By: Jorge Munnshe

Victor Nubla is mostly known as a member of Macromassa, a band that, together with Juan Crek, he founded in 1976. This composer, videoartist and writer, has developed during the last thirty years a very prolific pioneering activity in the European scene of the alternative musics.

    Born in 1956, there is no one in his family with a musical vocation before he did, except for the ability on the part of some of his relatives to build and play flutes.
    The first time he heard electronic music was when, at age fifteen, more or less, he heard on the radio the Moog solo at the end of the theme "Lucky Man" by Emerson, Lake And Palmer. The definite contact came when he bought the album "Phaedra" by Tangerine Dream, in 1974.
    At the same time, his vocation as a musician caused him to use a tape recorder to carry out all sorts of experiments and sound collages. As for composing, Nubla remembers that, at the very least since age thirteen, he already composed. He explains, "I remember as something I have always done the fact of inventing musics as I was walking in the street, or in bed, just before falling asleep."
    It was not easy for Victor Nubla to enter the music world. To start with, he had no support whatsoever from his family. "The truth is, my family did not support me at all until they saw my name on the papers. From them I had no help (logistic, moral or economic) for my profession. And later, no more than a discreet attention. I must say that I bought my first saxo virtually in secret. This attitude can be understood in families where no one has ever belonged to the artistic or performance world. For the members of such families it is difficult to have an idea of what the world of music means. The same happens, I guess, in the families where there have never been priests, soldiers or sports people, and some of their members intend to devote themselves to one of these activities. This kind of families as very closed social groups, with their own codes of behaviour and their own way of life. Their attitude is also related to a class prejudice, probably. Anyhow, I have always found a great support within myself."
    The activities that Victor Nubla has been carrying out within music yet outside his task as a composer are numerous. From his side as a writer, mention must be made of his dedication to musical journalism for years, as well as the creation of novels often inspired on musical questions. In 1984 his book "La Nueva Música" was published in Spain (under the pseudonym Adolfo Marín), which constituted a stepping stone in the progressive awareness of the audience with respect to the phenomenon of the alternative musics. He worked for a couple of years at a recording studio, taught some courses for sound technicians at the INEM, he has also designed huge audio installations for mass events, has created sound environments for audiovisual installations, has organised concerts, designed advertising panels for these concerts, has given lectures, has participated in radio and television programmes, and has developed many other activities where he has imprinted his personal style.
    Apart from his work with Macromassa, he has also worked in other bands. He was co-founder of: Secreto Metro, El Cuarteto Albano, Los Disipados, El Consuelo Húngaro, Delirio De Dioses, Naif, UMBN. Yet, there is one band, he has a special remembrance of: "Probably it is the Bel Canto Orquestra the band where I have enjoyed myself best, and where I have learned the most things, after Macromassa."
    His solo career also is quite prolific, and besides albums he includes a remarkable task as a free lance composer for the theatre, dance and video.
    Throughout all these years, Victor Nubla has come to consolidate his style, yet without getting restrictred to any given structure. "Well, I don't think that my style is permanent, although it can certainly be possible that there is a "Nubla style" in everything I have done, due to an accummulation of references to myself, to my own musical culture, which may cause all these things to be related among themselves up to a point where the conclusion is reached that I do have a style. Anyway, my works change a lot, above all in an evolutive way. In other words, if you listen to things I have done before and the ones I am doing now, you do notice a sort of progression in certain uses, in some given parameters, and a regression in others; that is to say, I choose some materials or others and a way to shape them, and this evolves with me. I have not ceased to change, nor has my music. My style does not change from work to work but is linked to the changes in my life. Of course, I am well satisfied with my current way of working, and I don't consider myself tied to any given musical trend. In actual fact, one of the most important premises in my attitude before musical creativity is not to have found precisely this kind of refuges despite having tried to find them in some moments. It could also be said that the style is a means to discover things and advance in them, as well as to have a memory that makes that everything we do is then assimilated by this memory and put into operation with the next thing we want to do. In other words, from the results of my work is where I always depart from to continue, because there is not an initial idea where I have always wanted to arrive and to which I am getting nearer and nearer, but rather a point from which I have always wanted to get farther, and from which I am in fact getting farther and farther."
    The music by Nubla, both his solo works and what he contributes to Macromassa, is very often unclassifiable. He himself reveals that: "Even the people think in different ways on one of my compositions before and after finding out it is mine". It sometimes turns out to be difficult to guess that one piece is Nubla's: "Well, unless I consciously utilize all my composing tricks, something I quite often do because I find it amusing. And when I listen to things I have done before, such as "Dance Music" for instance, I am amused when I think how childish or naive I find it now, yet it corresponds perfectly to what I think about myself in those times. I think the same about the music I used to make as how I related to people, for example."

