~Meniscus Archives~

Premier Issue No. 1
August 14, 2003 - November 14, 2004

Link to Issue #1 Home


The Star Said...
Emlyn Lewis

Dear Mr. Tax Man

Invigorating Shake
Photo Essay on Peace
Bicentennial Aries
Jon Heinrich
Stranger in Alaska
Ryan Collins

The End of Main Street
Wesley Ratko

The Fur Trapper
Evan Bynum
Travels with Dad
Sarah Edrich
Long's Peak Winter Solo
Aron Ralston
Las Vegas
Jon Heinrich
Film Review: Secretary
Josh Seifert
Your Basic Mindf***: A Review of Wayne Krantz' Latest, Your Basic Live
Brian Gagne
Interview with Silent Treatment
Chrystie Hopkins
Independence of Common Humanity
Daniel Stevens
September in Chicago
Derek Meier
Father Time was a Bastard
Dan Boudreau
Wispers of the Mind
Dan Boudreau
2 Haikus
Laura R. Prince
Sarah Edrich
Pete Pidgeon
Meniscus Premier Launch Party
Zeitgeist Gallery
Cambridge, Massachusetts
August 14, 2003
Metro Saturdays hosts
Meniscus Portland Launch
Sky Bar @ The Roxy
Portland, Maine
August 30, 2003
State of the Art
Lounge Ten
Boston, Massachussets
October 23, 2003


Interview with
Ric Baker

Compiled by Chrystie Hopkins
Published 8/01/03

Meniscus: When I was looking at your devices again tonight I was wondering about the process you go through with all those machines and different samplers. Could you give me a quick run down of how you get started writing tracks?

Silent Treatment: When I first started writing electronic music, I would start with a drum beat or a bass line or something like that, a specific sample in mind. And then I would hear one thing and then another, so there could be multiple things going on and eventually work up to having all the sounds there. You really have to do it track by track. Usually, I go from there and let that set the vibe.

Recently what I have been doing is, before I sit down with anything, I think of what I want to express. What type of sound I want to have and then I pull from all the resources using all the samplers.

Meniscus: So you start with the big picture, and you know what you want to express?

Silent Treatment: Yeah, I start with the big picture. Starting out I had to learn what everything could do first. Really learn how to manipulate things. So up until recently a lot of my tracks reflect that approach. Then, I started with a four bar drum sample or a certain musical phrase that I had sampled and sort of used that. I think that is still a valid approach.

What I have been doing more, is like, all right, what am I really hearing? What do I really feel like expressing now? I feel like it’s a bit better like that.

Meniscus: Do you feel that it is more rhythmic or melodic? You have a lot of atonal things going on.

Silent Treatment: Well, I view everything as sort of rhythm. Melody, even though it may not be a groove, it is still defined by rhythm. Music, to me, is really a sound-silence relationship. Even right now we are speaking and there is a rhythm. That rhythm between the words we are speaking. If you are playing a note, even if it is intercepted there is a silence between each note and that’s how you start to define each note. Rhythm is everything in music to me. It’s the most important thing. It’s not the only thing, but it’s definitely the most important thing. I am definitely drawn to music that grooves. No doubt about it. I don’t know what to attribute it to. It’s just the fact that I like seeing bodies move to my music. That is one of the most gratifying things.

I do some ambient things, but I really love playing some dense sonic music. There is something about a sick drumbeat. There is something about when it grooves and everything locks in really nicely.

But I view melody as more of an emotional thing, maybe more of a lyrical thing, it’s like, I guess you can say that there is an anatomy of music and that the drum beat and the bass line are the foundation of your house. And you are going to pour that foundation. And then... I don’t know, all I can think of is this cheesey metaphor... its like turning your house into a home [giggle]. Heart, that’s where melody comes in. And you can hang your hat up there, on the melody. [laugh]

Meniscus: Yeah, I hear that. [laugh]

Silent Treatment: I really like to look at the big picture and see how everything culminates into one thing. That’s really important.

Meniscus: Is that all based around your education in jazz? Why don’t play “normal” jazz, instead of this crazy new shit?

Silent Treatment: Well, to me personally, going to Berklee, you are surrounded by these guys that are incredible at jazz and are great at interpreting jazz. I just feel like for me, and I don’t think that this goes for everybody, I figured out pretty early on that to pursue jazz, straight ahead jazz, would be denying a lot of things that I love. My whole thing is that I need to find music that really satisfies me and fulfills me. Jazz did that for a while. It was a great way to learn. Studying jazz was a great way to learn about rhythm and a great way to learn how to play my instrument and how to improvise. That was priceless, that insight that I got. I got to a point where I said; “I don’t want to play in a Big Band anymore. You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Meniscus: So, it is more of a freedom out of jazz.

Silent Treatment: Yeah, and I don’t think that jazz really reflects the times to me right now. I really think that it is important to reflect what is going on right now. I want to draw on everything around me. I want to draw on all the musical things that are happening around me that I grew up with, that I listened to—cultural things. Things that I need to express in terms of emotions and politics. And I feel like I want to draw on all of these different musical elements to really speak my mind about what is going on now. And to me, when people talk about jazz, to me that is really not…

Meniscus: Not today.

