Thomas Ankersmit on ghost sounds and working with Phill Niblock

TA at Lampo, Chicago (photograph by Alex Inglizian)

Thomas Ankersmit is a musician and composer based in Berlin. His work has been released on the Touch and PAN labels. Ankersmit has long-term collaborations with New York minimalist Phill Niblock and Italian composer Valerio Tricoli. Since 2006 his main instrument, both live and in the studio, has been the Serge Modular synthesizer. Acoustic phenomena such as sound reflections, infrasonic vibration, otoacoustic emissions, and highly directional projections of sound play a central role in his work. His music is also characterized by a deliberate misuse of equipment, using feedback and disruptions of the signal, and the extremes of frequency and dynamics, to create visceral but finely detailed swarms of sound. Ultimately, the result is an immersive, intensely physical sonic experience. Current projects include commissioned works for CTM Festival (Berlin) based on infrasound and architectural resonance, and for GRM (Paris) based on the research of Pierre Schaeffer, as well as new live electronic music with Phill Niblock. 

Can you talk about your project, Infra, which premiered at Berghain as part of CTM 2017 festival?

It’s almost an homage to Berghain. It’s the first of a series of performances that are based on architectural resonance – on literally shaking the building with sound. I tune my music to the frequencies that resonate the building and the things inside it, to create a kind of expanded spatialisation. It’s a duet with the architectural structure in which the concert takes place. It’s a quadrophonic – 4.1 – piece that uses the famous Berghain PA system to its full extent. They also have a subwoofer that’s extremely powerful as it goes all the way down to inaudible frequencies; this is where the title of the work comes from. Infrasound is a sound below the lower threshold of hearing; these are sounds that are too deep for us to hear. Humans hear from around 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz and any frequencies below that, in the sub-bass region, are referred to as infrasound. Those sounds are inaudible but you can feel them. It’s a way of using inaudible ghost sounds to activate the structure that we’re in.

How did you prepare this piece?

It’s challenging because my studio is located in a residential area in Berlin, and I can’t quite shake the whole building there. There were a number of rehearsal experimentations at Berghain and the sound technician has been really great. Everybody who was working at Berghain was freaking out when we were testing the piece. The Berghain office is above the main floor and they said they couldn’t work because the vibrations were so intense, so we moved our practice sessions to the middle of the night.

Infrasound is a phenomenon found in nature and has lot of uses. Certain animals produce infrasound and it is said that it has also been used for nuclear tests. Were you also interested in the wider uses and sources of infrasound?

I guess I tend to stick to the facts. A lot of the rumours about infrasound are mostly nonsense – ideas about infrasonic weapons, infrasound as a crowd control device, that you can accidentally generate infrasound that’s so powerful that something terrible will happen. I usually work with what I have, including my instrumental limitations (the fact that I never use sampling or field recording). I always play the same instrument, the Serge modular synthesizer. I use abstract source material that I make myself from scratch. I don’t have recordings of earthquakes or volcanoes. Once you work with sounds that have a physical impact you get into that territory anyway, and that’s something that I’m more interested in; using abstract electrical signals to construct something. These associations rather happen in the mind of the listener. I work with a lot of noise and quite intense, abrasive sounds that people respond to in different ways.

I was listening to one of your recordings on Soundcloud and one of them was quite physically intense to listen to.

I’m interested in the border area between pleasure and pain. I’m interested in creating a very intense, and at the same time very ambiguous, physical experience where you’re not quite sure what you’re hearing, for example. I don’t want people to leave but I’m OK if some people do. I don’t want to damage anybody’s hearing. I’m interested in these kinds of shadow phenomena of hearing, such as otoacoustic emissions, where the ears start producing sounds by themselves in response to certain stimulus tones that I make. Your ears respond actively by making other sounds. Part of the music literally only exists in the ears of the listener and not in the signal that comes from the loudspeakers. This creates all kinds of opportunities to create three-dimensional sound fields that immediately surround the listener, which are ways of exploring the space acoustically; by moving your head around you will find different chords or groups of tones that exist right in front of your head but maybe not immediately to the right of your head. A lot of this stuff is difficult to capture in recordings, which is one of the reasons why I focus on live performance.

