Zamilska: ‘I’ve never been a techno queen’

Zamilska_4Photo by Ola Bydlowska i Piotr Matejkowski

Zamilska‘s debut album Untune was released to critical acclaim in 2014. Her bass-heavy live shows, which Zamilska is particularly passionate about, are full of energy and immediacy. She was nominated for SHAPE by Unsound Festival. You will have a chance to see her live at several SHAPE events this autumn, including RIAM, Maintenant and Schiev.

The debut you released on Mik Musik!. I guess you were collaborating with Wojciech Kucharczyk, an important figure in Polish independent music.

Natalia Zamilska: I’m really grateful for this, but I must embark on a new way.

In what way?

NZ: It was a hard time when I was making my first album. I wanted something more, I wanted to go to a big city. I released one track online and everything went crazy, I had had a really quiet and pure life in Silesia and then suddenly, I’m in showbusiness. I grew up a lot between that and the release of my debut album Untune. I didn’t feel ready. I wanted to find my own sound, something that would be really me and not just a technical combination of sounds. After Quarrel, everybody wanted to know who is this Zamilska. I really love Untune, but now I want to make something new. I got to the point as an artist where something changed in me and the new material will be more melodic and emotional.

The track titles – Enemy, Quarrel, Army, etc – as well as the sound of Untune is more direct and masculine in a way.

NZ: It’s about my feelings and my past, my internal war. I don’t use any vocals so everything I say needs to be expressed through sound. The album is political. It’s about war in life, war in the world.

When you were making Untune, were you trying to tell a certain narrative?

NZ: Yes, the story of my life. I had a really difficult past.

You also studied social and cultural animation.

NZ: I was working as a barmaid and I studied. Then I started to work at the Foundation For Audiovisual Culture and I was doing more visuals at that time. I also did the video for my first single Quarrel. I do montages, sometimes I’d search for a video for a week and end up using 20 seconds from it.

In terms of African rhythms and samples, I was wondering why did you decide to use it, what specifically do you like about it?

NZ: I’ve always been interested in world music. I started with Dead Can Dance when I was 14. Music from India, Africa and Islamic countries is really magical. I was 15 when I started to use electronics, and the most important samples even then were African or Indian.

So this ritualistic, tribal aspect to sound is important to you?

NZ: Yes. I’m fascinated by Muslim and Hindu culture. It’s the most important aspect of my sound.

Are you also inspired by Slavic mythology and culture?

NZ: Yes. It is a big part of Untune and it will be a big part of my next release.

You said Untune was a result of a difficult part of your life, so what is the next one inspired by?

NZ: It will probably be a big surprise to a lot of people. It will be emotional, but still have some kind of darkness and a lot more sounds from India and Islamic countries. I’m prepared for those fans of mine who see me as the queen of techno leaving and those who come to listen to me in a context of a concert, not a party, probably staying.

So you don’t like this “queen of techno” description?

NZ: No, I’ve never been a techno queen.

I guess people like to make these simplifications and labels.

NZ: But only in Poland. I think it’s better than a few years ago, but still, they have a problem with me because they don’t know which musical genre to put me in. Everything in Poland that is slightly strange and hard and is electronic gets labelled as techno, even though it’s not. People also often confuse a live act for a DJ set. I’m also pissed off if someone calls me a DJ. It’s hard here, I’m very rebellious and not everyone likes it. People have a problem with tolerance for difference. I have many fans here, but also a lot of haters. But I think it’s good because it’s better to be loved or hated than ignored.

So you think your perception abroad is different?

NZ: People abroad come to my concert, not a DJ set. I’m a producer there, at home I’m a DJ. In Poland we have an issue with women in electronic music. It was difficult for me in the beginning, nobody would take me seriously and nobody expected me to know anything about electronic music. People treat a woman who does electronic music with a mixture of fascination and disbelief.

Do you feel a lot of pressure after the success of your debut album?

NZ: I was scared while making the new material but this is a consequence of being an authentic artist. I got depressed after Untune. I thought I would never do another album again, I thought I used up all my talent. But I mustn’t be afraid to say what I want to say. People either like it or not, I’m not afraid.

