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Excerpt from an interview with Lars Åkerlund by Kim West.
Originally published at the UN website.

UN Can we talk about the idea of the ecstatic? You make music, or
sound pieces, that are very repetitive and monotonous, and then you’ve
chosen to work with a voice that goes into ecstasy. What fascinates you
about this?

LÅ I believe that in a state of ecstasy, if you’re able to reach it, which is
pretty difficult – but if you reach this state, then you’re as close to total
freedom as a human being can get. Then you’re completely open - open
to yourself and to the world around you. I think of it as a way of reaching
some kind of understanding.

UN OK. So it’s about transforming the body, by subjecting it to the
treatment of certain sounds.

LÅ Yes. If you’re treated really hard, if you’re exposed to certain stimuli,
then it will have a physical effect on you. What interests me is the state of non-control you can reach. In a sense, totally uncontrolled thoughts and experiences can appear. This type of sounds can have hallucinatory effects as well.

UN This is something you’re usually working with, aren’t you?

LÅ Yes, or at least it’s always been there as an element. Hypnosis is
another state that interests me, on the side of ecstasy. It’s a similar state, a state on the same level but at another end. It’s somehow always
present in what I do. And it’s really not about anything else than entering
into a certain state.

UN You work quite differently from other contemporary sound artists. I
imagine it has to do with the fact that you want to produce a very
concrete effect. It’s as if the sounds themselves have no meaning of their
own, but only work as stimuli. And this leads to your working a lot with
rhythms, which not so many others do. Can you say something about

LÅ I think the pulse is extremely important, especially when you use this
kind of chaotic sounds. It creates a structure that makes it possible to
somehow look into the sounds. One is always looking for structures. And a pulse is an incredibly simple structure, isn’t it? Somehow chaos stands in opposition to… The pulse beats something into your mind… It creates a
structure in the chaos. And somehow you can enter deeper into it. Pure,
random chaos does not interest me. I like it when there’s an intention
behind the music. A lot of people work with very random sounds. That’s
not interesting to me. For music to have a meaning it needs to have an
intention. You can listen to field recordings if you like, you know, sounds
recorded in nature, and there’s no intention there, which could be
interesting. But as soon as you make a selection you have processed the
sound. If you just stick your head out in the woods, you’ll hear no
meaningful sounds…

UN I’m thinking about the similarity to dance music here. The connection
is clear. How do you understand your own practice in relation to
traditional rhythmical dance music?

LÅ The difference is that, even though there’s a pulse in my pieces, it’s
within the sound itself it happens. The pulse is a means for entering into
the sound. Traditional dance music focuses on the pulse, the sounds work
for the pulse. But sure, I think that a lot of contemporary dance music is
far more interesting than much contemporary sound art. Often,
contemporary sound art has simply another angle than mine.

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