Mining the Environment 

Frivolous' Found Sounds

FRIVOLOUS I love FanFiction.Net as much as the next guy, but this FFNet product placement is ridiculous.

FRIVOLOUS I love FanFiction.Net as much as the next guy, but this FFNet product placement is ridiculous.

PEOPLE READ A LOT into Daniel Gardner's "electromagnetic" chef's knife. Gardner (who goes by Frivolous when he's making idiosyncratic dance music) has heard plenty of symbolic interpretations of his knife-turned-instrument, including mistaken metaphors involving another unusual staple of his live setup—a rotary telephone.

On a cell phone in Montreal, Gardner laughs at the notion that the knife carries some deep, hidden meaning. He explains, "I got the knife as a gift and didn't know how to sharpen it, so when it went dull I was like, 'What am I going to do with this thing? Maybe I'll just attach a contact microphone and see what comes out of it.'"

While he downplays the significance of the knife in particular, the rest of our conversation reveals a larger philosophy of DIY electronic music—specifically the accessibility of found objects and the satisfaction of crafting gizmos that make music.

"Even just blowing over a bottle to get a bass sound and recording it, anyone can do that. It illustrates a mentality of resourcefulness," says Gardner, "When you use what you have at hand, you have a much brighter outlook on what possibilities are at your disposal."

His contraptions are becoming increasingly sophisticated (a fully robotic xylophone debuts soon), but Gardner insists that anyone can use the physical artifacts of their environment to make music.

"It's just using a microphone to collect experimental sound sources... water dripping in a sink, scratching on a carpet, those are the things I become inspired by. They leave a little bit of context."

It will be interesting to hear how the context comes across on his upcoming album Meteorology, which was conceptualized in a cabin off the coast of Gardner's native Vancouver, BC, finalized in his current home of Berlin, and snagged for release along the way by Swiss highbrow minimal label Cadenza Records. A preview indicates a quirky, eclectic mix of found sounds and intriguing vocal samples anchored by inspired beats that will definitely win over dance floors.

I can almost hear Gardner roll his eyes when I prod him about the importance of the knife one last time. "People don't usually look for metaphors in electronic music," he finally yields, "I guess if I can get them to do that, it's a good thing."

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