Brian Eno quotes and sayings
May 15, 1948
Whenever there's a new music, there's a new way of listening. And whenever there's a new way of listening, there are new musics that follow from that. And people start listening differently - that can either mean in different places or at different volumes or in different social groups or through different technologies.
I'd love it if American kids were listening to Muslim music.
In fact, quite a lot of what I do has to do with sound texture, and, you can't notate that. You can't notate the sound of "St. Elmo's Fire." There's no way of writing that down. That's because musical notation arose at a time when sound textures were limited. If you said violins and woodwind that defined the sound texture; if I say synthesizer and guitar it means nothing - you're talking about 28,000 variables.
I think everyone's inherently snobbish. Things that are very popular are not taken seriously, because the snobbish side of one says, 'Well, if everyone likes it it can't be that good.' Whereas if only I and a couple of other people like it, then it must be really something special.
I think I've committed the one really bad English crime, which is I've risen above my station. I was supposed to be a pop star, and suddenly I'm claiming that I'm an artist of some kind.
I've discovered this new electronic technique that creates new speech out of stuff that's already there.
Honor thy error as a hidden intention.
The tools are evolving, and people's interests are evolving as well. So, suddenly people like to hear bands, people like Devendra Banhart or the xx, bands that make a kind of virtue of sloppiness. That isn't what they would describe what they're doing, but the fact is they make a virtue of the sort of hand-made nature of what they're doing.
Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness.
If you've spent a long time developing a skill and techniques, and now some 14 year-old upstart can get exactly the same result, you might feel a bit miffed I suppose, but that has happened forever.
Painting, I think it's like jazz.
I hate talking about music, to tell you the truth.
When our governments want to sell us a course of action, they do it by making sure it's the only thing on the agenda, the only thing everyone's talking about. And they pre-load the ensuing discussion with highly selected images, devious and prejudicial language, dubious linkages, weak or false 'intelligence' and selected 'leaks.'.
I do love being in my studio. Especially at night.
Nearly all the things I do that are of any merit at all start off just being good fun, and I think I'm sort of building up to doing something else quite soon.
The way 'Lux' was made is that there are 12 sections in here, though two of them are joined together. So there are really 11 sections, in a sense, and each one uses five notes out of a palette of seven notes, and my palette is all the white notes on the piano. That was the original palette.
Any constraint is part of the skeleton that you build the composition on - including your own incompetence.
I think there's a lot of similarity between what people try to do with religion with what they want from art. In fact, I very specifically think that they are same thing. Not that religion and art are the same, but that they both tap into the same need we have for surrender.
By the mid-'60s, recorded music was much more like painting than it was like traditional music. When you went into the studio, you could put a sound down, then you could squeeze it around, spread it all around the canvas.
Most people have no idea what something would sound like if it wasn't an MP3.
The smart thing in the art world is to have one good idea and never have another.
Well, there are some things that I just can't get out of my head, and they start to annoy me after a while. Sometimes they're of my own creation, as well - and they're just as annoying. It's not only other people's ear worms that bug me, it's my own, as well.
Of all the things you can now do, which do you choose to do?
I hardly ever go into the studio with a work complete in my head. It emerges from communal activity.
Art is not an object, but a trigger for experience.
If there is a new fascism, it won't come from skinheads and punks; it will come from people who eat granola and think they know how the world should be.
People tend to play in their comfort zone, so the best things are achieved in a state of surprise, actually.
You either believe that people respond to authority, or that they respond to kindness and inclusion. I'm obviously in the latter camp. I think that people respond better to reward than punishment.
You don't have to act as if you know what you're doing.
If I tried to make a commercial album, it would be a complete flop. I have no idea what the world at large likes.
I'm bloody awful at multi-tasking.
The philosophical idea that there are no more distances, that we are all just one world, that we are all brothers, is such a drag! I like differences.
There are hundreds of manufacturers always producing dvices that in general do the same things. Since they have slight structural differences if you take one and fool around with it and give it a good kick it will actually do something that it wasn't designed to do. I have this relationship with my synthesizers. I've had them for so long, and I've never had them serviced, so that now practically all of their functions operate differently from what they were designed to do. They do very interesting things now, but that means nobody else can use them either.
Frequently, I go straight into the studio and see what's around. I might hire a couple of instruments that I've never used - maybe a particular type of electronic organ or an echo unit. Then I just dabble with sounds until something starts to happen that suggests a texture. The texture suggests some kind of mood, and the mood suggests some kind of lyric. That's like working in reverse, often quite the other way around, from sound to song. Although often they stop before they get to the song stage.
I'm struck by the insidious, computer-driven tendency to take things out of the domain of muscular activity and put them into the domain of mental activity.
Instruments sound interesting, not because of their sound, but because of the relationship a player has with them. Instrumentalists build a rapport with their instruments, which is what you like and respond to.
One often makes music to supplement one's world.
The idea that something is uncool because it's old or foreign has left the collective consciousness.
Don't be ashamed of your own ideas. Most musicians get applauded for sounding like someone else.
Cultural objects have no notable identity outside of that which we confer upon them. Their value is entirely a product of the interaction that we have with them.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the ambition of the great painters was to make paintings that were like music, which was then considered as the noblest art.
I always have wanted to know how the whole thing was done, what the process involved. And I don't particularly enjoy that my music is stripped of ancillary details, and it just sort of comes out of this big tap called the Internet like water. I like some of my water to be neatly presented in a bottle. With a label on it.
I think, if you spend a day or - as many people do - a life working only with that aspect of your being, the cerebrum connected to a finger, I feel that the rest of you atrophies, essentially.
Admirers can be a tremendous force for conservatism.
