PBK Interview for The Ambient Obsession Questionnaire, 2014

 The Ambient Obsession Questionnaire – No.1 (by Tanner Garza)

#1. Who are you?  

Phillip B. Klingler, aka PBK.

#2. What City/Providence/Country are you based out of? 

Originally from Flint, Michigan and currently in Chicago.

#3. When did you begin making music in general AND what began the shift to Ambient music? 

I was making some ambient textures very early on. Some of my first experiments in 1986 with a Casio SK1 were textural loops, and I also did some tape-loop experiments that fall into that category, but there was never exactly a shift in my work towards ambient music. I have always tried to be highly spontaneous by thwarting my own instincts and precepts, so when I work in the studio it is with minimal forethought and whatever becomes of it can't be pre-defined. But already in the 80's there were people noticing in my work a certain quality that related to ambient music: Glen Thrasher, of Lowlife Magazine, referred to it as "assault ambient", another reviewer said "post-apocalypse ambient atmospheres". I don't set out to create sound structures in a particular direction, so it can't be dictated... and never is. 

#4. When did your first recorded material see release? 

My earliest releases were collaborations with Minóy in 1987 as "Disco Splendor". My first solo recordings appeared in 1988.

#5. Looking back, how do you feel about your early material? 

I think it was mostly successful for what I was trying to accomplish at the time. I only had one motive, to find a path towards abstraction in my art. The most successful of the early soundworks are like paintings to me. I was always interested in an immersive audio environment, but any changes going on in the sound structure were small shifts, not easily noted, or only heard in the context of deep listening. I think I am able to create a better version of this today. Again, a single rule can't be applied to each structure because of the way I work. 

#6. Do you think that your location has played a role in the sounds you have created? 

An artist's work is informed by their surroundings and personal experiences. I grew up in a factory town. One of my earliest impressions as a kid was my dad taking me on a tour of the General Motors fabrication plant he worked in as a tool and die maker. You digest those experiences and they become a part of your aesthetic. I was still working from that point of view even when I lived in California in the 80's, the factory impression of my youth hadn't left me yet.  When I moved to Puerto Rico in 1992, that was quite different for me, there was no noise/experimental music scene In Puerto Rico at the time and the language disconnect I experienced (I spoke Spanish, but not fluently) made me feel rather isolated. My work in that environment became more introverted. Then when I returned to Flint in the mid-90's the economic downturn in the city played another part in my creative process.

#7. What equipment is used to make your music? 

I had quite an extensive battery of analog synthesizers in the late 80's, But I was never trying to be a keyboard player, I had no interest in that at all. I used to tape the keys down and just let the synth drone on. I never once played the keyboard of my Korg MS20. I only used the instrument for filtering outside sounds through the external input. Now i've gotten rid of all the old gear. I'm using some desktop stuff, several Korg Monotrons, a Monotribe, an old Roland rackmount sampler, a Yamaha DX11, some effects, just cheap and old shit.   

#8. Who or what have been some of the influences for your sound? 

John Coltrane was an influence; his late work had a huge impact on my thought process towards creating abstract sound structures. The soundtrack to Eraserhead, by David Lynch and Alan Splet, opened up a lot of possibilities. My creative activity during the early part of the 80's was mainly visual art, but through seeking a better abstraction device for my paintings, oddly enough, led me to work with sound, and Eraserhead was definitely inspirational. Even after I'd been working with sound for more than a year, I had still never heard any of the industrial music of the time. I remember asking Minóy what Throbbing Gristle sounded like, I'd never heard them, and that was 1987. Minóy was a profound influence for me, he was the first outsider artist I ever saw in action. 

#9. If you had to pick 3 of your own releases for listeners to get an idea of who you are, which would they be AND why?

1. "Asesino" from 1988. Not the first thing I did post-Minoy, but the second, and a more distinctive direction for my abstract noise work. During this time, my work was characterized by repetitive crashing structures, dense, hovering soundwalls, and also some softer ambient textures.

2. "Shadows Of Prophecy/In His Throes", released 1994. This work exemplifies the Puerto Rican period of my creative output. Extensive use of the Korg MS20 to filter sounds being triggered off random sequences running simultaneously at different tempos, this is a further exploration of the odd glitchy approach I first explored on my tape "Listening To The World Vibrate". Also on this CD are some of my harshest works, but they are also quite different from anything else being done by my noise contemporaries of the time.

3. "Under My Breath", from 2009. This is one of my "all-star" releases utilizing the audio of many interesting experimentalists (Aube, Slavek Kwi, Christian Renou, Nigel Ayers, Wolf Eyes and several others). This is from the period when I was incorporating turntablist tactics, and also musique concrete, and trying to place the audio works into a poetic setting via titles derived, with permission, from Anne Waldman.

#10 What is Ambient music to you?

For some it's just a lazy way of saying soft "easy listening" music. But I don't set out to create sound structures in a particular way. My wish is to remain highly spontaneous by thwarting my own instincts and preconsiderations, so I always go into the studio with minimal forethought and whatever comes out comes out.