INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Hay Festival JANUARY 28, 2015 - by Georgina Godwin
BRIAN ENO: MUCH MORE THAN A MUSICIAN
If the Hay festival promises to be about so much more than books, so too is Brian Eno - with whom I'll be in conversation in Cartagena - so much more than a musician. Indeed, he famously once described himself as a non-musician. Originally trained as a fine artist, he saw that his skill could be used to create sound as well as visual art. He felt his music was like painting, and his painting like music. The two in parallel have given him a career spanning nearly forty-five years, and he is now also a producer, singer, composer, artist, writer, lecturer, political activist and even a gardener.
In fact, it is the last on this list that possibly describes him best. "A gardener," he explains," is someone who plants seeds and waits to see exactly what will come up. This is opposed to, say, an architect, who carries a full picture in his head before starting work. I see myself as the gardener, a planter of seeds, of ideas to see where they go."
When working as a producer, he tells musicians to honour their errors as a hidden intent. The result has been some of the most successful albums of the past thirty years, co-writing with people such as David Bowie and David Byrne, producing U2, Talking Heads and, more recently, Coldplay alongside many others.
His own solo and collaborative albums continue to be in popular circulation and he still releases highly acclaimed records, last year bringing out two back to back with the techno impresario Karl Hyde.
This approach is also applied to Eno's visual work, notably the constantly changing 77 Million Paintings, a self-generating artwork in which even he, the artist, doesn't know what will happen next.
A festival of stories and ideas in which people come together to re-imagine the world is the ideal place to gain an insight into the mind of a man who has been hailed a genius. He, however, prefers the word scenius - the instigator of a generative process founded on collaboration. "Genius" he says "is individual, scenius is communal". The art produced has more to with the interplay between the artists, the location and the moment than the vision or talent of any one person.
Bringing this extraordinary mind to Cartagena, alongside so many talented writers, artists, readers and members of the public is an exceptional way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this international and inspirational festival of ideas.
Brian and I have spoken many times before - but the conversation we will have in Cartagena, examining the literature which has influenced his stellar career with the unique advantages of location, and in the company of so many creative minds, is one I am looking forward to enormously.