(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.

(the english version of this interview here)

Line Katcho oeuvre dans les domaines de la musique acousmatique, de la musique visuelle et de la musique de film. Elle s’intéresse principalement au son en tant que matière cinétique, représentative de mouvements, de forces ou de gestes. Son écriture contrôlée se complémente d’une approche expérimentale et d’un fort intérêt pour les jeux perceptifs. Elle assure la direction artistique des concerts Soundwich, visant à rassembler les artistes émergeants de la scène musicale électroacoustique de Montréal. Son travail a été diffusé lors de festivals internationaux au Chili, au Portugal, en Irlande et en Angleterre. Elle a reçu le premier prix du concours JTTP (Jeux de Temps/Times Play) 2014 et poursuit présentement ses études en composition électroacoustique (Niveau Supérieur II) au Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal.

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Qu’est-ce qui t’as amené à faire de la musique électroacoustique?

C’est la liberté d’action qu’elle offre. À cette époque de ma vie, j’avais un grand désir de nouveauté et étant une personne curieuse et investigatrice, le côté expérimental m’a énormément stimulé et séduit. De pouvoir composer une musique avec mes propres sonorités, d’explorer de nouveaux langages musicaux me semblait comme une porte vers une autre façon d’écouter et de penser la musique. Le contact direct avec la matière sonore, c’est-à-dire l’écoute directe pendant la composition, sans avoir à utiliser un code abstrait (la partition) pour traduire mes idées musicales, a été aussi un élément influent pour me diriger vers l’électroacoustique.

D’ou vient le titre de ton album “Pulsions”?

J’ai intitulé mon album « Pulsions » pour faire référence à mon attitude lors de la composition des œuvres qui s’y trouvent. Lorsque je travaille, j’essais de répondre à mes élans intérieurs, de résoudre des tensions, tout en m’assurant d’être à l’écoute de mes réactions intellectuelles, émotives ou instinctives. À la fois, le terme décrit de façon globale ma musique.

Qu’est-ce qui motive ton écriture musicale? À quoi penses-tu quand tu composes? Y a-t-il un fil conducteur ou une ligne directrice que tu suis quand tu fais de la musique?

De façon récurrente c’est le geste, le mouvement et donc les forces et les énergies qui leurs sont sous-jacentes qui motivent mon écriture musicale. L’organisation temporelle se trouve également au centre de mes préoccupations. Mais je ne débute pas la composition d’une œuvre avec un concept détaillé; c’est plutôt une idée globale qui va guider mon travail. Cette dernière peut résider dans un modèle naturel, un procédé d’écriture et même des types de sonorités. Mais il est vraiment important pour moi de ne pas prioriser l’idée plus que le résultat musical. Je ne veux pas forcer la musique à répondre à un concept parce que la plupart du temps, c’est ce qui n’est pas planifié, ce qui émerge spontanément qui m’épate le plus. Ce que je recherche c’est d’arriver à des moments eurêka, suite à de l’expérimentation. Donc c’est ultimement dans l’action que le tout prend forme.

Y a-t-il d’autres artistes ou styles de musique qui t’influencent?

Premièrement, il y a la musique moyen-orientale, plus spécifiquement celle du début et du milieu du 20e siècle; c’est la première musique que j’ai connue. Les rythmes rapides et complexes, le mawwal (genre vocal), les maqams (modes); c’est ce que j’en retiens le plus. Ensuite, c’est la musique instrumentale dite savante; plus spécifiquement le travail de Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Bartok, mais il y en a tellement d’autres. J’ai suivi une formation en piano classique pour plus d’une dizaine d’années; cet apprentissage m’a formé et influence ma musique surtout au niveau de la polyphonie et de l’organisation formelle. Puis finalement, c’est le drum & bass qui me captive beaucoup et ce depuis une quinzaine d’années; le neuro-funk plus particulièrement, pour ses rythmes articulés et rapides, sa rigueur organisationnelle et ses timbres électroniques.

Pour ce qui est des artistes électroacoustiques qui m’influencent, en voici quelques- uns: Ake Parmerud, David Berezan, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Manuella Blackburn, Taylor Deupree, Richard Chartier, Alva Noto.

J’ai vu une vidéo-musique que tu as présentée là la dernière édition d’Akousma (Shapeshifter). La musique y était plus rythmée/pulsée que dans tes pièces électroacoustiques auxquelles nous sommes habitués. Est-ce que la vidéo appelle à une musique différente?