So you are interested in an immersive sound situation, the spatialisation of sound.

I’m certainly interested in the potential of a space that you can activate with sound in the freest manner possible; where you can go from very loud to very quiet, and from very deep to very high tones. The ideal concert environment has the opportunity to create sound anywhere in the space of any kind. That allows you to make a very complex real-time sound sculpture that you can’t experience with the little white earbud headphones used with smartphones. People’s home playback systems have become a lot worse compared to the 70s. That’s also one reason to focus on live performance. I like the intimacy of it and its singular nature; the idea that we’re physically here in this room together, and I make something for a while, and hopefully it’s a really stimulating experience. If not, better luck next time. There’s a different kind of focus; in concerts you can expose people to things they would not be able to hear at home on their speakers. You can go way louder or way quieter.

In one interview you mentioned that the difference between you and your long-term collaborator Phill Niblock, is that he is a composer and you’re a composer-performer.

Phill Niblock doesn’t perform live as such. Phill is more like an environment that he sets up where he’s present. He plays recordings of acoustic instruments that have been combined with each other in the studio, but the instruments are not usually present at his concerts. Back in the day, Phill would play tapes; now he plays computer files. What I do is a combination of sampling of the analogue synthesizer, and live synthesis and processing. All the sounds at my concerts come from the synthesizer – some of them live, some pre-recorded and processed in a live situation.

Is this live element of creation important to you?

It allows you to be surprised, which makes it exciting. A space might respond in a certain way, an instrument would do something that you wouldn’t anticipate. I’m not an analogue purist though: I combine sounds from the synthesizer with real-time synthesis because I also want to have a certain degree of control, complexity, and access. The analogue synth is a complicated beast. To design a handful of sounds that run simultaneously and then to switch to a whole other group of sounds is almost impossible.

Have you ever been surprised by something during a concert – so much so that you used it later?

A lot of the sounds and patches that I use were actually discovered for the first time during a concert. I had to think backwards to be able to recreate them. That goes for things that happen inside the instrument, where you discover a new sound that you accidentally played, or something that has more to do with spatial acoustics, where a space responded in a certain way. The show that I’m doing for Berghain is a result of my experiments with subwoofers in club spaces and concert halls.

Do you still continue working with Valerio Tricoli and Phill Niblock?

Yes, both of them. Valerio and I are slowly working on a new record together. He used to live nearby, which was easy as we could just walk across the park to each other’s studio, but now he lives in Munich. Phill is working on a second electronic composition with material that I recorded. So far all of his music has been acoustic – acoustic instruments being recorded and overdubbed, resulting in heavy, dense clusters of sound. He records violin, cello, trombone or guitar over and over, and layers them on top of each other to make this very rich sound colour. He’s avoided electronic tones because they’re too static, but we’ve now made some Serge Modular pieces together, and with which he’s happy.

You use the Serge modular synthesizer nowadays but do you still play the saxophone as well?

I stopped playing it about five years ago. I didn’t feel like it anymore. I used the computer, the analogue synth, and the saxophone, so I was basically trying to master three different instruments at the same time. I’m always dissatisfied with my work, so I felt that if I get rid of one then maybe the other stuff would flourish. I also gave up saxophone to give more room to electronic music. I started with electronics and I’ll probably end with electronics too. I was making feedback and using junk electronics and circuit-bending when I discovered the saxophone. I played it for ten or twelve years and I’ve faded it out for now.

So you are happy with the Serge?

I’m certainly not going to do anything else. I’m always hard on myself and I’m always disappointed with the final result, I guess. Things always turn out differently than I had imagined them. But I’m certainly not looking for another instrument. If you have a computer and a big analogue modular synthesizer, the world is your oyster in terms of electronic sound.

You’ve mentioned that you are not always satisfied with your own work. Is it difficult to release records?

I come from this old-school way of thinking, where you only make a record when you’re proud of something, and I’m almost never proud, so I don’t make a lot of records. In the last few years especially, I’ve been focusing on site-specific sounds that you can’t really record or experience sitting at home listening to an iPod. Which is fine with me, as I really like traveling. For me, making music is, among other things, an excuse to travel the world. Having said that, I’ll probably make a few more records in the future and speed it up a bit. I’m slowly getting more comfortable with my own work.

