Joined: Sep. 2001
||Posted: Jan. 09 2010, 18:17
|Quote (Tati The Sentinel @ Aug. 02 2009, 20:14)|
|Quote (Starwatcher @ Aug. 02 2009, 14:30)|
|Thanks a lot for that link, Tati...|
Enjoyed reading it, it shows some very interesting aspects.
An English translation would be nice to see here in the future.
Hi Tati - the future is now... just in case someone is still interested (hopefully it's OK to post this translation?)
Note: The following text is of course not what Mike and Sascha have originally said in the interview, but just re-translation (by a German with some knowledge of English, so please excuse for any mistakes) back into English from the German translation, as published in 2005 at http://www.galore.de/interviews/gespraechspartner/mike-oldfield
Talking to - Mike Oldfield
Michael Gorden Oldfield was born on May 15th, 1953 as the 3rd child of a musically gifted family. At the age of 15, together with his sister Sally he founded the folk-duo Sallyangie, by which he gained access to the scene of experimental music. His solo debut „Tubular Bells“ is the most successful instrumental album of all times and has substantially contributed to the spreading of music styles like New Age and Ambient. Mental diseases, a temporary sex addiction and drugs repeatedly seized Mike Oldfield through the years; today the sound researcher, together with his fifth wife and sixth child, lives nearby London, to great extent healthy and reformed. Recently, his 22nd album „Light And Shade“ was released.
Mike Oldfield „Sometimes it was too much of everything.“
Interview: Sascha Krüger
An undulating maze of residences of the super-rich outside of London. In front of his fashionably dilapidated country chalet stands Mike Oldfield: A goblin in gardener's clothes. Surrounded by 20 guitars and two high-end computers with monstrous flat screens, the 52-year-old guides us through his studio. Every three minutes, he rolls a cigarette in the size of a toothpick.
Mr. Oldfield, what has been the best moment of this year so far?
Mike Oldfield: (smoking) Probably the signing of my new record contract. (thinking) I met the responsible man of ‚Universal’ and played a few pieces for him on which I was working. He seemed to get it. I tried to tell him about myself, and he seemed to understand me.
This must be particularly important for you.
Of course. I am not the new guy with the hip first record, that should better become a hit. With me, you take over an artist with a career of 35 years and 22 records. (giggling) Most people that I work with are in their twenties. I am two and a half times that age. Their advantage: They have missed that terrible phase in the late seventies and eighties, when everybody hated me, because punk rockers were cool and I was rubbish. To them, I am a living dinosaur.
For your albums, you have used whole shiploads of instruments, electronic and studio. Now, here's just your precious collection of guitars and computer-Hi-Tech.
It wasn't always like that. About a year ago, this place was full of huge mixing desks, gigantic speakers and dozens of effect racks. Equipment drown in. When I actually started recording, I looked around and thought: I need some software that can do all this stuff. So I did a few phone calls and found a company called ‚Funky Junk’. I said: „Hi, this is Mike Oldfield. Would you like to come over and take away my whole studio?“ (laughing) They paid a price – a lot for them, far too little for the whole lot – and loaded their truck.
What was it – catharsis? Getting rid of life's ballast?
(humming) Catharsis... something like that, yes.
And, sitting at the computer, you did not miss any of your old equipment?
The only thing that I missed was the large mixing desk. I had become really used to it. Just pushing around little icons and pointers with the mouse instead is much less exiting. Even though I have got one of these multi-function mice, with dozens of buttons and wheels, it is just not the same.
But you don't appear to be rather nostalgic – to simply sell off everything below its value that has enabled you to make music over decades is quite drastic.
Oh, about my guitars I'm quite nostalgic. They mean a lot to me. They have always been my main instrument.
You don't care less about everything else? You don't even have the original ‚Tubular Bells’ in a display cabinet, or such.
What should I do with such stuff? The half dozen of vibraphones, all those keyboards – there are now excellent sampling versions of all of them for the computer. With just a single plug-in, you get hundreds of new sounds. Recently, I bought one that was only made to produce strange, moody, mystic backgrounds. It's just crazy: it took me days just to try all options!
Where would you now be as an artist without all this intelligent technology?
Probably mostly the same as back in the days of „Tubular Bells“. (growling)
Was there anything better in those days?