    When asked about how the structures through which he composes  are, he reveals what follows: "I can find an idea to compose, in the most normal way in the world, that is, from walking in the street to listening to an album by some other composer, or dreaming or when waking up or when falling asleep, or thinking about a given combination of instruments, reflecting on a sound, experimenting with it, or in many other ways. Yet generally I like to compose before the instruments, particularly before the keyboard of a sampler. Sometimes, I also use the Method of Objective Composition, which I have utilized in quite a number of my solo works for video, cinema, dance and theatre."
    The samplers fascinate him. "Whenever I can, I work with a sampler. Furthermore, I have written about samplers, and I am wholly convinced about their possibilities. Developing the synthesizer was a great scientific effort. And always the objective was to provide the instrument with the greatest amount of sounds that was possible. The sampler has surpassed all that, because the sampler is the gathering of all the sounds, as it is not necessary to compute them, only to sample them. It is a completely different concept. It constitutes per se the global concept of the digital that is used also in the visual media with the three-dimensional creation of images by computer. And all that is going to change in a subtle manner the way of thinking of the human beings, because we are able to grasp nature in a symbolic way. We are once again very near to a given religious point, which certainly has nothing to do with the New Age."
    All kinds of sounds interest him: "Analogic, digital, acoustic, electroacoustic, and practically any possible means to produce sound, as the material must be always adapting to the needs, and on the other hand, the creative skills must know how to shape any material."
    About whether there is a relationship between electronic music and science fiction, he states: "Electronic music has many contact points with science fiction. I am certain of that. It has them in the imagination, and it has them in the cinema, of course. In the movies this is completely obvious. And it has them in the imagination of the authors and of the consumers of both genres. I believe that electronic music and science fiction have the capacity of being far more serious than most of the ways we usually communicate through, above all the artistic forms we usually utilize to express ourselves".  When asked about what sort of science fiction he reads, he replies: "Good science fiction literature. I like Philip K. Dick. very much. I have got a library where I have gathered a great amount of his books. I am very strict about this, since, being a good dickian, I don't swallow everything. I also am interested in Lafferty, who is a person who has written very little, which makes you regret the fact that once you have read all his published production, there are no more things of his. With Henry Kuttner the same has happened to me. Kuttner is a great predeccessor to Dick in this sense. Basically these are the authors I am most interested in, in science fiction. Anyhow, I read everything related to the genre. When I feel very much like reading and I only have  science fiction handy, I do not doubt for a moment, even if they are second rate titles or writers. Anyway, there are authors who have marvelous works and other disastrous ones, and it is good to get to know all of them in their good moments. I can't stand Asimov, yet for instance "The Gods Themselves" was extraordinary. And I  can't stand Clarke, yet Childhood's End" is impressive. And in this sense, I could mention many other authors."
    I ask him about the role played today by electronic music in the movie soundtracks for the cinema and television: "I have composed many soundtracks. And I think that electronic music for movies, television series, advertising spots, documentaries, is very adequate. And really in the cinema one misses a lot of electronic music and there should be less orchestras, that's for sure."
    Due to his intense activity in the sector of the European alternative musics, Victor Nubla is in contact with many musicians. "Yes, actually I relate almost exclusively with people in the musical environment or artistic environments, although basically with musicians. This is what accompanies me ever since we founded Macromassa and what has changed my entire life, because I truly believe besides that music is the only profession where its members keep talking about music even if they are not working. Furthermore, this causes great conflicts". I ask him particularly about Claudio Zulián, an artist with an interesting trajectory with whom Nubla used to work a lot in the early eighties: "Zulián and I did many things. Through Zulián for example  I contacted many electronic musicians coming from a classical environment, new music. And also with Zulián we committed lots of people in the production of hybrids and symbioses, and provoked a great movement in the Spanish avantgarde music sector. Many bands functioned in those times. The Colectivo de Improvisación Libre (Free Improvisation Collective), the Cuarteto Albano (Alban Quartet), the duo Zulián-Nubla, and plenty more. And there were people in there, both from Jazz and NEw Music. I learned a lot with Zulián, for instance new techniques to improvise with wind instruments. It really was a school. The Workshop for Musicians and Non-Musicians was very important then. It was very interesting to try improvisation from a structural point of view, see how one worked within it, develop systems and experiment them. In this sense, the three years with Zulián for all those of us who were working together, meant to learn a lot with respect to improvisation and to acquire a skill that has later been very useful in all the personal works of each one of us, composing or performing. This is more or less what I have to say about my work with Zulián in those times."
    Finally, I cannot help asking Nubla what sort of advice he would give to a new electronic musician who is trying to follow his own path in the developmnet of his artistic vocation: "My advice is, first and foremost,  that he does not feel only as an Electronic Musician, but rather, that he investigates music in all its directions. A vocation  cannot be fed only with good will, but rather one must also establish a very important foundation of formation and experience. The informative basis of the music is, no doubt, to make use of references, to listen to, the music of all times and all places. This is basic to be able to develop artistically. And on the other hand, it is extremely important to study in depth the professional world where one introduces oneself, the world of music, and particularly that of the avantgarde music. Within all this, the sector of electronic music or whatever name one gives it, is very closed, and therefore one must carry out relationships in a very direct manner. That is to say, everybody knows everyone else, and it is very important to know everybody before everyone else knows you. This is fundamental. Yet the challenge is very hard even if you follow this advice, since if the new artist intends to earn his living with his vocation, he will find that this is so difficult that almost no one of us who are active in this have believed it to be possible in the beginning. One must go on with his vocation, and try to earn a living with it, yet being fully aware that there will be huge obstacles to overcome or try to overcome. One must only stop in the moment that one is in the deepest of poverty. Even if things seem to fail, one must go on."

More information about Victor Nubla's band Macromassa, here:

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