Ernesto Rodrigues Interview
Stuart Broomer - Your musical background.
Ernesto Rodrigues - I was strongly influenced by my father’s taste of music, that was one of the reasons for me to became a musician. His godfather was a maestro (Wenceslau Pinto) and gave me my first music lessons, at the age of six. Later I joined the music conservatory to study violin and music theory. I started playing live in my teens with folk and popular groups, namely, José Afonso, Fausto and Jorge Palma. After a couple years doing this kind of music, I start doing the music i really like, creative music, improvisation, electroacoustic, following my tastes in free improvisation, contemporary music and eai. Throughout the years I manage to gather several formations in order to conduct different experiments in terms of form and language. Most of them are documented in cd in creative sources label, which I created (in a first period) to show my own work, and on a second phase to document other musicians work that I feel connected somehow. And that grew much far from my initial expectations, reaching a global catalogue. I also did electronic composition and wrote pieces for solo or chamber groups.
Stuart Broomer - In my e-mail dialogue with Carlos Santos, he mentioned that he felt experimental music in Portugal and Spain was more politically motivated and radical because of the social climate—do you feel that way?
Ernesto Rodrigues - Yes, there was a connection with some kinds of left policies (something that today is missing – consumer society) due to fact that both countries had dictatorships for almost half a century, closed to the outside influence and ideas, revealing a selfcentered and numb society. Nothing new here, it happened in Paris in 68, when a lot of American musicians based there their cultural activities. Lots of artistic movements appeared with left wing relations.
Stuart Broomer - Beginning: state of free improvisation and recording in Portugal in 2000, number of important players?
Ernesto Rodrigues - In 2000 there’s already a small group of musicians working and presenting works. Before 2000, there were a few people working but production costs were to high for cd release.
Stuart Broomer - (I noticed Self Eater and Drinker with Jorge Valente on synthesizer and computer released on the Audeo label from 1999—what a great title). CS: a label that seems to begin as a necessary tool of self-documentation?
Ernesto Rodrigues - (Thank you!) Of course, the need to document works outside the live presentations, to endure time without been lost or forgotten, also as tool for self-promotion.
Stuart Broomer - Gradual expansion, a widening circle taking in musicians from Portugal, Spain, and then Europe, Asia and America. When did it really start to expand?
Ernesto Rodrigues - That first happened on sixth release, with a Portuguese musician living in Barcelona, but it really took off on the ninth production, with Berlin trio with Axel Dörner, and from there, it’s a small world, musicians start to identify themselves with the label, somehow it exploded, people from everywhere shared the same aesthetics.
Stuart Broomer - How did you come to improvised music? (I have the Bechegas on Leo Lab).
Ernesto Rodrigues - My first improvisation group was an acoustic trio with Carlos Bechegas on reeds and Valente on piano (close to AACM aesthetics), i was very influenced by Leroy Jenkins. After, a trio with Bechegas and Ines Martins (voice), and later, a trio with José Oliveira on percussion and Valente on synth, called “Fromage Digital” (Self Eater and Drinker comes from this association with Valente).
Stuart Broomer - First associations? Bechegas cd on Leo?
Ernesto Rodrigues - IK*Zs was the fourth trio, again with Bechegas and Oliveira.
Stuart Broomer - What were your plans when you first started Creative Sources?
Ernesto Rodrigues - Documentation and possible self-promotion, but it was an ancient and strong dream of mine to have a music label…
Stuart Broomer - Motivating factor?
Ernesto Rodrigues - The impossible task of releasing the “Multiples” cd.
Stuart Broomer - Important associations, early, late, chronological.
Ernesto Rodrigues - Carlos Bechegas, Jorge Valente, José Oliveira, Guilherme Rodrigues, Carlos Santos, Nuno Torres, Nuno Morão…
Stuart Broomer - Several early cds feature you and your son Guilherme and José Oliveira percussion, acoustic guitar… First cd Multiples dedicated to John Stevens. Importance?
Ernesto Rodrigues - The importance of being the first cd of Creative Sources Recordings!! “Multiples”, as the second cd, “23 Exposures”, are the closing of an era, of a cycle for me. the influence of the English improvisation school . “Sudden Music” deals with different aesthetics, that i would explore in the near future.
Stuart Broomer - Many with cover art by electronic musician Carlos Santos?
Ernesto Rodrigues - My relation with Carlos Santos comes from a long time, despite our age difference, we lived in the same building for several years during our growing up. And he works as a graphic designer. There’s a close proximity in terms of aesthetics, be it in label imagery, be it in as a music partner. He delivers what’s needed in both fields. I think he’s the “perfect” partner!
Stuart Broomer - Year it began? First cd is released 2001?
Ernesto Rodrigues - It began in 2000, but the first cd was released in the beginning of 2001.
Stuart Broomer - What events triggered its expansion? Examples: french—german—japanese artists.
Ernesto Rodrigues - Musicians start to listen the cd’s from the label, but i think after the “No Furniture” cd (cs009),the Berlin trio, things started to roll, musicians attracted other musicians. and so on…
Stuart Broomer - What is the Lebanon connection for two cds?
Ernesto Rodrigues – I can tell you a small history, when Sharif and Christine Sehnaoui arrived in Lisbon, in 2004 for a concert, they told me they wanted to check the most “sui generis” south of Europe strings (their own words), me and my son. That’s how “Undecided” was born. A big friendship was born…
Stuart Broomer - I would like to focus on cs 100-the three cd set of the Lisbon orchestra from 2007 when had the orchestra come together? How had it become possible in Lisbon?
Ernesto Rodrigues - First of all through hard work, having such a big orchestra, with so many people (the biggest size was around 45 elements), to coordinate everyone, for presentations, very big job. It all started in 2000 bit by bit, i had a dream from my youth of having something similar to JCOA and Globe Unity Orchestra. It’s the first and only orchestra of this kind in Portugal, and the triple cd is the necessary document. There’s a second release in an American label from San Francisco (Void Leaper), with a live recording done at Casa da Música, in Oporto. The two cds are more linked with free music aesthetics, but nowadays the orchestra is going in a different direction, more related to lowercase and textural work, due to reduction in the number of musicians (now around 20).
Stuart Broomer - What do you see as the label highlights?
Ernesto Rodrigues - It come to my memory, “Stand Clear”, “Sparks”, “Rumeur”, “Sputter”, “No Furniture”, “Gold”, Phonèmes” “Kenon”, “Materials”, “Backchats”, and many others, it’s difficult to mention all because I’m attached to them all emotionally.
Stuart Broomer - What’s coming next?
Ernesto Rodrigues - Seeded Plain - (Bryan Day and Jay Kreimer); Yoni Silver (Israel bass clarinet player); a trio with me, Neil Davidson and Wade Matthews; Urs Leimgruber trio; Rage – acousmatic piece by Franco Degrassi; Jason Khan project and a trio with Frederic Blondy, Martine Altenburger and Bertrand Gauguet.
Stuart Broomer - Things you’re planning that you think are particularly important?
Ernesto Rodrigues – To release a double cd with my project “Suspensão”, already recorded, an eai octet dealing with silence, space and textures; get back to work with my ancient electroacoustic trio (with my son and Carlos Santos); record a new Variable Geometry Orchestra cd; develop new graphic scores for my group “IKB Ensemble”; finish a String Quartet and a Violin/Clarinet/Piano trio scores.
Interview for AllAboutJazz-NewYork, July 2010