“Since his first releases in the early 80s, uncompromising Belgian artist Dirk Serries has garnered respect from and invitations to collaborate with recognised musicians like Steven Wilson, Steve Von Till, Justin Broadrick, Cult Of Luna and Alan Sparhawk of Low. He has been commisioned to write works for Dutch national television broadcaster VPRO, the Antwerp Zoo as well as architectural festival Biënnale Rotterdam and worked on stage with the Holland Symfonia orchestra. His discography encompasses stylistically diverse releases on labels like Relapse, Projekt, Conspiracy as well as his current creative partner Tonefloat, an outfit with years of experience in vinyl editions for acts like Porcupine Tree, Robert Fripp, Theo Travis and Anja Garbarek. Over the past thirty years, he has toured extensively through Europe and the USA and performed at some of experimental music’s major venues and concert spaces, as headliner or in support of Low, Mono, My Bloody Valentine, Jesu and others.”[via dirkserries.com]
How would you summarize this past year on an artistic and personal level?
This year, although I always have been quite prolific and active, was a rollercoaster ride from day one till the end. Not only was I fortunate enough to set up a new label in conjunction with Dutch label Tonefloat. A label that brings my fascination for freejazz and improvisation into play and also giving a platform to projects I’ve been involved in since late 2013. Because of my Fear Falls Burning work, I was invited in 2012 by Swedish drummer Tomas Järmyr and Norwegian tuba player Kristoffer Lo to record with them an album in Norway. The recording became magical and in just one day time we recorded the complete album. Completely improvised, it just clicked. YODOKIII was formed, concerts were performed and other spin-offs like my duo with Tomas as THE VOID OF EXPANSION were created. Early February this year we recorded our duo album, played some concerts and later on our debut and the debut of YODOKIII were released with the launching of the new label. With YODOKIII we toured Europe. Artistically, apart from releasing the albums, I also personally enriched myself with the knowledge that I became much more than a solo musician but an artist able to improvise and just meet the challenge of the live momentum and create together with kindred spirits these unique moments of musical dialogue. Never been so amazed by the interaction with other musicians then with Tomas and Kristoffer. And somehow this artistic development made me grow as a human being too, more confident in what my goals are, what the vision is and where to go from here on.
Which album have you listened to most often this year (not necessarily released in 2014)?
Actually two albums that clearly made my list of fave records and which I played very frequently, all equally for their organic and pure character. Kyle Bobby Dunn’s … AND THE INFINITE SADNESS, a perfect trilogy of vinyl albums on Students Of Decay that represent for me what ambient music is all about. Subtle, harmonic, slowly evolving and mesmerizing. Nothing challenging at all but so beautifully executed that it became a masterpiece. Dead Neanderthal’s PRIME is an album on which the Dutch duo teams up with British saxplayer Colin Webster for a raw, intense but honest and no-nonsense approach to freejazz. No fancy and over-consumption of notes but a highly disciplined assault of repetitive sax harmonics and constant tribal drumming with a carefully placed variation now and then. Epic, relentless and so trance-enducing. Even live they do play this without any concern on how the audience will respond, executing their statement is their priority and to which I can fully relate and therefor completely in awe for such relentless vision. Wish there were more musicians out there like them.
What was the best gig you’ve attended?
I believe THE NECKS at Netwerk in Aalst (Belgium) this year. Although I saw them already 7 or 8 times, this one was quite abstract, dynamic and very intense. Two long sets that became slowly sound monoliths by building motives on double bass, piano and drums. Traditional in set-up but so alienating in sound, especially over time when after 30 minutes or so in the set all frequencies melt and each instrument blurs out into this vast repetitive sound canvas. Utterly fascinating.
What was the best non-music related cultural experience you’ve had?
Reading Albert Camus’ THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS.
Was there an event within this past year that has significantly influenced your philosophy and outlook on life, or your perception of the world around you? For instance some specific place you visited, people you met and so on?
Not that it really changed my rather pessimistic view on what the world is and hold for us in general but let us say that meeting up with Tomas Järmyr and Kristoffer Lo and creating this harmonic texture together definitely enlighted my life a bit more. Visiting Trondheim, in relation to the collaboration with them, probably belongs to that too, never felt so at home with pace of that city. Still desolate, rural but with a great heart of artistic expression.
What was your greatest disappointment in 2014?
Musically, the fact that YODOKIII still wasn’t picked up more. Tried a lot, but up till now the response has been nice, no question about it, but never stepped up into a higher league, so to speak. I really believe, and this is completely the opposite on how I feel about my own solo work – too biased here, we are touching musically and spiritualy on something unique here and my enthusiasm is to share this with as many as possible. Personally or socially-seen, the biggest disappointment for sure is how our little country is slowly descending into harsh individualism, nationalistic opportunism and diminishing the social character of a quite good country. The unbearable lightness of being, I guess….
Your plans, hopes and expectations for 2015?
Continuing to follow the path of what we achieved this year, expanding our label with 4 new releases, including the second YODOKIII album and two live concert tapes. Hopefully we can hit the road with YODOKIII this year more frequently and that I can keep on persuing the vision and create those genre-challenging fusions in both studio and on stage. And of course a good health.