You were also doing these workshops for kids.

NZ: Yes, it was few years ago. These workshops were about making electronic music and using hardware. It was instructive for my work as an artist, I learnt more from these children than they from me. They possessed this natural freedom and when I make music, I try to recollect this immediacy of a child.

What were your perceptions of these children and their rapport with electronic music, as compared to your generation?

NZ: Right now, music is getting professionalised, which is both good and bad. We have many artists and I can always find the best album to listen to for a month. Internet is flooded with musicians, and it’s not good.

Has there been something that surprised you in music or your music career in the last few years?

NZ: I have a problem with that, because it’s really hard to surprise me. When it comes to my own music, I was surprised by the Quietus putting me at no 12 of their albums of the year. I cried when I saw that. I was also floored when my music got used for a Dior fashion show in Tokyo. The most important for me was playing with Gazelle Twin in Glasgow, she’s my hero. Many good things have happened after the release of my first album. Three years ago, I was poor, I was a barmaid and now I live in Warsaw and make music, doing what I love the most. I have a really beautiful life at the moment.

60s avant-garde icon Frederic Rzewski joins SHAPE for a lecture

Legendary pianist and composer Frederic Rzewski, who emerged out of the 60s avant-garde of the U.S.A., will be giving a lecture as part of the SHAPE project when visiting the Skaņu Mežs festival in Riga, Latvia.

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Frederic Rzewski (born April 13, 1938 in Westfield, Massachusetts) is among the major figures of the American musical avant-garde to emerge in the 1960s, and he has been highly influential as a composer and performer. He was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, earned his B.A. in music at Harvard, and later received an M.F.A. from Princeton, where he had the privilege of studying with Roger Sessions and Milton Babbit. In 1966, he founded, with Alvin Curran and Richard Teitelbaum, the famous ensemble Musica Electronica Viva (MEV). MEV combined free improvisation with written music and electronics. He has also collaborated with Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, which is considered to be the first experimental composers collective. Rzewski is also a revered composer – his music is among that which defines postwar American new music. In the words of Donato Mancini, „He has consistently given the exuberant boyish pleasures of a composer like Copland within the rigorously experimental framework of a composer like Cage. Often unapologetically tonal and fun, Rzewski’s music cuts right through the frequent churlishness of avant garde music.”

While visiting the Skaņu Mežs festival for adventurous music and related arts, Rzewski will give a lecture, aimed at both SHAPE artists and the general public. The lecture will touch upon such subjects as the state of contemporary music today, the volume of modern music and Rzewski’s own creative mechanisms. It will be concluded with a Q&A.

The lecture will take place at the Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music on October 8.

Moritz Simon Geist live at ICAS Festival

This video clip is a fragment of a live performance by SHAPE artist Moritz Simon Geist and his project Sonic Robots. It was recorded as part of the ICAS Festival which occurred this April.

Moritz Simon Geist was born in 1981. His projects range from electronic music performances to robotic sound installations. His robotic installations and performances have so far been shown in numerous European festivals and exhibitions including Ars Electronica 2014, Club Transmediale 2013, Mapping Festival [CH]. He has also collaborated with performers such as Mouse on Mars and Tyondai Braxton. He holds talks on the progression of robotics and society. In 2015, he was awarded the Artist-In-Residence-Stipend for the Free State of Saxony.

His background is both as a classical musician and a robotics engineer, with an advanced expertise in 3-D Printing. Moritz Simon Geist lives and works in Dresden, Germany.

You can catch him live at the upcoming editions of Maintenant festival (13 – 18 October).

Holly Herndon joins SHAPE for a discussion at Biennale Némo

Artists Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst will tackle a complex subject through their project “Detour”, which – in collaboration with SHAPE platform and IRCAM Live – will be presented in the form of a panel discussion as part of Paris’ Biennale Némo on November 25th. The subject is: “Are there alternatives to the dominant musical touring model?”

