Listen: NTS Live talks to SHAPE artists at MUTEK

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Listen to these NTS Live broadcasts from the MUTEK festival in Canada, where SHAPE platform had its first intercontinental showcase. The episodes, hosted by Chloe Frieda, feature music by and interviews with SHAPE artists Laura Luna, Jackson and Spatial, who also did a live mix as part of the broadcast.

Alongside the Susy Technology collective, this first episode features Mexican-born, Prague-residing musician and sound artist Laura Luna as well as experimental bass music producer Spatial, who also has a deep interest in sustaining a visual dimension to his work.

The second episode features Jackson, who was interviewed about his new experimental audiovisual project Light Metal Music, which entirely features previously unreleased music, as he explained in the interview. He also spoke of the evolution of his sound over the years and how he sees his current project as being in continual development.

Click here for the other NTS broadcasts from MUTEK, and here for previous collaborations between SHAPE and NTS.

ANTIVJ: ‘It’s almost like visual impact is dictated nowadays’

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ANTIVJ is a European visual label representing, producing and promoting the work of digital/media artists working at the intersection of art & technology. Their practice as artists and technologists spans from installation to performance work, large-scale to intimate, often as a response to place & space, to light & architecture, code & motion. Focused on exploring new formats of experience and experimenting with new forms of narrative, the label has been recogniSed for developing and delivering projects that don’t exist. We talk to label manager Nicolas Boritch about the ins and outs of the visual label. 

Can you talk about the genesis of ANTIVJ?

ANTIVJ started around 2006 in Bristol where I was based at the time. It started out of an encounter of four artists based in Paris, Brussels and Geneva and myself. All interested in experimenting with new ways of using light.

It’s interesting that it’s called a “label”, which is quite unusual for a visual collective. Does it mean that you try to function as a music label?

Yes, it is definitely similar to the idea of a record label. I grew up in the nineties, surrounded by labels like Warp, Skam, Mego. It’s always been a strong influence because they were gathering exciting artists, but with a very strong artistic direction, identity and aesthetics. At the same time, each artist fit within that direction with their own personality. That’s the idea we had with ANTIVJ when we started: to have several artists, each with their own personality, approach, background and tools, but with something in common in terms of the aesthetics they were interested in, the formats they wanted to explore or the tools they wanted to experiment with. A few things brought the artists to collaborate together in the first few years: the use video projection as a light source, the use of their surroundings as a canvas rather than sticking to the screen, a common interest for restrained aesthetics, which was actually also heavily influenced by the technical constraints of the time, a certain appeal for abstraction and optical illusion as a way to play with people’s perception.

The whole VJ movement has changed over the last ten years. What is your position towards it nowadays?

The answer kind of lies in the title: ANTIVJ. The four original artist co-founders all had VJ backgrounds. The name was a bit of a joke, but it was also about the fact that clearly our starting point was to get away from that scene and what it represented at the time for us. They did do some VJing in the most usual format – in a club, a festival, on stage, on a screen, having to follow whoever was playing. But what we were interested in was to explore everything else: to not use a screen, to not fill the gap for someone else’s performance not knowing who it was nor having a chance to develop an idea as part of a longer collaboration. VJing as we saw it had too many artistic and technical constraints which is why we have always focused on installation work regardless of the scale and the format.

What is the relationship between the sonic and the visual side in ANTIVJ?

I consider them to be equally important. And in 90% of the time, they are both created from scratch, simultaneously, often through a back & forth process. It may sound obvious, if not simple, but it is about trying to create something that becomes one, rather than putting something on top of each other. A lot of the time people are aware of the visual elements and impact, but not so much of the sonic counterpart. For example in film, music and sound design can often be the sense that your brain believes the most, even if you are not aware of it.

Are you open to new members? How does the membership base work?

We’ve been lucky to be so extremely busy for the first 5, 6 years, focusing on our own projects, that it didn’t leave much time or thought to include new artists and collaborations. Managing the whole label and artists by myself surely didn’t help! Some people may perceive ANTIVJ as a collective rather than a label because for a long time, the number of artists was set. Recently, I’ve started to include new projects and artists, for example the French director Xavier Chassaing who worked on a full 3d animation film which we are hoping to develop into a VR experience at some point. We’re also working on a rather ambitious collaborative project with two astrophysicists, the mysterious sonic act Dopplereffekt, and a team of coders who are developing tools and software to create visualisations of real scientific data. The idea behind this project, which will premiere at TodaysArt in September, is to create a hybrid performance between a scientific lecture and an immersive live audiovisual experience about the the beginning/end of the universe, the cycle of stars, the dark energy. There is also a number of new projects and artists that will be announced in the near future.