Thomas Ankersmit’s work “Infra” premieres at CTM Festival on 27 January 2017.

Resonance FM show on Stefan Fraunberger

Listen to a special Resonance FM broadcast on Austrian sound artist and composer Stefan Fraunberger, who will be performing as part of CTM Festival‘s SHAPE showcase on February 1.

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Stefan Fraunberger is a composer and sound-performer with a distinct interest in transformation. Engaging in an electro-acoustic dialogue with unconventional instruments such as dulcimers or decaying baroque church organs, his music reshapes the liminal conditions of culture & perception, while evoking images of sonic ambiguity.

Interested in the re-contextualization of archetypal musical architectures and the shaping of fluid sonic sculptures, Fraunberger aims to translocate the polarities of difference. His compositions and performances work their way through permutating realms capturing otherwordly fragments and bewilderment. The possibilities of relations and presence are the basic ingredients for his non-linear approach.

The show is comprised of various field recordings, made by Fraunberger during the last few years, as well as excerpts (or full versions) of various compositions.

Read Fraunberger’s guide to the show below:

“The show starts with barzakh – hereafter/in between, for electromagnetic santur, electr. and interval crisis. It’s a part of the live recording from last years donaufestival.

The live recording then slides into a field recording I’ve done at Suq al Ahad – the Sunday market in Beirut in 2014. Hundreds of birds in cages mixing with vendors, megaphones and a few generators…

This fades into a recording I’ve done a few weeks before in Tehran, Iran. It’s a studio recording – no editing; a duo with two santurs: the great female santur player – Tehran’s very own Atoosa Afshari and myself improvising on one of my favourite dulcimer patterns. Ornamental Noise #3.

Then we jump 8 years back to the Suq al Ahad – Eastern Aleppo’s steelworkers market; by now erased by common powers of the “civilised world” – what we hear is the hammering of steelworkers plus two gentle muezzins joining in for Azan (evening prayer). I named it once there was a song and a hammer in aleppo/requiem.

Continiuing to a recording I’ve done in October 2016 in Varanasi, India on an Indian style santoor (dulcimer) which is quite different than the Persian one I normally use. No cuts and no edits; recorded it in my flat in Varanasi. Serves as part of the soundtrack I did for the south African movie production The Woodwind. The track is called The Great Game.

Moving on to a recording I did with a quite ruined Romanian dulcimer in the bushes somewhere in the outskirts of Vienna called bushsideminiature #3.

That goes into a Zoroastrian recitation of the Avesta i recorded in the outback of the Zagros range in Iran in 2014. Don’t tell the mullas… They shouldn’t know!

Moving through some waterscapes to a recording I did in India in 2010 – an old blind man sitting by the road and singing a song. Thousands of birds were joining him.

And finally moving to the full 20 minutes of the B side of my recent vinyl release Quellgeister #2: Wurmloch. Recorded in the Romanian village of Valea Viilor. It s the second part of my sonic archaeological series for abandoned and semi-ruined organs in deserted Saxon church fortresses in central Transylvania.”

On February 1, Stefan Fraunberger will perform a revised version of the piece barzakh – hereafter/in between at Berghain (Berlin) as part of the CTM Festival 2017.

Varg

Under the moniker of Varg, Jonas Rönnberg runs a cunning operation.

Covert transmissions, alongside penetrating statements from techno’s core, are stacked adjacent to self-assertive live performances with an agility and depth of focus rarely summoned so instinctively. With a still-rising presence, Rönnberg makes sense of the decadent overdose privy to underground musics at this time. And producing work on his own prolific schedule, his barely-controlled chaos isn’t stopping to check that you’ve noticed. Tempering a caustic rhythmic sensibility with a pneumatic palette for high definition synthesis, Rönnberg’s unique embrace of risk tests the reliability of the forms he works in as well as the genre borders he surveys. His crucial techno releases on Semantica Records are a beacon amongst his engulfing ambient side projects such as D.Å.R.F.D.H.S., not to mention the persistent after-image of his black metal roots. Presiding over Stockholm’s Northern Electronics label with Abdulla Rashim, Rönnberg casts a cryptic shadow from the North over contemporary aesthetic platforms in club musics as well as the long arc of experimental music practices. The latter is best understood in terms of the collaborative pact with Copenhagen’s Posh Isolation, which has most notably given rise to Body Sculptures, a group that brings Rönnberg together with Loke Rahbek, Puce Mary, and other unique voices in European electronic music today.