Attention is what creates value. Artworks are made as well by how people interact with them - and therefore by what quality of interaction they can inspire.
A culture is the sum of all the things about which humanity can choose to differ.
I still do mostly listen to CDs. I think that every format really is a different way of listening. If you take a different sort of psychological stance to it - like, I think the transition from vinyl to CD definitely marked a difference in the way people treated music. The vinyl commands a certain kind of reverence because it's a big object and quite fragile so you handle it rather carefully, and it's expensive so you pay attention to how it's looked after.
Nothing so dates an era as its conception of the future.
Ambient music is intended to induce calm and a space to think.
I think that there's something that I still like about the fact of a package, like the latest report from somebody. "Okay, this is what they're up to now; this is what they're doing; who's working with them?
Law is always better than war.
Although cover notes for classical music albums tend to say that the trill of flutes suggests mountain streams and so on, I don't think anybody listens to music with the expectation that they're going to be presented with a sort of landscape painting.
I love the sort of ambivalence of this, the ambiguity of something - being, for instance, in a quite busy Mexican restaurant with one of these very gentle tracks playing I remember as being particularly nice.
I occasionally meet people and they say, 'Oh, I was born to Discreet Music'... They always have very weird eyes, those people.
Even though I'm known as a pop musician, I have a seriousness about what I do.
I prefer to shoot the arrow, then paint the target around it. You make the niches in which you finally reside.
Being completely free to choose what to do is actually quite difficult.
It's easy to forget that your best work is done when your attention is fully engaged.
Possessions are a way of turning money into problems.
If you want to make computers that really work, create a design team composed only of healthy, active women with lots else to do in their lives, and give them carte blanche.
The only value of ideology is to stop things becoming showbiz.
When I work there are two distinct phases: the phase of pushing the work along, getting something to happen, where all the input comes from me, and phase two, where things start to combine in a way that wasn't expected or predicted by what I supplied. Once phase two begins everything is okay, because then the work starts to dictate its own terms. It starts to get an identity which demands certain future moves. But during the first phase you often find that you come to a full stop.
With devices my technique is always to hide the handbook in the drawer until I've played with it for a while. The handbook always tells you what it does, and you can be quite sure that if it's a complex device it can do at least fifteen other things that weren't predicted in the handbook, or that they didn't consider desirable. It's normally those other things that interest me.
A part of me has become immortal, out of my control.
I can't duplicate my own successes, because part of the creation of that effect is making something happen that you didn't expect.
The problem with improvisation is, of course, that everyone just slips into their comfort zone and does sort of the easy thing to do, the most obvious thing to do with your instrument.
Emotion creates reality, reality demands action.
What people call unemotional just doesnt have a single overriding emotion to it. The things that I like best are the ones that ambiguous on the emotional level.
Editing is now the easiest thing on earth to do, and all the things that evolved out of word processing - 'Oh, let's put that sentence there, let's get rid of this' - have become commonplace in films and music too.
The reason conservatives cohere and radicals fight: everyone agrees about fears, no one about visions.
What I believe is that people have many modes in which they can be. When we live in cities, the one we are in most of the time is the alert mode. The 'take control of things' mode, the 'be careful, watch out' mode, the 'speed' mode - the 'Red Bull' mode, actually. There's nothing wrong with it. It's all part of what we are.
I think most artists would be happy to have bigger audiences rather than smaller ones. It doesn't mean that they are going to change their work in order necessarily to get it, but they're happy if they do get it.
One of the great breakthroughs of evolution theory is that you start with simple things and they will grow into complexity.
If you're in a forest, the quality of the echo is very strange because echoes back off so many surfaces of all those trees that you get this strange, itchy ricochet effect.
In the wake of the events of 11 September 2001, it now seems clear that the shock of the attacks was exploited in America.
Sometimes you recognize that there is a category of human experience that has not been identified but everyone knows about it. That is when I find a term to describe it.
When I was working with Talking Heads what would happen typically is that they would go out and start playing a track, and I would always run the tape. I always record everything, even a run through where you're trying to get in tune. That's a principle because sometimes when the situation isn't clear interesting things happen, and they are worth listening to again.
With all fashion, what we do is play at being somebody else. We play at inhabiting another kind of world.
I often work by avoidance.
I take sounds and change them into words.
We have two different ways of working. One is completely unstructured where somebody just starts playing and somebody joins in and then the other person joins in, and something starts to happen. That's occasionally what happens. What more often happens is that we settle on some sort of - a few sort of structural ideas, like, "Okay, when I put my finger up, we're all going to move to the extremes of our instruments. So, that means you can only play either very high or very low or both. And we're going to stay there until I take my finger down.
I suppose I am reluctant about being any sort of 'star' and I didn't particularly want to be portrayed as one.
Control and surrender have to be kept in balance. That's what surfers do - take control of the situation, then be carried, then take control. In the last few thousand years, we've become incredibly adept technically. We've treasured the controlling part of ourselves and neglected the surrendering part.
I mostly used the studio devices, because I knew what they had. Generally I find I'm happy to use whatever's around. If there's nothing there I'll make something. For example, one of the things I tried doing was getting a tiny loudspeaker and feeding the instruments off the tape through this tiny speaker and then through this huge long plastic tube - about 50 feet long - that they used to clean out the swimming pool in the place where I was staying. You get this really hollow, cavernous, weird sound, a very nice sound. We didn't use it finally, but nonetheless we well could have.
I hate the way CDs just drone on for bloody hours and you stop caring.
All cultures have these feelings about non-functional areas of activity. And the more time people have on their hands, the more they commit it to those areas.
G. Campbell Morgan
Dick Van Patten
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