We did a terrible lot of improvisations, that was always some special kind of excitement. For example, I remember the time of tape machines. We had made a tape loop, that should run endlessly as a background sound, but it was much too long. So we made up an extension – the tape ran from the head, through an extremely fragile rig of tables, chairs and empty rolls of toilet paper, through the window to the next room, there around hat-stand and then back through the door to the tape machine. A bunch of people checked the critical parts, pushing along the tape by hand, if necessary. Yet: the tape machine did not make the required speed. So we took it apart and added an extremely powerful electrical engine for modelling applications. Today, I just click some function in a program, and that's it.
Has your music always been some kind of medicine, to get closer to the state of happiness and contentedness?
It has always been this way, yes. I was scared of the realization that we all are just robots, already when I was very young, at the age of 15, 16. That was so terribly frightening, it was awful. Those big question marks drove me almost crazy: why are we here? What is our task and destination? How come, that just we appear right here in this breath-taking universe? Because of this, over many years I have been troubled by very serious phobias, panic attacks, persecution mania, like some serious mental disease. Music was the only thing to distract me from all this. When I didn't work, I had the serious feeling that I would not stay alive for much longer.
Probably also because of this you ended up later and extensively with alcohol and tranquillizers?
Yes, that was almost logical. During phases, that was the only possibility for me to bear the suppressing weight of the pure existence.
Would you say that the purpose of your music is also to illustrate those places where you have been more comfortable than here on earth?
(looking frightened, humming strange tones) Hm, yeeees... That is, right, I guess. I see myself as a sculptor: I chip away rough pieces from a block of marble with a chisel, until he whole sculpture has an irresistible shape. And when I am working, and things flow, I get to places that are hard to reach. Probably because of this, my kind of music is called ‚New Age’. It is just not related to people standing at the edge of a stage and shouting into a microphone, in the strange attempt to be kind of cool and sexy.
Obviously you are the exact counterexample.
Yes. The stupid thing is, that most people think that exactly that would be music.
After all, surely, but the main purpose of this music is just to be a label, to belong to a certain club scene.
Instead , you have tried to compress 2000 years of civilization into 45 minutes of music: with your project „Millennium Bell“. Critics boasted: „Disney would have loved this historically catastrophic and miserably kitschy idea of human history“, and even fans called this record terribly pretentious.
After all, this piece has been especially designed for this single evening, for my concert for the new millennium at the 'Brandenburger Tor'. The task was to create something that has a connection to history and celebrates the new millennium at the same time. So I had to start somewhere, and I have never claimed that my presentation would be historically correct.(coughing for a long time) It was about the idea to join music and cultures from all corners of the earth and a long span of time. It is a strange album, no doubt, many people hated it. At the same time, it is one of the few of my records that also my father liked a lot. (laughing)
How does it actually feel, if countless people seriously summon the energy to profoundly hate somebody because of his music?
(hums vaguely) How it feels? A pure question of habit. I don't know why, but apparently I provoke very intense reactions by what I am doing. Some people get so extremely furious about my music, but they and I: Both of us don't do anything!
Conspicuously frequently you find the statement in fan forums: „The best Mike Oldfield-records are those that my girlfriend likes also.“ Do women possibly have better sense for balanced quality?
It's right: The male surplus among my fans is huge – for every woman, there is five guys. I don't know exactly, why. Maybe most women would rather listen to something romantic. For them, music is often related to romantic hours, with flowers, love and afternoons in the park. My music does accomplish that only to some extent, it is probably too intellectual and spiritual for this purpose.
You don't really understand women, right?
No. Which man does? I have even stopped trying.
To you, this seems to apply not only in general, but also personally. There were ever again phases in your life where it appeared to be difficult to find happiness at the side of only one women.
Which is because I do not understand them. I accept women as they are – as the biggest question mark among the eternal secrets. I do not think about them, nor do I talk about them.
Too bad. There would be many interesting questions on this subject.
You know: Whoever has designed us, with women he has made a big mistake: he created something that raises indefinitely many questions, but will never have a reliable answer or explanation. Meanwhile, this is OK for me. There were long periods of my life where I desperately fought to make it different. I hated all of that: She cannot do that! I cannot be like I want to! I cannot think this way! What I have understood in the mean time: Women know about their responsibility for the human species. They know that they have to find the right one to reproduce, they have to deliver and raise the child. In their existence, they have to some extent been designed for this special task. That's the way things are, that's what makes it difficult.
