Mono: Offsite At The Brisbane Festival
Despite COVID restrictions Brisbane Festival will be forging ahead and celebrating everything great about Brisbane with a multitude of arts performances and experiences.
In 2020, Brisbane Festival will feature MONO: Offsite, a triple bill of eclectic solo performances. One of the performers is Robin Fox, an electronic musician who will be doing a very special performance, his first live show in half a decade! Armed with just a small modular synthesizer and a laptop, he doesn’t know what to expect and neither should you. We spoke to Robin about Brisbane Festival and what it means to the arts community.
The Creative Issue: Where did your love of music originate and how has your journey as an artist brought you to this point?
Robin Fox: I have always loved music – and sound more broadly – its immediacy, its intensity. I’ve always loved LOUD things. How did I get to this point? Well that’s a really long story. In a nutshell, my mother made computer music on mainframes in the late 1970’s-early 1980’s, my father is a talented musician and my stepfather ran the computer music department at LaTrobe University where I later studied composition. So I guess it was inevitable that I would end up being an experimental musician….hahaha. I’m a failed heavy metal drummer – that was my passion as a teenager – and I went to law school straight after high school (which actually confused my parents). When I ditched law for composition there was almost a sense of relief for them! I’d finally come to my senses….
TCI: Can you tell us a little about the composition you will be performing at the Brisbane Festival?
RF: For the MONO performance I’ll be combining my laptop with a small eurorack modular synthesizer and sequencer. I’ve always been interested in merging analog and digital systems – so in this case I use the rigorous digital specificity of the laptop to control the relative chaos coming from the synth. I think finding that balance between order and chaos is at the heart of all of my creative processes. Taking something certain and then confusing its randomness. I had to spend 14 days in a hotel room to be here….so the results could be pretty weird this time around!
TCI: How do you come up with the concept of your show? Will your performance be unique to Brisbane Festival?
RF: The concept is simple. I want to make music with voltages! I like to think of the modular synthesizer as a pliable medium. A conduit through which I can shape voltage over time. Each of my performances is unique as I will be improvising – so I set up behaviours that always have a certain unpredictability to them. I like to be surprised on-stage. I like the machine to throw me a curve ball, something I then need to solve. That sort of real time problem solving is what keeps the experience interesting for me and then hopefully that interest translates into a ‘liveness’ for the audience.
TCI: It is a very eclectic night of music at Mono: Offsite. Have you seen the other artists perform before?
RF: One of the beautiful things about the Australian experimental music community is its collegiality. I know and love both of the other performers on the bill. They are old friends! So the concert is also something of a reunion for me as I don’t get up here nearly as often as I’d like to.
TCI: You are performing at the Old Museum which is an iconic Brisbane venue. Do you feel this will add to the atmosphere of your performance?
RF: I like to think that all performances of sound are site specific. So yes, the venue will definitely contribute to the performance. Sometimes a venue works with you and sometimes you need to fight with it to make it work. I haven’t seen the venue yet – that’s all part of the surprise for me. I’ve heard it’s amazing.
TCI: The Brisbane festival is such a dynamic event. What exhibitions are you most looking forward to seeing?
RF: I have been extremely preoccupied preparing the city wide laser and sound installation Sun Super Night Sky. So my head has been in the sand a bit. Once that opens I will be able to surface and enjoy Louise Bezzina’s amazing program. I’m definitely looking forward to Erik Griswold‘s Wallpaper Music and Circa‘s Leviathan. The whole MONO series will be great. I’m hoping to chance upon some street serenades and I’m sure there is a heap I will discover along the way.
TCI: The arts community has been severely affected by the pandemic. How important do you feel events like Brisbane Festival are to the creative industries?
RF: The arts community has been devastated. It has always been such a fragile ecosystem, existing far too peripherally in the Australian psyche. We need to wake up as a nation to the fact that the mental health of any society is predicated on the strength and fertility of its creative sector. We need to stop using tired economic benchmarks in order to argue for the value of arts and culture…it’s boring and doesn’t matter….arts and culture are essential….like breathing…you don’t put a price tag on breathing. A world without creativity and the sort of innovation and excitement that the arts brings to the world is barely worth contemplating yet there is a perception that it comes from some bottomless wellspring of goodwill and volunteerism. Well it doesn’t. It exists on the back of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things in often dire circumstances. The hardest workers I know work in the arts and they work for peanuts in a culture that is happy to consume it all but also dismiss it with a wave of the hand as a waste of time….so don’t get me started!!! hahaha. The Brisbane Festival is a beacon of hope in bleak times right now. I feel so so lucky to be here making work, playing shows, seeing shows while in other parts of the country these seem like impossible dreams right now. So THANK YOU Louise Bezzina for forging ahead and making things happen. Amazing.
What: MONO: Offsite live at The Brisbane Festival
When: Sunday 6th September 2020 7pm-8pm
Where: The Old Museum
Event Link: Here