Oui. L’usage des deux médiums appelle à une certaine retenue. Une surdose d’information pourrait devenir aliénante pour l’auditeur et donc le message transmis pourrait être moins bien reçu. Cela dit, je ne crois pas qu’il soit nécessaire que la musique suive une pulsation rigoureuse; c’était plutôt ma façon de complimenter l’esthétique géométrique du visuel. Mais le souci d’une simplicité, d’une familiarité musicale se trouvait définitivement dans mes intentions.

Est-ce que la vidéo est un medium que tu veux développer de plus en plus?

Oui, c’est une forme artistique qui m’intéresse beaucoup.

Y a-t-il d’autres formes d’art ou styles de musique que tu comptes développer?

Oui, je compte expérimenter de plus en plus avec la musique performative, c’est à dire incluant plus d’interventions en temps réel. Je compte également explorer différentes facettes de la musique électronique populaire.

Quels sont tes projets à venir?

Je travaille actuellement sur une nouvelle pièce audio-visuelle qui sera diffusée lors du festival de vidéo-musique de Montréal au mois d’Avril. Je présenterai aussi une pièce mixte pour partie fixe, traitements en temps-réel et orgue de sirène (instrument inventé par Jean-François Laporte), lors du Totem Électrique en Juin. Je prépare une performance électroacoustique « live » pour un concert Kohlenstoff présenté lors du Suoni per il popolo édition 2015, en Juin aussi. Je compte en plus travailler en collaboration sur un projet de musique électronique et sur une œuvre audio-visuelle durant l’été. Je poursuis aussi mes études au niveau Supérieur II en composition électroacoustique qui se termineront au printemps 2016.

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Liz Helman is a London-based artist and independent curator working across different media, including sound, video, photography and painting. In her time-based media works she explores the psychological and emotional attachment to place and dwelling. Journeying between recollection and reality, she challenges format driven orthodoxies, fragmenting and layering image and sound to consider the experience of dislocation and displacement.

Kr – Could you give us an overview of your musical background and experience?

I don’t consider myself a musician, I am really a visual artist working in time-based media,  which as we know,  includes sound. I have always had an interest in ambient music and sound art as a form of expression, so this seems to be a natural progression. I am mostly self-taught in Logic, and a number of my friends are sound artists here in London, so when one of them taught an experimental sound art evening course a few years back, I jumped at the opportunity to attend.

Kr – You not only work in music, but also video, photography and painting; how does your visual work influence your musical compositions, or is it the other way around?

I think about this question a lot and I still don’t really have a satisfactory answer, other than to say the sonic and visuals share a process-based modus operandi that is both intuitive and sponataneous and works well with my field of engagement. I treat the mediums separately and at this stage of exploration, I am not going to stress myself about visuals with sound, and sound with visuals. It is what it is. I’ve come to sound through the backdoor, but I find making sound pieces a captivating, addictive and enriching experience. It seems to be the natural place for me to be with my practice.

Kr – What is it about the experimental aspect of art that drives you, that captivates you?

As in life, I am interested in organic situations. I don’d do well with routine,so I very much like the experimental process and journey of making work because I follow the direction of the sonic thread; meaning that I like to explore the possibilities of where a sound can take me and see what emerges from these threads.

Kr – You talk about notions of attachment to places, dwelling, dislocation and displacement, how does that relate on a compositional level?  How do you go about translating these states of being into your sound works?

My work, both visual and sonic, is a response to place. I am very sensitive to environments and how their energies make me feel.  As a child, I lived in many diverse countries in the world, such as South America and the Middle East,  but I don’t have many memories now.  I am interested in how sound [and visual] is used to reconnect to memory in less obvious ways. Even now, as an avid urban dweller/’flaneur’, I love walking through streets, experiencing different levels of sound, layers and textures.  I amass field recordings until I am ready to construct a work that can convey aspects of a place, person or situation and I suppose in that respect, I am making a form of narrative.  A track like glimpsed, on my album, was about a person I came to know through glimpses of their personality,  similar in a way to how we get to know a place, through seeing aspects of that place. I get very excited at the thought of recording something as banal as a washing machine, and changing it into something unrecognizable and new.

Kr – Which artists would you say influence you in your work?

I am never really sure how useful it is to discuss ‘influences’, as I don’t see art in that way.  For me, it is about how we as humans filter and experience situations; as artists these are the things that are translated into art.

Kr – What can we expect with this upcoming release? Can you explain what will be on the album?

