Monday, 15 August 2016

Katie Gately (Interview)

The music of Katie Gately thrives in contradiction. The world of sound design and field recordings are known for a weighty seriousness, yet her sound cackles with a hilarious and absurdist humour. Experimental is synonymous with difficulty, but again Gately deviates from typical connotations, making her wildly experimental music as fun and instantaneous as it is challenging. Perhaps she has best described the coalition of seemingly incompatible elements herself when saying she wishes to make her songs "49% obnoxious and 51% fun"

Her new album "Color" will be available on Tri Angle Records October 14
Here's an old interview with Katie Gately:

Were you inspired to pursue vocal experimentation by contemporary artists like Holly Herndon or was it something you've been interested in to a while?

KG: I Was awestruck by Bjork's Medulla becuase it was so dynamic and based all on the human voice. I've kept that with me for the past decade on repeat. Inspiration for my own recording was also bolstered by the software Vst Melodyne, which can transform the human voice in supreme ways, less robotic than autotune.

Do you ever wish that you'd be able to perform your music or is composition ultimately the most important aspect?

KG: Composition is is my primary interest. If time and resources were not an issue, performance would certainly be a bigger priority!

On Pipes you restricted yourself by only allowing your voice in the composition. Did you find the process of limiting yourself helpful?

Yes profoundly helpful. I often will give myself 20 minutes and 10 samples and see what I can do in that window of time. The more options I have, the less I tend to care about what I'm making. It's almost as if the cramped space of limitation triggers more tension and emotion becaue I am trapped and have to build a way out with pre-determined tools.

Despite the more experimental elements in your music it is very melodically driven. Do you consider yourself a songwriter?

I consider myself more of a producer and vocalist than songwriter. Perhaps because I associate the word 'songwriting' more with traditional instrumentation and the folk tradition, but I am in love with melody and I'm always exploring it.

For a 15 minute song I thought Pivot was remarkably catchy. Do you think employing these melodic elements helps people to adjust to the stranger elements of your music?

Yes, for sure. I try to make things with my own strengths and weaknesses in mind. I find I have both a high pain tolerance yet also short attention span. So I like abrasiveness but not in long extended spurts, and I love catchy music but primarily if there is some darker element present.

Both Pipes and Pivot extend well beyond the 10 minute mark. What are the benefits as an artist of working on longer pieces?

I'm not sure ther are any benefits! It's difficult to succeed aesthetically and takes tons of time. Royalty wise its actually considers stupid. However it feels tremendous to try for. Long tacks can easily fall apart at any moment - I love that vulnerability. You get a more intimate peak into a person's mind.

How early in your life were you exposed to electronic music?

I had only really heard top 40 and classical until I was 18, but I read an interview with Thom Yorke around the time he was going on and on about Autechre and Aphex Twin, so I started listening to anything I could get my hands on.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Arca - Entrañas (Mixtape Review)

"Its ok to be a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading, but secretly you'd love to know what it's like. Wouldn't you?"          

Gender and sexual identity has always been a crucial idea within the music of Arca. This sampled monologue from Charlotte Gainsbourg is the most explicitly it has been addressed. Amidst a relentlessly hostile environment, full of sudden ruptures and turbulence, this address is made clear and militantly upfront. Alejandro Ghersi's music under the moniker of Arca rarely allows for such an unambiguous message, it is widely known for wrestling with the complexity and fluidity of identity, offering few - if any - simplistic answers.

Arca, Lotic and Elysia Crampton are all part of a burgeoning scene, one which operates through a shared desire to make what is wrongly perceived as objective far more blurred. This stretches beyond the realms of topics explored in interviews, but to the very structure of the music itself. Nothing is fixed or solid within the releases by these artists. Any refernece is there to be mangled and contorted.

Entrañas is the most punishing and industrial of his discography, a weird contradicting mix of murky and epic, sounding like its writhing around in the mud with sudden flashes of... I don't think elegance is the right word, but something along those lines. A Cocteau Twins sample is unexpectedly used, Liz Frazer's voice - not the slightest bit ruined by the sea of boorish indie boys obsessively fawning over it - is imbeded amongst Arca's set of typical - or atypical - sounds. One trait being the strange warped note which has been compared to a digital harpsichord. In fact its fitting that the release features a collaboration with Mica Levi, as the sound of both artists are like a bent out of shape alien string section.

This exploration of sounds which are undeniably, well... let's just say on the grating end of the spectrum, could be mispercieved as shallow shock tactics. It's true that the mixtape has the capacity to make even the most avid Throbbing Gristle fan feel uneasy, but it does so in a genuinely cathartic manner (I know describing punishing music as cathartic is an overused idea, but it's one which is definitely applicable to this project)

If Helm's Olympic Mess is like an industrial music of the post-club climate, then Arca's may be percieved by some as the industrial of the post-human. I think claims which have been made relating to Arca's percieved inhuman sound are a tad fatalistic and reactionary, after all I've always thought Arca makes a mockery of the idea that technology makes us more distant. He uses the digital world to create a far more complicated and multi facated depiction of identity and emotion.

The mixtape culminates with the only identifiable song 'Sin Rumbo'. The lethargic, ponderous pace is interrupted with jerks of both natural and synthetic sounds, ending with the sample of fireworks, which remarkably comes across as melancholic rather than joyous. The track features what I believe are Arca's own vocals, resulting in probably the closest we'll ever see to a ballad. After finishing the release i'm reminded of Arca's continuous ability to bypass boundaries, bravely removing expected limitations on both sounds and ideas.