INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Daily Press JUNE 10, 1978 - by Lisa Robinson
BRIAN ENO MIXES MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY
Who is Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, who has been called "one of the most creative forces in contemporary music today"?
Known simply as Brian Eno, he is a musician, poet, trained artist and technologist who joined Roxy Music in its infancy as mixer and electronic supervisor, then left in 1973 to pursue his own interests.
Among those interests: collaborative recordings with ex-King Crimsonite Robert Fripp, solo LPs (Here Come The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain, Discreet Music and Before And After Science) and production chores for Devo and the Talking Heads.
The "king of avant garde" was in New York recently for some promotion on his newest (and most "commercial" yet) LP (Before And After Science) and to write a highly technical paper for a scholarly scientific magazine.
Freshly tanned from his production experience with the Talking Heads in Nassau, Eno ate a tuna salad sandwich and a piece of pecan pie as we talked about how he works with others.
"I certainly don't want to be a full-time producer," Eno emphasized. "I saw the Talking Heads, thought they were really good, and I told them if they ever wanted anything done on their albums - like programming synthesizers - I would be glad to do it.
"I didn't really expect them to ask me to produce. But I'm glad they did, and I was very pleased. It's a successful collaboration, I think."
His involvement with Bowie came about, he says, because "we both happened to release a pair of records quite close to one another that we both like a lot." (Bowie's Station To Station and Eno's Another Green World.)
"It was like we had both started way back, and now these things were heading towards one another on a collision course.
"He knew about the way I work in the studio, which is to use the control room as an instrument more than anything else, and he wanted to start working that way.
"There aren't many people who do that, you know. There aren't many people who are actually creatively with music who do that. There are some producers who do, but they're just good producers. And the musicians who would like to do that can't really handle the technological aspect of it.
"It just happens that I'm in the interesting position of being neither a good producer nor a good musician," Eno laughed.
"Anything complicated I do is done by ingenuity rather than skill, I think. People generally tend to panic when they get into a studio, perhaps because you can't see the electricity.
"To me it's all play things, really. The first thing I do about approaching any piece of technology is to hide the handbooks. I get those out of the way straight away.
"See, any kind of technical data about how to use machines is based on the theory that they have one particular use. Like a ring modulator is a ring modulator, it does one thing. Everyone knows that, but to me, the interesting thing is to say, 'Now what would happen if I put this here, and did this instead?'
"The interesting interactions are not within the machine, they're between the machine and you and how you keep the thing going. And for me, it's a distinct advantage not to have had any formal musical training. That kind of training limits you, it tells you there are only certain possibilities.
"I think the reason people like to work with me is that I have good ideas, and not always only of a technological nature. I can offer very unspecific type of instruction will will set the thing on another course. If you interfere at the right time, it can make all the difference."