Silent Treatment: It’s not today. I think maybe there is a type… I guess it is hard to define jazz. When I think of jazz I think of a certain sound and a certain genre of music. But, I hope that what jazz becomes is something more of what I am trying to do with my live bands.

Jazz has always been a philosophy, improvisational and expressive. That is what I bring with me when I play with live bands, because I am still playing trumpet, but we are doing a lot of different things.

Meniscus: More electronic?

Silent Treatment: Exactly. We draw upon the rhythms of drum and bass, and dance music and things like that. Yet, we still improvise. We are still trying to convey those same types of emotions and ideas; it is just a different vehicle that we are using. I feel that philosophically I am still a jazz musician, but musically I wouldn’t go and call myself a jazz musician.

Meniscus: You were talking about how jazz is more of a philosophy. A lot of people think that this electronica is consciousness-expanding music in itself. Do you find that to be part of the evolution of your musical ability and the engineering you have to go through?

Silent Treatment: With all of the software that I am using, it has really revolutionized the way I am able to think about music and the way I hear music. That, in and of itself, has expanded my consciousness. When I first started going to school, I said, “I am a jazz trumpet player. I am going to study composition.” I heard music as a trumpet player, but not really as a musician that heard everything. Then I started getting into electronic music.

Meniscus: Does it take you places spiritually?

Silent Treatment: Oh absolutely. With some of my tracks that I have written, I will be up at 3 am with headphones on, dancing around my room all by myself. That is definitely a spiritual place, there’s no doubt about it. I mean, I don’t know, I am actually getting off on what I am doing and what I love.

Spiritually, music is my religion. I always viewed spirituality as something I couldn’t express and music helps me do that because it goes beyond so much. It goes beyond words. It is just like this really ethereal thing that I can use to really connect with my spiritual self. People get off in different ways.

Meniscus: Do you find yourself as a live conduit of music? Do you have that flow experience where the music just bursts from you?

Silent Treatment: That is really interesting that you said that. A lot of music that I write, the stuff that I really feel is good, that really reflects what I am trying to do, takes about 15 minutes to get the main ideas down. Then you may take months tweaking it and arranging it and finding the intro and a good way to resolve everything. Essentially, even writing music electronically it is a burst. I experience that in life too. I have had teachers tell me that the best that you will ever feel, is when you are playing and it is going to feel effortless, it’s not going to feel like you are working at it at all, it is just going to be flowing through you. Time sort of just stands still and you just realize that you are just playing. And you go back and listen to it and you are like, “Yeah, that sounds like how I felt.”

I believe very strongly in being a conduit. Music is this great cosmic force and if you learn that language, then the force starts speaking through you and you just let things happen. A lot of people experience that in different ways. Everything they have ever experienced culminates in this moment, whether they are a writer, an artist or a doctor. Everything they were up until that moment culminates into that moment and this conduit opens within them and then whatever they need to do and whatever needs to get done, just happens.

Meniscus: It happens.

Silent Treatment: It happens. Those moments, that is what life is all about. If there is someone in your life, I feel like you have those moments a lot with that person.

Meniscus: If you were going to tell the average person some good discs to get, what would you recommend?

Silent Treatment: Anything by Amon Tobin on Ninja Tune. He is un-definable, genre busting. I have heard a lot of terms used to describe his music, but I do not think that any of them do him justice. He is the first person I was ever exposed to as an electronic artist. I feel lucky.

Meniscus: What else have you heard that you really like?

Silent Treatment: Pretty much anything on the Ninja Tune label is really good. Because you have all of these electronic labels that just do one thing. You’ll have a drum and bass label that does not even do just drum and bass, they will do a specific type of drum and bass. Over techy or loungey. It is ridiculous. Ninja Tune is much more eclectic, rather more abstract. You have a lot of really good hip-hop coming out of Ninja, Roots Minuva. Kid Koala, at least when he was on Ninja.

Bands are the really interesting thing that is going on with electronic music.

Meniscus: Like the New Deal?

Silent Treatment: Like the New Deal, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Cinematic Orchestra, bands like UV Ray. UV Ray is actually made up of some of the old members of Soul Coughing. You have Reggae, Dub, Funk, Disco and all sorts of different kinds of music. And then you have the electronic synthesis of that.

And now, it is interesting because you have this solely digital music being reinterpreted by live musicians. And that is where I think it is at. I think that is the most interesting stuff going on right now. Musicians are getting their inspiration from purely digital music.

What I am trying to do is take the electronic thing and the live things and combine it. I want to be throwing sequenced stuff and have live people interact with that and then hopefully interact back to the computer and then back to what the musicians are doing. It is exciting to be doing something new and to add to a live vibrant discussion of what music is right now.

-Ric Baker

-Chrystie Hopkins


Meniscus Magazine © 2003. All material is property of respective artists.