Kavus Photo Steve Heliczar

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Psychedelic musician Kavus Torabi talks Sound Arts

Russell Cleave, Technical Demonstrator for BA (Hons) Sound Arts, sat down with psychedelic musician Kavus Torabi to find out more about his career and experiences, as well as what he thinks of the Sound Arts course.

Kavus Torabi is a British musician, best known for his contributions to psychedelic rock group The Cardiacs, playing in the legendary psychedelic band Gong and working alongside snooker legend Steve Davis in electronic outfit The Utopia Strong and their co-authored autobiographical music book, ‘Medical Grade Music’. Kavus plays all sorts of instruments from guitar to mandolin to melodica, frequently collaborating with other notable musicians and artists working with left-field music.

Russell Cleave, Technical Demonstrator for BA (Hons) Sound Arts chats to Kavus about his career and experiences, as well as why he’d have studied Sound Arts.

Kavus

Kavus Torabi

Tell me a little bit about your personal journey and how your skills and interests have led you to where you are today?

I'm a self-taught musician, composer and improviser. I started playing the guitar when I was nine with the sole interest of writing my own songs. Growing up, as today, I made whatever choices were necessary to ensure I was able to spend as much time with music, amongst other like-minded musicians, whether that was the kind of work I took or where I lived. I'm grateful that, over forty years since first picking up a guitar, I'm still able to do that.

In an increasingly homogeneous market, anything that encourages students to look beyond the restrictions of form and convention can only be a good thing.
Kavus Torabi, of Gong, The Cardiacs and The Utopia Strong

Based on your personal experience, do you think a course like Sound Arts would have been beneficial to your own career?

The very idea that a course might exist that encourages this kind of approach to creativity would seem ludicrous in the 1980s when I was a teenager, let alone in the South West which, back then, seemed like a cultural wasteland as far as academia was concerned.

While I can't say how it would have benefitted or altered my career, had something like this been available, I know I would have done whatever I could to be on such a course, as would most of my friends!

Can you see any ways that the skills we plan to teach Sound Arts students will help in the industries you work or create in?

In an increasingly homogeneous market, anything that encourages students to look beyond the restrictions of form and convention can only be a good thing.

Kavus Photo Steve Heliczar

Kavus. Photo by Steve Heliczar.

What advice would you give to somebody who has an interest in using sound creatively but doesn’t know where to start?

Firstly, just thinking about sound as music is a start. Bus journeys have become far less boring now as I close my eyes and separate the many layered sonic elements. There's at least five in the sound of the engine alone. The conversations, ambient noises, noise from outside all form a rich and symphonic palette that can actually be enjoyed as music if you open your ears and mind to the possibilities of sound. Music is merely the sculpture of sound waves anyway. Once you give it a name, a title, it becomes art!

Find out more about exploring experimental instruments with BA (Hons) Sound Arts or read an in-depth interview with sonic artist Neil Rose here.

Apply now to BA (Hons) Sound Arts or take the next step towards your creative future at Plymouth College of Art by visiting our next on campus Open Day or email Neil Rose on nrose@pca.ac.uk for more information about the course.