Brian Eno Answers Deep Questions from Music Journalist Dick Flash: The Best Eno Interview You’ll See

Sure­ly you’re famil­iar with the work of Dick Flash, the tire­less writer for Pork mag­a­zine who asks the most bril­liant minds in music today the deep­est, most seri­ous, most prob­ing ques­tions. Take, for instance, his inter­view of artist/pro­duc­er/am­bi­ent-music-inven­tor Bri­an Eno. “I was going to ask you whether you thought tech­nol­o­gy had affect­ed music very deeply,” Flash begins, “but then I thought, ‘Well, that’s a bloody stu­pid ques­tion to ask Bri­an Eno. I know you’ll agree that you just can’t imag­ine rock music with­out all the tech­nol­o­gy which goes into mak­ing it and get­ting it heard. How do you think that process has affect­ed what you’re doing?”

“Well —”

“I mean, when you’re mak­ing music, what even­tu­al­ly comes out has almost noth­ing to do with per­for­mance at all. I mean, I won­der if you some­times feel more like a painter than a com­pos­er.”

“The thing about this new record —”

“Because after all, your music is basi­cal­ly scenic. It’s not only that you make it more like a painter than a com­pos­er, but also, it does­n’t have a nar­ra­tive. There’s no sort of tele­o­log­i­cal struc­ture to it. It’s not goal-direct­ed. Instead it’s a bit like a sort of emo­tion­al micro­cli­mate, a place more than an event. Does that make any sense to you?”

“Yeah, well, I —”

“I mean, I’m not try­ing to put words into your mouth, but the real ques­tion is, should this stuff be called music at all, or is it a new art form? Do you think that this and oth­er media suf­fer from the car­ry­over of their orig­i­nal names, when in fact they’ve changed into some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent.”

“Well, I like paint­ing, yeah. I real­ly like it. Um…”

The inter­view, con­duct­ed at the time of the release of Eno’s album Small Craft on a Milk Sea (which Flash calls Milk Crate on a Small Sea) con­sti­tutes a true meet­ing of the minds. The con­ver­sa­tion cov­ers all the sub­jects that mat­ter: ecol­o­gy, film scores, the 1956 Copy­right Act, the human need for sur­ren­der, “the inter­net and all that,” the Edge’s hat, and why Eno does so much col­lab­o­ra­tion in the stu­dio. As to that last, the inter­view­er has a the­o­ry: “You love play­ing with what some­body else is play­ing as much as you enjoy play­ing with your­self.”

But wait — you say you’ve nev­er heard of Dick Flash? Watch the inter­view again: does­n’t he sound and look, behind that hip hair and spec­ta­cles, at least a lit­tle bit famil­iar? And does­n’t Eno him­self, con­fus­ing Mal­colm McLaren with Mar­shall McLuhan and going on about Annie Lennox’s neck, seem unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly inar­tic­u­late, almost as if he’s pok­ing fun at him­self? (And who’s that in the pic­ture on his com­put­er desk­top, any­way?) Like all the finest inter­views through­out the his­to­ry of jour­nal­ism, this one leaves us with more ques­tions than answers.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bri­an Eno on Why Do We Make Art & What’s It Good For?: Down­load His 2015 John Peel Lec­ture

The Genius of Bri­an Eno On Dis­play in 80 Minute Q&A: Talks Art, iPad Apps, ABBA, & More

Jump Start Your Cre­ative Process with Bri­an Eno’s “Oblique Strate­gies”

Bri­an Eno on Cre­at­ing Music and Art As Imag­i­nary Land­scapes (1989)

David Bowie & Bri­an Eno’s Col­lab­o­ra­tion on “Warsza­wa” Reimag­ined in Com­ic Ani­ma­tion

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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