmonic and dissonant capacities of a given sound that I have created or transformed and that later will be useful to articulate the rest of the sounds that I keep incorporating so as to end up shaping this original composition that I have felt in the beginning. The entire process is also affected by and subjected to several changes, of a technical or sensitive kind, which are the ones that end up conferring the work its peculiar sonic perspective".
How did your musical vocation and your artistic vocation in general begin?
"At our home we used to have a piano. My mother played several pieces, my sister studied the piano. I was fascinated by the sound of the piano. I remember listening to it from my early childhood, and at age five or six I already wanted to play it no matter what. I was perhaps too young to get lessons; my mother did not believe it was a good idea. I learned a Bach score on my own, by heart or asking my sister to teach me. The following year I succeeded in beginning with my piano lessons. The professor, however, was too strict, very classical, somehow he almost embittered my taste for studying the piano and composition. Anyway, as at home there always was the piano, I used to play it, improvising. From there, I studied with different private teachers, and learned to play such instruments as, for instance, the guitar, the drums... A little as an anecdote I can tell you that at age fifteen I was a member of a band that used to play at parties and dances. We used to do something similar to what today are the new ethnic musics: we arranged modernized versions of Ukrainian folk themes, and we performed them. I am telling you about twenty years ago. This did not allow me to make a living, but it gave me my own money. With respect to the new musics and my career as a composer, I always found it difficult to find musicians to combine the ideas I had with them. Somewhat later I discovered synthesizers. I already played the electric guitar since age ten, having purchased one totally against my parents' wishes. I also used to buy and resell instruments. In this sense, I used to do somewhat strange things. What happened was, I was immersed in a search. I did not have any professors who could guide me through the terrain I felt attracted to, and I had to invent the paths. I also was subject to the influences of the environment. For instance, Jazz absorbed a great part of my teenage years. In the seventies, I used to improvise a lot with the piano, on chords, particular melodies on chords, particular melodies that kept cropping up from repetitions of chords and scales, and from mixing them. But the piano became too small for me. I wanted to explore different things, sounds, textures. In the early eighties I began to record my first electronic compositions, like soundtracks for my shorts, then on Super-8. After many years, the compilation tape Otra rumorosa superficie appeared, gathering part of this music. This was a rather strange time for the new musics, for the electronic music that did not want somehow to fall into the temptation of Electroacoustic or New Music, a music that wanted to go beyond, in a committed language, complex, with its own code, and far from the most scholarly trends. I don't consider myself to be a virtuoso nor the pupil of anyone. Simply, a person who has tried to find his own path".
What do you think about the concept of Videomusic? How do you reconcile your different artistic aspects in music, image and literature? Which is the importance of the symbiosis between music and image in your musical videos?
"On the one hand there is the videoclip, and on the other hand there is videoart, where music can play an incidental role or not so. I have followed a path where I have experienced something similar to what has happened with music. I can be rejected by anyone. The videoartists will say that my works are videoclips, and the creators of these will not accept that because in their opinion they are not orthodox videoclips. What I have always been interested in is experimenting with the media, the treatments. The music is the first thing that has attracted my attention, given the characteristics that I have mentioned before. The image has had a great power on me, it has always absorbed me, not as a passive viewer but rather fostering my creativity in it. And then, of course, one, no doubt, falls into the path of literature. From the outside it is seen as a non arbitrary mixture yet one difficult to digest, a rather bitter solution in the sense that it turns out to be rather difficult to label someone like this with one of the three labels, and one tends to believe that this versatile condition is a dispersion that will lead to not reaching the sufficient quality in any of them, even though nowadays this kind of artists is fashionable. My concept has been to work with each tool in different existential moments, and overturning certain ideas in each area. There are things that sometimes turn out to be very difficult to express orally, and at other times by means of an image. I utilize one medium or the other. It`s a matter of alternating them. Nevertheless, I have always been interested in the idea that some day all these media might converge in some more coherent work, in a sense like that of an artistic gestalt, closing a circle. When I began with all these aspects, I hadn't the faintest idea about all the electronic progress that nowadays we could have. Now, through a CD-ROM, this idea that I have about joining literature, music and image, can perfectly take shape. Something like