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A Portrait of Rastko Lazic

Raskto Lazic is an electronic music composer//performer based in Geneva ,Switzerland.Since 2009 his work is focused on the use of modular synthesizers as his main tool of composition and performance.
Most of his creations are based on self generative patches where he seems to feel comfortable to interact and put himself (and the listener) in a kind of tension state waiting for the next machine step//movement//decision.
We asked him some questions about , random//chaos ,machines actions //reactions and performing //improvising techniques ,trying to put an eye into his workflow.

Rastko And His Serge from Rastko Lazic on Vimeo.

// Rastko Lazic…a few words from you about who you are ,
your past works ,your passions, your likes and how you got in contact
with modular synthesizers.

I was born in Belgrade,Serbia, studied sound engineering in England
and after that lived in a lot of places around the world.
In the past I was a audio engineer, sound editor and I even worked on
a pop  music album in Belgrade, Serbia.
Gradually my interest for experimental and avant-garde music grew and
through composing for contemporary dance and performing live I fell in
love with with free improvisation.
I like to use hardware instruments, in the begging these where
modified toys and some effect pedals and now a analogue modular synth
and some of Peter Blasser`s instruments.
I did work with virtual modular synthesizers while using the computer
as tool for composing so the evolution to the hardware modulars was
something I dreamed of for a long time.
The Serge modular was actually the first modular synth I had.

// Patching with Serge Modular…why did you choose Serge as your
primary format , difficulties//facilities Pros and cons of patching
with a Serge system.

While exploring the existing modular systems the Serge was something
that caught my eye.
I liked its history and I liked the unchanged design.
The idea that some of the panels (like the Animal) are a complete
system with an large amount of possibilities was something I liked.
The problem was that nobody had a Serge I could try so it was a huge
gamble actually.
I found a Animal panel for a really good price and as soon as I
plugged it in I just smiled and new that that is my instrument.
I really don’t see any cons of patching the Serge.
The banana system and the size of the panels is perfect.

Live Serge Modular Patching 001 from Rastko Lazic on Vimeo.

// Random…in your performances there’s always a strong
improvisation part but it doesn’t seems that all is leaved to the
events . Is there a “random component” in your patches?

There is almost always a “random component” but very rarely chaos.
Random is very important to me and I chose my random sources very carefully.
I want the instrument to surprise me and do something I would not
think of doing but still I like to be in control and be able to tame
it fast.
The random element are especially important in the self generating
patches I create.

“tape 001” serge modular self generating patch recorded on a revox a77 tape recorder from Rastko Lazic on Vimeo.

// The “Tape 001” Video…a few words about your approach to
self generative Patches.

Well I usually say that I always try to patch the self generating
pieces in a way that the instrument starts creating music I would
never thought of creating but music I dream about.
This is not exactly true as I can always hear myself in these patches
and I can hear feelings I had at the moment when this patches where
created.
It is a symbiosis between me and the instrument as it is me who sets a
lot of parameters in the patches but the choices are made mostly by
chance and the instrument.
These self generating patches are exactly the point of me wanting to
use the modular as in these pieces the computer grids and screens are
removed by a ultimately free sound machine.

// Synthesizers…a brief description of the other synths you
used in your videos//works  ( Sidrazzi ,Cocoquantus ,Theremin )

Beside the Serge I use Peter Blasser`s creations as well.
These are fantastic live performance and composing instruments.
Fantastic is really the word to describe them as the design is
incredible, both of the look of the instrument but also of the
electronics inside.
In the instruments I own Peter created nodes which can be connected
with either alligator clips, bare hands, wire, fruit…
By touching these nods the sound changes or elements are fed into the delays.
The speed in which these nodes can be manipulated with is something
that makes these instruments extremely playable and superb for live
performances.
The Theremin is just something I had to have.
I have read a lot about Theremin and was for a long time fascinated by
this instrument and the inventor behind it.
The design of the instrument is ninety years old and it still
fascinates guests who come to visit me in the studio, much more then
the Serge and other stuff I have lying around.
They often use words “magic” like people did ninety years ago to
describe it and that is really nice.
These days people are very hardly surprised by anything and magic as a
word is used very seldom. We can do so much with the technology in the
western word that the magic of a lot of things is lost.
It is a very hard instrument to learn to play but for me somehow it
feel`s  very natural when controlling the Serge with it.
The Koma Kommander`s can do a very similar thing, to control the Serge
with hand movements, but the feel of the Theremin is just different,
not better , just different and special.
Maybe it is the posture you have to have while playing the Theremin.

A Late Night Impro On The Cocostuber 2 from Rastko Lazic on Vimeo.

// TON…a little inside of your technique/visions on creating
drones and a few words about the TON collection. 

