Name: Natali Kruger
Occupation: Sound artist/designer
Current Release: 83% invisible on les anges noirs de l'utopie
Recommendations: The books of Carlos Castaneda, whether one is convinced of their veracity or not, conceal treasures. After reading the first book ‘The Devils Weed’ most people believe this is a work about psychedelic plants, that belief is absolutely wrong. The experiences detailed in this work aren't so incredible, for me it's about spiritual realism, it's pragmatic. Castaneda gave me an understanding beyond words, he is a real sorcerer / The mystical work of Hildegard Von Bingen, the greatest and only gothic composer.
Website/Contact: You can keep up to date with Natali's releases on her Facebook and Soundcloud pages
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started playing music at the age of 19, in a rock band in Bordeaux, called Black Hole. I was mainly an interpreter of sorts for the leader of the band, who composed all the material. I was mostly playing a Korg analogue synth and sometimes guitar and vocals. At that time, Bordeaux's rock scene was at its peak, I saw incredible concerts, and I've always been imbued with as much rock & roll spirit as I have electronic music influence.
A year or so after my initial involvement with Black Hole, one morning, I ran to the bank and asked for an overdraft to buy turntables and I started mixing. It's an episode which had a significant impact on me because I was compelled by something. I went to raves from time to time but I wasn’t totally inspired by the universe of DJing yet, so it was a strange decision! One month after buying those turntables, after a concert with Black Hole, I made my first techno DJ set and two months after that first DJ set I composed my first track with Fruity Loops. The whole experimental, IDM & atmospheric instrumental electronica scene of the early 90s to the early 2000s era enchanted and bewitched me. Artists affiliated with labels like Schematic, Warp, Reflex, Scam, Merck Records...there are so many to name. But I’ve always listened to different kinds of music, like classical, experimental, world, traditional…
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
We are all interconnected, and the affinities, the influences are created beyond what we perceive with our hearing. I am certainly not aware of everything that could have influenced my development but a lot of things surely; meetings, experiences, concerts.
I never wanted to listen to a lot of music when I started to compose, on the contrary I needed silence to capture things which nourished me. On the other hand, when I do listen to music, I do it thoroughly; it becomes a real hurricane.
I recognize myself in certain artists, not especially in the musical form but rather in what they are deep down, at their core. That is to say, I like artists who acknowledge that we are much more expansive beings than what is commonly imagined.I recognize those who have the will to transmit this path...these kinds of artists influence me musically.
In electronic music, Autechre's work is especially significant to me. Every time I’ve been to an Autechre concert it was intense, rare; the lights go out and it’s like a UFO arrives...I think it’s the only group with which I’ve said to myself: ‘I want a result like that’, something that compels the body and the mind. I don't even understand people who can't dance to Autechre's music; it’s so tribal.
In rock, there is Tool, they have a unique dimension. Mike Patton is powerful too.
After six years of playing in live projects, I went to the Conservatory of Bordeaux, and studied electroacoustics and attended computer music composition classes. That was so good, it opened my mind, I met people who lived music in other ways, rather than solely through going to parties and that's exactly what I expected. I also studied acousmatic composition which brought me even more musical freedom.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
In the beginning I was playing a lot of raves so my first challenge was to make people dance to music that was more experimental and less ‘standardized’. I also liked to play at some rock festivals; it was nice to please people who only liked rock, to win them over. Now, my only challenge is to have time to compose, to experiment with more traditional instruments, to integrate more field recordings.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
Haha, my first studio: two Logitech mini desktop speakers, a Pentium III 800, an M-Audio sound card, and later I invested in an Electribe MX1 and a good microphone. In other words, ‘minimalist’, and I have always been very happy with the quality of the sound with this set up so that wasn't a problem.
Sometimes, people who arrived in my ‘studio’ would question the tools and the rendering of it all, for me it was normal. You just need to know your tools, with almost nothing you can do a lot. At the moment I work with an old, ultra-loaded Mac Pro bought at a studio, an Elektron Digitakt, a MIDI controller (I often test some), a good soundcard, my bowls, my drum, my gong…sometimes machines that people have lent me. If I need to invest in any gear these days it will primarily be gongs, bowls, drums, unconventional instruments, and various microphones.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Technology offers me the possibility of being a one woman band, of utilizing a multitasking tool, of being both a technician and a musician, of having access to great instruments with the MIDI, and of recording my acoustic instruments.
It also allows me to think of new forms of representation. It's at the service of my creativity - it can have an influence on my creativity - but my creativity doesn’t depend upon it. If tomorrow I can no longer use electronic technology, I won't make a big deal out of it, I will make do with other means.
Machines excel at the art of freeing us up from the limitations of our own experience, whilst humans excel at the next best step for creativity; they are animated by the creative breath.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
It's difficult to answer this question because the composition process is not always the same. I always use different methods according to the needs of each project.
I remain attached to some software like Kontakt, where I can obtain different tone colours by changing some of the parameters, and it's a platform that feels so complete when I want to use MIDI.
In the first ten years of my journey making music I tried a lot of plugins and software applications that have been released during that time, but I’ve now reached a point where I use the same tools. Now the aspect of production that interests me most is the prospect of recording concrete sounds and manipulating them. I’ve also done a lot of editing work over the last few years.
Good recorder, good sampler, good effects, good sequencer, some synth…it's all I need.
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 miss jams, I've been too much in my own bubble in recent years; it's like that, there are different phases to creativity. I collaborated on a track with a hand drummer on the album ‘siis’ and I want to collaborate more with other musicians. My dream would be to do something with Mohammad Reza Mortazavi.