Nina Garcia: ‘I’ve always preferred weird sounds’

Mariachi is Parisian guitarist Nina Garcia’s solo project, started in March 2015. Mariachi experiments between improvised and noise music. The setup is ultra minimal: 1 guitar, 1 pedal, 1 amp. Everything is focused on the gesture and the sound research of the instrument: its resonances, limits, expansions, impurities, all the audible parts of the guitar: to go with it or against it, to contain it or to let it go, to support it or to hurt it. You’ll probably find: feedback, crackling, short circuits, impacts, harmonics, grindings noises, overflowings, notes and an almost perfect chord.

What lead you to the guitar and its deconstruction?

I have been playing the guitar ever since I was a child. I love this instrument because of its extremely wide range of sounds and possibilities. I’ve never been into the guitar hero mode, I always hated this moment where you have to do « the solo » thing and send a lot of notes in tune straight into people’s faces. I’ve always preferred weirds sounds, disharmony and the point where music starts to twist itself.

When I was around 20 I discovered experimental music, and from then on I’ve approached the guitar in a different way. I’ve started to consider the instrument in all its aspects and played with all its parts: wood, plastic, metal – still the strings of course – but mainly the mics and the electricity. That opened so many possibilities that now the guitar appears as an infinite playground.

The idea is also to run away from the guitar’s status. I wish this guitar could be a drum kit, a wind instrument, even a DIY electronic setup, an industrial machine or a synth. I spend a lot of time turning around the sound of objects or instruments…. So finally it’s all about queering the guitar!

Can you talk about your inspirations, and your background? 

I come from rock music, and in a way I’m still into it. I started to listen to increasingly weird and extreme rock: punk, industrial, no wave. I also listened to a lot of electronic music, techno, and some free jazz. No wave, free jazz, techno; those three genres have a specific sonic approach in common: it’s not just all about harmony and rhythm, it’s about sounds: their textures, their own life, their deepness, their dynamic, the complexity brought by noises. Experimental music and improvisation were for me at the crossroads of those three scenes and it was totally natural to get into it.

Your group mamiedaragon describes itself as “no wave no noise no tapes”. In what way is your music a statement? Is noise and its history something that inspires you?

mamiedaragon is mainly a post-mama band.

When you play live, how do you structure your set and what influences its development?

My live sets are improvised, as are most of the projects I play in, the main guide is listening: listening to the sounds that I produce: their characteristics, the way they evolve; listening to the music created at a precise moment, and finally listening to the whole set, the « composition » in a way, that is more time related than the other two.

Another parameter that influences my live sets a lot is the body. I’m moving a lot and the music I produce can be strongly lead by my gestures: I have a deep attention to the effects of the body and the gesture of the sounds. For example, a long repetition of a movement that is fast or hard to repeat will surely lead to interesting and weird deconstructed sounds. I like to come really close, too close from my incapacity to play.

With advancement of various technologies – also for music-making – and a hyper clean digital sound, where do you see noise and distorted, analogue music going?

Into harsh radicalisation of bodies, errors, unbalanced set up, dry sounds, fragile concerts, hazardous noises,  in-between beats and unpredictables ends?

What have you been up to lately and what are you looking forward to in 2020?

I’ve started a residency at the GRM Studio in Paris to compose a live set that will use their crazy ascoumonium set up: around 40 speakers all around the audience that really have specific sounds. The idea is to compose a piece that I’ll play live with a focus on spatialization and movement of sounds.
I have always wished to work with that part of music that my mono amp, mono guitar, mono pedal prevented me to… until today !
The concert will happen in March 2020.

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