Over the last 10 years, technology has changed a lot also in connection with how artists work. How do you view this development and also the convergence between various fields: science, technology, and the arts? 

One of the main things is that technical solutions evolve constantly and very quickly. For example, when we started doing architectural projection projects the work flow was very tedious, yet basic. Looking at it now, it was fairly ridiculous, actually. We had to put the projectors in front of the building and use Illustrator in full screen to re-draw the architecture of the building by hand, with a mouse. From there you would have a 2D sketch of the building, which would be your base to create your content. But you would have to be sure that the projectors would remain and be set-up again, in exactly the same place. Nowadays there is a lot of software that does this almost with a single click, which is great. On the other hand, over the last few years, I’ve personally had the feeling that technology had taken over “digital art” and more generally the contemporary art scenes. Too often showing us something like a tech demo rather than art. Today’s global frantic race for innovation doesn’t help. And lately it has felt quite natural to me and the artists I work with, to actually slow down a bit and take time to let things grow and mature.

Could you talk about the ANTIVJ projects involved in SHAPE?

“Mécaniques Discursives” is an ongoing collaborative project between Yannick Jacquet, a media and video artist, one of the co-founders of ANTIVJ, and Fred Penelle, a Belgian artist and printmaker. They have developed this almost jazz way of collaborating where they both have their own language, codes and techniques, and mix the oldest technique of reproduction (print) with video projection, each time starting from scratch and improvising on location. Another project is a new audiovisual installation called “Remote Memories” by Yannick Jacquet. It includes a very panoramic screen made out of 40 thin wooden boards and a series of vibrating speakers. This piece feels to me like an abstract painting that seems to be morphing in slow motion. The sound was designed by another long time collaborator, Laurent Delforge, with the idea to use vibrating speakers broadcasting textures and frequencies through the wooden boards to try and give the installation more physicality. We are also working on a live performance version, using the same set-up, where Laurent will be performing with a series of custom-made vinyls with a different frequency/texture pressed on each record.

Can you talk about your new label, ANTIVJ Recordings?

The idea dates back 5 or 6 years.  We wanted to have a platform dedicated to releasing music and sound design originally composed for installation or performance work. To start with, quite logically, we are going to release music by ANTIVJ collaborators. The first release, which is out now, is called “Ecume”. It is a collection of 8 musical pieces by Thomas Vaquie, a longtime composer for ANTIVJ projects, and it comes out as a double vinyl. The idea is also to put a lot of attention to releasing carefully crafted physical objects. Which is why we wanted to make limited runs of very limited objects, such as the resin-cast edition of the album. I am also interested in exploring new ways of presenting and releasing music. Obviously nice vinyl editions, but also physical objects made out of concrete, a 3D print, an audio book, or even an application.

Why is this physical aspect important?

Everything we’ve done has almost always been ephemeral. It’s part of the magic, but it can also become frustrating sometimes. Site-specific work is temporary in most cases. You work for six months, present a ten minute piece, and then it’s gone. There’s also a contradiction between what we do (working with space) and the medium we have to show it to a larger audience (a small video on your laptop). Making a book for example, to document a work, can help show other aspects and ideas. Making a physical object can also be part of a natural development for artists to be able to present ideas in a different way – projects they can exhibit and sell.

It also creates a different relationship with the audience.

We recently did a small release party in Brussels for our first release on ANTIVJ Recordings. We decided to exhibit the different steps and processes used to create the artwork of the album. We also organised a listening session. The idea was to wait until it got dark and put the crowd in complete darkness, have them sit on the floor and listen to the whole album. This is another idea which is at the core of ANTIVJ. The kind of music which I’m interested in for ANTIVJ Recordings is music which is very visual, cinematic and narrative-driven, created with the visual element in mind, but having a capacity to exist on its own. We are interested in creating experiences where there’s absolutely no visual interference and the music is the tool for creating visuals in your mind. It’s almost like visual impact is dictated nowadays – all the bands and DJs have to have visuals – the more flashy and harder, the better. It feels saturated and very empty. You can see things in music too, you don’t need to be told what your imagination can create.

