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This month, I am happy to find myself in the company of TWO great artists, wild talents, extraordinary personalities and simply handsome men - Guillermo Cides presenting his new project Electrik Consort
and Trey Gunn presenting his duo Quodia. Currently both projects are touring around South America.

Guillermo Cides
(Electrik Consort)

Guillermo Cides is one of the greatest, and in my view simply the greatest Stick player in the world. In his music one can find everything - passion, intellect, virtuosity, boundlessness, novelty. His versatile talent can be seen in his three albums, his solo performances, as well as as his numerous projects - Electrik Consort, Oxygene 8, The Stick Trio, Stick Ensemble.

Today Guillermo will answer not only my questions but also the questions you, my Showcase visitors, sent for him.

Irene: You chose quite an interesting and funny name for your new project - Electrik Consort. I can understand why it is Electrik, your music is really full of energy and electricity, but why Consort?

Guillermo Cides: Consort is a name that is given in classical music. Electrik Consort is a mix between old history and new times. Adrią plays a really antique instrument called Hurdy Gurdy and he has studied classical music. Now, we are together exploring the world of loops with Hurdy Gurdy, melodies and the “electric” sound of the Stick.

Electrik Consort: Adrią Grandia (Hurdy Gurdy), Nan Mercader (percussion), Guillermo Cides (Stick)

Irene: In your project you combine the instruments that look not combinative from the first sight: a 30-year old Chapman Stick, a medieval Zanfona (Hurdy Gurdy), loops and percussion. How did you come to such an idea and how do you manage to combine such instruments?

Guillermo Cides: I saw the Hurdy Gurdy for the first time when I arrived in Spain 6 years ago. Since then, there has been an idea in my head to mix unusual instruments and musicians with different backgrounds. I am also trying to generate a new style of music, instead of recreating the existent style of music. If you look at the world, you will find that in general, players re-create music, but it is a little more difficult –and fun for me- to try to create a new style, something that when you listen to it, you think to yourself “I have never heard it before”. So, I want to play music that I have never heard before.

Hurdy Gurdy

Irene: What is the reaction of the audience to your project and what interests people more, your unusual instruments or your music?

Guillermo Cides: It is crazy! People are waiting for what we will play. And we play different things there. In fact, we even offer a version of Led Zeppelin played with the Hurdy Gurdy and the Stick. Just for fun. The band sounds...crazy!

Irene: Did you learn new things from one another and from one another's instruments while playing together?

Guillermo Cides: Yes, I learn from other instruments, and I learn from my own instrument playing with other instruments. :) I feel myself ignorant in music. All the music I am trying to play, is just a way to try to beat my own ignorance.

Irene: Would you like to try other instruments in your project?

Guillermo Cides: Yes, I would like an ensemble of instruments in my project! But it is difficult for traveling in tours. It sounds strange to say, but musicians have to look for the best way to be “transportable” otherwise it will be difficult to bring your music to other countries.

Irene: What does playing together with Trey Gunn and Joe Mendelson mean to you?

Guillermo Cides: The first stickista I knew was Trey Gunn. I was in Argentina when King Crimson were living there preparing their new material for their comeback to the world of music after many years. I was invited to play at a dinner for all the staff of King Crimson after one of their rehearsals. That's when I met Trey, and after my performance he told me: “You are the stickista that I like the most” (!!). Can you imagine what it means for a musician who lives in Argentina, and wants to start to play a rare instrument called Stick?! I was really happy.

In 2004, I had another chance to play with the new Quodia of Gunn. He didn’t forget our meeting and told me “you are STILL my favorite Stick player”. Except for compliments, my music has no commercial pretensions, you know, I don’t want –I can’t- be in the Top Forty. So, this kind of commentary is just a personal push for myself and my work.

Irene: What are your feelings before meeting with your native Argentine audience?

Guillermo Cides: I love to come back to my country Argentina –I have lived in Spain for 6 years. People in South America are really expressive, with a lot of energy. They go in masses to concerts (Rolling Stones played in 6 full stadiums during their tour).On this tour, we will also go to Patagonia, the eighth marvel of the world (did you note that I am from Argentina...? Ah-ah!)

Irene: You have participated in many different projects and played with many musicians. What are the factors that make you take up one project or another, and who are the musicians you especially enjoyed playing with?

Guillermo Cides: The projects are just to know what other things there are in music and in my own knowledge. I like it when I have to think of how to resolve different situation the music offers, especially when I play with instruments and people with whom I have never played before. And yes, I enjoy all the time to play with other musicians, but my favorites ones are those who play with the heart. You can see that from the first chords they play.