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The summary of the “Detour” project goes like this: “Going through the “plane > hotel > venue > next gig” pattern narrows artist’s creativity and the way they share it with their audience(s). How can we re-think the conventional production processes towards collaborative artworks and new art forms ? Does mobility and going through various territories feed the artistic proposition? How ? ”

Biennale Némo & Ircam Live propose an indicative inventory of possible alternatives, experiences, visions of idealistic relationships between the artist and the audience. Artists from Arcadi and the SHAPE platform (namely, Assimilation Process and Marco Donnarumma) will collaborate with Herndon and Dryhurst on the debate.

As a moderator of this initiative, Jean-Yves Leloup (author of “Digital Magma” and “Musique Non-Stop”) will conduct the conference, and sum up the discussion contributed by artists from various horizons.

Holly Herndon is a computer composer and sound artist based in San Francisco, with roots in classical choral music. Her debut album, “Movement” (2012), was released by Rvng Intl., followed by this year’s “Platform”.

Mat Dryhurst is an artist based in San Francisco. He collaborates with Bill Kouligas’ label PAN, and serves as Director of Programming at Gray Area, an art and technology non-profit. He presents work and speaks regularly both under his own name, and in collaboration with Holly Herndon as KAIRO.

Find out more about this upcoming public discussion here.

Mondkopf’s guest mix for Tiny Mix Tapes

Check out SHAPE artist Mondkopf‘s guest mix for our partner Tiny Mix Tapes‘ section Cholocate Grinder. The title of the mix is Always out to lunch, and it featues tracks by Peder Mannerfelt, Franck Vigroux, fellow SHAPE artist Lorenzo Senni and many others.

“The guest mix that Régimbeau graciously made for us,” write TMT,  “further articulates his interest in the materiality of sound, exploring contrast through masterful pacing and varying degrees of dissonance. Like his music, it’s dark and moody, reorienting suspense and tension as ends unto themselves rather than as the couriers they’re so often internalized to be.”

In the last couple of years, Paul Régimbeau (29) a.k.a. Mondkopf has released his The Nicest Way EP (Perc Trax) and performed memorably as a DJ in clubs like Berghain and Corsica Studios. Also getting on his own terms and starting his own imprint In Paradisum with Guillaume Heuguet, he has united a team of artists all pretty much standing apart in the French scene and led by the same restlessness and ideals.

 

You can catch Regimbeau live at the very first edition of Schiev festival in Brussels (as part of the Autrenoir project) and Biennale Némo in Paris.

Rashad Becker joins SHAPE for a public talk at UH Fest

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Legendary mastering engineer (noted for his work at Basic Channel’s Dubplates & Mastering studio) and musician (as heard on his debut recording “Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. 1″) will join the SHAPE project by participating in a public talk at the UH Fest in Hungary.

Becker will speak about modes of hearing and listening, about scrutinizing and comparing audio, and of finding methods and terminology for personal use to evaluate sonic processes.

Over the years, Rashad Becker has accrued credits on over 1,200 albums as a mastering and cutting engineer at Berlin’s esteemed Dubplates and Mastering and his own Studio Clunk. His 2013 album on PAN, Traditional Music of a Notional Species Vol. 1, is his debut issue as a producer. The critically lauded release presents an formidably intelligent and nuanced relationship to sound, immediately distinguishable for its high degree of technical mastery. Reviews of Becker in performance note a “knack of giving sound its voice” (The Liminal) and a “rare, unmediated engagement… He works with quiet confidence from a massively complex palette, avoiding clichés, imbuing the interactions with an acute fingerprint” (londonjazznews).

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The talk will happen on September 29th at the club G3. It will be moderated by Luka Ivanovic.

Ketev’s speculative memory

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KETEV is a project by Yair Elazar Glotman, a musician and sound artist who focuses on experimental electro-acoustic composition, sound installations, and sculptures. A post-techno project made by phasing patterns from reel-to-reel tape loops that are manipulated by 4-track cassette decks, Ketev creates roaring textures above slowly shifting rhythmic mantras. His releases, both under his own name and Ketev, have appeared on labels such as Subtext, Where To Now? and Opal Tapes. Ketev was nominated for SHAPE by CTM Festival. He will be playing at the following SHAPE-related events this autumn: musikprotokoll im steirischen herbst, TodaysArt, RIAM Festival and SONICA.

We are at your studio in Berlin right now, surrounded by the various instruments that you play, both acoustic and electronic.

