Ernesto Rodrigues Interview










Peter Margasak - I assume you started Creative Sources as a means for getting your own work out--is this true? How has the label grown and did you ever expect it to be so prolific?

Ernesto Rodrigues – As a matter of fact, at start, CS label has been the only practical way to publish my own work. Naturally, through the net, an increasing interest was developed and I’ve concentrated all my efforts in order to help other musicians to publish their work. Time proved that the lack of a label like this, was greater than I expected.

Peter Margasak - I have to admit that I'm not very familiar with improvisation and experimental music in Portugal--until coming across your label I only knew Rafael Toral and Nuno Canavarro. As someone who's been playing for a long time, can you give a sense of the scene there and how it's changed over the years? How has it become more involved in the international community of improvisation? Is there something distinctly Portuguese in your approach or other Portuguese artists who've done work for the label?

Ernesto Rodrigues – Although experimental music exists since around 30 years in Portugal, I think it has expanded nowadays. There are more musicians interested in it and some of them with international reputation. Like in other European countries dynamic has changed, and musicians look forward to share new experiences. By the way, next February, I will be on tour with guitarist Manuel Mota through the U.S..
I think it’s difficult to conceive a distinct Portuguese approach in that sense because the socio-cultural relationship with the instruments is continually subverted all over… but is also true that I find, aesthetically some Mediterranean characteristics that one doesn’t find outside. There’s generally some feel of contemplation and lyricism.

Peter Margasak - How have you developed contacts and relationships with the international community? Most of your titles are non-Portuguese players...

Ernesto Rodrigues – As you know, the essence of experimental music itself tries to go beyond the common notions of the mainstream. The internet in the last decade, has played an essential role in what concerns the edification of an international community. We are all part of it.

Peter Margasak - Since I've only heard your work made over the last four years, can you tell me how your playing has changed over the years? What has guided or influenced you in your current approach?

Ernesto Rodrigues – I started studying music when I was thirteen. My grandfather was a play writer and my father’s godfather was a maestro. I lived in the same house with them and they where a very important and strong influence in my childhood. Later, a friend of mine filled some forms for my admission at the Lisbon Conservatory, without my knowing, and I started my musical studies. (As there were no vacancies for violin I studied bassoon for one year). I live daily with experimental music since 30 years ago, and my nature expresses itself through what I do. There was of course an evolution in my playing, being clearly noticeable if one listens to “Multiples” (CS 001), which still has strong influences from the English school, and for example “Diafon” (CS 041).
Nowadays I try to forget all technique I’ve learned as far as playing the violin is concerned, for all I’m interested in developing as my musical universe hasn’t got anything to do with what you learn in academies. My main interest shifted towards contemporary improvised and composed music. The relationship with my instruments is focused in sonic and textural elements.
Electronic music was an early influence on my approach to violin playing, which challenges traditional romantic concepts of the violin/viola through use of preparations and micro tuning.
Today there is a new musical reflection on what concerns experimentation. There is like a trend to make it autonomous and free it from any connotations and make it become a new musical sphere.

Peter Margasak - CS is closely identified with the whole lowercase improv style--are you happy with this characterization or do you have an interest in representing and documenting a larger range of work?

Ernesto Rodrigues – Yes, I don’t mind at all representing other approaches. Myself, I used to be involved with several European improvisation schools (and CS has some examples of them). Naturally, my inner growing brought me to publish a genre that is connected with our days, a natural reaction to this disturbed era.

Peter Margasak - How have you managed to finance such a large number of releases? Is the label self-sufficient?

Ernesto Rodrigues – Until the present dynamics were established, I had to make an effort concerning economic matters. Now, every production implies the sharing of the costs between me and the musicians. Fortunately, graphic designer Carlos Santos, a good friend of mine, helped me from the beginning for free. Without him all this would have been much harder.

November 2005