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ACCELERATOR: an interview with Grey Filastine



Filastine: There’s almost nothing normal about what we do on stage. We use a shopping cart, a broken kilinda, which was probably from Africa at some point but we tuned it to an Indonesian scale, we use an iPad to wirelessly control some instruments, there’s midi controllers…. There are no keyboards or DJ equipment on stage, just a lot of objects. But in the end, what comes out is electronic music with acoustic elements.

There are many totems to this project, and one of them is combining things that are extremely old with things that are so new that they don’t even exist yet. Inventing new forms of midi-control, new software, but at the same time using these really old instruments.

To me, all sound is horizontal. If it makes sound, whether it be the most advanced computer or an old, beat-up drum made out of wood, they’re both of equal value to me. There’s no sense of something being new and therefore being cool or cutting-edge, nor is there an exoticism of what is old and ancient. If it sounds interesting and combines well, use it.

I am speaking to Grey Filastine, who had just completed a concert on the Dom Square. While Miki Arregui’s futuristic animations were projected on the ancient stone walls, Filastine played his unique mix of electronica, hip-hop and world music on a stage inside the archway of the Dom tower.

Filastine: Miki and I are both obsessed with architecture, urbanism, public space. I’ve done a lot of sound interventions, and he’s done a fair amount of mappings. We’re both obsessed with the idea of a city as a living organism.

One reading [of playing in the Dom tower] is that we’re recycling this fascist architecture to create new uses. In that way, are we conquering and re-appropriating these objects. Are we creating a new metaphor, new meaning, new narrative, or are we simply reinforcing this fascist architecture by celebrating it? I don’t know. But this is something important to consider on these sort of events.

Filastine is in Utrecht on Impakts invitation, to represent the festival at the Peace of Utrecht celebration. Although he lives in Barcelona, he spends most of his time on the road to play his music, engage in art projects and take part in political demonstrations.

Filastine: You can’t, honestly, put politics in a song very well. I’ve been experimenting with this for many years. The only way you can put explicit political messages in songs is through sound collages, with dialogues, and the best way to do that is if that they’re funny in some way. On every one of my albums I’ve put a few dialogue collages. And those can be skipped, as they are separate tracks on the disc.

Another way to really say something is with video, and if you say it well it doesn’t come off as heavy-handed or didactic. It’s always a matter of refining the techniques to be able to communicate visually. You need to have a narrative instead of doing something so fucking postmodern that it’s meaningless.

As I helped Filastine drag his gear to his taxi, I realized that this must be his daily reality. Constantly moving from place to place, adapting, observing, absorbing. It’s not every person that could handle such a life. But it is exactly with this nomadic existence that he keeps one of the oldest characters in music history, the traveling storyteller, not only alive but up to date. A troubadour with a midi-controller.


Filastine Opening Concert, Wednesday October 24th, 21:00 @ Theater Kikker.

Beats Sin Fronteras: Grey Filastine Masterclass. Thursday October 25th, 11:00 @ Theater Kikker.