‘Underground is an economic description’: A conversation with TEYAS
Legendary German breakbeat and dark ambient producer CHRISTOPH DE BABALON joins forces with the representatives of young radical psychedelia – the Polish audiovisual duo WIDT (Antonina Nowacka and Bogumila Piotrowska) to present TEYAS. This new formation combining ambient soundscapes, wild beats, operatic vocalization, extended vocal techniques and complex forms of video feedback presents live performances based on the concept of abstract opera, with otherworldly narration and synthetic representation of imaginary time-spaces.
WIDT is an audiovisual project, composed of you as sisters, Antonina mostly responsible for the music/vocal parts, Bogumila doing the visuals. Christoph, you have a longstanding career in music. I have invited you to perform together at a festival I was organising in Berlin in 2016, the choice seemingly random, but the combination of your sonic and visual oeuvres somehow made sense. There’s something almost baroque and opulent in each of your projects. Can you describe the experience of performing (more or less straight after your first encounter) and combining your two respective outputs?
This amazing venue called silent green kulturquartier moved us in a very subtle sense. The grand and deep context of the place and its acoustics was the main attribute of all of the happenings. We were mostly impressed by these features and we think probably it manifested in what we did there. The space could speak through vibrations, forms and colours. That was a good experience: we felt, that our companion, Christoph, had a very open-minded attitude which is what we value the most when collaborating with others. While performing, we are always very focused on creating something deep, beautiful and coherent and that was also what happened at silent green.
You continued working together after the event and created a collaborative project called TEYAS, which resulted in an album released by Bocian Records. The self-titled release is an “abstract opera”. Can you talk about the concept and development of this records?
Abstract opera is a term we use to describe what we do. It can be something between a minimalist form of a spectacle where the scenography is a live video projection. There are no actors and nobody moves. The narration, which has the meaning only within itself – with emotions and atmospheres – is represented by sounds, voices and video scenography. There are always humans on stage but we want – by the sound and image – to transport to a different environment which has some human qualities but no idols. We respond to each other. Antonina always has weird visionary ideas and impressions, while Christoph implements craziness on the ground. He adores heavy beats and we like this combination. And then there’s Mila, who merges these two forces with beautiful hypnotic patterns as well as sometimes bizarre, absurd images.
Is there anything in your sonic aesthetic that you have in common?
It does not matter to us. It is important that even if we wouldn’t have anything in common we can create in a common language.
Christoph, you have been on the scene for many years, but still remain active and have a large fan-base. How do you perceive the transformations on the underground music scene and your role in it?
CDB: I feel people are much more open musically these days. Also, it is much easier for artists to make their music available. On the other hand, a lot of people still work for free or without making any profit. When you are young, you don’t care perhaps, but in the long run this not a condition that is easy to work and be creative in. However, I do not see the underground as an elitist club “for those who know”. It is more of an economic description to me. Generally, I would be happy to have as many people as possible be interested in the music I make.
WIDT: how do you complement each other’s work, how is the visual side born and how the sonic?
Every day, we go out and do a very special ritual. We go straight in a line and we do not turn to the sides and if there is a lake on the way we swim in it. But then a huge mole comes and asks us what we are doing there. We tell him our dreams. But the mole asks us when are we going to work in the office. We swim away and the mole goes back to make holes in the ground with his big hands. We continue our journey.
What are the latest developments of TEYAS? You live in different locations, how does the collaboration look like in practice?
We’ve recorded a second album which is now in production.
By Lucia Udvardyova