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Worth making noise about

8 June 2023

Armed with a new instrument, musician Jeremy Segal is ready to get experimental with some friends. He tells Julie Hosking why you should, too.

If you haven’t ventured into the world of experimental music, Jeremy Segal urges you to open your ears – and minds – to the possibilities. 

“It sounds a bit cliché, but I often find that this kind of music allows me to perceive things that I take for granted, like time and space, in ways that are radically different to how I perceive them at work, at home, or even in more conventional musical contexts,” he says. “I think it’s nice to be challenged in this way.” 

The musician, engineer and composer is looking forward to challenging – and engaging – audiences with fellow Perth musicians Naoko Uemoto and Josiah Padmanabham for the next TuneNoiseTune later this month. 

Curated by Perth Jazz Society and Tone List, the bi-monthly series showcases improvised music and avant-garde jazz, with the eighth concert also marking the inaugural TuneNoiseTune commission. 

With Uemoto on saxophone and Padmanabham on piano, Segal will play the software instrument – a “kind of generative drum machine” – he created specifically for the project.  

Segal has been making music since his early teens, playing music in indie bands. In his early 20s, he became interested in sound engineering and electronic music. “I started recording my own bands and friends’ bands, and soon began using software and studio gear as my main compositional tools,” he says. “Over the last couple of years I’ve been exploring ambient and experimental music, algorithmic music, and spatial audio.”  

Naoko Uemoto will play sax for TuneNoiseTune. Photo supplied

While he’s at home with experimental music, Segal says he’s quite new to improvisation. “Josiah and Naoko are much more experienced with it; they play so responsively and can develop ideas really quickly and intuitively,” he says. “It’s been great learning from them.”

Segal, who also works as a freelance recording/mix engineer and teaches music at a youth centre, is often composing on his own so relishes the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded souls.  

We caught up with him ahead of the TuneNoiseTune show, which will also feature a solo performance from Lana Rothnie, whose musical influences include jazz, neo-soul, noise and electronic music.      

Julie Hosking:  You create “experimental electronic music with a particular interest in experiential process”. What does this mean?
Jeremy Segal:
A lot of the music I’ve made in the last three years has explored compositional process as something that can be experienced or perceived by the listener. A process can be any number of things, for example a vocal sample might gradually morph into something completely synthetic, or a rhythm might grow out of a static drone. I like how simple processes can evoke interesting perceptual and emotional responses. 

JH: You wear multiple hats as an engineer, musician and composer. What fires you up the most? 
JS: I love doing all three of these things, but often find it hard to do all three at the same time. Working as a sound engineer allows me to work on lots of different projects with lots of different people. I get the same thing out of playing in bands. I enjoy working collaboratively and being a part of other people’s music. Writing my own music is generally a solitary, more introspective activity. I usually start by experimenting with some new idea, or playing around with new sound materials, until I’ve worked out some kind of process. 

JH: How did you come to join the TuneNoiseTune series?  
There was a callout for project proposals sometime last year, and I thought it would be cool to do something with Naoko and Josiah. I’d been working on a software instrument – an algorithmic “jazz drummer” loosely inspired by one of my favourite improvisers – and I was keen to play around with it in a band context. 

Josiah Padmanabham plays guitar and piano Photo supplied

JH: What does being bandleader for this session involve?  
For this project being a bandleader has mostly involved organising rehearsals. The creative process has been super collaborative. We usually work out a starting point for improvisation – for instance, a process to follow, or a set of parameters to play around with. We record the improvisations and listen back for things that we might want to develop further. 

JH: Give us some insight into what the audience will hear at TuneNoiseTune. 
We’ll play a few improvisations based off ideas we’ve developed in rehearsal. We’re loosely exploring reciprocities between improvisation and autonomous, generative systems – in other words, human improvisation and computer improvisation. The instrument that I’m playing is a kind of generative drum machine, so the moment-to-moment gestures are mostly left to chance. Josiah and Naoko are playing piano and saxophone respectively, so they are able make quite physical, direct gestures, whereas I can only indirectly control the output of my instrument. 

JH: How important is the experimental music scene to Perth’s arts landscape? 
It is such a great avenue for curiosity and exploration. It’s a super friendly and supportive community that creates space for ways of making and thinking about music that might otherwise slip through the cracks. 

JH: What are you working on at the moment and what’s on the horizon? 
I’m finishing up a bunch of recording/mixing projects before moving to Berlin to begin a Master’s degree. Some friends and I have started a rock band called Brix, which will (hopefully) play two or three shows and record some music before I go.

TuneNoiseTune 8 is at Four5Nine Bar, North Perth on 22 June 2023. 

Pictured top: Jeremy Segal started out in indie bands before discovering a love for electronic and experimental music. Photo supplied

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Author —
Julie Hosking

A journalist with more words to her name than she can count, Julie Hosking has worked for newspapers, magazines and online publications in Melbourne and Perth. She has been a news editor, travel editor, features editor, arts editor and, for one terrifying year, business editor, before sanity prevailed and she landed in her happy place - magazines. If pushed (literally), she favours the swing.

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