It takes a vandal’s logic of intuition to make this work, let alone make it this thrilling. But if you can break into the penthouse, you may as well stay and coerce the havoc with a bottle of someone else’s champagne in hand. And, yes, you should be suspicious of what you know you haven’t seen—it’s obviously intimidating.

Download press photo here. 

Boska mix for NTS Live

Listen to an exclusive SHAPE mix by Norwegian producer Boska, aired on London’s NTS Radio in anticipation of his live performance at CTM Festival on January 27.

Boska started producing sparse UK influenced house in Norway’s infamous techno capital Tromsø, taken out of the music studies and into the city’s night clubs by local DJs and promoters. His style has progressed through a number of releases on Love OD Communications, Studio Barnhus and Permanent Vacation, and recently into it’s most bare bones iteration on the Shesick EP for Trax Couture. The music balances intuition and inventiveness, channelling ghetto house, ballroom, grime through the time scope of techno.

On January 27, Boska will be playing a live set at Berghain’s Panorama Bar as part of the CTM Festival 2017. On the same night, he will also join fellow SHAPE artist Charlotte Bendiks onstage as a drummer.

Click here for previous collaborations between SHAPE and NTS.

Charlotte Bendiks’ pre-CTM mix for Resonance Extra

Listen to a special SHAPE mix by Norwegian DJ and producer Charlotte Bendiks, which she prepared in anticipation of her upcoming live performance at CTM festival on January 27. The mix was broadcast by Resonance Extra.

The title of the mix is A Walk In The Morning, and it is comprised of the music she has been listening to in the mornings before working on the preparations for her live show at CTM.

Charlotte Bendiks is a DJ, producer, and positive thinker. Her sets fuse classic house, disco, African groove, and Latin-inspired beats, depending on the day, but no matter what the permutation, they guarantee buckets of sweat and high doses of euphoria.

She grew up in Tromsø, the techno capital of Norway, and became interested in electronic music at a young age. She started DJing in her early twenties. From 2007 to 2009, Charlotte organized the underground house party Moist, which combined music with video and light installations and extended for hours after normal clubs closed. She also produces her own dark, sensual house music and has collaborated with such artists as Lena Willikens and Daniel Maloso. Her first solo release, the Afterhours EP, was put out in January 2013 by Trømso’s own LOVE OD Communications, which then went on to release 2014’s Aurora EP. The label described the latter EP as “dancefloor-focused productions of classic house minimalism, much like an echo of a Chicago that has been abandoned and moved to become a ghost town deep into the Arctic.”

On January 27, she will be playing a live set at Berghain’s Panorama Bar as part of the CTM Festival 2017.

Oriole’s Mushroom Music

13418548_1170629179634001_1458183899352897513_oOriole is one of the pioneers of the Dirty Deal Audio collective; a beatmaker and producer with a unique style. He has been making music for more than ten years and is one of the most recognised representatives of this field in Latvia. He marches onto new sonically experimental territories and ideas that often surprise not only fans and listeners, but the other members of the collective as well. Oriole has been involved on more than 100 albums and releases as a beatmaker, while recently, he’s more often seen and heard playing his beats live. He has taken part in many events and festivals in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland and Norway. He works with visual artist Linda Konone. 

Can you talk about your new album, The Mushroom Music Vol. 4, which was released on Skanu Mezs. How did the collaboration happen?

The release consists of coloured compositions. The sound is varied and alive. From mild and dreamy, the sound often arrives in a dark mood, which guarantees a psychedelic, unpredictable flight of consciousness effect. I worked on the music for two years, although with interruptions, but the progress has been intense, especially in the last half of the year. I created it on FL Studio and analogue synthesizers. I was inspired by Paul White, Flying Lotus as well as psychedelic guitar sounds, Gas of Latvia, Mr. Myster, the whole Dirty Deal Audio family. But the main impressions came from everyday experiences, events, emotions. The collaboration with Skanu Mezs came about quite simply. My manager Eliza just showed them my new work and they accepted it. I’ve known Skanu Mezs since 2012.

