Discussions: Richard Chartier

Richard Chartier produces extraordinary music and sound art under his own name, and as Pinkcourtesyphone. He and I talked about his latest drone recording stase hivernale, the creative process and his “new, contemporary and formative electronic/avant garde/experimental/unusual music” radio show.

For me, this is a perfect example of the dual nature of drone works. It is remarkably soothing, and at the same time its length and nature make it a challenging listen.

First of all thank you. My focus on creating a work like this is that it should make the listener become lost in time. No perception of how long it has been, how long is left. Or just create some kind of sensation for them. I am fascinated by duality/push-pull.

What draws you to drone compositions?

I enjoy the space they create. The elements of drone or loops were formative in my listening.

Why is this one released under your given name, versus Pinkcourtesyphone?

Because this piece has nothing to do with the aesthetic goals, emotional content or narrative that is an essential part of Pinkcourtesyphone. The works as Pinkcourtesyphone deal with the past, the decay of nostalgia, romance, gender, cinema, longing, fear and queerness. Getting back to duality, Pinkcourtesyphone has a lot of duality in it, from titles, samples, cross referencing … a puzzle.

The work under my own name is focused on sound and the sensation and focus it creates.

… as I get older I doubt my work more (as any artist should). But it is more about the idea of completion. Is this piece done? Is this album done? How do I know when it is done? 

Richard Chartier

The title – Google tells me it translates as winter stasis – feels less like a specific seasonal reference and more like a state of being. Fair?

It does have a coldness to it. It does feel like a kind of levitating pause.

How do you describe your artistic practice? And what drew you to audio art in particular?

One of my favourite quotes on art is by photographer (and fellow Aries) Robert Doisneau: “to suggest is to create, to describe is to destroy.”

Describing what I do is difficult and off-putting. Sculpting sound? Composing space?

We lack a lot of language to get to the essence of sound/music, unless it is just flatly describe it.

Only in the last five years or so did I feel like I could label myself as a composer.

A composer of elements, I suppose. I am not musically trained. I studied painting and graphic design. I can play things by ear on a keyboard for example (badly) but I cannot read music.

Listening to the world around me as a child. I loved noises, like refrigerators. That was in essence my intro.

I think of music/sound works as a construction.

Has the work been gratifying in the way you’d hoped?

I am grateful that I get to do what I do, and that listeners have found something in it.

The creative process does not get easier. I think as I get older I doubt my work more (as any artist should). But it is more about the idea of completion. Is this piece done? Is this album done? How do I know when it is done? 

A painting, you can paint over. An LP you cannot. Once something goes out into the world, it is out there.

Also I would much rather listen to other artists’ work. 

When you are a musician/working with sound, it takes time away from listening.

Pinkcourtesyphone, as a project, was restarted for me to find more joy in creation. It is more open-ended and was very freeing. I love its ambiguity.

You’re in very good company, producing the kind of work you do. Why is audio art so relevant right now?

The space it creates. The escape it creates.

Has your work evolved over time?

Yes, of course, all artists’ work evolves over time, whether it be process or end-result. We are never the same person that we were before. Time is an accumulation.

What’s next for you?

I have two solo album’s under my own name coming out this year, one on Touch, and one on LINE. Trying to finish up the next Pinkcourtesyphone album, four pieces so far. Some other things I cannot announce yet.

My label LINE, now in its 23rd year, continues to release new albums, recently by William Basinski, Olivier Alary, Manja Ristić and Savvas Metaxas. Like I said, I love to listen to others’ work so having this ability over two decades to publish them is something I care about deeply and am very proud of. 

I continue to do my monthly radio show Between Two Points on Dublab which allows me to share my love of new, contemporary and formative electronic/avant garde/experimental/unusual music for two hours.

All we can do is continue (and listen).

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