To accompany the CTM festival in Berlin, we feature a Carhartt WIP Radio special. The show was prepared by the artist, musician, curator and Morphine Records manager Rabih Beaini, who functions as a co-curator of this years CTM edition. His mix features music by himself as well as by CTM participants like Lena Willikens, Aisha Devi or Jerusalem In My Heart. The 17th edition of the Berlin based festival operates under the slogan New Geographies - a title that examines today’s rapidly collapsing borders and emerging new hybrid topographies. Beside well-established DJs and producers such as Laurel Halo, Floating Points or Kassem Mosse or legends like the Spanish industrial pioneers Esplendor Geométrico or US-American accordionist Pauline Oliveros many artists and sound cultures are invited, that come from less familiar countries and localities. Ethiopian artist Mikael Seifu, know for his stunning EPs for the Washington DC based label 1432 R, will present his hypnotic mélange of traditional African music and new electronic concepts. Furthermore Sublime Frequencies, the Seattle based label that explores the obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers, will send two DJs that will play international folk and pop music, sound anomalies and other extraordinary forms of human and natural sound expression. For a detailed line-up overview check the CTM 2016 artist website. Below an interview with Rabih Beaini an his mix, work and this years CTM festival.
Hello Rabih, can you tell us a bit about what was your musical intake when you were younger?
Rabih Beaini: I grew a personal interest for dance music generally in the early 90s following the wider spread of these new genres around the globe. It was fascinating and fresh to live the early stages of hip hop and house music, and other related genres at the time were a complete new territory. I then moved to Italy in1996 and got more into electronic music, free Jazz and more alternative genres.
What are your biggest musical influences in general?
Rabih Beaini: I don't have specified limits when it comes to references, everything that can have a creative process and output is influential for me, Sun Ra can a bit represent a crucial figure for how he was constantly challenging the strict laws of everything, from politics to social constructed rules, and of course Jazz and music generally.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do?
Rabih Beaini: Working with music is by definition something that should be challenging, It's a constant processing method, taking and giving back, and the challenge is actually how you can continuously give back something new and creative, an output that somehow shouldn't stay within the borders and rules but break them and lead into different territories and different worlds.
What do you want to accomplish with music?
Rabih Beaini: Consciousness.
How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
Rabih Beaini: For me they come together in a harmonic way, on both improvised sessions or in a production work, there must be some kind of balance between the two, that's how you keep your work dynamic but also creative and structured in some way.
Do you think that your home country Lebanon has had a strong influence on your work as a musician?
Rabih Beaini: Of course, but I can't really define that in words, it's more of a reflection of many sides of my early years, from social to political and musical impressions on my character generally, that certainly applies to my musical work.
In how much, do you feel, are creative decisions shaped by cultural differences - and in how much, vice versa, is the perception of sound influenced by cultural differences?
Rabih Beaini: Creative outputs are almost always shaped by the past and the future, or what we consider being the near future. The past part comes from both our society and cultures, and from what some side influences has had as an input on us, from outside the same culture, and this happened since humans inhabited this planet. There is nothing pure in any culture unless it's a completely sealed and protected one, and still you find influences from other places and other cultures that somehow reshaped the structure of it. In our times these changes are only faster and quicker, nowadays with technology we have a much faster process but it's very similar. And sound is definitely one of the most influenced parts, when a new input comes in a remote community for example, whoever embraces this input sees a future coming out of its impression on the traditional path. It's a continuously evolving thing, when barriers are not blocking this process, mind barriers, territorial and political ones as well.
How political can instrumental music be in your opinion?
Rabih Beaini: Music is a very powerful political instrument, not only by expressing with words and statements like the 60s and 70s American black music, hip hop and many other genres, but the simple choice of not being submissive to major labels, pop cultures and the mainstream brings you to a defined political choice, no matter which side it is. It's a stand with clear and defined statements or also in a "silent" way.
How do you keep your work fresh and continue to evolve?
Rabih Beaini: I try to keep my attention to my surroundings, anything that can have an influence on my work, people, nature, places. It's important to keep curiosity alive, and not close your mind in some loop where you are not absorbing anything else than one defined thing. It's a choice of course, but this is how i keep loving what i do.
What exciting stuff do you have in the pipeline currently?
Rabih Beaini: Of course the work on the CTM program is definitely a highlight, but also working with other artists, producing people like Senyawa for instance is a blast for creativity. There are some other projects including instrument design and other media works.
If you have to curate a party or festival, what would be your dream line-up?
Rabih Beaini: It definitely depends on the context, I am directly inspired by where and what and why before thinking of putting a line-up together, but certainly I would love to have more Jazz related stuff coming together with avant-garde and experimental, so let's say the CTM line-up we worked on is somehow reflecting a part of it.
How did you select the tracks for your CTM Carhartt Radio show?
Rabih Beaini: My choice was to reduce the selection to mainly artists that will be performing during CTM 2016. It's also a way to show how these artists can come together in a harmonic sound palette and aesthetic.
What other performers are you most looking forward to see at this year CTM 2016 festival?
Rabih Beaini: I'm very curious to see some of the artists that the CTM curators have proposed, like Gamut Inc, Aisha Devi, Breadwoman and many others, alongside of course commissioned and special projects that involve different artists to work together.
Can you name us people that should collaborate for a better world?
Rabih Beaini: People and other People :)
Where is heaven on earth for you?
Rabih Beaini: The acceptance of the idea of Heaven.
What are your favorite heroes/heroines in fiction and real life?
Rabih Beaini: Any individual that works for the improvement of his surrounding, extended to the community and beyond. This includes the fictional ones :)
What gift of the nature would you like to have and why?
Rabih Beaini: I think the nature of existence itself is the best gift, so whatever comes after that is a blessing, and that's why I also feel the responsibility to keep that in mind and try to improve this existence by any means possible.
What kind of music would you make in a world without electricity?
Rabih Beaini: Same kind of music but not amplified, using wooden built instruments.
Finish this sentence: ‘The world would be a better place if only…?
Rabih Beaini: ...if only we would be well conscious about its supreme balance.