A few weeks before STOMP returns to Switzerland, Luke Cresswell – one of the two founders of the show – was visiting My Big Geneva. The artist has never been interviewed in Switzerland so I jumped at the occasion to meet him in person and ask him a few questions.
Before we begin and fyi, STOMP was created in 1991 by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. Luke is a self-taught drummer from Brighton. He wrote music extensively for TV and composed the score for the 1997 film Riot. He’s also a film director by the way. Ready?
What does your artistic work aim to say?
I always get asked that questions and never know the answer. I guess for me it’s about pleasure, communication, it’s about playing with different people and different cultures. Rythme is a great leveller in the sense that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, rythme cuts through it. Humour cuts through that as well.
There’s no huge Big plan; it’s more about enjoying the freedom of being able to move down some drums and enjoy.
You’ve played around the world. How do you position your work vs what’s going on?
We played once in Palestine, just before it really got bad with Israel. And it was fantastic. We are so used to watching everything through TV and through media, and through some sort of distorsion that we forget that deep down most people are the same. If they are allowed, people will enjoy performing together, being allowed to drum, to dance, to sing, to be happy. I think everyone should have that right.
STOMP is universal…
It is yes, but we didn’t mean it that way. I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that we had this idea of making a universal show to run around the world but it organically sort of became that because there’s no language. And because there’s no language, it allowed us to work with people from different cultures and learn from that.
This is the first time that you’re being interviewed in Switzerland but is it your first time in Geneva?
No, I actually already came to Geneva, very quickly, sort of in and out.
Did you come for banking reasons?
(He laughs) God no! That would be the last thing in the world… I came to Geneva for chocolate (and he laughs again and so I do).
I visited a friend, William Winram who is a world record free diver and we made a movie with him about swimming with great white sharks.
If I wanted to be a STOMP performer, what would you be looking for?
I’d look for enthusiasm and open-mindedness and… willingness to learn which is I suppose enthusiasm. But learning is the main thing. Many people are enthusiastic but STOMP is about opening up a little bit and throw away some of those skills to allow you to be more you and not what someone else has put on you.
There are no rules about STOMP.
You must have met so many people; I mean the show has been going on for so long!
Yeah and it’s great. Coming back to your earlier question, that’s when you meet real people, not just politicians on TV, real people who want to do something with their life and change things a bit. And have fun!
There are no rules about STOMP but there is a magic recipe: it’s a show with people from Brazil, from Europe, from the Americas, all mixed up on stage, all sharing ideas and not being able to speak! It’s perfect!
Photography © My Big Geneva