Fred Frith performing at the MÅ“rs Jazz Festival in June 1998
|Birth name||Jeremy Webster Frith|
17 February 1949 |
Heathfield, Sussex, England
|Genres||Avant-rock, experimental, free improvisation, contemporary classical|
Professor of Composition
|Instruments||Guitar, violin, bass guitar, keyboards, percussion|
|Labels||Caroline, Moers Music, Ralph, RecRec, Recommended, Fred, Tzadik, Winter & Winter|
|Associated acts||Henry Cow, Art Bears, Massacre, Skeleton Crew, French Frith Kaiser Thompson, Keep the Dog, Chris Cutler, John Zorn|
I write with a mouse, because it has no psychological associations or memories or habits associated with it.
And so many of the kinds of labels you get stuck with don't really tell the story; Progressive, Art Rock, Noise Music, Downtown – it ends up being a struggle to stay out of debates that other people are having around you.
I think that one of the things that influences me most as a composer is to what extent I can deconstruct and reconstruct the material that I'm working with.
There are always things to examine. What's great is not feeling that I have to refuse any of them. Maybe no good from a PR perspective, but from the point of view of everyday life, it keeps things interesting.
You could say that everything the musicians have learned and known over the years, all of their technical resources, are in a dialogue with the things they are discovering every time, as if it was the first time.
We played some gigs in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago and it was the first time I really felt the group was really a band in the sense of something I could write for.
I remember playing football dressed in peculiar costumes with some friends in France and laughing so hard we couldn't even stand up, let alone kick the ball.
Chris Cutler was kind enough to offer his company as an umbrella, so now I can have all my back catalogue under one roof as it were, and it has the same feeling as with Daniel; this is a matter between friends rather than businessmen.
The totality of a record is usually beyond ones ability to imagine when you start working on it, but the component parts are, usually, fairly clear one way or another.
Some things don't wind up sounding like you'd expect, which is just as well.
As an improviser I'm now pretty comfortable with trios, so I'm thinking of working up to quartets.
There's an awful lot of resources that can be drawn upon in an improvised music concert.
I think things changed as a result of a certain perception of our politics. When we went through our zealous, self-righteous period it didn't exactly win us any friends.
Improvised music involves a lot of intuition and I like developing intuition.
It's like learning a language; you can't speak a language fluently until you find out who you are in that language, and that has as much to do with your body as it does with vocabulary and grammar.
Not necessarily in one concert, but they're all there to be used if you want to use them.
We play melodic music, we play songs, we play all kinds of things and when you improvise you don't just shut out different languages, you use all the languages that you have.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed doing was taking raw sound from locations during the film, like the candy machine, and writing pieces of music to go with them, which is totally unnecessary within the context of the film, because they have their own logic.
We went through this business of me writing out all the parts for these old songs from Gravity and Speechless and we'd been performing that, but we don't do that any more.
I don't know if I'm striving for anything that I can put into words.