When I first started making ambient music, I was setting up systems using synthesizers that generated pulses more or less randomly. The end result is a kind of music that continuously changes. Of course, until computers came along, all I could actually present of that work was a piece of its output.
Classical - perhaps I should say 'orchestral' - music is so digital, so cut up, rhythmically, pitchwise and in terms of the roles of the musicians. It's all in little boxes. The reason you get child prodigies in chess, arithmetic, and classical composition is that they are all worlds of discontinuous, parceled-up possibilities.
I'd been making music that was intended to be like painting, in the sense that it's environmental, without the customary narrative and episodic quality that music normally has. I called this 'ambient music.' But at the same time I was trying to make visual art become more like music, in that it changed the way that music changes.
The earliest paintings I loved were always the most non-referential paintings you can imagine, by painters such as Mondrian. I was thrilled by them because they didn't refer to anything else. They stood alone, and they were just charged magic objects that did not get their strength from being connected to anything else.
Control and surrender have to be kept in balance. That's what surfers do - take control of the situation, then be carried, then take control. In the last few thousand years, we've become incredibly adept technically. We've treasured the controlling part of ourselves and neglected the surrendering part.
I believe in singing to such an extent that, if I were asked to redesign the British educational system, I would start by insisting that group singing becomes a central part of the daily routine. I believe it builds character and, more than anything else, encourages a taste for cooperation with others.
When our governments want to sell us a course of action, they do it by making sure it's the only thing on the agenda, the only thing everyone's talking about. And they pre-load the ensuing discussion with highly selected images, devious and prejudicial language, dubious linkages, weak or false 'intelligence' and selected 'leaks.'
When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That's one of the great feelings - to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.
In the future, you won't buy artists' works; you'll buy software that makes original pieces of 'their' works, or that recreates their way of looking at things. You could buy a Shostakovich box, or you could buy a Brahms box. You might want some Shostakovich slow-movement-like music to be generated. So then you use that box.
In the 1960s when the recording studio suddenly really took off as a tool, it was the kids from art school who knew how to use it, not the kids from music school. Music students were all stuck in the notion of music as performance, ephemeral. Whereas for art students, music as painting? They knew how to do that.
I'm an atheist, and the concept of god for me is all part of what I call 'the last illusion.' The last illusion is someone knows what is going on. Nearly everyone has that illusion somewhere, and it manifests not only in the terms of the idea that there is a god but that it knows what's going on but that the planets know what's going on.