“Ton” is a collection of recordings done on Peter Blasser`s Cocostuber.
Cocostuber has wooden bars, like the Sidrazzi .
The bars can modulate two 12 bit digital delays and two filters.
On the bars there are nodes with oscillator outputs and some strange
delay outputs, these nodes can be fed back into the delays.
I play this instrument by connecting the nods, pressing the bars and
after the initial introduction of sound into the delays, in the case
of “Ton”, just leaving the instrument to play it self.
The tone of the “Ton”, the minimal, drone approach is something I have
to come back to in my recordings.
This kind of sound interests me greatly. Although it seems easy drones
and minimal music is really hard to make and perform and it demands a
total concentration of both the performer and listener.
I like to have a lot of stuff happening but in a very subtle way,
somewhere behind, left or drowned in deliberately large reverbs.

// Decisions…you rapport with the synthesizers during your  live
perfomances , your actions//reactions based on the machine outputs.

All of the instruments I use live have some degree of freedom and are
not exactly tamed but on the other hand I know them really well and I
have learned to interact with them rather well.
I leave the instruments often to play alone if I like what they are
doing but then again if not I play them without thinking to much.
I am alert to small mistakes that sound good, the sounds created by
touching cables together.

Serge Modular and The Theremin from Rastko Lazic on Vimeo.

// Human/Machine…your experience with linking your body
movements together with synthesizers sounds (Use of the theremin ,Koma
kommander and Serge Touch /Keyboard seq.)

The Theremin ,  Kommander`s and the TKB give me possibilities to
interact much more precisely and faster with the Serge.
These interaction have a incredible resolution and it is so great to
be able to change frequencies and timbres with hand movements.
I used to work with sensors with dance and music but the CV control of
things is much better.
It is just more natural and although I know that now the computer
delays are smaller and resolutions higher still it just feels better
and is very playable.
Sometimes just by breathing the body makes enough movements to send
signals to the Koma Kommander`s or to the Theremin and this slight
changes in the sound are really great and are truly a connection
between me and the instrument.
Like my heartbeat going into the synth.

Human//Machine …..

I actually don’t see the instrument as a machine.
Machine somehow sounds cold, at least to me , maybe I am to sensitive.
Although ok, I did say “sound machine” in my previous answers.
It is hard to explain but while packing the Serge for my last trip I
thought of how much I love it.
Then I thought how stupid it is to love a object, it is really weird.
Patching and creating sounds makes me happy and this instruments gives
me a lot of happiness. I have some kind of relation with it.

Berlin 26.02.2012 Richard Scott, Hayden Chisholm and Rastko from Rastko Lazic on Vimeo.

// Basic Electricity #2…a few words about your collaboration
on the Jam : pros//cons about  jamming with other people and how was
the idea born.

I love to play with other people and would love to be able to do it more often.
I would say for me it is much easier to play with other musicians then
to play solo`s.
When playing with other musicians I actually have more space and time
to think, react and listen.
I played on Basic Electricity concert in Berlin and the following day
we went to Richard`s studio and just played almost all day.
There I met Hayden Chisholm who is a excellent saxophone player and a
great person. And Navs was there as well, who beside being an
excellent musician has a great knowledge of modulars and patching.
One of the nice things that happened in the last couple of years is my
realization of how many people around the world think like I do about
music and performance.
When I was performing in Serbia I absolutely had no idea how many
people work in that way.
For me the transition from computers and grids to free improvisation
felt just natural.

// Future…performance dates, works in plan ,ideas and your
“to do ” list for the future.

I hope to have more time for music.
I was a full time father now twice in the last three years and had
very little time for music but I hope that soon I can finish the
“Tape” compilations I am working on and to make some other music I am
thinking about and to go back to some older recordings and see if
there is anything there to be made in some sort of record.
I shall be performing at the Modular Meeting part IX 13th of November
in Brussels at the Café Central, 14 rue Borgval and this will be a
great time with a lot of friends I have met in the past couple of
years.
I think that we have now confirmed February 17th 2013 here in Geneva,
organized by Cave12 at Island 13 – 14, Rue De Montbrillant with Olga
Kokcharova, Vincent Hänni and Gianluca Ruggeri.
They are really good musicians and I am looking forward doing this.
Beside that there are some unconfirmed dates in Europe (Denmark and
Holland) and a idea of going to the States next summer to perform in a
couple of cities on the east cost.
To do list is getting just bigger and bigger and on the top of it is
to try to make a instrument by using the Serge with some big
transducers I have.
The transducers would oscillate big sheets of metal not behaving asa
speaker for the sound but a part of the sound.

Drone 003 (Live in the Living Room) from Rastko Lazic on Vimeo.

// A self-made question.

Why ?

I really don’t know but I think that some things that happened in the
past are really influencing what I do and how I create. Good, bad and
beautiful things.

I just got tired of most of the traditional music , I find happiness
and wonder in the world of unusual sounds and spaces

more info about Rastko Lazic:
http://rastko.info/
https://vimeo.com/rastko

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