I never like to give explanations or an expectation of any of my work. People take from it what they will, because in a sense, I have done my part; the rest is up to the individual as to how they respond. My album, the truth inside, has works that are dark, heavy and intense. I can say tho, that if these pieces are successful, then they will leave a residual imprint on that person and should evoke certain thoughts or feelings. I suggest listening to them in a darkened space, :)!

 

Kr – What brought you to composing experimental music and what draws you to it?

-It arose in a natural way. I used to study in the conservatory A. Ginastera and played rock music, the experimental part complemented that. I met a great musician called Jorge Sad in the conservatory who was a teacher of composition with contemporary technics there. He exerted a big influence and drove me. A couple of years ago I felt the necessity of homaging an idol of mine, an Argentinean musician called Luis Alberto Spinetta. Then I listened a song which I didn’t hear for along time (“Vete de mí cuervo negro”) and I discovered a couple of noises in the song, after the last chord. I don’t know how that was made, maybe a guitar played in a not traditional way or a cymbal rubbed. I took that noise and used it as a sample to the performance of free improvisation that we did with the pianist Ana Foutel who also plays in the album.

I think there is an answer to your question there, I think of continuity and a break that are integreted in a gesture.

Kr – You compose instrumental, electroacoustic and mixed music. How does one genre influence the other?

-This is a very important matter for me, since I’ve had a strong traditional formation in composition (conterpoint, instrumentation, mophology, etc), I think, from long time ago the fundamental part of my work has to do with the posibility of concive sound through listening signed by total absolutely different elements: Improvisation, electronic processes, extended technics. Instrumental writting, is clearly concived from working with electronics, this makes my thing, for instance the writting of an instrumental transformation in function of the concept of filtering in electronics. In conclution I thing that differential experience in each field builds specific knowledge and from that speciality this amount knowledge re set and acquire new meanings.

Kr – Where do you get your inspiration when composing?

-The sounding material itself is a great inspiration. I don’t take it as shuttering in sense, closed for interpretation (this is perhaps my major criticism to the traditional conception). I like to thing the listening from what I’d call “the parameters not formulated yet”. It is not a invention of mine though, it would be something like a transverse conception of the musical knowledge. The spectralism broght up the posibility of thinking the armony as of the tone. I find two parameters there that we’d traditionally think as separate and reduced concepts, but there is place for a third concept, i.e., a chord thought as a proyection in the armonic spectrum. Thus we could set forth the musical material toward an infinity of transverse relations… Another issue is that I think of music as a social fact, I mean that the politics is another very strong influence. A chord is also a very complex semantic information as well as a political fact.

Kr – It seems to me that your music is very articulated and structured; what is it about this type of writing that interests you?

-I never start from structures previously conceived, but on the contrary, the musical material structures itself the syntax progresively. That is why I consider the listening part as a very important step to the composition process, let’s say that it is a fundamental step. A typical situation for me is ‘backward composition’, I seldom start for the beginning of the piece, but I understand how the beginning must be nearly at the end of the work.

Kr – At the same time, you also improvise as a performer, how does this influence the way you compose?

-The composition and improvitation influence to each other as if they were two faces of the same coin. I’ve been making up this two fields lately. I am interested on producing material from the improvisation and then use them in pieces, by including them to more articulated structures, whether by writing a loud resultant or by handling this material. From each I try to rescue something to apply in the other and viceversa: I can afford to reflection in the composition and it arises as a gesture all work of reflection made in the improvisation through the analysis.

Kr – Can you speak a little bit about your upcoming release? What can we expect to hear on the album?

-In “Conflictos…” there are electroacustic and fixed pieces and free improvisation for piano and electronics. What I expect has to do with my own especulations about the listening, I mean with a sort of listener that one images and therefore it is oneself. By the other hand, further the latter I would feel very happy if a knew that somebody had done any kind of experience with this album, I mean it’d be very good that that listener -beyond my regarded speculations- could appropriate of something that is there through his own experience. The performing musicians are very impressive: Daniela Campisi, Ricardo Cuadros Pradilla y Ana Foutel. They have a very personal musical sense and contribute with something that is unique.

Kr – How did this project start and what was your first intention?

Ryan: We started in February of 2012.  Preston and I both met at McGill where we were doing our master’s degrees in composition and percussion, respectively. Alexandra Fol, a composer in Montreal, asked us to play on her showcase of various Montréal composers at La Sala Rossa.  That was our first show.  The improv was a collection of little vignettes that were reminiscent of bird songs.  I’m not sure what our first intention really was.  I know we were concerned with how the visceral aspects of improvisation can affect an improvisation.

