Damo Suzuki of Can has been pushing the boundaries of experimental music, krautrock, and his current discipline of gathering “Sound Carriers” from all corners of the globe– psychedelic music collaborations, mostly improvised, that take part in concert halls the world over. A nomad, yet with roots in Cologne, Germany, he spends vast periods of time on the road, dropping in on different towns and sharing his infectious energy.
With a never ending touring schedule, and regular trips back to his native Japan, Damo took some time out to answer some questions for Bad Sounds… As long as we promised not to ask him about the Seventies.
First of all how are you, and where in the world are you?
>I’m at home in Cologne, Germany, answering this mail.
At three thirty on Thursday January 26 2012.
Just longing to perform next show, a first concert in this year in St.Gallen Switzerland in 2 weeks time.
What are you listening to at the moment?
>Now? “El Dorado” from John Adams.
Generally I listen to Classical music.
I read you are currently living in Cologne? How is the music scene there these days?
> I’m living here in Cologne AGES!!…more than enough.
I rest here, it’s middle of Europe, so it’s easy to go to everywhere also I’ve two possibilities to fly from here or Dusseldorf.
I’ve no contact to music scene here, I just live here as just foreign resident.
And I’m happy with this situation.
How often do you manage to go back to Japan?
> Once or twice in Year. Mainly 4 weeks to 6 weeks.
In the year 2010, I travelled beside performing all through Japan for 3 months. It was my dream to step on all 47 prefectures, Top North to South Bottom as I wanted to know my own country where I was born and glow up even it was quite superficial journey and I won’t do it again …but, I’ve done it.
Do you still have a very strong connection there?
> Strong?, ….The width of the meaning each words are different people to people, Yes, I guess I’ve quite relationship, Otherwise I don’t go there every year. Japan is very interesting country and rich in culture, it has length of 2,000km, west and east separated by mountains at middle. We’ve weather like Norway to Hawaii……West parts and east parts of mountains has different culture. Foods there are an amazing if you go to local. ….Sure most conservative part of the body is stomach. I like mainly, Italian and Austrian foods beside Japanese. I like to talk about foods…
How many days of the year do you spend touring, on average? Do you enjoy touring or do it more from a necessity standpoint?
>Around 70 shows a year, Transfer and day off on the road inclusive maybe 100 days, also if I’ve time I travel without music too…so, almost half year I may be not at home.
Travelling could be a best thing you can do with your money…you can learn many things. Anyway I feel I’ve Mongolian bloods. I’m just happy to see other parts if I’m there for first time or lots of times, it’s doesn’t matter. Maybe that’s why I stay at home and don’t go out to the city of Cologne. Even I make very seldom show at this town. Everybody needs some breaks.
Your live shows in the past few years have introduced the concept of “Sound Carriers”. Can you explain this concept.
>Sound Carriers is a musician. I use this word instead call them a musician.
Since early 20th century music has been changed, music means universe.
Experimental, Ambient, Noise…many style of sound making come out.
Music it’s self is not the factor, “sound” has it’s meaning. So, therefore I call sound carrier. With ever changing local sound carriers we create time and space of the moment. Until now I performed at around 40 countries and around 4,000 sound carriers and this will be continue as “Never Ending Tour”
I travel alone, I book shows, I sell Merchandising….I’m one man company.
Do the concerts just evolve in a purely improvisational manner or do you school the players beforehand and try to make some sort of pathway to follow?
>I like to create free energy, that’s mean there is no leaders and no talk about what we will perform at the spot. No. no…I (we) don’t need any information before. We start from “zero” Audience also have same situation. This is interactive….quantum physic. Sound Carriers and Audience will get unit together and we share energy to the people. This is absolutely free form, not different sound carriers, different formation, different size, different musical field….all direction open. Anyway I’m not found of assortment. Even I don’t know quite often, with whom I’m going to perform tonight….
Local sound carriers are generally curate by local promotor.
What have been some of your most memorable concerts using sound carriers?
> Every concert is unique and not possible to compare one show to other, this is not important. Every second is memorable. I say you just experience it!!!
You have also collaborated with a huge multitude of amazing artists, how do you get the inspiration to have so many outlets?
>It’s all natural, process…it’s doesn’t matter if I perform with well-known or unknown musician, with professional or armature sound carrier, young or old….main thing is we share energy.. The world need FREE ENERGY. Especially now.
What are your future plans in regard to making music? Any exciting things coming up that you wish to talk about?
>Everyday is exciting, when I wake up I thank God that he gave me opportunity to breath and being Damo Suzuki, bringing me new day. Thanks for this fortune that I live like I like and nobody forcing me to do something.
Thank so you much for taking the time to answer our questions!
> Thanks too…….FREE ENERGY!!!
Cover illustration by Einar Lukerstuen.