Conrad Praetzel

A Conversation with Conrad Praetzel (continued)

PM: How about if you pick a song to tell us something about. They're all fascinating to me.

CP: Well, that Anne Briggs song that you mentioned earlier is kind of interesting in how it came together. I was exploring different ways to combine the electronic elements with the rootsier elements like guitar or mandolin. I would just sit and make these bizarre loops and then I'd pick up the guitar and play along with them. The thing that happens at the very beginning of that song was just something that came out by chance. The loop that starts the song has a kind of creepy, dark feel to it. I started playing this very sweet guitar line along with that. Sometimes things work when they come from opposite directions, or feel like they're from totally opposite worlds, and when you combine them it takes you somewhere completely different. And then I realized the guitar part was right off of an old Anne Briggs song, "The Time Has Come." It's a song she wrote back in the 60s.

PM: What do you mean, or what can it mean, when someone refers to a "loop"? What is a loop, exactly?

CP: The way I'm talking about loops, it'd be a musical element that happens for several seconds, equivalent to a couple bars of music, and it would repeat. The sound would be formed into a loop that keeps repeating. In the case of this song, it was some strange sounds I came up with that worked as far as creating a rhythm when I looped them. It's a very quirky sample.

PM: So if somebody wants to hear what a loop is, they can listen to the very beginning of "The Time Has Come." [Hear a clip on the Listen page.]

CP: Right. And that's the last song listed on the CD, but if you keep listening after that's over and you wait two minutes, there's a hidden track that starts out with a loop that I just let run forever before any other instruments come in.

PM: There's a hidden track that answers the question "What is a loop?"

CP: If they listen long enough, a loop will start playing. Or if they just leave the CD running and don't know about the hidden track, there's something that'll make them wonder, "What is going on with my CD player?" [laughing] They might think their player's broken in some way, but then find out it isn't.

PM: You know, everybody at Puremusic has been awestruck by the originality and the musicality of this recording. Has it begun to attract the attention of either loop and sample enthusiasts or of traditional music enthusiasts?

CP: A little bit of both. It's coming from a lot of different directions. But I'm getting a lot more response from the folk music community than I would've thought I would.

PM: That's very healthy and I'm glad to hear it.

CP: And it really is what I wanted. I look at the album as a collection of traditional and country songs, just done in a different way--as opposed to a novelty of some kind.

PM: Right. You're not trying to do something weird, you're just trying to do beautiful folk music but rendered in a different way. Because, in your heart, you're a traditional musician.

CP: That's what I've been playing all my life. I just finally found a way to combine these different elements that I love.

PM: Who, in the folk world, has started to pick up on it?

CP: Well, Folkroots Magazine did a review and they're going to do a feature in their next issue. I got a call from them, they're out of England. Their editor also told Charlie Gillett at BBC London about it, and he's really into the album now too. He's got a great show that features roots music and various other kinds of music. And at, a great site created by Chris Frank, they actually gave the CD a new category of its own, which is "Post-Modern Folk." Sort of a blessing, you know? I mean, when you make something that might not exactly belong in the existing categories and somebody makes a new category just for you. We were the only CD in that category for a while. I think there are at least a couple of others in there now.

PM: It's like what Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer called their music, "Post-Modern Mythic Folk." Anybody else from the folk community picking up on Clothesline Revival yet?

CP: Well, let's see. Sing Out! magazine is doing a review. More and more things are starting to happen now. And it's getting played on quite a few radio stations.

PM: And we'll do our best to spread the word around in our own inimitable fashion. Like I said, just this morning I was preaching the gospel of Clothesline Revival on London radio myself.

CP: I think you can claim to be one of the very first to get behind it, because when I sent you that email the album wasn't even out yet. It was wonderful that you took the time to go and listen to it at the website and then get in touch with me.

PM: And now I'll talk with some of your accomplices on the record. Thanks so much for your time today, Conrad.

CP: Thank you, Frank, it's been a pleasure. And if you want to talk to Sukhawat, you might reach him today--like I said, I was just on the phone with him before you called. If you're into it, I'll give him a call and tell him to expect you. Let me give you his number.  continue

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