I first approached Eraldo, whose work with Toshinori Kondo and Bill on Charged and Somma was well known to me, mainly for reasons of linguistic ease; Life being the mystery it is, these early conversations blossomed first into an agreement for us to collaborate on individual live multimedia events (mainly Eraldo Bernocchi and Nils Petter Molvaer in Genoa in 2007 and Black Engine (Eraldo Bernocchi + Zu) in Rome in 2008), then into the decision to create a platform to release music which we found germane to our aesthetic sensitivities.
RareNoise was created in 2008, and released a promotional CD-R to the world early 2009. This “business card” contained tracks from the first releases we had co-produced (Meditronica with Bernocchi, Raiz, Polcari, Ashtech, Dub Gabriel, Torn From Black Space with Laswell, DJ Submerged and Buckethead, Somma with Bernocchi, Kondo, Laswell, Tibetan throat singers , Molvaer and others, Parched with Bernocchi and more). Mid 2009 came the first release proper, Meditronica.
RdG: How much of a struggle was it? I know that you had help, tell me who was that? Who was on board when you first started?
GB: It was, but I guess in hindsight. I had financial capital accumulated in years of work, and network support from Eraldo, my main business associate in RareNoise and Laswell, who was very generous with his time and his suggestions and his early counselling.
The main issues we had to deal with were timing and knowledge. Our timing was both auspicious and inauspicious: on the one hand the world had ground to a halt by September 2009, making it impossible for us to find a distributor in our early days; on the other, it fitted my general contrarian attitude perfectly. Knowledge was a more general mountain to climb – I had little knowledge of music law, music production, event production, and had to learn on my feet.
These two sides of our early ‘struggle” provided us though with a very useful mindset, one that has largely shaped our modus operandi: to always be alert, to always move quickly on our feet, to seize the opportunity, to not pre-conceive, to allow ourselves to imagine the unimaginable, to listen with open ears, to look for a red thread in apparently disconnected materials, to look for the intent in others, not design: what seems to be designed is but an outcome of an attentive trial and error process.
Of course, as matters have progressed, our need to reach further into the future has also increased. So the focus has now moved towards balancing the tensions described above also across time.
RdG: Your artist’s roster… how and why do you decide who’s on it and who’s not?
GB:To elaborate on the general point made in my previous answer, there are a multitude of entry points into the RareNoise release schedule. The underlying driver is provided by the development of our personal relationship with all artists involved. No long term ties, but focus on all aspects of any single project, audio, visual, live performance, wherever and in whatever measure appropriate. This form of working partnership usually develops from a single release, either completely external or featuring an artist already on the roster.
Examples would be the first album by Naked Truth, which spawned two successive internally produced albums by the same band and six albums by individual members of the band (two by Lorenzo Feliciati, three by Roy Powell as Mumpbeak and InterStatic, one by Cuong Vu), and Metallic Taste Of Blood (by Bernocchi, Colin Edwin, Jamie Saft, Balazs Pandi), which spawned a collaboration between Edwin and Feliciati (Twinscapes), several albums by Jamie Saft (Slobber Pup 1&2, Plymouth, Red Hill with Wadada Leo Smith, The New Standard with Steve Swallow and many more to come) and several albums with Pandi (Cuts 1&2 with Merzbow, a new album with Haino coming out next year).
There are other examples though that run counter to this logic: our relationship with Bob Belden, though protracted, had no ramifications outside the Animation releases, though this may be a by-product of Bob Belden’s untimely departure, as we were discussing plans for him to orchestrate works by artists already on RareNoise.
So there is no specific plan, but there’s a strong intent and there’s a disciplined practice. The final decision on any release coming unannounced is taken usually in a flash of intuition; Similarly, decisions to encourage artists already on the roster to collaborate (for example Feliciati and Edwin on Twinscapes and Feliciati and Fornasari on Berserk! are also due to a constellation of impulses, some rational, some hypo-rational. You sense that two people have something they want to exchange at a given moment in time, you sense that their shadows could enhance each other in ways not apparent by how they look like, so you do it, because at that moment, it has to be done. Later you it becomes clear how all pieces of the puzzle hang together, the greater shape appears.