And to that extent, that you have said: „I have never really fallen in love.“ What was missing?
That is a part of my life that I do no look at any more. Nor do I want to start again in the presence of a journalist. Meanwhile, I only trust my instincts, and I am doing well that way. But I do not talk about my ex-wives and girlfriends, nor about my children. But to basically meet your question: I have matured, I am happy, things go well – and they do for all areas of my life.
The 20 years that you have spent in therapy sessions: In which way did they make you a different person?
Well, you have to differentiate – psychotherapy has helped me in a different way than for example the Exegesis-therapy...
... which was good for what?
It helped me to get to the base of my panic attacks. It was actually an unconscious memory of a birth trauma. You have to imagine: Your mind not only has unconscious memories of your birth, but even of the time before – the time in the uterus. Maybe – no one knows exactly – there are even memories, flashbacks and dreams from previous lives. By Exegesis, you check exactly these regions of the unconscious. That helped me to better adapt to the presence. I always had the feeling to be just different than anybody else, to be unable to assimilate to other people. A genetic mutant or such. Now that I have just accepted that, many things work better.
Excuse for the bluntness, but: for this insight, you needed 20 years?
No, there is really incredibly much more. I can sometimes be incredibly stupid and not see the obvious. In other moments, I find solutions to a problem that are working, but completely different than the known solutions. There is an uncountable plenty of such strange facets in me.
Is it true that by therapies you can recognize that you are a completely different person than you have thought for your whole life?
Oh yes. That is the fantastic thing about it: Without any exception, everything that is unusual about your psyche can be traced back to an experience of your childhood or youth. And from that moment, the course is set wrong, the train of a psyche goes to the wrong direction. Many emotions then are nothing but reflections of childhood traumata. And that is multiplying again and again. In my twenties, I had to fight really strong emotions, which all were not real, but just a reaction to these stupid little things of my childhood. So it was inevitable to confront these things, in order to control these strong emotions. I wished that this kind of psychological research would become part of the education at school – in no way, children get prepared for being adults. Since the later you start to cure those traumata, the more complex it gets.
How did that come? What went wrong in your childhood?
Most of it is based on the wrong education. I grew up in an environment where boys were not allowed to show feelings or cry. I heard again and again: „Show a friendly face! Don't look so sad! Be strong!“ That caused a lot of damage to me, being quite an emotional man. Today I can throw myself to the ground and tear out my hair in a lake of tears. (laughing) I only do that in private, but at least I now can do it.
When you moved to Ibiza after successful completion of the therapy, and mutated to a Rave-addict for a few years: That was nothing but to make up for a missed youth, wasn't it?
(laughing) Yes, absolutely. I did not have any youth. Since I was 15, I have been on tour as a musician; from them on, I have only been working. Then, at the age of 19, I released „Tubular Bells“, which made things really complicated. I suddenly had to deliver a sequel to an extremely successful record. This pressure was unbearable. I went on tour, recorded new albums, there was no time, to tackle myself. When I moved to Ibiza after the Exegesis, I fulfilled my dreams: I built my own house by the sea, I did not do anything else but things that were good for me. I did, what almost everyone reports who lives on Ibiza for some time: Taking care to have the best and the most miserable time of my life. (laughing throatily)
You mean: experience with drugs.
Yes. Absolutely everybody, with no exception, who lives on Ibiza in his twenties or thirties, will sooner or later start with it. They are simply everywhere, as soon as you leave your home. Some never get out of it again, some do. There is something strange about Ibiza, that makes people lose control. (thinks) I am very happy about the years that I have spent there, but I do not fell the need to go back. I knew: If I stayed, I would move from one dependency to the next.
Since you left Ibiza, your only drugs are music and riding motor bikes?
Well: plus alcohol and cigarettes.
To conclude, another self-estimation: What was, in your eyes, the main shortcoming of your music?
That I too often was mainly interested in showing off what a clever guy I am. Sometimes it was just too much of everything. That is what I have to admit to myself.