Irene: All the three of your CD's vary greatly in style and approach, what can we expect next time? Can you share some of the ideas of your future recordings with us?

Guilermo Cides: Next album is a project with the singer/actress/Stickista Linda Cushma, and the drummer Tim Alexander (also the drummer of Primus band). Tim is an old friend of Linda, and we three are recording a project where all of us are involved in composition and arrangements. I can consider it my next album since I am writing songs for this album. Such recordings start like a game, but they take much of our energy and time. We have much excitement in this work.

At this point I also have to say that some of your songs of your album “Live the music” where we played, I feel like they are my own song too! People who read this interview have to know that you are a talented artist, and I really enjoyed being a part of your music.

I stopped recording my solo albums when I saw a crisis in the world of labels. I am not worried about releasing my albums, continuing and making plans for one album every year. My instrument is unusual, why not my history? When I saw that the future of music is in live concerts –not the CDs, I started with all my “Stick Projects” (Stick Ensemble, The Stick Trio, Oxygene Eight, Electrik Consort, and my solo performances).

Irene: There has been a very hot dispute over looping on Stickwire. As one of the world best loopers, what are your pros and cons with the regard to looping?

Guillermo Cides: Really? I can’t imagine what can be the dispute. I think if you make music with your heart, it is enough. Anyway, people said marvelous things when they saw the concerts of Pink Floyd and a pig was flying above their heads. So now please, permit a simple musician to play with a machine doing loops.

Musicians have to train how to play. Listeners have to train how to listen. I have demands to the listener. There is a perverse attitude to criticize players. Listeners have to train how to listen.

Irene: I know that your answer to the question "Who is the best Stick player in the world?" is "The one who plays with the heart", but let me put it differently, who are the Stick players whose music managed to penetrate into your heart?

Guillermo Cides: The beginners. They really play with their hearts, and they are my favorites. I like to go to concerts where only beginners play. It is great! They are nervous, sudden, and they try to play what they have been practicing for hours in a room, and after the gigs they are really happy! You say “hey, it was a nice concert” and they say “ oh, it was not...” but they are happy inside. I like these people. With the time, we lose the “innocence of a musician”.

Irene: Except for performing, recording and participating in various music projects, you direct the Stick Center and write for Guitarra Actual and Bajista magazines. How do you manage to do all that at once?

Guillermo Cides: I don’t. My time is the world of adrenalin all the time, and when I arrive home after a rehearsal, I find an email from the editor that says “tomorrow morning we need the article”, and I have to write the article in the next hours! I like that. I am not a journalist, but I guess this is the same kind of adrenaline that is felt in the offices of magazine publishing houses. The experience of writing for a music magazine gives me a new vision of other musicians. It is fun to interview people who are in the other part of the world, doing different things. It is a way of communication (no, it sounds too academic, I'd better say “it is a window for spying about what other people do”!!)

The Stick Center started as a continuation of Centro de Stickistas in Argentina, but now it is becoming not only a Spanish association, but a European point of information. We receive a lot of emails from different European countries, and I am proud to say that the Stick Center is an “artistic point” in the world of stickistas. I feel that the instrument has had enough promotion, and this is the time to promote its artists. Three are other associations working in Europe: Germany, Holland, France.

Irene: In the past your organized a few Stick seminars in Spain. What happened to them? Can the Stick players hope for another Stick seminar in Spain in the future?

Guillermo Cides: The Stick Camp was a new way of meeting, a little less “serious”, in the countryside, with a swimming pool, living in the nature, playing music in local bars, and a lot of information for musicians, and it coincided with the town feast, so we had extra parties there. This meeting was a part of the plan to incite the recent visits of the stickistas to Spain and to promote the Stick to the community of musicians. It really worked well and many musicians in Spain know about this meeting of “people who play a strange instrument”! I think I did it because this is what I imagined a Stick Seminar should be when I was living in Argentina. Maybe we will organize a new Stick Camp soon, it depends on the interest of people.

A Stick lesson during the Stick Camp in Spain

Irene: And now a few questions from my Showcase readers.

Vladimir, Jerusalem, Israel: It would be interesting to know on what you based your choice of the instrument and whether you played another instrument before the Stick?

Guillermo Cides: I have never chosen the Stick, and I have to say it was vise versa. How is it possible to choose an instrument that I have never seen before? When I started to play the Stick in Argentina, the Internet was not a big reality like today. I had no information about who was the inventor, no books or instructional materials. I learned by myself, finding the notes and the chords. One day, a friend of mine showed me an American Guitar Player with an advertisement of Stick Enterprises. “Hey, is it the instrument that you play?” he said. At this moment I had the information about WHO was the inventor! It happened a year before I had my own first Stick. Next year I sent my first album to Emmett, and he sent me a letter (a real letter, by air mail!). That was a nice time. Now everything is very fast through the Internet.

