JrF: when & why did you become interested in field recording ?
MN: It is difficult for me to answer to this question because I'm not able to date the origin of my interest for sound recording in nature. It has come progressively, probably since childhood. I remember vaguely having recorded some cow-bells, for example, when I was almost 10 years old. I wouldn't be able to say why I was interested by these sounds at this time... Probably I was influenced by my brother who also started recording sounds very early. Or maybe by my father who regularly recorded some daily family situations with a Uher tape recorder. But all of this still remains enigmatic for me.
JrF: how do you use your field recordings in your own artistic output ?
MN: My work presents two sides, very differents, but I believe complementary. On one hand, I like to compose some "Soundscapes" with an approach that one could describe as "Naturalistic". In this precise purpose, the processing of sounds will be reduced to minimum. A few filtering steps for lowering some "noises" that I would like to avoid (noise of distant planes for example). Then, I gather the sounds that are suitable with a great care of the coherence of the ecological habitat, the seasons, the compatibility of the listening point, etc. With this in mind, I realized for example "Chants Of Frozen Lakes". The results sounds a little bit to what one could listen in nature, in the field, but of course this is an illusion. In nature, the parasite noises are almost continuous : planes, traffic, wind, voices, etc. Moreover to record for me means to choose, to isolate, to draw a frame into the reality. I think there is as much subjectivity in field recording (phonography) than there is in photography. It is a matter of point of vue and of point of listening. But it happens also that I get rid of this naturalistic approach to adopt a more experimental one. Then, it is a more intuitive work, orientated by the textures of the sounds, of their own qualities. Their source is, in this case, (almost) forgotten. Sounds become "Sound Objects". They are decontextualized and gathered in order to propose to the listener a sensorial experience, unexpected and improbable.In this process, I allow myself all transformation, all manipulation, without limits. Sounds are chewed, connected irrationally or randomly, without consideration on geographical or ecological coherence. It's up to the listener to rebuild his own landscape, narration or just to follow the flow of sounds, the things that sounds call to mind. I have as much pleasure with both of these approaches. But they represent two states of mind really differents and I absolutly want to avoid the confusion of these two aspects.
JrF: do you regard 'natural' sounds as a musical element (bearing in mind that the conventional definition of 'music' is rapidly becoming obsolete) or as sound ? is this definition important ?does it matter
MN: To know from where one can speak about music.. I think it is the ear and the way of receiving of the listener who makes that there is music or not. This is the case in art in general. For some, the rustling of a stream is a music. For some other, it will be only a "noise" amongst many others... For me, sometimes this rustling may seem to me musical, and sometimes it will seem annoying and unpleasant. This question is very complex because very subjective. One thing is certain : there can not be some music without the man. Like wise a master piece of painting is nothing when it is shut up in a chest with no one able to see it, then, there can't be music if there is not at least one individual to listen, and decide (intellectually or emotionnally) if what he's listening is music.
JrF: has the act of making field recording had an effect (positive or negative) on the way you listen to your everyday surroundings and howhas it affected the way you listen to other music and sound (if at all) ?
MN: Indeed this practice has positive and negative effects on me. On one hand, it refines my perception and allow me to live some rich and pleasant sensorial experiences, especially in natural habitats wich are not crowdy, where human-made sounds are more rare. I tried, like suggested the phonographer Jean-Léon Pallandre, to catch the beauty of the roaring of some cars, or some planes when they appear suddenly in a beautiful and tenuous natural ambiance. A concert of Italian Crickets at dusk for example... I never really succeded. On the other hand, since I regularly practice field recording, I can't get rid of the sounds that annoy me. I even happen to wake up in the night, in my bed, when one plane cross the sky, creating one of these filthy drones...Here we are almost at the limit of crazyness ! I try to keep attention, sometimes to take distance and especially to keep a kind of self-mockery and of contradiction. My record collection of noisy and explosive musics have the role of a railing !
JrF: can you tell us about your latest cd 'chants of frozen lakes' - where it was recorded & the sounds that we can hear ?
MN: For this question I would invite you to visit the webpage devoted to this CD on Kalerne.net ! - which can be found here