Switch Contents SoundCulture

YT: What is SoundCulture?

EO: SoundCulture means different things to different people. The focus of the festival is the way that different cultures work with sound outside of the area of music. Music is the most obvious area of aural cultural expression, but there is a wide terrain of communication and expression that happens in sound and not in the form of music. So SoundCulture is a broad term that serves to highlight some of these different ways of using sound and gives some focus to existing sound practices that don't otherwise get much attention. The festival focuses on activities in the Pacific Region because there are a number of things that happen quite differently than they do in Europe: different ways of thinking and different manners of working with sound. When the festival was first put together in 1991 it was designed to be a Pacific Region Festival and we decided keep it that way for this edition of it. We had a meeting of the international committee here during the festival and we talked a little bit about expanding into Europe and we decided for the moment not to. Mainly it came down to the fact that 1) the Pacific sensibility is a special thing which is worth preserving; and 2) although there are a great deal of interesting sound activities in Europe, there are already plenty of venues for it so they are not hurting for more.

YT: How was SoundCulture developed?

EO: It was started by a number of artists and organizers in Sydney. In Australia there is a particular stream of sound art work that has been developing for quite a while, and eventually some of the people involved with it wanted to put together a showcase for it. There is also a long-running program on ABC radio (Australia Broadcast Corporation) which is the nationwide radio network there called "Listening Room." Every week for two hours there is a broadcast of all sorts of experimental sound work. So in terms of national consciousness there is already something on the air every week, and all over Australia you can tune into the program - although I am sure it is not one of the higher-rated programs on the radio. So there is a regular representation of experimental sound work in a relatively mainstream venue, and this has certainly helped to alert a wide audience to the fact that this kind of sound work exists and is a flourishing field. So the combination of that and the presence of a number of artists doing interesting works made a good situation in which to start the festival. At that festival in 1991 there were people from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the US, giving it the Pacific flavor that it has maintained. A small working group was formed at that festival to plan the direction of future editions of SoundCulture, and it was decided that next ones would be in Japan and then the US. So the one in Tokyo happened in '93, and then it was our turn here. Originally ours was going to happen last year, but for various reasons it was not going to work to get all the organizations involved at some point during '95 so we decided to put that off to '96. The next one will probably be in New Zealand, but it is not certain yet. If it does happen there then it will be '98 or '99.

YT: How did you get involved in SoundCulture?

EO: I knew some of the people who have been in the previous editions and a couple of people who would had been the key organizers here ended up moving to Australia. They were not around to organize it, but there was still a group of us who were interested in trying to make it happen. We got together and started planning about two years ago, a little longer actually. Eventually, just to make this run more smoothly, I agreed to be the director so that we could be more focused and have one central person who would know what was going on. Everything was run on a volunteer basis, and of course that makes it difficult to do things efficiently, but with me as the director and some other people taking care of specific things, we got everything to happen. We didn't have an office or anything, I just ran everything out of my laptop computer.