Name: Green-House / Olive Ardizoni
Occupation: Producer, sound artist
Current release: Green House's "Music for Living Spaces" is available for pre-order from the Green-House bandcamp store.
Recommendations: ‘Kamakaze Girls’ by Novala Takemoto is a sweet and wonderful book about two teenage girls living in rural Japan in the early 2000s. They are both into very specific and opposite alternative subcultures. Yet, they form an unlikely friendship over the bond of believing in the independence and freedom of doing what makes you happy no matter what.
It’s a beautiful and hilarious story that reminds me that I don’t always have to be an Island and that opening my self up to others doesn’t mean I have to give up the things that make me unique. Also, the main character, Momoko, happens to be into a fashion sub style that I’m a big fan of.
Also, when is the last time you listened to “Unbreak My Heart” by Toni Braxton? It slaps.
If this Green-House interview piqued your interest, visit their instagram account.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
My earliest musical influences were the B-52’s, The Monkees, and Motown classics. I was obsessed with the golden oldies radio station in my hometown. I also collected a lot of funk and disco tapes from garage sales. In my teens I became interested in every flavor of alternative music I could get my hands on.
I don’t know what specifically draws me in to music. It’s just a language that makes sense to me.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I try to capture the essence of an influence rather than directly emulate anything. I think my own practical limitations as a musician prevent me from actually copying another artist.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
Im not able to create in moments when I don’t have a strong sense of self. If there are any barriers, it just doesn’t happen.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
My main creative challenges with Green-House would definitely be technology. I had to learn Ableton and using computers and synths for the first time in order to do this project. It’s been a few years now so the process is beginning to feel more natural/ less frustrating.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
It’s more of a chaotic path of just having a desire to learn something/use something at different points in time. Sometimes an idea needs a certain technique or tool, and I’ll have to find the best way to get that. Asking for help is a big part of the process.
It hasn’t felt like a linear path to me at all. Most of the time, I use what ever is easiest, and most immediately available to me.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Learning hand drumming when I was younger had a profound effect on me. It gave me an understanding of how to communicate with others through music, and how to ground into my body. Like voice, hand drumming is a whole body experience.
To this day no matter what I’m using to produce my music, I know a song is not finished until it spontaneously moves me physically.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I’m always in some form of constant collaboration with my music projects.
Green-House is my project and vision but it wouldn’t exist without my partner, Michael Flanagan for all of the help he’s given me through constant tech support. :)
Recently I did a collaborative project with a group of people that involved file sharing during the pandemic and it was a very fun experience to see how each individual interpreted and added to what they were hearing without any external direction.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. 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 tea and music. I usually listen to Laraaji, 60’s lounge music, city pop, or nature sounds. I dance around my room after tea and sometimes that leads to actual stretching/ body work. Every day I go for a walk at some point to see the neighborhood squirrels.
Music is constantly in my brain so I suppose it blends seamlessly into other aspects of my life. My other main creative hobby is fashion and the two definitely inform each other.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
I’ve had to fight to carve out space for myself in music. As a non-male in music I had to deal with people not taking me seriously, not including me and shutting me out. I had boys in school literally rip punk cd’s out of my hand and tell me I couldn’t listen to that style of music because I was too feminine. I had my peers telling me that I couldn’t front a band for the same reason.
My breakthrough came when I was in my twenties and I finally had enough and did what I wanted anyways. It’s not something to celebrate because I sometimes feel like I was robbed of reaching a certain potential. Oppression shouldn’t have to be a motivation to breakthrough as an artist.
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?
The ideal state of mind for me has a lot to do with self confidence. When self doubt is out of the way things flow easily. As a non male in this world all I’ve ever known was people telling me that I can’t do something so I have to actively work against internalized and externalized doubts.
Self confidence also comes with knowing your limitations and being okay with them. I have to learn to be okay with asking for help and showing my vulnerability when it comes to not knowing things that I wasn’t encouraged to learn at a younger age.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Music has always been my greatest force for self healing. There have been moments where every single genre of music was healing to me. Everything from loud punishing metal to Enya have the potential to help someone.
I think that the biggest need and potential for music as a healing tool would probably be access and education. Humans are hardwired to sing, dance and play music to some capacity for no reason other than to feel good. Many people don’t have access to playing/making music and many people are discouraged from seeking that out.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I don’t think it's okay to take someone else’s culture and art and re-interpret it into your own art. If you take the time to gain a deep understanding or have a relationship with that culture it’s better, but you can’t expect every individual to agree with your assessment.
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?
For me, there’s a strong connection between sight and hearing. I typically visualize the structure of a song as if I’m writing it all at once. Also things that inspire me visually inspire me to create music around them. My songs are about the visions that I see when I’m writing them.
The song ‘Sunflower Dance’ is about hamsters dancing in a field and having a party because that’s what popped into my head when I started writing it. Sense of smell has such a strong memory component that certain smells will draw forth the memory of an album or song I haven’t listened to in awhile and it carries that emotion with it. When writing the new Green-House album I actually burned the same incense I was using when I wrote the EP, to get back into that mindset.
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?
My identity as an artist is probably the only real tangible constant in my life. I guess one way that it feeds back into everyday life is being able to see things in life as open ended, non linear, and complex. Being inquisitive and looking at things from different angles. Knowing that there are blind spots in everything and that there’s always room for expansion of understanding.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Music expresses a deep and profound connection to other humans, and nature in a way that words cannot. The cycle of a song, an album, a performance, and a life are essentially the same.