An interview with Line Katcho for the album “pulsions” (2015)

 (une version française de cette entrevue ici)

Line Katcho works in the fields of acousmatic music, audio visual work and film music. Her primary concerns involve using sound as kinetic matter, representing movement, forces and gestures. Her need for precision is complemented by an experimental approach and a strong interest in perceptual play. She is the artistic director of Soundwich concerts, which aim at bringing together emerging artists from the electroacoustic music scene of Montreal. Her work has been presented in festivals worldwide such as in Chile, Portugal, Ireland and England. She was attributed the first prize of the 2014 contest JTTP (Jeux de Temps/Times Play) and is currently pursuing her studies at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal in electroacoustic composition.



What brought you to composing electroacoustic music?

It’s the freedom it allows me to make use of. At that time in my life, I had a great desire for novelty and being a curious and investigative mind, the experimental side of it stimulated and seduced me as well. To be able to compose with my own sounds and to explore new musical languages seemed to me like an opening towards a new way of listening and thus a new way of thinking music. The direct contact with sound matter, meaning being able to hear the results as I’m working without having to resort to an abstract code to translate my musical ideas also influenced me a lot into directing myself towards electroacoustic.

Why did you title your album “Pulsions”?

Because it refers to my attitude as I was composing the pieces of the album. I try to respond to my inner impulses, to resolve inner tensions, while making sure to give attention to the intellectual, emotional and instinctive reactions I can experience while listening to what I’m composing. The term also refers to the music itself.

What motivates your musical writing? What do you think about when you compose? Do you follow a thread when making music?

In a recurrent manner, gesture, movement and thus driven forces and energy flows underlying are the dominant aspects of my music. The temporal organization is also one of my main concerns. But I don’t start composing with a detailed concept in mind; there’s a general idea, which can reside in a natural model, a method of writing or even a type of sound, however it’s really important for me not to prioritize the concept over the musical result. I don’t want to force the music to answer to an idea because most of the time, it’s what I hadn’t planned, what comes spontaneously that amazes me the most. What I search for are those eureka moments, following experimentation. So ultimately, it’s within action that it all takes form.

Are there other artists or genres of music that influence your work?

First there is the middle-eastern music of the beginning and middle of the 20th century; it’s the first music I got in contact with. Its quick and complex rhythms, mawwal (vocal genre), and maqam system (modes) are the elements I retain. Then, comes instrumental formal music, more specifically the work of Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Bartok, but there are so many more. I was trained in classical piano for more than ten years; it influences my work on a polyphonic and structural level. And finally, it is drum & bass that has captivated my attention for the past 15 years, more specifically neuro-funk, for its articulated rhythms and fast tempo, it’s rigorous structure and its electronic timbres.

As for electroacoustic here are a few artists that influenced my work: Ake Parmerud, David Berezan, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Manuella Blackburn, Taylor Deupree, Richard Chartier, Alva Noto.

I saw an audio-visual piece, which you presented at last year’s Akousma festival (Shapeshifter). The music followed a steady beat, which is less common in your electroacoustic pieces we’re used to hearing. Do you think that audio-visual works calls for a different type of music?

Yes I do. The use of two mediums calls for restraint. An overload of information could become alienating for the listener and the transmitted message could get lost. That being said, I don’t believe that it necessarily calls for a steady beat; that was rather my way of complementing the geometric aspect of the visual. But I definitely had a concern to keep the music simple and familiar.

Is the audio-visual form one you count on developing more and more?

Yes, definitely. It’s an art form that interests me a lot.

Are there other forms of art or music you plan on developing?

Yes, I plan on experimenting more and more with live electroacoustic performance. I also plan on exploring with different genres of mainstream electronic music.

What are your upcoming projects?

I’m presently working on an audio-visual piece, which will be presented at the Festival de video-musique de Montreal, in April. I will also show a mixed piece for fixed part, real-time processing and siren organ (invented instrument by Jean-François Laporte), at the Totem Électrique concert in June. I am preparing a live electroacoustic performance for a Kohlenstoff concert, which will be presented at the Suoni per il popolo 2015 edition, in June as well. Also, this summer I’m planning on working in collaboration on an electronic music project and on an audio-visual work. I am also still pursuing my studies in electroacoustic composition at the Supérieur II level, which will end in the spring 2016.

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