On the Couch with Connor Ross

Connor Ross AAR On the CouchWho is Connor Ross?
I am a sound artist and composer working in Melbourne, trying to balance the time and energy commitments of working in both the music and theatre industries while stopping every few minutes to record some weird sound under a bridge or that tone a washing machine makes after 37.5 minutes of its cycle. Because I’ll use them in something, one day, eventually, I’m sure of it.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Everything and anything, for sure. But that’s not necessarily a case of what I’m doing now is all wrong (at least I hope not). Rather I just feel like the process of existing, and especially the creative process, is always going to be about constantly improving upon, building upon, adjusting what we do by increments. Every time I make something, I learn how I can do it better for next time, and so next time I will. Similarly, every time I do an interview, I immediately think of better more articulate ways to say what I mean. The next one will always be better.

Who inspires you and why?
Different people and things inspire me for different reasons and at different times. I try to steal from and be inspired by as many sources as possible and put the influences together in such a way as that no one will ever know except me. I will take the guilt to my grave. There’s no such thing as creating in a void – everything anyone makes is influenced socially, politically, emotionally, creatively by what they’re exposed to. Olafur Arnalds inspires me to try interesting things with randomized pianos. Certain political figures inspire me to be more socially conscious to push back against them. The people I get to work with making things inspire me to work harder and create more so I can try to match their energy. The wind inspires me to try to relax. The birds inspire me to pull out a mic and record them. The world’s a cool inspiring place, man.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Other than doing what I can in small ways – doing my best to always be kind; to pitch in for the right causes as I can; to recycle; gotta have a keep cup – my practice and my interest is really in the sounds of the world we live in, how we compete with it, and how we can turn that competition around. Maybe if we can listen to the environments we’re treading on a little closer – and some environments we maybe will never get to tread on – (maybe if someone could creative some kind of immersive recording piece that allowed us to do this…) then we’d learn to take a little more care and give them a little more respect. I hope to spend a long time exploring this.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
This is for an arts industry publication, right? Do people in arts industries take holidays? Is that something I should be doing?? That said, any spare moment I get I like to just shoot out of the city to somewhere with hills and trees and actual stars at night (so artsy) and give myself a chance to take a breath. And while I’m there, maybe just record the sounds of this area of bush because I’m sure I can use it later…

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Gosh, every single good music venue in Melbourne, for a start (they’re all good). Which is also a lot of the good pubs covered. I guess we’d see the NGV because that’s pretty standard. Then the final attraction would be whatever it is that I’m working on at that time – there’s always something, ya gotta plug them shows, y’know – via a quick stop off in the Yarra Ranges. It’s on the way, probably.

What are you currently reading?
My emails? Scripts that I’m working on? Oh, production schedules? But really, currently sitting on my shelf started but not finished and making my feel guilty is Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo which I am finally reading for the first time. Normally I ready geeky sci-fi’s (maybe something to do with imagining all the laser sounds? I dunno) – that’s my dad’s influence. I don’t think there’s going to be any spaceships in this one but then again, I haven’t finished it yet. No spoilers please.

What are you currently listening to?
Anything new, constantly, always. Throw me new music. I need to hear it all it’s all so good there is literally no bad music it blows my mind. Throw me new random sounds. I want to hear what tones your ceiling fan makes when it’s on low speed in the summer. God, yes. That’s the stuff. There is so much happening in the sound landscape in our lives and we never notice it. Did you know different species of birds in a balanced ecosystem pitch their calls differently so they’re not competing for auditory real estate? Maybe we should listen to the “pitch” of others and work to mesh with it instead of just trying to be louder in the same space. Look, all I’m trying to say is sometimes the pedestrian crossing buzzer things make some cool rhythms.

Happiness is?
Big question! Surrounding myself with good art, good caring humans, good environments, and health to all of the above – and living and growing my life within those realms. I just wanna make cool things with cool people, really.

What does the future hold for you?
Honestly, I truly hope that it’s more of the same, just gradually building. More time to explore the concepts I’ve already been given the opportunity to touch on, and stepping gradually into larger exposure of those ideas. A lot of theatre projects coming up. Some chances to get out and record some different environments and explore that interest. Mixing some cool gigs every now and then. And eventually a move to Scotland. One day….

Connor has composed and produced The Loneliness Project – currently playing at the Meat Market as part of the 2019 Melbourne Fringe until 28 September. For more information, visit: www.melbournefringe.com.au for details.

Image: Connor Ross (supplied)