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INTERVIEW: Byetone On Raster-Noton
Christian Eede , February 17th, 2016 15:52

raster-noton co-founder Byetone answers questions on the label's 20th anniversary and the concept behind the new White Circle project

With 2016 marking the 20th anniversary for the groundbreaking experimental and electronic music label raster-noton, the label's key figures are busy organising all manner exciting and special events to mark the occasion.

One such event is White Circle which will see four of the label's core figures - namely Alva Noto, Byetone, Frank Bretschneider and Kangding Ray - contribute to an audiovisual installation in conjunction with ZKM's Globale programme. At the installation's opening night in Karlsruhe, Germany, raster-noton artists Kangding Ray, Frank Bretschneider and Kyoka will all also play special live sets on the immersive 4DSOUND system. For more information on that, click here.

Below, you can find out more on the project and raster-noton's plans for 2016 to celebrate its 20th anniverary via Byetone.

Can you tell us about the concept behind White Circle?

Byetone: Last year we suddenly realised that we are turning 20 in 2016 and thought this could be a good possibility to showcase the label's core ideas. It seemed natural to conceptualise a new installation, because we think a certain affinity for art has been with us right from the start. Part of this concept was to show a group work, not a work by a single person wich is usually the case. So Carsten and I tried out several setups of what such an installation could look like, and finally we decided to use an analog object which acts as the basic setup for the musical works of the involved artists.

What is your personal role in the White Circle show?

B: Just like the other artists, I'm creating a piece of music that will be spatialised on ZKM's 'sound dome'. After the spatialisation of the sound, the light concept will be animated accordingly, since the basic theme of this installation will be the connection between space and sound, like sculptural ambient music.

The whole work will be realised in collaboration with ZKM, Karlsruhe, and for now there are four artists that are invited to contribute a composition. But in the course of the year we have planned to invite further artists, so that we will be able to present more pieces at later stops in 2016.

raster-noton is celebrating 20 years in 2016. Can you pick out any specific highlights from the label, certain releases or moments for the label that are important to you?

B: That's actually a tricky question as it is aiming for completeness …

What has always been important for us was the idea of our annual 'electric campfire', where all of our artists are invited to present their latest material publicly (and for free), but also to gather as friends and spend a weekend together with discussions, rehearsals and so on. In this sense, our yearly tours in Japan had a similar meaning.

Apart from that, I think an early collaboration with the Gallery for Contemporary Art in Leipzig in the late 90s was significant, as it was our first 'big call' for the crossover we looked for. Though our music was still a niche phenomenon, we got the chance to curate a series of events. Many friendships and collaborations resulted from it, like with Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Scanner, Mika Vainio, Plastikman or Thomas Brinkmann, just to name a few. Another step forward was certainly the Prix Ars Electronica Award that we won in the year 2000 in the field of digital music. Also, our first own publication was awarded as one of the best books all over the world by Stiftung Buchkunst, Frankfurt.

Furthermore, there have also always been collaborations with other artists we felt close to, who nevertheless followed their own independent careers, like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Cosey Fanni Tutti or Wolfgang Voigt, just to name a few.

But all this is nothing compared to many, many emotional moments we all shared.

Aside from White Circle, what else does raster-noton have planned to celebrate its 20th year?

In 2016 we want to reflect on the overall spectrum, on two decades of raster-noton. In this context we are currently preparing showcases at various venues and locations that represent a certain crossover between the arts and the club, the main stage and experiments, for us. At the moment I can only announce a few showcases we will stage, like at this year's Sónar festival. Then there will be a label event and exhibition that is scheduled for late April at Berghain, and a participation at this year's Ruhrtriennale is planned, but there are definitely more events to follow which are not official yet.

Furthermore, I'm currently working on a book (a 600-pages source book), which will review our whole catalog, past projects, mistakes and core concepts. The book will also feature new works by some of our artists that who are working in diverse media and, yes, music.

This year's edition of our 'electric campfire' at Villa Massimo, Rome, will also be extended. We will have more guests than usual and an extra day for panels and discussions, besides the regular concert night. And of course we will be touring Japan later this year, for which we are also planning something special.

And last but not least there are also some new releases to come later this year, and a special event close to our home town.