Jonáš Gruska is a Bratislava-based electronic composer whose focus is on polymetic rhythms, unconventional tunings and the exploration of psychoacoustic properties of sound- and field recordings.
“I am charmed by slightly-directed chaos”
You come from a traditional music background: guitar and clarinet, and than punk, so how and why did you get into electronic music? You said it was through a Belgian exchange student in Bratislava.
Jonáš Gruska: It actually wasn’t a student, but an artist named Guy van Belle with a long history of sound art, music, and environmental projects. An immensely inspirational person, which almost forced me to escape Bratislava and start my studies abroad. Electronic music was a natural result of my search for extreme music. I was intrigued by the boundaries and experimentation with what sound can do.
You studied in Den Haag, Holland.
Yes, at the Institute of Sonology. It was recommended to me as the best school around for experimental music. I feel like it gives on a complex take on what experimental music and sound entails. Philosophy, practice, physics, programming, composition, it is all there. It definitely deeply affected my approach to sound in general.
You’re not pragmatic, you combine analog and digital techniques.
I don’t discriminate these methods of work, all can be equally intriguing and inspiring. Currently the analog process is almost impossible for the work I do, my needs require tens of “voices” doing separate processes at the time. Modular synth which would be capable of such compositional process would be impractical. On the other hand, analog processes can be inspirational in their own regard, by their physicality. Programming offers me the simplicity of writing my ideas down as code, both compositional and sound-forming ones.
Why do you build your own instruments?
It is easier for me to create then sculpt existing machines to my needs. And, also, there are no commercial solutions for what I want to achieve anyway.
Why do you make a difference between your field recordings and your other recordings in your discography?
I feel like my pure field recording works are comparable to documentaries. They may have different audiences, so I decided to make a division there. But my music also contains a lot of field recording, so conceptually there is an overlap.
Why do you use your own speaker system when you play live?
This comes down to several factors, depending on the set-up. In some performances, I used tactile transducers and used objects or walls in space as my speakers, found it way more interesting to be site-specific with my sound. The impression of resonating non-speaker object is more powerful. Recently I’ve been performing with a rotating speaker set-up. This is more about the psychoacoustic ability to create motion in space, distribute the sounds in non-traditional ways. I play with PA horns which also have a very peculiar frequency response and my music is tuned to it and crafted with this set-up in mind.
Why do you want to make use of chaos in your music?
I am charmed by slightly-directed chaos. It may be acquired taste, but it is something I appreciate in music a lot, unpredictability and an element of patterns emerging from seemingly disorganized arrangements.
– Joeri Bruyninckx
Jonáš Gruska Official Website