Stream the debut EP by KABLAM

Stream Furiosa – the debut EP by Swedish-born, Berlin-based Janus affiliate KABLAM.

In a review of Furiosa, our media partner Tiny Mix Tapes writes the following: “These are hard-hitting tracks, never pausing for breath, produced for maximum velocity and impact.”

DJ and producer KABLAM (aka Kajsa Blom) was born by the Swedish west coast and moved to Berlin in 2012. She started her career as a DJ, as one of the residents of Berlin’s Janus party alongside co-residents Lotic and M.E.S.H. Janus is now a label and has held parties at Berghain and booked producers and DJs Arca, DJ Hvad, Total Freedom, Nigga Fox and more.

Blom’s style, in keeping with her Janus peers, experiments with the radical possibilities of music, of what a club environment is or can be and of what a dance floor looks and feels like. As a DJ, she manipulates digital tracks, taking advantage of the advanced possibilities offered by CDJs. She likes to play and mix contrasting genres, finding imaginative points of entry and combinations between them, using the parameters of space rather than time to structure the music.

You can catch KABLAM live at the musikprotokoll festival in Graz.

Andi Stecher: ‘Footwork is amazing for a drummer’

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Andi Stecher is an Austrian born and Berlin based drummer, percussionist and electronic musician. His current focus lies on solo compositions and live sets. In June 2015, Stecher released his first solo album austreiben/antreiben through Heart of Noise Edition. It is a personal take on mask-wearing traditions/pre-christian alpine traditions which are widespread all over Europe. The main characters of these mostly wintertime traditions are hybrid/anthropomorphic figures, embodied through people adorned with bells and wrapped in natural materials such as moss, animal skins or branches. He works with a raw, undefined palette of sounds as well as repetitive rhythm to create his compositions. He will be performing at Musikprotokoll 2016 festival in Graz later this year. 

You are from Innsbruck in Tirol. Is that where the Krampus inspiration, – in Austrian-Bavarian folklore, an anthropomorphic figure who during the Christmas season, punishes children who misbehaved – comes from?

All these traditions still happen there. In winter, it is the Krampus and in spring it’s Austreiben, which I used for the record, which is about expelling the winter.

Could you talk about these traditions?

It’s connected to the rhythms of nature. At the end of February, there are these traditional marches through city centres. People dress up and represent different aspects of nature, making a lot of noise and expelling the winter. They wear a lot of bells and burn straw puppets.

So the whole environment of Tirol with its nature and traditions has influenced you?

Definitely. I like nature, not only in Tirol. I will soon go to work as a shepherd in Switzerland again. It’s a very good change for me from the city, the music and going out.

When you do this kind of work, do you still make music as well?

Sometimes. I bring my drums along because we’re staying in a mountain hut where nobody gets disturbed by noise. I do get a lot of inspiration through it because there’s lot of time to think and just exist – you clean your head. I would like to record in the mountains with these amazing natural echoes around.

On the Austreiben album, you also used field recordings of the bells.

Exactly. It’s not from the mountains though, but from these happenings where people dress up and march through villages.

What fascinates you about these traditions?

Because it’s so dark there, these creatures have a strange aura. I just like these traditions and it was my personal take on them. I’ve been trying to do the second part of the album, actually, go around a bit more and select the costumes, record their sounds and do some compositions with it. In the winter, there are these more devilish characters, and when you’re a child, it can get quite scary. Nowadays, these traditions exist in a surrounding where I’m not present anymore. I’m also interested in the whole phenomenon because of the sound.

Does the urban environment inspire you in a similar way?

I need both. I need the city, go to shows, and then also stay in nature. Especially if you do music and play shows, you got to be in the city.

Does the city inspire you sound-wise as well?

Yes. I love these new club styles. The city does influence me. I live in Berlin, and it is also represented in what I do.

Are you also active in other bands?

Nowadays I do lots of solo stuff, and play with different bands, I do music for dance and performance. Then I also have some bands with whom I tour, which is more like a job based thing, where I just play the drums. My own stuff is more rhythm and beat based, influenced by footwork and trap. Footwork is amazing for a drummer because of its odd rhythms, which are kind of new.

How do you work in the solo context?