After many years, I founded the first Centro de Stickistas in Argentina, and then the musicians could get information in a much easier way. When I moved to Spain, I started again with the Stick Center. Both organizations have made the Stick popular in Argentina and later in Spain, with the support of Emmett and local players. I still keep corresponding with Emmett Chapman. I know “another” Emmett through his letters, an interesting man, with creative ideas about everything.

Sergey, St Petersburg, Russia: Is there any special reason why you play the polycarbonate Stick?

Guillermo Cides: Because it was the first instrument I found. I work as a representative of Stick Enterprises and we have imported a lot of modern Sticks to Argentina and Spain, but I am still playing on my first one. Just I can’t leave it. :)

Galina Volkowa, Moscow, Russia: Have you been criticized by classical musicians for your passionate interpretation of Bach and are you planning to interpret other classical composers?

Guillermo Cides: When I recorded my Bach Tribute with the Stick, one of my fears was the criticism of the classical community. To my own surprise, they are very “open minded”, and many classical musicians to whom I showed my work found it “extravagant”, and I guess they liked to listen to “their music” played by “their neighbor”.

No, I have no plans for recording more classical music. The Bach CD was just a tribute at a specific moment of my life.

Angela, Moscow, Russia: What are your impressions of recording with Irene Orleansky and Kirill Malahov?

Guillermo Cides: Irene is a great player, and she knows how to learn fast. I liked her composition from the first time I had listened to it, and we started to work very fast. Kirill has a privileged voice, both are good musicians and it was easy to find a common way for recording songs. It was an experience through the Internet, and it was much easier than we imagined. Irene gave us her compositions and we thought of different ways of how to work with them. The result was a nice album.

Slava Akimov, Yuzhno-Sahalinsk, Russia: I know that you participated in recording Irene Orleansky's album. Have you ever thought of inviting her to participate in your project?

Guillermo Cides: We are always speaking about new recordings and things to do! I hope we will find again other ways of playing music together, besides CD. Next time it can be in live concerts, who knows.

Ravital Marcus, Tel Aviv, Israel: I have recently started singing, and though I am not a Stick player, the chapter "What We Should Play" from your book really encouraged and inspired me as a singer. Where can I buy the whole book and is it available in English?

Guillermo Cides: My book is sleeping a long sleep in my locker. I’m glad you liked the chapter. It is about what music is in our inner selves, and how a “teacher” can help to a musician in his beginning. I have to wake up my book again and finish it.

Irene: And now my traditional final questions. Are you planning to come with concerts to Israel or Russia one day?

Guillermo Cides: I would like to, of course, it depends on promotors and interest in new music.

Irene: Is there something else you would like to tell my Showcase visitors?

Guillermo Cides: No words. Just listen to the music that is flying in the air.

Irene: Thanks for being with us today and hope to see you again.

El Mundo Interior De Los Planetas MP3

The Bach Tribute BWV 1043 MP3

Guillermo Cides - Live (video)




Visit the previous month Showcase page

Trey Gunn

Trey Gunn probably doesn't need introduction, but just in case there is someone who doesn't know - Trey Gunn is the Warr guitarist, bassist, stickist of Quodia, TU, KTU, Robert Fripp Quintet, The Trey Gunn Band, King Crimson.

Today I am going to talk to Trey about his innovatory project Quodia in collaboration with Joe Mendelson and about their amazing, profound in thought and awakening fantasies, musical-visual-literary composition The Arrow.

Irene: Your program The Arrow combines music with the elements of theater, animation, light, video... To whom belongs the idea of such an innovatory project?

Trey Gunn: It has always been hovering around my creative world. When Joe Mendelson and I began working together on combining visuals with music and text it exploded into this project.

Quodia: Joe Mendelson, Trey Gunn

Irene: Through your program you proved yourself as a gifted writer, can we expect a purely literary work from you one day? A book?

Trey Gunn: Yes. We plan on making a book of The Arrow. And I have a series of children's stories, as well. About a boy in Africa.

Irene: Your program is a piece of literature not less that it is a piece of music, how do you solve the problem of the language barrier when performing in non-English-speaking countries?

