Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
My morning routine is waking up to my son. Once he starts school we will have a fixed schedule but until then I am taking all the freedom I can to enjoy life together. Music has its own schedule. When I was on a movie I would map out the week and what needs to be done in the week and then either work at night when my son sleeps or arrange for childcare - my mother! - to be with us so I can work but also participate for lunch and dinner or other activities during the day. Nip in and out of the studio. Interrupted work flow is what parenting means and I truly believe that we cannot and should not extract the children out of our process, neither the elderly or the sick. Life is a huge beautiful woven carpet and I have long-tried to perfect each thread or pay extreme attention to one thing. That’s what we learn too, especially as women. Life is messy and it is not because you have a life and family (and a family doesn’t only mean to have children, it is relatives and our chosen family) that you cannot get the job, it is because other people exclude you for it. And the only way to change it is for everyone who has a choice - because not everyone has or can afford to - to stubbornly push back against this rhetoric.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
I am very attached to a song on my upcoming album called “May the Angels”. I had the first line of the lyrics written down in my notebook for ages. I had written it down after a really disappointing evening with my then partner after we’d attended a concert. Live shows always inspire me a lot, I take a note book to most and scribble away. So, I had this line and feeling and I had a song it made me think of, “Into My Arms” by Nick Cave. This song however, is at the other end of that love story. I included piano and sang the little line over and over until I found the right chords. I think the song is usually already there, somewhere in the ether, it is just about getting to the core of the meaning and which music that meaning needs. And it grew from there. When I had chords, then the lyrics grew. And as it grew it also became apparent that it needed a big ending. I sang more and more lines and wrote the choir arrangement. At that point, I already knew that Roomful of Teeth would record with me for the album and so I could go higher and lower than my own range. And the song was born!
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
There are? Being honest is what it is for me. An honest existence. And that has a lot to do with mental health for me. Caring for myself, really understanding my feelings and also accepting them.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
For me it is connected as I, even in the early stages of a song, have to think – how am I going to get this on stage? It can be stressful to limit yourself like that in the beginning, but not being able to deliver a piece of music live can be frustrating. So, with this album, when I noticed that I was almost exclusively working on just vocals, the decision to add almost no instrumentation was driven by the live aspect; I can now work with only singers and not worry about the computer or playback or even piano that much.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
Uh that is a tough one to answer! Especially because I am releasing a sample library alongside my album with SOUNDS that I think will lead to compositions, that again were taken from key sound elements of my compositions. It depends… I guess if a sound is a starting point or if a sound remains the focus determines whether or not it is a composition? I sang and wrote an entire song on a drone I created, so that drone became the composition.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
I personally often think of frequencies as colours. I think asking for a mix to be less red is totally reasonable!
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Uhhhh, I don’t know. Sometimes art is just decorative, that’s true. But it is always political. My music always speaks of life and what moves me in it, I cannot refrain from responding to the structure of the society I live in and our society is shaped by politics. So I guess I respond to politics! I wouldn’t say I ‘approach’ my art or being an artist; I am just right in it. I’m in the life I’ve been given and the opportunities and I try my best to make the most of it and enjoy this most human interaction of making music.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
Music is a language, so we will, like language, probably have many new as-yet-unknown ways of transmitting music.