I’ve been producing for quite a while. I started to take drum lessons at the age of 8. I grew up listening to IDM and breakcore. I got a lot of inspiration from my brother who’s 16 years older than me and listened to lots of weird music at the time. IDM and breakcore influenced my drumming. I was into electronic music production in general. I used to be into jazz. Now I use more and more analogue stuff.

Is the rhythm more important for you as a drummer?

It’s definitely very important, even if it’s not straight-forward. I also enjoy the melodic stuff.

You work with these different techniques like side-chaining and multichannel setups.

I try out different things with the drums. I’ve done a multi-speaker project recently. There are two pieces on the record which are more abstract, electronic – it’s basically hi-fi speakers with coins and metal parts inside and I sent a synth through it. I use a lot of trigger with contact mikes on the floor. I enjoy to have stuff to do when I’m playing live. My sets are quite planned ahead, but they can veer off in different ways.

If you are a musician who has done music for a long time, how can one challenge themselves?

Getting out of the comfort zone, I guess. I always enjoy to engage myself in my music and play an instrument, to not just push play and wait until the piece is over. I need to do something so the piece comes to life. There are lots of things I want to try out.

Hyperaktivist mix for NTS Live

Stream this SHAPE mix by Venezuelan-born, Berlin-residing DJ Hyperaktivist, broadcast on London’s NTS Live. The mix comes with the announcement of her upcoming performance at the Riga Anglican church in September, organized by Skaņu Mežs festival.

It was in 2009 when Hyperaktivist started to work on setting the groundwork for her DJ career. Ana Laura Rincón blended hyperactivity with activism, developing electronic music culture in her native Venezuela – a country with few record stores and few electronic music industry affiliations.

Upon discovering the small underground electronic music scene in her hometown of Maracaibo, Rincón began organizing events, DJing along with friends and invited musicians. Later, she co-founded the SOLO club, which became a prominent and central space for electronic musicians and DJs from throughout country. She also formed the Next Phaze collective, comprising DJs, street artists, VJs, visual artists and graphic designers. The endeavour gave rise to a new concept of electronic music events for Rincón, in which visual environments were created using techniques like video mapping and 3D imaging.

Following completion of a degree in Mass Media, Rincón relocated to Berlin in early 2012, where she is currently producing her own music and just finished a degree in sound engineering. Her sets are powerful, deep, and stylistically fluid, without subscribing to just one particular sound or genre.

Track list:

WYAD – The Lost Tape
Tobias – Freeze
Matthew Jonson & The Mole – If
Adam Jay – Basis
Dorisburg – Dimension Sculpture (Lando’s Rmx)
Etcher – Transistormusik
Janzon – Rove contact
Aschka – Scrapewing (Andy Stott Rmx)
Matrixxman – Simulation
Chambray – Ease
Mark Henning – Trojan
Unknown Entity – Raging horn
Roman Lindau – Treatment
B2 Schacke – Nightclub Warrior (Ectotherm)
Joefaar – Jetworks
Patrick Siech – Kill Room
Maetrik – Transform
Midland – Drumtrack

Click here for previous collaborations between SHAPE and NTS.

ICAS Radio from MUTEK airs tonight

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ICAS Radio revisited MUTEK in early June 2016 following their last visit in 2012 to present a radio show focused on the SHAPE platform for innovative music and audiovisual art, which presented a special showcase at the Montreal event this year. The radio show, hosted by Musikprotokoll‘s Susanna Niedermayr and CTM Festival‘s Oliver Baurhenn, features three SHAPE artists: the Mexican Prague-based multimedia artist Laura Luna, Swedish producer Peder Mannerfelt, and French maverick Jackson who presented his installation/light show Light Metal Music at MUTEK.

You can hear excerpts of the aforementioned performance as well as an excerpt of Laura Luna’s live show tonight (17 June 2016) starting at 23:08 CET on ORF’s OE1 radio station. Aside from SHAPE, ICAS Radio will also present several active figures on the vibrant Montreal music scene (Kara-Lis Coverdale, Essai Pas, etc) as well as MUTEK’s VR Salon. For more information, please visit the website of the broadcaster (in German) here. 

