Massimo Ricci, DEEP LISTENINGS (number 9, Spring/Summer 1997)

How would you describe your music and what sort of goals would you like to achieve with it?

If I could describe it, I would write about it instead of making it. The thing I’m looking for in all forms of the art I make is to learn, to discover everything I can about what it is to be alive. Music is one of a number of ways I use to do this.

Could you describe the processes you use for composition and recording, from both the technical and inspirational points of view?

Technically I prefer to keep things simple, working on the type and positioning of the microphone for making voice and field-recordings to DAT, then editing in multitrack. The first EP’s CREED and KOKKA were made on a 2-track open reel Teac. In Japan I was using equipment that was easy to pack and carry: RIOT was made with a shortwave radio and cassette players running through a portable mixer, DARK MARKET BROADCAST on a 4-track cassette machine. Now I use computers, sometimes combined with an 8-track open reel machine. The content of the work is much more important. It’s a process, a cycle that starts with certain sounds that stimulate an emotional response: shortwave, the sounds of places that are unique, sounds in nature. What I feel in these sources determines choices for details or for the structure, which again become another influence. At a certain moment the music itself makes clear the compositional choices and it becomes irrelevant to separate the maker from the work itself. I’m just another part of the process, no more and no less than the other elements, rather than a ‘controller’. I release the work when it has something that I haven’t heard before.

How did you get involved in this field?

As a painter, I studied the physics and psychology of color and the geometry used in the compositional structure of 2-dimensional surfaces. Then, one day in the school library I found material on artists of the viennese ‘Aktionismus’ group; Nitsch, Brus and especially Rudolf Schwarzkogler. From that moment I stopped painting and starting making events in front of an audience, where each person in the audience is in some way a participant. After that, I started to apply the principle of color (understood as frequencies of light that stimulates a direct emotional response) to sound. I wanted to create sounds with something other than conventional instruments; this led me to shortwave.

Do you prefer to work alone or in collaboration with others?

Both. I especially like to work with artists considered to be difficult, because generally they have a clear idea of their own capabilities, of what they want from themselves.

What else do you do besides composing?

I make events, build installations, make video and film, write.

What do you like to do when you are not working?

Whatever I do, I’m somehow always aware of what is happening inside and around me and I’m looking for some creative way to use it. It is an integral part of my existence.

Your comments on today’s music listener/consumer; do you have a faithful following?

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘faithful following’.

Could you support your work by the mere sales of your CD’s?

I continue to make art because I’m compelled to do it, simple as that. CD sales have nothing to do with it.

Does your music have something to do with a mental state or do you simply experiment in order to hear the results?

Both. It starts as an experiment to see how something sounds and ends in a mental state.

Please list the records/artists that you prefer and, in general, what has had the most influence on you.

A list of landmarks, artists, records, musicians, books and films that I like would fill this magazine. Some of them are “The Last Message” by Malcom X, “Metal Machine Music” by Lou Reed, “Triadic Memories” by Morton Feldman, Carlo Gesualdo’s work, “Dancing in the Street”, “Heatwave” and “Needle in a Haystack” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Inuit songs, “Lightning Field” by Walter de Maria, “Towards a Poor Theatre” by Jerzy Grotowsky, the silent films of Carl Theodore Dreyer, Iceberg Slim’s writing…

A personal question: why do you live in Italy?

Love. In all forms.

Finally, can you give some suggestions to those who want to publish their music without being connected to big labels, fashion, commercial reasons and so on? How can an independent artist survive today?

In the same way as independent artists have always survived: by doing what you feel, without caring about the response or consequences. By training yourself to listen only to your own heart and follow what it tells you. By refusing to be afraid of anyone’s judgement, including your own.