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Andrej Danóczi: A wide-spectrum diary of a lonesome stranger

Published November, 2014
by Jakub Juhás

Andrej Danóczi is a rare beast on the Slovak experimental scene. A self-proclaimed lonesome rider, a workaholic (operating between experimental film, music and photography) living in Trenčín (Western Slovakia). In his compositions, he utilizes elements of chance, recycling and bastardization. His oeuvre is also marked by a connection with the audiovisual, be it on the basis of building an atmosphere or from a formal standpoint, when organising sounds (cut/collage). His so latest composition to date is called Music for Darkness.

„The most important moment in my music came in 2013, I consider it a new beginning. It all started when Prokop Holoubek (Midi Lidi) told Tomáš Procházka about me, who wrote about me on his blog Endemits Archives, whereafter I was contacted by the label CS Industrial, who offered to release my noise stuff. Further activities came along, some articles, I got to know many interesting people. On the newly established Meteorismo label, I contributed to the inaugural compilation and released an anthology Reminiscencie. A collaboration with an unnamed Polish label is also in the pipeline. A new phase has started. I am at the beginning.“

The situation of a personality, an artist, observer, musician, audiovisual creator, whatever you’d call yourself, who lives in Trenčín and is disconnected from the internet, has caught my attention. Are you in touch with similarly people around you? Do you follow the Slovak experimental scene?

You mention „disconnected from the internet“. I wouldn’t say at all, that I am an internet ignorant. I just don’t have it connected at home, I use a public one. When they had it shut down for two days during Christmas, I was biting my nails – figuratively, I wouldn’t be able to function offline 😉 There are more reasons. I am trying to avoid an addiction and it would distract me from my work. During composing music or film, I need to be alone, it is an intimate thing, between both of my inner „I’s“. I do not know many similar people in Trenčín, and I don’t follow Slovak experimental scene a lot, but since lot of my friends make music, I do hear about it sometimes…

Could you say something about your beginnings?

The first few things, similarly to most of the people, were created in early childhood. Kitchen noise. Drums were pots and dippers. Later the the instrument palette got augmented with a string instrument = an egg cutter. Mum came by, which meant the end of this short, but fruitful episode 😉 Later in my teenage years, I tried to compose something on a synth, but I only created 3 tracks. The defining moment arrived on 2nd of July 2004 – when I bought my first PC. I started to explore its possibilities, I played around with the Windows „recording of sound“. As a material, I used everything I had downloaded to my PC. Mostly parts of songs, and this somehow led to recycling. Some tracks I had downloaded from old scratched vinyls, because that uneven cracking seemed like a docile material. Thus, 4 ten-minute „songs“ came to life. In the beginning, I almost did such anti-music exclusively.

I had already had my first sound collages behind me by this time, and a creation of a fictitious band Analog Apple. It was a platfom for recordings created exclusively on analogue synths. The initial inspiration was Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. The second impetus came with an effort to avoid over-production, which didn’t seem to have happened 😉

There are several periods in my work. In spite of the fact, that currently, I move between a wide spectrum of genres, often something prevailed. Initially, it were the aforementioned recycling and sonic mosaics, a song here and there. Since 2012, I have started to use samples of string instruments and create classical rock stuff, after a longer period of refusing to do so. In that year, the first track of the open cycle for the ARP synth, called Dovolenka v ARPách3 was created. I have a thing for old analogue instruments, because they can be child-like simple and at the same time, very complicated. Currently, I am planning to try something different – programming software such as pure date or supercollider.

Your work is renowned for prominent over-production in a positive sense of the word. What is the importance of the final result for you? Are you able to look back at your discography, in time?