Yair Elazar Glotman: The one I feel most comfortable with is the contrabass, which I have been playing for many years, coming from classical musical training and jazz. I also have a bass guitar here and a bunch of electronics, synths, tape machines.

Did you move from classical, acoustic instruments to electronics after relocating to Berlin?

YEG: I started experimenting with electronic music when I was about 18. The main thing about playing an instrument such as the contrabass or bass guitar as a side man very much depended on other people being in a group or an orchestra. Moving to electronic music was the immediate way to break free from that and be able to make music by myself. In the beginning, I perceived leaving classical music as a failure. It was this big instrument in my room, that big force that made me feel guilty most of the time. After 3 years during which I hadn’t really played it, I found a different way to approach the instrument. I had to break free from it and in a way free the instrument from myself in order to go back to it and develop different approaches to playing it.

You studied media art at Berlin University of the Arts (UdK). How did this influence your music practice?

YEG: It was very interesting to approach composition from the media art context, and not going to the composition class was actually freeing. Apparently music is considered an art form, but people have the most stereotypes associated with what it should be.

What is that you are trying to express and search for in music nowadays after all your rapport with it?

YEG: It’s always changing, it’s a never-ending process, which explains the different music I’ve done so far, lot of things contradict each other.

You have the atmospheric guise under your own name and the more club-oriented under Ketev.

YEG: I started the Ketev project to experience the freedom of making music under a different moniker, and to do certain things I wouldn’t have the courage to under my own name. I wanted to experiment with other contexts, I wasn’t so much interested in techno. I was more interested in the language it speaks to to certain people.

It has this immediate, physical aspect, rather than the cerebral at first glance.

YEG: The most interesting for me was working with rhythm related sound material and acknowledging how people perceive rhythm in a different way than they perceive melody and harmony, it’s a more primal way.

How do you decide what to work on? Is it dependent on the mood you are in?

YEG: Sometimes I’m not even sure what it is that I’m doing, whether to release it under my own name or Ketev. Usually I’m trying to have a certain idea before I start working. It doesn’t need to be an idea of a process or a concept, it could also start from a certain atmosphere or speculative memory.

What is this speculative memory?

YEG: It is a certain state of mind, a certain energy or an atmosphere, which has no verbal meaning. It’s not personal. I would like to do something that other people could perceive the same way. The most interesting thing about memories is that they are very dynamic and keep on changing. I could always go and listen to something and enjoy how my perception of it changes.

Do you think you will go back to the contrabass?

YEG: I’m working on solo contrabass pieces, which will be released on Subtext Recordings (released as Études in July 2015). It’s actually dealing with hidden sounds of instruments. When you play acoustic instruments, you always do so within a certain dynamic range – between the most quiet pianissimo to the most loud fortissimo. The instrument needs to resonate in a room. But as a musician, you never really spend time to investigate what is beneath this threshold. I’m playing very quietly, in a sense that sometimes I cannot really perceive what I’m playing anymore. There is a lot of work with signal processing of compression and very high pre-amp, kind of revealing the instrument by amplification. Interesting things happen when playing so quietly, and also forgetting how you are supposed to play an instrument is important.

When playing an acoustic instrument, you try to utilise all the energy to one note to resonate the best you can. By playing so quietly, the energy goes into a lot of different places and by recording with different microphones at the same time, you deconstruct the sound and have three or four different sound elements at the same time, so it sounds very rich actually. For me the most interesting about this process is the separation between the action and the result. It’s a little bit like analogue photography, giving you room for speculation. When you play, you don’t really perceive what happens.

When you play quietly, do you have to restrain yourself more as compared to a Ketev set? Is there more control involved?

YEG: The most interesting part is losing control in a situation where I usually feel most comfortable and have the most control.

Is there a difference between playing the contrabass, which has been part of you for so long, and the electronics set?

YEG: I think the most uncomfortable I’ve felt was when playing classical pieces, where I felt I couldn’t really express myself. It’s hard to find yourself in that other person from a different time. I guess I feel comfortable playing my own music. I was playing rock music and a lot of jazz, and then at 14 I started to play the contrabass. When I was six, my grandparents bought me a Metallica cassette for my birthday. I just wanted to play the guitar and distort it. Since then, it has become this weird musical path. My parents said that if I wanted to play the electric guitar, first I needed to learn to play a classical one. Playing jazz got me into playing the contrabass, and that lead me to play orchestral music.

