An Interview with Mark Kuechle: Montage of Music!

Apr 22, 2013 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Mark, I understand that you have a three hour music program that you host. Tell us when and the location of this program.

My program ‘Map Is Not Territory’ airs every Tuesday from 10pm to 1am Wed. (not for those who need to be up early in a morn); broadcasting from KSFR studios at the Santa Fe Community College campus; streaming simultaneously at www.ksfr.org for my listeners in Thailand (yes, I actually had someone email me as he was listening in Bangkok) and elsewhere.

2) Now, why do you mix genre’s? Is it to expose your listening audience to a variety of musical forms?

I not only mix genres, I also mix (layer) pieces of music together during my final hour. For instance, I may use a piece of electronica or solo tabla as a bed and layer a solo saxophone or acapella 12th century vocal music over it; in a sense creating a new musical experience and textures (this is a totally improvisational procedure that reaches various levels of success and or sublimity).

My mixing of genres reflects the diversity of my own listening over the past 40 years. And yes, my program – titled ‘Map Is Not Territory’ – is meant to be a creative destruction of the conventional pigeon-holing of musical genres, and is indeed meant to expose the audience to really fine artists they might not be exposed to; artist who I believe have made major contributions to the evolution of modern music.

3) Who gets to choose the majority of music- is this up to you?

I get to choose all of my selections and sequence them however I wish; I have total control over the formatting and substance of each program; I probably could not, or rather would not, do it any other way.

4) Mark , many feel that the younger generation SHOULD be exposed to classical baroque, chamber music as well as folk and maybe jazz. Are there any other programs that attempt to do what you do?

I am not familiar to any other program that goes to the extent of genre bending and mixing as I do. There is one program I am familiar with on a public station KCRW in Santa Monica, CA called ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’, but it is not as rigorous, challenging, or diverse as my program (if I may say so). There are a number of younger people who do listen to my program (20-30 something) and many of the ones I know of are artists and musicians. There are a number of painters and photographers who have called in or emailed me to tell me they listen to the music on the program as they work because is catalyzes their creativity.

5) Now, let me throw out some names- Gershwin, Berlin, Cole Porter, —who is keeping their music alive?

There are stations and programs in certain markets and online that play the classic standards of these artists; occasionally one might hear a modern jazz interpretation of one of the above by say Keith Jarrett and his piano trio. On our station, KSFR, Hap’s Thursday afternoon show ‘Sentimental Journey’ will play works of these artists and others from the 20s through the end of the 40s. Hap is a fine musicologist of this formative period of American music.

6) A few more artists—Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como—-who is keeping their stuff alive?

Again, some stations in some markets, and I’m sure there are online radio stations that you can stream through one’s computer that feature the ‘Rat Pack’ and other guests of the Johnny Carson Show. Mel Torme was one of my favorites from this era, but outside of my collection purview.

7) Are there any contemporary artists that you really enjoy or that your listeners enjoy?

Too many to mention, really. Many names probably would not ring any bells for you. I sometimes use the phrase from Bach to Beefheart and beyond (referring to the legendary Captain Beefheart, fl. 1967- 1984). But if you must:

Early Music: works of Hildegard von Bingen and Perotin, performers: Sequentia and the Hilliard Ensemble;

Baroque: Biber and Bach, performers: John Holloway and Andrew Manze;

Contemporary Classical and Chamber Music: Toru Takemitsu, Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars, Steve Reich, Gyorgy Legiti, John Adams;

World Music: Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, Natacha Atlas, Anouar Brahem, Frifot, Niyaz w/Azam Ali,

R. Carlos Nakai, King Sunny Ade, Youssou N’Dour; Egberto Gismonti, Nana Vasconcelos, Yungchen

Llhamo, Sevara Nazarkhan, Cibelle, Zuco 103;

Folk: John Martyn, John Renbourn, John Fahey, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Bruce Cockburn,

Steve Tibbetts; Neil Young, Lori Carson, Suzanne Vega; Bill Frisell, Ale Moller, Lena Willemark;

Progressive: King Crimson, David Sylvian, David Torn, Kate Bush, Imogean Heap, Bjork, Jon Hassell,

Arve Henriksen, Peter Gabriel, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bill Laswell, Bill Nelson, Tom Waits, Hector Zazou;

Jazz: Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland, John Abercrombie, Bobo Stenson, Charles Lloyd, Dino Saluzzi,

Tomasz Stanko; Nils Petter Molvaer, Oregon, Ralph Towner, Enrico Rava, Louis Sclavis;

Electronica: Future Sound of London, Brian Eno, The Orb, Spacetime Continuum, Autechre, Aphex

Twin, Harold Budd, Alvo Noto, Amon Tobin, Plaid, DJ Spooky;

— to name a few leading lights in each genre, many of whom actually cross genres

8) Live music—dead art?

No, not in the least. Santa Fe, as well as many other cities, has an incredible line-up of artists who perform at a number of venues in town all year long. Live performances can and do still bring tears to my eyes if they are sublime enough: I am known to cry like a baby at certain performances.

Live music is very much alive: pick up a New York Times or Village Voice and you will see that in some cities fine music is happening all the time, Europe even more so than in the states.

9) What have I neglected to ask?

Do I love doing my program? Yes.

Do people listen at that ungodly hour? Yes.

What are my guiding principles for collecting and featuring a certain artists’ work?

V.I.P. – Virtuosity, Innovation, and Poetics.

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