 

Photos: SHAPE @ MUTEK Montréal

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Beginning of this month SHAPE platform had its first intercontinental showcase at Canada’s MUTEK festival – one of North America’s largest festivals for electronic music and digital arts. 9 SHAPE acts were included in the program of the festival, namely Spatial, Laura Luna, Nonotak, Lawrence Le Doux, Peder Mannerfelt, Jackson, T’ien Lai and two alumni from 2015 – Aïsha Devi and Lorenzo Senni.

Unfortunately – due to unforeseeable practical circumstances regarding equipment – the performance of T’ien Lai was cancelled.

Two educational activities were also organized as part of the festival – a Q&A with Lorenzo Senni and a panel discussion called “SHAPE and the Agency of Festival Networks” with the participation of Aïsha Devi, Spatial as well Lucia Udvardyova and Taica Replansky who represented SHAPE and the ICAS festival network which the platform was borne out of. Both conversations were lead by journalist Alexander Iadarola.

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Photos by: Caroline Hayeur, Kamielle Dalati-Vachon, Trung Dung Nguyen, Vivien Gaumand, Sébastien Lapointe, Ashutosh Gupta.

Orson Hentschel mix for Radio Campus France

Stream a SHAPE mix by German composer and producer Orson Hentschel, created for our platform’s ongoing collaboration with radio station network Radio Campus France.

Orson Hentschel is a German composer and producer based in Düsseldorf. Having trained in classical piano as of an early age, he now mainly composes electronic, experimental and film music. His debut, Feed The Tape, is strongly influenced by classical minimalism, especially composition methods used by Steve Reich such as phase variations, looping and imitation. These methods serve as characteristic composition elements, however, rather than being the focus of Hentschel’s pieces. The loop, which often is the starting point of one of his works, usually plays the role of a constant sound substrate on which harmonic and melodic elements can thrive. Orson Hentschel does not consider himself as a composer of contemporary music, but as a multimedia artist. He developed his own audiovisual performance, based on the interplay of light, visuals and fog.

Track list:

Tahiti Boy & Mr. Oizo – Mind Link 1
Daniel Lanois – Opera
Księżyc – Kolysanka
Geoff Baron – Inhale
Michael Gordon – Rewriting Beethoven’s Seventh Symphonie: Pt. 3
David Lang – Shelter: Before I Enter
Matthew Collings – Rapid Pulses
Ingram Marshall – Fog Tropes
Julia Wolfe – Anthracite Fields: lV. Flowers
Tahiti Boy & Mr. Oizo – Palmtree
Caroline Shaw – Partita for 8 Singers: No. 1. Allemande

Click here for previous collaborations between SHAPE platform and Radio Campus.

iii and TodaysArt present Sand Songs

Participants of the SHAPE platform iii and TodaysArt, one of the platform’s founding members, are co-presenting Sand Songs, an interdisciplinary event on June 18th.

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The artist-run platform iii invites us to explore the coastline of South Holland as a playground for new sensory experiences. Following Kaffe Matthew’s Pedalling SeaSides at Kijkduin in 2015, iii has commissioned a new series of experiental artworks that engage with open space and natural elements, and that playfully involve the audience.

The Zandmotor is an artifical peninsula, constructed as a defence against coastal erosion. This experimental solution uses the natural movement of the tides to replenish the beaches and reinforce the coastline. Thus a temporary landscape was generated: an open, spacious, continually changing expanse right next to the densely populated Randstad. A unique area, popular with strollers, surfers, birdwatchers and sunlovers, but also a place where nature and science merge.

For Sand Songs, a group of artists was invited to imagine this landscape as if it were a musical instrument, played by the natural elements and by human intervention. The artists developed performances and musical compositions especially for the landscape of the Zandmotor. In a series of short and longer interventions, they make use of sound, light, the wind, water flow and the sand in new and inventive ways. Flying a kite becomes a new way to make electronic music; home made pulse jet motors generate a composition on the scale of a landscape; there are kinetic wind and light sculptures; a soundwalk guides you along as you walk blindfolded, and you can take part in a musical treasure hunt, searching for sounding objects buried in the sand.

Works by: Marije Baalman, Lars Kynde, Tobias Lukassen, Christian Liljedahl, Anna Lemnaru, Grzegorz Marcinak, Maya Verlaak, Adam Basanta, David Pocknee, Tena Lazerevic, Jesse Smits, Kay Churcher, Cecile Gentili, Sophie Rust.

Click here for more info!