COTTON FEROX INTERVIEW - DAVID COTNER, ACTIONS, 2000

DC: What is the most demoralising aspect of what you create?

CA: Perhaps it is that I sometimes feel I offer avenues/structures of potential freedom in my soundscapes or words. That could be potentially demoralising for someone who doesn't have the preparations within. That I think is something that will be more evident in coming written works. It's not so much a provocation for its own sake but rather something that seems to be inherent in what I do, as it (whatever it is - music, writing, photography, painting etc) quite often deals with concepts like true individual freedom and how to enforce it. So in many ways I feel the "moralising" (in this sense meaning individually strengthening constructive morals) and the "demoralising" walk hand in hand, in creative union. And that, I guess, is as it should be...

DC: Does the motivation to carry on stem from you, or your work?

CA: This is a very tricky question. There is an undefinable drive that keeps me going and I think it has to do with my focussing neurotic energy early on in my life. It just keeps the flame burning. But at the same time I'm fascinated and motivated by manifestation too. Crowley has written about not lusting for result but that's kind of hard when you're in a creative business where you express yourself through a multitude of actual items - books, magazines, records etc. I think it's more important to - sometimes - actively be detached from the process and the end result. But of course it's very healthy to care about and to improve the end result. But the deeper I get into this, my own process, the more I realise that the work is spiritual fuel too, not just a mechanical, arithmetical, logical striving for results.

DC: What role does criticism play?

CA: Slim to none in my case. As my work is not dependent of other people's views or opinions, I'm not really concerned. It does have a promotional value, though. Even a bad review is good, in the sense that it gives the project the credit of at least being worth mentioning. Constructive criticism from people I respect is valuable, but mainly from a point of view of generally inspiring conversation with folks I admire. The main bulk of criticism comes from professional nay-sayers around the world, many among my friends, who're basically looking for their own means of expression but in the mean time just "dis" others.

DC: Can your compositions ever be "finished"?

CA: Yes, as existing sound structures. But as music, no. For me it's a two-, or even multi-way, process. There is a structure, but it has to be listened to. The listener adds to the moment of experience by the emotions the structure evokes. That's what makes it so intriguing. When I feel it's time to leave a track behind, all mixed , mastered, even released or broadcast, then that's when it really begins... So the compositions will never be finished as long as there are people listening.

DC: Is it possible to divorce your music from outside influence?

CA: Yes, I think so. If you look at the answer above, the kind of music I make needs some form of response from the listener to become alive and active. So as for them, they are two distinctly divorced parts that, if all goes well, become married in an audioerotic relationship. As for myself, I would like to see myself as divorced from outside influence. I just fidget about with knobs and keys. The influence, if it has direction at all, comes from the inside and out.

DC: Does your music ever make you feel sexy?

CA: Yes, to a certain extent. Male sexuality extends from the creative potential of the phallus. Aggressive manifestation. The potential of fertilisation, no matter on what plane. I'm a fairly asexual person but I realise that everything I do in terms of creative projects is steeped in a strong sexual force. So I do feel very sexy when working.

DC: Is your work an act of curiosity, or of contempt?

CA: Well, I would certainly hope one of curiosity. I've tried to cut down on different modes of expression so that the overall transmission doesn't get diluted. So now I'm only down to writing, music, photography and, to a certain extent, painting. So, hell yes, I'm a curious person. Contempt is just something I feel when I don't live up to my own standards or ideals.

DC: Which is more prevalent: "having," or "being"?

CA: I can't have if I am not, so thereby to be should be more prevalent than to have.

DC: Does "having" count more than "being, "today?

CA: Well, in the Western sphere that certainly seems to be the case. To have enough - or in most cases much more than enough - is a criterium for accepted existence...

DC: Can your work be taken simply at face value?

CA: I hope so. Structures of non-linear, non-pop music are becoming more and more frequent and it's easier for folks previously not initiated in listening to "weird" music to accept it. That means that tolerance and acceptance of strange music increases. People get more and more accustomed to making their own decisions in the spur of the moment. Face value is the order of the day and there's not such a strong need to intellectually be knowledgeable about the band or the music as such.

DC: Is it possible still to instill strong feelings in today's listener?

CA: Absolutely. And it doesn't have anything to do at all with things like machine parks, mixing desks or instrumentation. It has to do - as always - with the people making the music and/or the spirit that runs through them in those magical moments of documentation.

DC: What does the term "avant-garde" mean to you?

CA: To be ahead of most.

DC: What role do words play in your music?

CA: That has changed and will hopingly keep on changing. These past years I've made wordless music. At some points maybe there's a transmission with words interwoven, but for the most part not... I'm currently thinking about having words and frequencies cooperating again. Like a movie without the visual aspect.

DC: Is definition an issue?

CA: I don't think so, but it IS a fairly abstract question... Definition is useful and perhaps even needed in terms of spreading whatever it is one has done to other people. They would probably be pissed off if they'd expected "Swedish dark ambient" on a specific record and I'd given them gay-vibrating house anthems. But it has to do with that aspect, of presentation of something that can't be directly preceived. I'd be angry if someone presented a photo of mine for a third party with their own interpretation, trying to define for other people something that should just be subtly experienced first hand.

DC: How does definition constitute knowing?

CA: I'm not so sure it does. There is also a form of knowledge which is "direct", and I would rather define (paradoxically?) that this superior type of knowledge is by definition non- or undefinable. Pure metaphysics. As for the material, human realm, we know what our senses convey to the brain, which then analyses and "defines", comparing the data with similar or not so similar experiences. Definition is a prerequisite for communication, but it doesn't constitute knowledge per se.

DC: Do you enjoy the situation of not-knowing?

CA: Yes, becuase it's the first stage in the process of learning and thereby the most innocent, exciting, thrilling and creative stage to be in...

DC: Have you ever been in a fistfight because of your music?

CA: Not with anyone else than myself. And that rarely happens these days.

DC: Does your work come first, over all else?

CA: If not, then very close to first. I guess some form of self-preservation comes first, which also includes my family. Then my will, which is where it all begins. And then... Joyous, joyous work.

DC: Are concepts like "good" and "bad" relevant in experimental music?

CA: No, not really. It's a matter of presentation for the artist and of emotional reaction and interpretation for the listener. One can certainly think, feel and convey to others that "I think this piece of music is good". But in this vein of weird, psychic music, most everyone knows that it's a 100% subjective statement. As compared to a new record by someone like Britney Spears, who is only "judged" as good or bad by how many "units" are "pushed" and how much attention that brings in the media.

DC: Do you have any regrets, so far?

CA: Not really. It's such a cliché, but it's true: you can always learn from the mistakes. I'm very content with what I've achieved so far, but I'm even happier when I meditate over the future. There's a lot of things to deal with, and I feel highly energized by them all.

DC: What's the best way that you've found to remove white stains from clothing?

CA: Nah, why bother? I think it's the ultimate fashion statement for men to have dark pants with weird stains in the groin area. It just shows how relaxed and secure you are as a man. And it's a real turn on for women and gay men or dogs or whatever your trip is. "No prob, just come get it."

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