How do you create your beats? What is your approach to sampling?

Years ago I made beats only using PCs, but now I use analogue gear and recorded weird sounds, vocals and live instruments from all over world. I try to make music all the time, if possible. In the mornings or late nights. Every day. I start with drums or samples, it doesn’t matter. I’m always inspired by making something and trying to get the best out of that.  And of course, use my analogue instrumental sounds or effects. I sample from vinyl (old classics, soul, funk, jazz & electronic), my digital music collections and recorded weird sounds. Actually, sampling has always inspired me whenever I’ve heard something cool.

Can you talk about Dirty Deal Audio, the Latvian crew you are part of?

Dirty Deal Audio was founded in the summer of 2011 and has gained quite a significant following, on- and offline. DDA has since released several albums and compilations, organised music events, beat battles, educational lectures and showcases in Latvia and abroad, creating their own niche in the international music scene. Dirty Deal Audio (DDA) acts as an embassy for the multi-genre electronic and beat-music scene of Latvia. The collective is composed of a great portion of Latvian talent active in the genre. Meanwhile, Dirty Deal Audio as an organisation/platform is always looking for “fresh blood” as well as following and sharing local music.

Can you talk about the Latvian beat scene?

The Latvian beat scene is growing up fast. We have so many great and fantastic artists. So now the scene (beatmakers, producers & DJ’s) is trying to come together and become stronger and better and work together to make it happen.

Can you talk about your collaboration with visual artist Linda Konone?

I think it started when the whole DDA fam’ came together in 2011. After that, we started working together on a couple projects. Linda is the best :)

Jackson – Light Metal Music @ Maintenant Festival 2016

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Jackson Fourgeaud made his name in the mid-2000s with his Warp-signed album Smash. Shredding the filtered funk of his Parisian forebears and soldering the remains into an insane carriage of orchestral bombast, red-lined techno and gothic hip-hop, Jackson & His Computer Band had brought a sense of the post-millennial baroque to the rave. Ten years later, he approaches his music projects in a conceptual way.

In his project, Light Metal Music, Jackson interprets music using a set of unique electro-acoustic instruments, evoking sculpture as much as the steel industry. The main idea is to defract light and analyse its colour and position in space utilising frequencies, which are amplified in metal.  “It started after my last album tour. I felt a need to build my own instrument and have a more direct contact with the physics of sound and acoustic experience,” he told us in an interview. Watch a short video from his performance at Maintenant Festival in Rennes last year.

photo: Gwendal Le Flem @ Maintenant Festival

Mike Rijnierse

Mike Rijnierse (1974) is a Dutch artist, performer and educator working in the fields of light, sound and architecture. He is intrigued by sensory experience, whether visual, acoustic, spatial, or cross-sense and synesthesia, creating installations, performances, public interventions, often collaborating with other disciplines. For over a decade Rijnierse has developed a meticulous study on the interaction between light, pigment and the retina. He gave concrete form to his discoveries in installations, projections and light designs with CYMRGB, Lumokinese, and CUBE, which have been widely exhibited in Europe and abroad. His most recent installation RELIEF, based on the principle of echolocation by means of ultrasound, premiered in Novas Frequencias Festival 2016, in Rio de Janeiro. Furthermore Mike Rijnierse is known by his monumental sound installations in public space, such as THX: INT’L (landing strip) (TodaysArt 2007), Station to Station (TodaysArt 2008), KLOK (TodaysArt 2015), 5,4,3,2,1…Lift-Off  (TodaysArt 2015).

Rijnierse has shown his works throughout Europe, Korea, Taiwan, Morocco, The United Arab Emirates and Brazil, in various contexts, such as media art festivals: TodaysArt (NL), CTM (DE), Sonica (SI), Space Media Festival (TW), KIKK (BE), Novas Frequências (BR), OperaDagen Rotterdam (NL), REWIRE (NL), SuperCollider Conference (UK), Marrakech Biennale (MA), Islamic Art Festival Sharjah (UE), and in renowned institutions: Van Abbemuseum (NL), Kröller-Müller Museum (NL), Centraal Museum (NL), V2 (NL), Kunst Station Sankt Peter (DE), NIMk (NL), Schema Art Museum (Cheongju, KR), to name a few. In 2008 Mike Rijnierse was awarded with the BNG Project Prize for Lumokinese. In 2012 he was the recipient of the Mondriaan Fonds Stipendium. As a docent in the Interaction Design Department of ArtEZ (Art Academy of Arnhem, NL) since 2009, he offers the course Design of Instruments, where students research and create across technological domains, exploring new and obsolete media.

