Interview: Supersilent

How did John Paul Jones come to be involved in Supersilent?

He was doing a solo performance of an electronic piece at the Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Norway in 2010, and we asked him if he would like to join us for our concert. We had a 10-minute soundcheck and that was basically it, in regards to preparations. We had some knowledge of his more avant-garde work and expertise in electronic music, so it seemed like an interesting cooperation.

Can you remember back to those early performances with JPJ? Was there any apprehension as to whether or not the collaboration would “work”?

No, we all had a really good feeling at the first show, and it keeps evolving with every show we do. I find that you usually get a sense of how good it works, quite early on when performing improvised music.

What are your thoughts on the UK as a place to take your music and play live shows?

We have always enjoyed playing in the UK, and we are absolutely looking forward to it.

How significant are the environmental factors (time, location, audience) during your live performances? Would you say that these have a notable effect on the outcome?

It is indeed very important. It is always an energy present between band and audience, which will in some way interact with the performance. Even though our music is not always very accessible, does not mean that we do not seek communication with our audience. The venue is also a major factor in our performance as playing in a big hall is very different from playing in a tight club. It is always challenging and interesting to adapt the music to the size and feel of the room. It is also a luxury you have when working with improvisation.

You’ve been playing together for 15 years now. Do you feel as though you are still capable of surprising each other in the improvised setting?

Yes, it would not really be a point in continuing if we did not do that anymore. Having played together for so long, has created an interaction within the band, which I have have never experienced in any other setting. We are constantly working with technology, sounds and texture in various settings, so there is always an element of surprise when we meet as Supersilent.

How do recording sessions work in comparison with live shows? Is there any pre-planning as to the “style” of the material you record?

No, we have nothing preplanned, but we have done studio sessions where both rooms and instruments have pushed the music in a more specific direction. Our album 9 was done with Hammond Organs in a big live room, which obviously did colour the direction the music took. Also the piano, guitar and trumpet pieces on 10 challenged our perception of our own music and how to perform it. As to preplanning styles, we find that it usually do not work very well. it is better to start from scratch and see where it leads. In the studio we obviously have the luxury of more time for experimentation, even though you do not get the energy from a good crowd. When Jarle Vespestad left the band, we did several studio sessions to research our abilities as a trio. You have to adapt and change at the same time.

Being a band whose music depends exclusively on spontaneity, what are your thoughts on your music in the recorded format? Is there any sense that being able to listen to a spontaneous performance over and over again may nullify the “spontaneous” aspect?

We think of our music as compositions. Improvisation is our tool to compose music. We have not much interest in improvised music as a musical style or an intellectual point of view.

It’s been two years since 11 came out. Are there any plans to record new material any time soon?

We have around 30 hours of studio material already recorded, so it is not unlikely that we will release one or two albums in 2013. We have already mixed a lot of material.


Supersilent UK tour –

Supersilent on Soundcloud –