Doris Norton interview (Jacula, Antonius Rex)
Thank you very much for taking your time to do this interview, Doris. I think it would be best to start our interview with questions about some of your early influences. What can you tell me about the start of your music career?
I’ve never started a career. Music is only a journey of mine. Synthesizers, AD converters, sequencers, then computers, and generally all electronics, influenced my soloist voyage. In the beginning my main questions were how music has control over biological equipment and all the matter itself, how brain receive, stores and process music informations … and so on. My first solo albums were inspired by researches I made on heart rate sound, brainstorming and electroshock signals, psychic energy and mental phenomena ….
Also, I would add that, definitely, I consider myself not at all an artist. From my point of view, all humans are artists by birth, most of them comedians, quite often more pathetic than hilarious, acting out societal tragicomic scripts based on obsessive fears concealed under a coat of ‘normality’. I don’t fear the wolves and feel better living out of the herd, without brands and attached labels.
You are one of the pioneers of the early ‘electronic’ music. What drove your interest towards this?
Anthropology, biology, biochemistry, maths designed my cast of mind; my life has been a continuous seeking out of the hidden truths, my most important need is always the research; the research in itself and applied research drive my living; the path of music is included but not limited to. As luck would have it, having had the chance to get my hands on anolg synths, sequencers, drum machines, computers, I found myself lost in fascination with them. But music and computers are not my life. I myself am the energy of my own life; if I can do music and use computers, it is ok, otherwise a walk in the woods is even better. I’m not a stereotyped musician with standardized activities …. first the compositions, then the recording sessions, release of the work, promotions, tour …. what a bore … it’s not for me.
Your debut was released back in 1980. The title was ‘Under Ground’. It was actually sponsored by Apple computer and the Roland Corporation music instruments. How did that happen? How did you get in contact with them and where did you record the first album?
Regarding the synergies , ‘electron’ affinity, marked by community of various interests, is the base of all my collaborations. It was a gathering of people with an affinity in conceiving the future, put together by the fate will. And I’m not beating around the bush not speaking of knights in shining armour dressed.
Regarding the making of my solo releases, I am always so much amazed at those people who are able to pigeonhole my activities into well-determined periods of time. The years between late 70’s and mid 80’s were a truly intense period of my life and it is much difficult for me to see each event well focused and shaped. For the music it was the time of the tangible shift from analog to digital era and for me the time in which I began to use the computer to make music. In those years I was involved in many and various productions, for other artists too. I was much busy with my son (born on 1977), with sessions in the recording studios and research and music computing in my own music labs, with relocations of household and lab from the city to the country, with my activities as freelance journalist and as scriptwriter. I recorded part of my solo albums in various recording studios and part in my own music labs. The result of those overlapped activities and eventful times was a pile of recordings and encoded songs, many of which were mixed, mastered and issued, others left out unmixed on multitracks tapes, many others mixed down to a two-track recorder and not issued, and others again simply left out as data on floppy disks. The most experimental tracks, the ones I liked best, were not issued. Regarding “Underground”, it was almost all recorded at Sudio Fontana in Milano.
‘Parapsycho’ (1981), ‘Raptus’ (1981), ‘Norton Computer For Peace’ (1983), ‘Personal Computer’ (1984), ‘Artificial Intellingence’ (1985) are just some albums you released in the early 80’s. It’s really amazing how far away of your time you were with the idea for instance the title ‘Personal Computer’.
In the late sixties I had already conceived computers as “personal”. I have always trusted in the benefits of the solitude, alone means freedom …… what’s better than a “personal” computer for materializing ideas, by oneself?
What are some concepts behind your albums?
Albums and songs titles speak by themselves; the hidden meanings too ….. to the ears inducted into the mysteries of music. Anyway, nothing is planned in advance and nothing come out as a sound-track, even if I’m working on sound-tracks or concept albums. Thoughts and actions always shape each other, driven by unconscious attitudes.
I would like to go back when you and Antonio formed ‘Jacula’ and later ‘Antonius Rex’. It’s a different direction you took on your solo path.
Of course, if the direction had been the same I wouldn’t have walked on a different path.
Around 90’s you started experimenting with ‘techno’ music. What is the thing, that attracts you in this genre?
Taste for beats and grooves perceived as vehicle for hidden human powers and wisdom expansion. My old interest for ritual shamanic drumming and tribal dances rekindled and was driven into the techno, thanks to my son Rexanthony, teenager in the early ’90s with a natural affinity for sonic landscapes of those times.
You are also involved with visual arts. Would you like to tell us more about it?
Regarding visual arts, at present I still paint, assemble, tape and edit videos, take pictures, ….. mainly digitally …. I like to turn shapeless matter into something which gratifies me, satisfying no other aim than the enjoyment of the life.
What are you currently up to and what are some of your future plans?
At the forefront of my imagination I always try to transmute open strings of vibrating energy into matter, and vice-versa, always acting my way into the way of inspiration, never against the clock. So, actually, the formless matter is receiving form, but still hasn’t taken a clear shape.
Currently, the concrete projects are the reissues of “Underground”, “Parapsycho”, “NortonComputerForPeace”, “Personal Computer”, “Artificial Intelligence”.
“Raptus” (30th anniversary special edition 1981-2011) has already been re-issued by Black Widow, as Lp vinyl and CD digipack including a vintage video.
Thank you very much again, Doris. Would you like to add something else, perhaps a message for It’s Psychedelic Baby readers and your fans?
Do everything only for yourself. Nemo potest non beatissimus esse, qui in se uno posuit omnia.
Don’t wish, act.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2012
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