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Trey Gunn

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Trey Gunn from 2007
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at

Between King Crimson and a ton of other projects, you¹ve had one heck of a career. Can you catch the readers up on your history?
Geez! How can I possibly do that? Between recording and writing with David Sylvian, Robert Fripp (for 20 years!), King Crimson (for 10 years!), numerous other records/performance (Vernon Reid, John Paul Jones, Tool), new stuff coming out (Hector Zazou, Maynard Keenan¹s Puscifer), years making solo/solo band recordings (7 discs to date), helping invent a new instrument and new way of playing (the Warr Touch Guitar), years scoring for film and tv (Russian psychological ghost drama, Dead Daughters, just out this year) and now starting up a multi-dimensional storytelling performance project (Quodia) - Where do I begin?
MSJ: How did Quodia come about and what can you tell us about the project?
Quodia is a new kind of narrative storytelling. It uses the multi-dimensional languages of film, animation, sound design, music and theater, simultaneously. The present version has two live performers, Joe Mendelson and myself, and several guest voices embedded in the video screen, Azam Ali, Regina Spektor, Gino Yevdjevich of Kultur Shock. The stories, combined with the ways of setting them, takes each individual audience member on a unique journey.
MSJ: I know artists are not crazy about having their music pigeon-holed, but how would you describe Quodia¹s sound?
To limit the description to "sound" is understating our ambitions. Quodia is storytelling through multi-dimensions: film, animation, sound design, music, theater - all of these combine to stretch the audiences in many different directions ­ at times, even different directions simultaneously. As far as a pure audio experience goes, Quodia has currently drawn on areas that range from Laurie Anderson/Talking Heads to Quawali/Balinese to heavy rock genres.

MSJ: The project combines visual artistry with spoken word and music. How did you come up with that idea? Was it something you¹ve been planning for a while?
These ideas have always been hovering around my creative world. When Joe Mendelson and I began working together on combining visuals with music and text it exploded into this project. Now that we have completed The Arrow in a way that we can show the world without having to describe it (the CD/DVD) we will be taking a further step forward with all of the ideas.
MSJ: Where did the name Quodia come from?
The same place the stories came from. Deep inside where worlds collide.
MSJ: What¹s ahead for you?
More Quodia. More KTU (group with pat Mastelotto and Finnish accordianist Kimmo Pohjonen). More recordings - I¹m on the new Puscifer record - (Maynard of Tool¹s project). Hector Zazou is sending me some tracks to work on. Eddie Jobson has been in touch with me about a recording project. More film scoring.
MSJ: Are there musicians you¹d like to play with in the future?
Oh yes. Though my main focus right now is with finding more collaborators for Quodia. Film makers, dancers, actors and multi-disciplinary musicians.
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It¹s been said by the major labels that it¹s essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales ­ would you agree?
If you can get something for free instead of paying for it, most people will. My royalty statements confirm this. The world we are moving into is one where most musicians earn their living by doing non-musical work. It is something we are all adjusting to, and it something no one has a choice about. To blame that entirely on the availability of downloading is faulty reason, however. One other huge factor is that music and "musical sounds" are so pervasive in the world now that you can hardly get away from music if you wanted to. This trivializes the experience. And since we mostly vote with our checkbooks: "Why pay for air? It¹s everywhere."

Of course, there will be consequences for this way of exchanging. Some positive and some damaging. But, the truth is, no one is driving this ship. Just like the power of technology, itself, this is moving of its own accord and all of us musicians and the music industry, as a whole, are here to follow at the moment.

MSJ: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
I¹m happy for fans to be interested enough in my shows to want to record them and listen later. Although, it does steal something from the pure experience of being present to the performance. But it is a mistake to try to enforce that upon people. They need to come to that by their own free will. I would rather spend my energies educating audiences to the idea that if they bring their own presence and imagination to the performance, 100%, then we all go higher. If they are diddling around with a recorder, they can¹t do this and we lose an opportunity. You can¹t hold onto an event like a performance, anyway, even with a recording of it.

It is my intention to make everything that I do that is good available, so enjoy the show while you can ­ the opportunity to see and hear me play is fairly rare.

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought?
Elliot Smith, New Moon
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Master Musicians of Jujuku. Castle overlooking the coast of Portugal. They played right before my KTU.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Checking into a hotel in Detroit that was so scummy I found a rotting cantaloupe in the desk drawer.
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you¹d like to get out there?
Just thanks for being interested in our work!
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