Interview with Ákos Garai

Ákos Garai is a sound artist who also runs the label 3 Leaves. His works “Barges and flows”, “3 Shaded Leaves” and “Vertikale skift” (with Terje Paulsen) and the releases published by 3Leaves during 2011 all were positively welcomed by the press and the listeners and were featured by many artists, curators and journalists among the most important works of the year. We invited him to answer a few questions about his work and his label  that we hope serves our readers to have an insight to Ákos’ work and to his label 3Leaves .

We would like to thank him for his words and in general for his supportive attitude with The Field Reporter through our first five months.

-Alan Smithee


Q ) Do you have a particular memory about how you started to get intrigued by sound?
A ) Yes. It started when I was a young child, long before I started to listen to any music from vinyl or cassettes. I think I had a kind of sensitivity to observe, in fact, to enjoy the sounds of the world were around me at that time. Of course, it was not a conscious thing but it was enough to capture my attention for hours. When I think back now, I still have something somewhere from these sound experiences (even in its degraded form) in my memory, and it is a good and interesting thing for me.

Q) Is there a specific subject, issue or question or that you feel you are trying to articulate through your work with sound?
A) Yes, definitely.  There is always a starting idea or premise of what I would like to achieve with my sound. But these are not narrow limits to me, because when I am working in the fields life often overrides these ideas which I never stand against. So it is also the case to find out more or something completely different. I could compare this a little to when you walk in an open meadow and the rain suddenly starts falling, you will adapt to this changed environment and you will go to do something differently than before the event. Of course, I do not think it would be possible to create something, anything with “no footprint”; however, I also try to subordinate and to skip myself and placed into the background. With field recording, this attitude is more than expected; when working with processed sound it is a little bit different where a different kind of creativity is required.

Q) How important is the action of capturing sounds in your work nowadays?
A) Important to me out there – as far as possible. Practically, I like to care about every detail when I go to make recordings. I think the technical stuff and everything that entails. Field work is always interesting even if I return with an empty card or something useless.

Q) What disciplines other than sound art and music (Ex. fine arts, science, political science-journalism, philosophy, literature, film, architecture-design,…) have had influence on your sound work and how?
A) In fact, it is hard to tell. Mainly I could specify time i.e. events I spend with active observation. I cannot emphasize or get rid of anything from it. Obviously, we record all that we can hear or see or above our senses. But film certainly is something that is very far from me. Not interested at all.

Q) What lead you to start a label? How you articulate the label manager work with your process as an artist?
A) The motivation of starting 3LEAVES was a bit complex. Around years 2007-2008, I did not see a label other than the highly respected Gruenrekorder which, clearly committed itself to field recordings and operated as a traditional label and also represented high artistic value. It seemed to me, there is a little “white hole” between the labels to fill so I decided to begin to create a creative publishing forum for artist who are committed to nature & environment and works primarily as a recordist. On the other hand, I wrote a little history with my label because this is the first label which deals and releases phonography works in Hungary. But the greatest pleasure is that I can manage new recordings from all over the world and to transmit them to others through my releases. I really like to give something good to people, and I cannot imagine a better way than with music!

Q) How would you measure the balance between intuition and knowledge in your work as a 3LEAVES curator?
Both are equally important to me. Something like the left and right.

Q) What are your thoughts about the importance of the figure of the “label” and the physical release in a world that sometimes turns to more DIY and digital dynamics?
A) Perhaps because of my age, I think a label that releases in physical formats is still important. The good thing with vinyl and compact disc and its artwork not only that you can hand something lasting to your listeners, in addition, to listen to music on CDs, LPs is assuming a quiet environment paired with at least a good-quality stereo playback system in an acoustic space; plus a comfortable sofa or seat where is a good thing to lay down and listening to music. Perhaps all this is just an anachronistic romantic approach now… but it works; Many people including me do like to have a release on their shelf; others prefer a digital copy only – but that is alright. Yes, it is widely believed that everyone can be their own publisher today, since only two clicks –and you are done. Despite of this, I know a lot of artist who never would do so rather find a label that they appreciate and like to have a release on. Maybe this is a strange paradox: to have something invisible (music) on something visible (physical release) but I definitely believe in this.

Q) How relevant and useful have been the reviews and press in general written on regard of 3LEAVES and its published releases?
A) It is always a pleasure to me to get to know someone’s impressions, opinions regarding any of 3LEAVES releases. Yes, it is important, relevant and can be useful too. It is a wonderful thing to imagine that someone is listening to your music, maybe on the other side of the world, and something happens to him or her which, then reacts back to the entire world. It is like dropping a small stone into the ocean and watching feedback circles created by. Wonderful.

Akos Garai website
3Leaves website