this no longer arouses scepticism, and not only from an instructive point of view, but also as an artistic question. For instance, poetry attracts less and less readers. Very few people read poetry, or at least this is not an activity that turns out to be of a paramount importance to them. Then, through the audiovisual media, which is where most people have turned to, and will keep turning to more and more, one can try to make a book of poems, which can be translated to an electronic device. I am thinking of doing exactly this. A CD-ROM in which text is visualized and next an image appears and music is heard, this is fine, yet I am interested in something more active. One must explore, one must experiment and advance. I guess that with new means each time there will be more possibilities to be able to take up poetry once again. Now I am working in setting up a performance of three-dimensional music, interactive with the images. Things like this are already being done, but at much more commercial levels, without exploiting the possibilities in depth, and outside of the electronic music or the new musics. What I intend is to use the avantgarde technology for the avantgarde art. Not for the commercial side, that is what has always happened. The avantgardes have lost ground, nobody has paid attention to them in their days, and nowadays the advertising world uses these old avantgardes. It frequently happens that advertising has for instance a surrealist discourse. What matters is to use the avantgarde for the current artistic fact, so that it has a quality and is valid, not within twenty or thirty years in a spoilt medium, but rather in its own environment. This can sound utopical, since it depends on many factors, both human and financial. In my case, I want to organize a kind of performances where the music is an axis, and where I can work the image by means of special programs to activate all these new media that are available to us nowadays. To give the new musics things I miss. One of these is the fact that, as the sound in the performances is stereo, you always find that there always remains some residue of your music, shades of your artistic discourse, sonic elements, that are not heard because the whole saturates all possible audition, hiding them under the predominant layer. When you work with three-dimensional sound, you can place the sonic elements in different points of the hall, and then this results in some sort of circle. In this way, the audience can feel somehow more receptive, will penetrate the work much more, and the music will be understood in a different way, I think; it will be nothing new, but rather simply as it should have been. Such styles as rock, pop, allow for a much more dual, flatter music, something that does not happen with the new musics. In these, it's easy to hear comments of attendants to concerts who claim they hardly could hear the musical part of a given synthesizer sound. A three-dimensional sonic system can prevent this kind of things. I believe that with it this music will accomplish its function much better. And it will enhance the image as well as the textual part, elements that I have already incorporated in my performances, yet in a less active way".
Which were the sources for inspiration in your first album, if there was any such thing?
"There were none in a clear way, I can't find them if I try to think now of these works. I don't work with the idea of concentrating my ideas in an album, or in a story. I create things. Later, if I see that I have a series of compositions that can have an inner coherence, I give them a meaning on the whole. Sometimes the title has even more meaning than the compositions themselves. I refer to the meaning of what I want to transmit. It is very difficult to communicate an idea, an ideology, a sense, through a musical form. the best you can transmit is a feeling, a state. In A bite in the common sense, the title corresponds to the meaning that I want to give to the work, a music to detract from its own parameters, break the outer structure so as to bring out to the surface its peculiar forms that struggle under the tonal shell. In Música para el fin de los Cantos, the title reflected this idea; we are at the end of history, according to Fukuyama, it doesn't mean that I believe in that, but rather that it was a thing very much talked about in that moment. I also perceived that it was the end of song, of sung music, as it was understood up to that moment or up to now. Sometimes song and music don't allow to satisfy neither aspect. A person singing to background music can be fine, but to me sometimes this did not really appear as fully satisfactory; I'd rather have music on one side and song on another side. This is why I am incorporating recited text, not sung, since I feel much more concrete in this way rather than sung, in the context of the music. I don't initiate my works from a pre-determined setting, but rather from some way that they structure on their own, as if they were a jigsaw, and then I find them a title, that is to say, I see what title is the one that belongs to them. I work with emotions, feelings and moods, caused by what happens in the world, this is obvious. Actually, A bite in the common sense is very much referred to what is happening, without any intention to judge or criticise, merely as a mirror of what happens".
According to what you are explaining, it doesn't seem that in your works you have desired to illustrate anything in particular, but rather that they respond to the combination of many factors, right?
