On the Couch with Tilman Robinson

Tilman Robinson AAR On the CouchWho is Tilman Robinson?
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s a Melbourne based composer, producer and sound designer focused on the psychological impacts of dense sound. I create electro-acoustic music across a range of genres including classical minimalism, improvised, experimental, electronic and ambient.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Nothing really. I’ve been freelancing in music since I was 16, and it’s really all I’ve ever wanted to do. The joy for me is in constantly learning new skills and as niche as my career is, it’s fascinating to me. That aside, I’d like to volunteer more. Possibly for a political party and/or NGO.

Who inspires you and why?
Artistically, I guess I strongly resonate with minimalism across many mediums. Brutalist architecture specifically speaks to me deeply for some reason. And conversely, the chaotic works of people like Jackson Pollock or Niki de Saint Phalle when she was shooting paint cans on canvases. More broadly, I find inspiration in those that daily endure hardships inconceivable to me. The human psyche is fascinatingly resilient.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
My music is informed by and discusses a vast array of socio-political and environmental factors. The only thing I can do at this point is make artistic work so the onus is on me to make it relevant and thought provoking. The arts have the power to confront people with inconvenient truths and shape thought in extremely nuanced ways.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Most travel tends to be around work or touring these days, but personally I tend to seek the new, so my favourite holidays are those that immerse me in situations or cultures outside of my comfort zone. There’s also a friend’s beach shack down in Apollo Bay that means the world to me. You know, the kind that has 3 generations of bed sheets and a wall cupboard full of board games…

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
That depends completely on the person! I’ve taken people to all manner of galleries, concerts, theatre shows and festivals over the years. Recently I went with out of town friends to the immersive VR experience at Zero Latency in North Melbourne which was incredible. I guess a couple of more ‘chilled’ things would be a swim out at Laughing Waters on a stinking hot summers day (weekday so you can miss the inner north exodus) or a beer at the Pinnacle in Fitzroy North on a Sunday afternoon when a band like the Hoodangers is playing.

What are you currently reading?
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. Actually I’ve been on a bit of a science-fiction trip since Ursula Le Guin passed away earlier this year. I’ve re-read a lot of her work and realized how much of the writing was lost on me as a child. Like in Left Hand of Darkness where you have a female writer portraying a male character who is trying to explain the concept of a ‘woman’ to a race of humanoids that exists as both and neither sex. What a trip.

What are you currently listening to?
A Laughing Death in Meatspace by Tropical Fuck Storm, Simon Barker’s Urgency! drum chant series, soil by serpentwithfeet and the new Tim Hecker releases.

Happiness is?
…the emotion felt by my new rescue blue heeler when she’s been left alone for even 30 minutes and I come home.

What does the future hold for you?
Currently I’m writing a new work for the Australian Art Orchestra that’s premiering at the Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival in early November then going to London Jazz Festival. I’m also developing a 6-channel sound work in collaboration with trumpeters Allison Wright and Elliot Hughes to be premiered at Dots+Loops in Melbourne and Brisbane in a couple of weeks. And I have my third full length album nearly ready for release. So you know… pretty chill for the rest of my year.

Tilman Robinson is one of the young leading lights of Australian music. A composer, producer and sound designer based in Melbourne, he creates electro-acoustic music across a range of genres including classical minimalism, improvised, experimental, electronic and ambient music. Academy trained in classical and jazz composition, Tilman’s diverse output focuses on the psychological impact of sound.

Tilman’s work can be heard as part of Sometimes Home Can Grow Stranger than Space at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival on Friday 2 November; and Aftermath at MPavilion on Sunday 11 November 2018. For more information, visit: www.aao.com.au for details.

Image: Tilman Robinson (supplied)