Dressing Room Talks at LUFF Festival: Yasunao Tone

Our contributing writer, Angela Chambers had the pleasure to catch up with a few of the artists backstage at this year’s LUFF Festival in Lausanne where we had the chance to ask them a few more intimate questions about their music techniques and live setups. Tone doesn’t modify sound. He changes the information. By sticking pieces of perforated adhesive tape to the bottom of a CD he deflects the player’s reading laser of the bits in the byte groups. Thus the information changes. At LUFF he will once again, true to his “paramedia” art, expand the horizons of artificial intelligence by subverting its preconceived use. In the fifties Tone paved the way for unconscious silent pulses in music (Group Ongaku, the first group of improvised music in Japan), then took part in the destabilization of Western musical art’s foundations (founder of Fluxus in Japan).

1. How did you come to this process of making sounds and making music from the very beginning?

I have told this story a number of times. (Laughing) In the late 50’s, when I was in college, I went to a lot of contemporary music concerts. I soon met my composition professor who was teaching at the Tokyo University of the Arts, also called the Geidai. He told me to come with him and there’s a guy who is like you, and then I soon met Takehisa Kosugi and we became very close friends. At that time, my university classmate and Kosugi started playing improvisational music. I decided to join them and then we formed our group called Ongaku. We had a group concert and we invited Toshi Ichiyanagi, the ex-husband of Yoko Ono. He had just came back from New York and we invited him to join and then he asked us to play for his concert in 1961. My collaboration with Florian Hecker for Palimpsest came along much later in 2001.

2. How did you start with your live setup method you are using now?

Three years ago, I had my show at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, NY. I asked my friend Tony Myatt from the UK and another young guy who then loaded the program for me.

3.  Can you tell me more about your live setup technique? I noticed during your set that you deal with A, B, C, D, E, F buttons and then you control the different sounds? Do you program them?

I don’t control, They control me!

4. They control you?? That’s important to know. You mean you are just sitting there and they tell you which of your fingers to move?

So I try to confuse the machine. I press “A” and then many waves come up. When I change buttons quickly, the screen becomes red. Then the machine is confused. The machine is a virtual “Me” or “Myself”.
And if I just let it go, it plays itself. Not control I don’t like controlling something.

5. What’s it’s name? The Machine?

His name is AI Deviation. The machine is listening. I can show you….(audio)?

6. What happens when you take the X’s away?

Only one part stops listening. Once I condense the sound, then I can expand the original sound. It’s a kind of recording system, so I think I can interfere in between. Condensing and dissolving. If I interfere with something then the dissolve is very different from the original. So that is my conception. Some interruption or if a file collapses, then I didn’t listen to that sound. It is so boring. It doesn’t change up, just Noise!

7. I’m curious to know who are some of your biggest influences?

Influence is not something you choose. Biggest guy is John Cage of course.

8. How do you think technology will transform your sound in the future?


9. Is it your first time playing at the LUFF Festival?

Yes, very nice people!

About the LUFF

Over the last fifteen years, the Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival (LUFF) has been going to great pains to rub its audiences the wrong way and to offer some original and off-the-wall programming. LUFF’s objective is to fuse music and cinema together into a chemistry of weirdness, drawing from a wide range of avant-garde artists and innovative creations which in most cases have never been seen before in Switzerland . www.luff.ch