Over-production? I would rather call it a well-used time. What did Beatles do in 1964: „only“ two albums and a couple of singles. I don’t include tracks, which they wrote under pseudonyms for others. They not only had to compose the songs and record them, they also had to rehearse them. That year, they played around 200 concerts, plus all those weeks spent travelling, doing TV, radio, journalists, etc. And they also managed to finish a movie. I don’t rehearse nor play gigs or travel. So those 7 records that I do each year, is just about right. To be honest, when I finish an album, it is a closed chapter to me as well as an alibi, that I lived and not only survived. Sometimes I do go back, but for me, the most important is the process itself. A while ago, I was selecting some tracks for a compilation and was forced to listen to my very first tracks. Some seemed OK, others terrible, it’s a chaos. I cannot say, which album is from which record, or which track has this or that title, especially if the compositions are called with numbers. There is one, that I made in 2010 and I haven’t even heard it yet. Nobody has heard it. I did it by chance. I inserted parts of a composition blindly into a timescale, I don’t even know how many tracks it has. The length is 20 minutes. It will be premiered, I just have to find the right occasion.

Could it be said that you are always looking for new ways? I’ve always been interested in the trajectory of a creator across his or hers oeuvre. The case, when an author easily crosses over genre boundaries, not hindered by anything, not eschewing popular allusions and is able to connect everything into a pulsating organism. In such a music, the author gets lost, his physical body is dissolved. I have a similar feeling when trawling through links connected to your name.

On one hand, I’m excited by something new, on the other I’m bound by the past. I’m fascinated by the early experimental music, more or less it is always present in my work. I’m more drawn to an analogue world rather than digital. I’m drawing from the past, I often use the methods of musique concrete, though I don’t do museum music. Of course, this cannot be applied to the whole of my work. I just wanted to say, that to sound utmost modern and contemporary is not what I would like to do. Perhaps the very fact, that I’m not clued up in contemporary experimental music and do things my way, is the reason why some may find my work interesting or innovative.

Does this mean that you work on some conceptual basis, which alludes to working with chance or to your recycling/bastardizations, or are you lead by intuition, with nothing predetermined in advance awaiting what comes out of it? What is the primordial drive during each of your new works?

I’m not someone who is recording only after composing a track. That wouldn’t interest me, it would be only craftsmanship. I’m composing and recording at the same time. Sometimes, I only have a vague idea about what will come out of it, other times not even that. Sometimes I determine a concept ahead, which I stick to throughout. Some are based on the philosophy of transgression with other forms, others implicitly defy this. I’ve found out that I can concentrate a lot better, if during listening to an unfinished recording, I have a photo on a computer screen. It doesn’t matter what is on it. You can create an intimate bond to it during few minutes. When I listen to a song, my brain subconsciously fixates individual associations into micro-worlds of this map, each feeling has its own place, the track is transposed onto an image, a succession of moods gets in order, as if perception transformed into the pixels of a screen. Nothing distracts.

Once at night, when I listened to music, I had a photo on my screen, with few white lines on a black background. These were the only points of light in the room. I had a strange feeling – the mysterious black attraction, the sounds pliantly hanging in space. A small room, complete darkness, eyes shut, nothing but darkness and sounds. During this kind of perception, you perceive the individual sonic nuances much more vividly, pliantly. I tried it once with seven people and it was truly immersive. I was surprised how long they could keep up their attention during a not so easily-consumed composition. I have released an album called Music for Darkness, and I believe, that it will be soon also played live.

Let’s go back to the recycling. Could you describe this method which is very typical for you?

As I’ve mentioned before, my first foray into the sonic was through sound collages, in which I replayed scraps of sound in varying speeds and layered them in order to create abstract noise-lyrical mazes. I used everything I could in them, parts of famous tracks, too. When going through my archive, the first piece of recycling – even though I didn’t call it that at that time – was Je podél všech cest, je velpoléro podej pšéno. Soon, I started to perceive recycling as an individual genre. Five albums came out of it. The raw material aimed for recycling shouldn’t include a rhythm-based part, I define the rhythm. It’s not music for dancing, more like cleaned nodes of broken fragments of the original song. Autonomous compositions, which live their own life. In hindsight, I think it would be worth to try to play them live a cappella.

This article was supported by the Intenda Foundation.