Trey Gunn: Great questions. We consider (arrogantly, I am well aware) that English is fairly well known in most of the regions that we will play. We explain that to the promoters and hope that the audiences can join with us through the English language. However, we have played in Italy where several people I spoke to didn't understand the English and they had quite profound experiences despite that.

One strategy that we use is to integrate other languages into the "text" aspect of the show. This aspect being where we have actual words on the video screen. For example there is one section where the word "light" appears at the top of the screen in Spanish and as it descends to the bottom of the screen it turns into Russian, then into English and then into Hebrew. We are still experimenting with this aspect and it will develop further in the future.

Quodia: The Arrow

And another strategy we use is having some of the audio text in the local language. This began with one part of show being read by a friend of ours, Regina Spector. She reads one of the stories (in English) and we have a film of her beautiful lips mixed into the video. Since she is Russian and we were on our way to perform in Russia we got her to do another version in Russian. And after leaving Russia we were going to Spain so I got another friend (with very beautiful lips, as well!) to do a Spanish version.

This way we could have part of the show in the local language and, therefore, give part of the audience an extra doorway into the performance should they not be very fluent in English.

The results were mixed. In Spain it worked fantastically. In Russia there was a lot of controversy. You would probably be able to understand some of this. Joe and I can only partly understand it, but it seemed to come down to a few issues: 1. The Russian language is a very special language and Russians are extremely sensitive to that. It is a very precious language to them. So the translation became a huge issue - was it translated properly? (I can understand this one.); 2. Some people felt like it was degrading to consider that Russians wouldn't understand English and took it as an offense. (I can understand this one, but don't agree.); 3. Some people felt like it kicked them out of the performance to suddenly have to shift to a different language in the middle of the show. Even if it was back to their native language. (I can understand that.)

We need to do more research about all of this, but generally we are discovering that each country needs to be taken on its own terms with its own language. This is an extreme task, as, in order to do this properly, we have to record new audio for each language and re-edit the video sections as well.

Irene: In your program you created very strong images. I remember that after hearing your program I saw a dark-eyebrowed woman with a white veil on the horseback in my dream. How do you manage to find such precise words that ignite so well your listener's imagination? And where does such wild fantasy come from?

Trey Gunn: From within. This is the real secret to making powerful art.

Irene: I read that you developed a new method of operating video directly from the stage, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Trey Gunn: This is still in the exploratory stage. Currently the video is completed as one huge piece of video and Joe and I perform the music and text along with it.

Irene: You came with concerts to Russia three times - first with King Crimson, then with TU (Trey Gunn/Pat Mastelotto), and finally with Quodia. Which of the concerts the Russian audience received the best?

Trey Gunn: They are all different. All three projects had completely different kind of performance aspects. Tu was completely improvised in a club, KC was in a large theater with mostly composed material, and Quodia was a story.

Russians are hypercritical when it comes to art, which I love. I think the Russian Culture of Art is the finest on the planet.

Irene: How was performing together with Inna Zhelannaya and Farlanders in Moscow?

Trey Gunn: I love those guys. I hope to play with them again, as Farlanders are reformed and performing around Europe now. We did another show together last March for The Golden Masque Theater festival. It was there that was introduced to Pavel Ruminov, the film maker, who has asked to help score some of his next film.

Irene: What are your impressions of Russia and the Russian people?

Trey Gunn: I love Russia. It is a crazy place but the culture is fantastic. There is a such great feeling about art there. It is very serious business for an artist to have a vision and to follow through with it. Plus the literature is at the top of the heap - Nabovok and Bulgakov blow me away.

Irene: Are you planning to tour Russia again and will you come with concerts to Israel one day?

Trey Gunn: I'll be in Russia at the beginning of November playing with KTU (Kimmo, Samuli and Pat Mastelotto.)

I hope to go back to Russia as much as possible, as some of the best friends I have in the world live there.

Yes, I would LOVE to come to Israel. I have only been there once before, with Fripp in 1987. My mother travels to there a lot for her research on women's education. So, perhaps I will get to come along with her someday.

Irene: Thank you very much for your time and good luck with your projects!

Quodia - The Arrow (video)

KTU - Optikus (video)



KTU (Trey Gunn, Pat Mastelotto, Kimmo Pohjonen, Samuli Kosminen) will perform in:

Moscow, Russia, Club B2 - 3, November,2005 at 10 p.m.

Tampere, Finland, Tampere Jazz Festival -
5, November, 2005

Tallinn, Estonia, Rock Cafe - 7, November, 2005 at 8 p.m.

Visit the previous month Showcase page

Stick is a federally registered trademark of Stick Enterprises, Inc. and is used on Irene's Website with kind permission.
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