Starting as a visual artist, Alain Lefebvre has been making abstract-concrete experimental noise with amplified objects and lo-fi devices which he pushes beyond their intended use and capabilities. In 2011, he began concentrating on live improvisation, performing principally in Montreal, as well as curating the concert series “We are the Drugs” with Chris Strickland. His first album containing solely live material, “Objects and Electronics”, was released in 2012 on K.A.N.T. N.A.G.A.N.O.’s Encodages de l’Oubli label. His most recent album, “In the gap between people and the strange jungle of civilized society” is his second record on K o h l e n s t o f f Records.
Kohlenstoff Records: What was the source of inspiration for this album?
Alain Lefebvre: There were many. One important source of direction was that I wanted to clear a path between my work and the work of some of the visual artists that have influenced me. I felt it was time to figure out how to do that – how to adopt those influences. But how does one explore something in music that was first noticed in, say, sculpture or painting? Well, one example of how it can work is illustrated in my relationship to the work of Tom Friedman, who is an American conceptual sculptor. Friedman imbues his materials with a logic that emerges from the materials themselves! His early classic work is almost always this way. His more recent work is usually less uniconceptual (such as with his monster sculptures), where he lets the process of making the piece also determine what the final outcome will be. So it has become a logic not only of materials but of a process as well. Anyways, it took me many years to fully grasp all this. I’m glad I eventually did, because it inspired me to explore this “material logic”.
K: How did you proceed to create this album? Which technologies / materials did you use? Was it recorded live or did you edit the sound layers with a computer? Is your approach different when you work on fixed media (cd, album) versus performing live? What kind of aesthetic did you intend to create?
A: Yes, it was recorded live. The album consists of excerpts of performances and runthroughs that occurred between Fall 2013 and Summer 2014. They’re like “snapshots” in that sense. It’s a “snapshot” aesthetic.
K: Most Kohlenstoff albums have an electroacoustic character, would you describe your own music as electroacoustic? If not, how would you describe it?
A: No, it’s clearly not electroacoustic music. How would I describe it? It’s in the gap between people and the strange jungle of civilized society.
K: You do a lot of gigs in small places and undergroud venues, would you be comfortable playing in big venues like, lets say, the Metropolis? or does your live music fit exclusively with underground places?
A: Well, sometimes I perform at bigger venues. The last show I played was at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and the room was pretty big. Regardless of where I am, I always find performing a little bit comfortable and a little bit uncomfortable at the same time.
K: For the Kolenstoff event at Skol, you’re going to present an audio-visual document; can you tell us more about this piece?
A: It’s my selection from a yearlong audiovisual project that I did with Sonya Stefan where we produced a musical video or film at the end of every month. The month I chose is July 2013. It’s a databending video. I made the music so close to the time of the Magic Eye album that I tend to think of it as a Magic Eye outtake. It’s got the same repetitive, circular aesthetic. I’m looking forward to experiencing it big!
K: Is audio-visual art something you want to develop further in the future?
A: Yes. But I find it very difficult. It’s taken me years to develop methods of making live music. With visual arts, I’m often horrified by a realization that it could be anything. Where do I start? When do I stop? Is that a post-Duchampian syndrome? I think if I were a painter I would maybe end up eating all the paint. But I do pull it off sometimes. And I love collaborating with visual artists.
K: What music are you currently listening to?
A: Dotolim, Stephen Cornford, Kaffe Matthews, Coppice, the Beach Boys, and Jan & Dean.
K: What are your upcoming projects?
A: My next performance is on September 13th at Casa Obscura. It’s with Guillaume Vallée who manipulates and combines film and video live. The other performers on the bill are Klondike, and Demi-Mal & Lamashtu. After that show, hopefully collaborate musically with someone. I want to perform in a duo, a trio, or even a quartet.