“To hit anything”
Pierre Berthet is a 59 year old inventor, instrument builder, musician and composer from Liège, Belgium. He’s also one half of Dead Plants And Living Objects, the duo he formed with Rie Nakajima.
You started out as a drummer.
I studied classical percussion, I was never really trained as a drummer.
Why did you change from playing an instrument to building instruments?
In order to escape from the rutilant kitchy pretentious look and sounds of Western percussion instruments. Most of them are depressing customized copies of Oriental and African instruments.
Do you think that there’s still an influence from your classical percussion background in what you do today?
The relatively short history of Western percussion I was confronted to during my studies probably encouraged me to hit anything that would come under my hands.
Who are the people that influenced you in the making of your own instruments? Joe Jones? Harry Partch? Harry Bertoia? Because that’s what your work reminds me of.
Terry Fox, Arnold Dreyblatt, Paul Panhuysen, Alvin Lucier, Frederic Le Junter, Rie Nakajima are all people you can add to that list, plus a lot of others I forgot about or am not conscious of.
Your discography is rather limited. The last CD I got from you is the Extended Loudspeakers album, which is already from 2010.
I am OK with not too much recordings. I prefer the real thing.
You studied with Henri Pousseur. What is the main thing that you learned from him?
Pentatonic modes and their transpositions, joy and happiness... not enough though. I wish he would still be here. This world misses him.
You formed Dead Plants And Living Objects with Rie Nakajima. How did you and Rie meet?
I met Rie through our common friend Phill Niblock.
What do you have in common with her?
She’s my sonic sister I think. I don’t collaborate so much so it’s good to find someone sometimes. It helps me to hang on.
How do you match?
I used motors before meeting her but she inspired me in new ways. Also she’s funny and we laugh much. And we both like food and simple cooking.
Photo © F. Le Junter
- Joeri Bruyninckx
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