Are your parents also musicians?

YEG: No, but they really love music. My mum listened to a lot of classical music and my dad is really into jazz and Tom Waits.

Do they like your music?

YEG: I think they do. They are being supportive.

 

Special Resonance FM broadcast on Skaņu Mežs festival

Stream a special one hour show, devoted to the upcoming 13th edition of the Skaņu Mežs festival in Riga, Latvia. Produced for Resonance FM‘s series of broadcasts about member festivals of the SHAPE platform, the show is hosted by organizers of the event, and introduces the listeners to some interesting elements of the festival’s program.

Clear Spot – 18th September 2015 (SHAPE Festivals Hour ft. Skanu Mesz) by Resonance Fm on Mixcloud

Described by Electronic Beats as “the go-to festival for adventurous music and art in the Baltics”, Skaņu Mežs always aims to present a genre-wise diverse line-up, and its concerts often feature rhythmic music, free improvisation, noise, contemporary music, folk and musique concrète, presented in a kaleidoscopic fashion. This show, hosted by organizers of the event Rihards Endriksons and Viestarts Gailītis, will quickly take you through some interesting elements of Skaņu Mežs’2015, featuring music by N1L, Squarepusher, Lorenzo Senni, Jakob Ullmann, Gas of Latvia, Frederic Rzewski, Peter Brötzmann, James Holden and Christian Wolfarth. The broadcast was produced in collaboration with Latvian Radio 6 a.k.a. Radio NABA.

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Click here for other SHAPE-related broadcasts on Resonance FM.

To find out more about Skaņu Mežs, visit the festival’s homepage.

Live Y.E. Glotman (Ketev) recording for The Wire Magazine

To highlight  Yair Elazar Glotman a.k.a. Ketev‘s upcoming performances at four SHAPE events – TodaysArt, Musikprotokoll, RIAM and SONICA – we bring You an exclusive live solo contrabass recording that he made in his home studio. The music is brought to You in collaboration with our media partner The Wire Magazine.

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Glotman live at Berlin Atonal. Photo by Camille Blake.

To listen to the audio, click here.

This recording is the live performance version of the Études project. „It is an expansion of the techniques and ideas developed for the album,” says Glotman. „The live set is working at the crossroads between improvisation and composed material.”
Although just as dark and filled with a menacing sense of progression, the solo contrabass work that Glotman performs under his own name is technically quite different from his work under the Ketev moniker, which can be vaguely described as post-techno.

Yair Elazar Glotman (a.k.a. Ketev) is a musician and sound artist living in Berlin. His compositions are currently concerned with analog tape loops, electronics and contrabass. He trained as a classical contrabass player, and has studied electroacoustic composition.

Special Resonance FM broadcast on UH Fest

Check out a special show on the upcoming edition of UH Fest, produced for the London art radio station Resonance FM. The show features spoken insights by the organizers of the festival as well as music by artists from its line-up.

Clear Spot – 11th September 2015 (SHAPE – UH Fest) by Resonance Fm on Mixcloud

Since 2001, UH Fest has staged more than 450 performances and a number of one-off events in Budapest, Hungary. UH Fest events are organised by the Ultrasound Foundation, a not-for-profit, grass-root organisation. Its stylistic focus is heterogeneous, placing an equal importance on the performative as well as the listening experience, faithful to their motto: New Kind Of Joy. This year, the lineup is as diverse as ever: from Romanian spectralists Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram, to leading figures of contemporary underground like Dean Blunt, Helena Hauff, Wanda Group or Valerio Tricoli. The festival also features a host of SHAPE artists, including Borusiade, Kathy Alberici, Low Jack, Yves De Mey, DJ Nigga Fox and SILF. The event will take place in various Budapest locations between 27 September and 4 October 2015.

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Click here for other SHAPE-related broadcasts on Resonance FM.

To find out more about UH Fest, visit their homepage.