Interview : Rodrigo Constanzo

This is the first installment in a series of interviews with artists about technology and the creative process.  Today we chat with Manchester-based experimental musician Rodrigo Constanzo.   

Rodrigo Constanzo

How does technology play a part in your work? How has it changed your work?

Technology is central to nearly everything I do, creative or otherwise.

Sometimes this takes the form of a laptop, but it can also be something bigger, or smaller.

It (technology) acts as a facilitator, helping me accomplish things that would otherwise be impossible.

It (technology) acts as a collaborator, challenging and pushing me further.

It (technology) acts as a mediator, solving aesthetic problems through its application and interjection.

It (technology) acts as a seeyalater, all-eee-gator.

Is there a tool, instrument, piece of gear, or software that is essential to your work?

Hmm that’s a good one. I’ll answer a list with a list!:

My laptop, Max, monome and xbox controllers, a snare drum, and various ciat-lonbarde synths.

These are more or less omnipresent in what I do, and I’d be hard pressed to pick just one of them.

How do you get out of a creative block?

One of the thankful perks of being involved in so many projects, many of which are collaborations, is that I never have a shortage of things to work on. The closest thing to this would be an exhaustion with a certain kind of work or process. For example, I may go through months of hardcore programming before I realize that I need to pepper that kind of engrossed analytical thinking with something different and contrasting. So for me this is more about managing types of mental and creative engagement well. A kind of creative juggling.

Do you typically work alone or in collaboration with others?

Mostly collaborations, though I do some solo stuff as well.

The collaborations come in many types and flavors. The most common one is a ton of mixed media art/video projects with my partner, Angela Guyton. These are some examples of what those are like.

Another long standing collaboration is with Sam Andreae, where we have composed a bunch of Battle Pieces, which are these really difficult competitive musical games. That duo is called strikethrough me and you.

When I perform solo, it’s often using snare drum + electronics and can look/sound something like this.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently finishing my PhD thesis in music composition at the University of Huddersfield which is centered around an integrated practice where I compose, performer, improvise, and make things/software/instruments/videos. The thesis itself is going to be on my webpage, and be an interactive/dynamic art-object of sorts.

I’ve also recently finished Cut Glove, a live sampling and performance instrument. It was programmed around the Xbox 360 controller and contains mappings based on video game mechanisms and metaphors. You can read a detailed blog about its development and see several performance videos here.

How does your approach to live performance differ from making recordings?

For my live performance I tend to favor a small/fixed starting point (instrumentally, technologically, conceptually) and then branch out from that point of fixity to new/complex places.

For recordings, I tend to do the opposite, and have a complex and broad idea (instrumentally, technologically, conceptually) and then articulate the smaller/finer details of it.

I should say that this duality isn’t really a conscious thing, and only in answering these questions did I put that together!