Read full bio.

Download press photo here. (Credit: Kris van Veen)

Elektrovolt

Elektrovolt is the electronic alter ego of Jimi Hellinga, living in Den Haag, the Netherlands. At an early age, Jimi took viola lessons but making noises and experimenting with sounds and other instruments was what he really wanted to do. After buying his first synthesizer his first tracks appeared, all played live without sequencers, and so were the first performances too. Influenced by Logic System, Kraftwerk, the Hague electronic scene and also medieval music, his own music could be described as melodic, electro, drone, techno. Over the years, Elektrovolt has played on Dutch festivals such as Langweiligkeit, State-X New Forms and Todaysart and collaborated with Legowelt (Nacho Patrol, Zandvoort & Uilenbal), Tjebbe van der Kooij (Black Helikopters), Trapper Drone Orchestra and as a medieval musician with Carole et Brullare.

Download press photo here. 

From Tromsø to Total Freedom: An interview with Boska

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Boska started producing sparse, UK-influenced house in Norway’s infamous techno capital Tromsø. His style has progressed through a number of releases on Love OD Communications, Studio Barnhus and Permanent Vacation, and recently into its most bare bones iteration on the Shesick EP for Trax Couture. The music balances intuition and inventiveness, channelling ghetto house, ballroom, grime through the time scope of techno. 

I was talking to Charlotte Bendiks about Tromso and how small the city is and how many musicians actually come from there.

Different people I’ve met presented me with different theories about it. I lived there for a while when I was studying, and that’s how I got into electronic dance music. A lot of people feel that the scene started with one or two ignition points and it grew from there through friends. It was a sort of a carefree satellite culture – disconnected, but still following what’s happening in the world.

Musically it was also quite diverse – did the people work together?

I think there was a lot of collaboration going on, but I also think the narrower definitions of micro-scenes as we know them now were not so much on people’s minds when they were making music back then. And it’s the same in my case. When I started making music, I wasn’t very concerned whether or not it should be defined as house or dubstep. You have to be quite genre-aware to define those as separate styles. To outsiders, it’s just a danceable beat with some melodies and electronic production. When I was living there and working with Per Martinsen who runs the Love OD label (whose moniker is Mental Overdrive) and Charlotte Bendiks – all three of us made completely different styles of music, but in the very fundamental sense, it’s the same – electronic dance music.

Maybe being away from these cultural hubs gives you more freedom because you are not attached to certain scenes.

You certainly don’t have the pressure to be a purist because you want to get gigs. In a small place, it’s going to be a disco night on one day and a hip hop night the next, and people are going to dance to both. In Berlin it might be a bit more divided, where you have some places playing a bit more progressive music, and other places playing more traditional house. But the freedom that you mentioned, you have that anyway. That freedom to just let go of genre dogmas and use the various stylistic traits in whatever song you’re making, you have that anyway.

You sort of gravitated towards UK-centric genres though.

Dubstep was hugely important to me because it was so basic in the way it was made. The legend goes it was created on Fruity Loops and Play Station. It was easy to separate the sounds and understand what was happening. Part of what made me start to do this music was the fact that I believed I could make it, because it seemed simple enough. It was motivating. There was a lot of creativity that was inspiring. Finding out that this thing was geographical – happening in London or Bristol – was secondary, but I did find other artists through that approach. I never went there to explore the scene myself, so I explored it through searching for artists in shops and online. While I was producing my first EPs, I was also listening to any kind of depressing pop or rock. I’ve always listened to a lot of different music. What I eventually made was about what I was able to do myself, and also a continuum of things that I was inspired to try to do.

What about dubstep and its importance for your work?

