Interview: TEHO TEARDO / Intervju s Tehom Teardom
In the early 90s Teho Teardo was the member of the noisy rock band Meathead. After their split in 1996 he has mostly collaborated with many musicians around the globe, has composed 13 movie soundtracks and this year he released album Still Smiling with Blixa Bargeld. Before their concert in Ljubljana, I have sent Teho some questions via e_mail and below are his answers.
How would you describe the transition from noisy rock music to more cinematic, textured music? Was there one turning point or have you progressed step by step? There's no transition, music has such a wide range of possibilities that allows you to change your path during the way and it's nice picking up new directions every time. Lately I'm listening to a lot of old records like Skip James, Fred McDowell, where do we go from here? What can I do with it? Hard to say.
Wikipedia still states that Meathead IS the rock band... Does it mean it IS still active? No, they're defunct since 1996.
It seems you most likely to create within small group or alone. With the possibilities of today's computers, it much easier to compose even more complex composition alone, I guess. I like the duo format, I feel very comfortable working with someone else, not too many people.
Tell us more about your compositional habits, how do you normally approach to certain composition? Do you „compose“ in mind first or do you start from the sound / sample and progress grdaually from there? Both ways. I like searching within the sound, like a molecular research, you can find a full strings section within a two seconds drone and then build up from there.
You've been awarded for your soundtrack work, how much does it mean to you? It's always nice when someone appreciates your music. I had the chance to work on some really amazing movie. Films often have a good visibility and this allowed me to experiment with sounds and music in a mainstream context. sometimes I think that the cinema world has been my real label because not many labels would have afforded such work.
How did you and Blixa come together? I guess it was for the A Quiet Life, song for a movie of the same name. We first collaborated on a theatre piece named Ingiuria, with Societas Raffaello Sanzio and Alexander Balanescu, then we did a song for a soundtrack and then working on an album looked like a very spontaneous thing to do.
As I know Blixa lives in China, so I guess you didn't have much time together to compose Still Smiling. Did you do most work separetelly? He moved back to Berlin now, way easier for our collaboration. We always work together, in the same room. I like that. I came up with several sketches, then we reworked them together, it's been such a pleasant experience, both musical and personal, we get along very well.
I think that you didn't change your style much, it's very similar to your soundtrack works, while Blixa took advantage and done some songs I can't imagine he would do it with Einsturzende Neubauten (Alone In The Moon especially)? What was the initial approach, did you discuss that in advance? Sure there are some signature elements, but I like the idea of reshaping them in a new way. There's not a general theme, every song has its own world.
What was your role/contribution to the whole theme of the album. Blixa starts with passable Italian langauge... Blixa came up with the idea of singing in different languages and I liked it very much right from the start. His italian works really well and the song "Mi scusi" had such a great feedback in Italy, people loved it and when we play it live they seem to appreciate it in such a special way.
The cover photo is quite interesting, you pointing with fingers to each other while looking away... Could you describe a bit this relation? We did it on the spot, without planning, it's been one of the first photos we did on that session. I usually hate photo sessions, but that one with Thomas Rabsch was a very special one, we had a lot of fun.
You and Blixa play most instruments on the album, so how would be this music presented in live situation? With guest musicians, with pre-recorded music? We play live with a cellist, Martina Bertoni, I play baritone guitar and electronics. When finances allow it we bring with us also a string quartet.
(Rock obrobje, september 2013)