"At a general level, everyhting that I have done starts from a given idea: to create a personal world, but not as something hedonistic or narcissistic, simply because I believe that there is a path for experimentation, that is what motivates me. My idea is to experiment with the materials and give them new forms, to search for other sonic landscapes, I don't know, perhaps I'll have a colonizer ancestor in my family, the thing is, my impulse goes towards all that. I like to explore and search for that has not been said still. I sometimes succeed and sometimes I fall in common places. Perhaps I have not produced what I really look for yet. Sometimes this is not achieved until one reaches this relatively mature age, and everything before that has been a previous exercise to arrive to this point. Anyway, the sense of my work is to create a personal universe alert before what is hazardous. I suppose that this is a very human target. I am very much interested in innovation, this statement perhaps sounds somewhat snob, but I intend not to stay in the old, go always beyond, look for other possibilities. Perhaps this means a handicap as a creator, but I think that this is a very valid philosophy. There are some people who prefer to conserve. There are others who stay put in ancient structures varying a little. Others repeat on purpose. And others try to innovate. I don't think that one or the other has more merit, simply these are different personalities. As one has grown, thus his artistic personality grows. Within music I'm very much interested in working with timbres, rather than starting from a melodic idea, that then also is present. Joining a timbre with another one. In fact, the music of the future will be this one. Not the one shaped around the musician with the best virtuosity to perform, but rather the one created by the musician that knows how best join different types of sonorities, environments, colors... In actual fact, music is a plastic synthesis aimed at modifying at once the perceptions and the awareness of being alive".
Among the different sides of your artistic creativity, there also is that of the multimedia design in internet from some time ago. Your web page, besides providing basic information on your activities, is in itself an artistic work. How did you reach this new artistic terrain? What do you think about the future of internet and the possibilities it offers for the musicians and the artists in general?
"The net for electronic communication called Internet attracted me from its origins because of its practical nature when it comes to quickly access a vast amount of information that up to now was difficult to find in such a concentrated form. My web page is motivated as a weapon to neutralize the limitations of the decrepit, disappointing cultural panorama in Spain, as well as an economic means of promotion at a more international level and the access at a reasonable distribution of my my works and ideas. Nevertheless, I don't think that Internet will solve in the short run the serious basic problems of musicians and other artists. What it really is achieving is to break the pyramidal functioning of the great monopolies as well as that of the record industry, since with the proliferation of small domestic studios the musical process has become more artistic, giving the artist a greater precision and a capacity for the control on the production and difusion of a CD or a CD-ROM. Perhaps what's difficult is to navigate through cyberspace so as to find what we really are interested in. I believe that nowadays, and with this I don't intend to underrate its usefulness, Internet is as a great bazaar, multicolored and noisy, where all sorts of products and services are offered rather than transcendental information sources. On the one hand, this is a direct means to access the consumer goods the market offers, and on the other hand, it is useful to comfort millions of lonely people addicted to the chats and other encounter points. That is to say, it has caused our planet to become smaller and smaller: Anyhow, the future will belong to those who work for it".
Are the collaborations with others musicians an occasional experience for you, or do you think that an important part of your artistic creativity could be adequately directed within a collective project as for instance a stable band?
"The collaborations with other people almost always turn out to be a risky bet if you don't know very well whom you offer your confidence, because either you waste time defending your point of view before that of the others, or you lose your projects a victim of somebody else's theft. With that I do not oppose the idea head-on, even though there must be a strong mutual understanding on the aesthetic level so that the experience reaches a good port and does not sink because of jealousies, resentments and various incompatibilities. Anyway, in Aspersions by Instinct I have been pleased to enjoy the intense participation of Satori's "stick" and Rocío "Rush" Lorenzo's vocals, with whom there exists the promise to record a CD by the end of this year of a wholly conjoint nature, a work that somehow will serve as a launching platform for the trio as an alternative proposal to our different artistic and musical aspects".
What other projects have you got? What have you been working on in the last year?
"This last year, I have suffered a deep crisis that has plunged me into the abyss of a fierce disenchantment from which I have flirted with death. In spite of this, I have been shaping a second novel, and in this moment all my energies are directed towards the launching and promotion of my double CD Aspersions by Instinct, in the production of a video related to this album and in the preparation of a new performmance. I have the need to demolish once and for all this contention wall that up to now has prevented me from carrying out my projects in a constant, global way, as well as connect with the audience in a more absolute manner".
"Otra rumorosa superficie"
"Música para el fin de los cantos"
"A bite in the common sense"
"Aspersions by Instinct"
"Final sin pausas"
"Bocetos para un sueño"
"Los espacios del dolor"
"Breviario de Furor / Vestígios"
"De sicalipsis y peces mudos"
"Una Iconografía del Alma" (An anthology of Ukrainian poetry of the twentieth century. Lech: driving force of the project, compilator, translator and author of the foreword)
"La Fría Llamarada"
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