 Kr – How would you describe this project?

 Preston: Spontaneous and theatrical but concerned with cohesiveness. We try to make our music a visceral experience for the audience.  Each performance is unique and conceptual based on the instruments we bring and the space we play in. We use unusual percussion set-ups, combining found objects, drums, percussion and electronics to create interesting timbres. For some performances we have used visual elements. We set up face to face to share instruments and it also helps with fast communication. It’s great because we have a mutual respect for each other’s personal playing space so we can jump around each others set-ups.

 Ryan: Yea, the set-up is key to the group. By facing Preston dead on, we’re able shape the improvisation with a lot of nuance;  I think one becomes hyper aware when you’re playing straight at someone.  It’s not that one is less communicative in a different set-up, it’s just that this particular set-up has created some pretty unique circumstances.

 Kr – Your music reminds me of Chris Corsano sometimes, maybe because of its radical statement. Did you have any particular previous influences for 4eyes?

Ryan: Corsano is a hero of mine. His dense, rapid fire improvising has definitely influenced me.   And man, his commitment to material!  It’s outstanding! He’s a performer that’s really into extremes too, something I’m very fond of.   It’s funny though, I never talked about Corsano with Preston.  I guess some of his stylistic things may have rubbed off on me.

Preston: Ryan and I work well together because we have similar musical influences. For example, jazz, math rock, and avant-garde contemporary music. Sometimes it was freaky because we somehow knew what the other was going to play, allowing for musical ideas to be decided.

 Kr – How do you two guys work together in studio? Can you explain your composition process and the way the musical development works? Do you mainly write all of it in advance or is improvisation also part of the process?

Preston: The album came together after about a month of regular recording sessions. We would record when our minds were fresh and then listen to each piece critically. We were constantly critiquing our work, ruling out and deciding which pieces would make the final cut. Through this process we were really able to shape the dynamic of the album.

Preston: We like working with concept improvisations based around the sounds of the instruments we use and restrictions. For example, chop suey works with chopsticks and metal bowls. Inswitch, the concept is reminiscent of a light switch, changing from on to off or gradually dimming.

Ryan:  I think we as improvisors are really concerned with form.  I think we both keep tabs on the material we’ve created during an improvisation and how we might bring it back (if we choose to at all that is), but we have never formally planned out any form specifically.

Ryan: Naf which is “fan” backwards consisted of ambient textures and space.  I was interested in the nuances of fan’s different speed settings.  Space was definitely of the highest importance in this one.  Taking the time to let things blend and material to form and solidify naturally was a bit of a challenge for us, but we were stoked with the end result.

Kr – You both seems to be very busy with other projects / collaborations, what’s coming up in the future for Ryan Packard and Preston Beebe?

Ryan:  I currently live in Chicago and have been busy composing and performing in some new music ensembles (Fonema Consort, A.pe.ri.od.ic), playing in some indie and jazz projects, and improvising in a pretty hardcore free group called Paul Mitchell–pretty sure we’re going to get a cease and desist for that name.  I’m really excited to get back to Montréal to finish a free improv record with Ofer Pelz, a brilliant composer and pianist in Montréal.  He’s got a baby on the way so we’ll have to get back in the studio before he’s busy being a dad…wow.

I’ve been dying to build my electronic skills so a little Max/MSP every day or week has been helpful.  I’ve always been pretty obsessed with transducers lately.  I just finished a cello solo with transducer/feedback on snare drums for Jane Chan. Perhaps I could build up to a bigger work for transducers, but I’ve been making smaller works first.

Obviously, 4eyes needs to get on the road!  Preston and I will have to figure that out since he’ll be in Europe.

Preston: I just finished a MMus in composition at McGill University where my thesis, beneath trees, was a piece for string quartet and electronics. I was accepted at IRCAM CUSUS 1 for the 2014-2015 year, so I will be spending the next year in Paris. I have been developing a new digital percussion interface, the SpectraSurface, and plan to compose more pieces for it and possibly integrate the technology into 4eyes in the near future. I also collaborate frequently with visual artist Audrey Larin.

Kr – When will you come and visit us in Montréal?

Preston: I just moved to Paris for a year long training at IRCAM and will be back in Montréal in the late Summer of 2015.

Ryan: Soon.  Very soon.