Steve Crowther: Can you tell us something of your background?
PJJ: I started out as a trumpet player with asthma, and have been making pragmatic musical choices like that ever since.
SC: Can you describe the programmed works to us?
PJJ: I am aiming for plainchant with strange drones and added prepared piano.
SC: Do you write at the piano, do you pre-plan? Can you describe the compositional process?
PJJ: Mainly at the laptop; no; difficult. This particular piece involved a lot of humming.
SC: Is it important to know the performers? Do you write with a sound in mind?
PJJ: Some kind of dialogue with performers often helps overcome the limits of communicating via a page of notes. Yes, but the process of writing can take those sounds in a different direction – sometimes for the better.
SC: How would you describe your individual ‘sound world’?
PJJ: This is always a difficult question, as it’s hard to view one’s work from a distance. However, I’m always giving performers expressive and pictorial words in my scores. I’ve taken those words from a handful of my pieces and put them in a wordcloud:
SC: What motivates you to compose?
PJJ: I wish I knew, so I could summon it when it isn’t there.
SC: Which living composers do you identify with or simply admire?
PJJ: I particularly admire the composers who go to great lengths to set up their own projects, as opposed to responding to commissions (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
SC: If you could have a beer and a chat with any composer from the past, who would it be and why?
PJJ: Salieri (the depiction in Amadeus). He would have to do the equivalent of that Serenade for Winds speech for other bits of music on demand. I’m doing dry Jan though.
SC: Now for some desert island discery – please name eight pieces of music you could not be without, and then select just one.
PJJ: Like many people I’d probably want something like a box set of everything by Ligeti, Grisey, Nina Simone, Radiohead, Joanna Newsom, Miles Davis, The Beatles, etc. etc. plus I don’t know enough Eliane Radigue and I’d quite like something to discover on this island. So those are the eight names. If you really want to put the thumb screws in regarding a single selection from that list, I’d have to go with: The Best of the Beatles.
SC: …and a book?:
PJJ: A printed copy of the internet
SC: …a film?
PJJ: Limmy’s Vines: Hour Long Supercompilation
SC: … and a luxury item?
PJJ: Affordable accommodation