I found it a particularly creative time. Many producers who started out doing dubstep splintered off to several genres afterwards and everybody found their own thing. Some of those producers, like Pearson Sound and Untold, are still super inspiring. For example, Hessle Audio released Lena Willikens last year. That just goes to show that it’s not about sticking to your roots and staying within one corner of a genre, it’s more about being into forward-thinking music and certain atmospheres on the dance floor. I identify with anything that I find inspiring and subversive.

What is forward-thinking and innovative in music to you?

That’s forever changing, obviously. Whenever you hear a new sound, it’s naturally subversive to you because it opens horizons. Right now, there is a scene that a lot of people consider as global, which is pretty abrasive and noisy with references to hip hop as well as black metal. A lot of people would see Total Freedom as a setting off point for that music. But that just happens to be one of the most forward-thinking music scenes right now, and at the same time there are always individual artists that come out with stuff that opens your mind because it’s off the map. Anything that opens your mind, even if it’s just an aesthetic or conceptual idea, has ramifications in your life afterwards.

You also play percussion, don’t you?

I started playing in bands and later studied percussion. I work with a band where I do that live a lot, even though it’s not a part of the composing process. I can’t quite let go of it, it still means a lot to me personally. But there’s not so much music these days with drums and other actual instruments that I find interesting.

But it can also abstract to rhythms and other ways.

If you think of an artist like Drippin who’s also from Norway making melodies with three or four tones, you’re reducing the whole thing to rhythm. I think of melodies in a very rhythmic sense, and often treat every instrument as a rhythm instrument. I really like singers who do the same. I’m increasingly losing the borders of where drumming starts and ends. I’ve transitioned to playing electronic pads and then next I’m drumming on a keyboard. It filters into everything I guess.

You’re going to play drums with Charlotte Bendiks at CTM.

I play whatever she needs me to. With her music, it’s totally feasible to incorporate electronic drums and percussion. I can do a lot of Latin percussion or electronic drumming and improvisation. We are lined up after each other so we will see what happens – but either way it’s going to be two sides of the same thing like it always is with me and her.

Your videos have quite a specific aesthetic. Are visuals important to your work?

I think a lot of artists have an aesthetic vision based on what they do musically, so they already know what they want visually. With me it’s more that I take inspiration from the visual side. I’m working with Czech artist Petra Hermanová and Slovak photographer Jan Durina. Whenever I work with them, they come up with a way to portray me or my music that I find inspiring. So I turn that around, and I almost make music to their imagery or aesthetic. Whenever someone else puts something into the Boska project, it just gives me energy and drives me forward.

Do you find it easy to translate your ideas to other people and vice versa?

Not always. I’ve almost never worked with anyone on my productions. I’ve worked on other people’s music a lot, as well as with bands. But with my own stuff, it’s very rare that I make a sketch and show it to someone and expect to get any kind of reaction. It’s mostly just in my own head until it’s done.

What do you think about the wider, sociopolitical impact of bass music as of recent?

I’m extremely grateful for that. And I can’t take a shrivel of credit for it. It’s wonderful to see issues that I’ve cared about come into light, and to see artists not to be scared to voice their opinions and try to put music and words to what they’re feeling about other things than just themselves. Also, I honestly believe that music is naturally subversive, and if that gains some kind of direction, that’s just a good thing. It’s hard to somehow connect the dots, to take something that’s instrumental and to say that it’s political, and to expect listeners to learn anything from it, but that’s only when you’re talking on a very concrete level. On a more subconscious level, look at an act like Nguzunguzu – a few years ago, the aesthetics they represented was completely underground and now you hear those samples and ideas all over the landscape, even in pop music. Those subversive ideas filtered into other styles of music. It’s just a question of time until artists like Shalt, Kablam or Lotic will be copied by the mainstream, it happens faster than you think. A lot of art right now deals with the experience of being in this conglomerated, controlled existence that society allows you. I do the same to some extent. And yet, that’s still just a subjective experience. Hence, a lot of music deals with anxiety and desperation. But that’s one place to start. The night we are doing at CTM is called “Remedy”, and the artists that are booked largely play very uplifting music. Let’s hope the name of the night will rub off on all of us there.

Boska will be playing alongside SHAPE alumnae Charlotte Bendiks on 27/01/2017 at CTM Festival