I never travel without my in-ear-microphones.
They look like these little iPod-earphones and provide a haunting spatial sound effect when listening to the recording with headphones. As they are so small and without attracting attention, same is my recorder, I am recording sound practically almost all day when I travel. I start at breakfast. Travelling with me can try the patience of even the most patient travel companion because he never knows whether he can speak or is going to destroy the recording. For my part I hate to admit that I’m recording all the time anyway and therefore every single word might destroy the recording.
My partner always asks: “Are you recording just now?” And I say: “No, no, not just now”, to not make him feel uncomfortable and I hope, please don’t let an amazing sound come up right now so that I might be forced to hiss “Shhh”. It’s horrible to hear myself hissing “Shhh”, when I listen to my recordings in the evening. That’s not me. I always think I am a friendly person …
As I said, it’s not the real me.
I started to really listen to and record environmental sounds when I began to make radio features. And when I was in the studio editing those recordings I took immense pleasure in that. Although I didn’t do the technical things at that time. My most favourite were city sounds. Thinking about why that was so and still is I can only say, I think it’s because listening to a city makes me most intensively hear ‘space’. And that sort of ‘natural’ collage of layered sounds, and the waves of noises come up and disappear, all of that, together, yes, I suppose that’s it.
Or take the pass-bys of voices. When I walk a crowded street, it’s a kind of music for me. Indeed these ambient street noises can sound musical. Voices come to the ear in different pitch and duration and some come close to the ear and disappear very fast, others are far away but one can still hear a whole sentence. Also the differences of sounds in a street, depending whether it is a wide or a narrow street with huge buildings or just bungalows or whether it’s summer or winter, for me all these things are absolutely fascinating.
I also take those everyday sounds as the basic material for my sound works. Often I process them electronically and combine different layers of sounds.