Name: Ludivine Issambourg
Occupation: Flutist, composer, improviser
Current Release: Ludivine Issambourg's Supernova is out via Loops.
If you enjoyed this interview with Ludivine Issambourg and would like to keep up to date with her work, visit her on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
It's a vital need that manifests itself at somewhat random times, it's not easy to put words to these magical moments. In any case it is a very powerful inner force that nourishes me, and when I externalize it, it allows me to feel good and balanced deep inside.
These are feelings, emotions, moments of life, encounters, discoveries, sensations: all of this stimulates my creative energy.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
It really depends on the times. Sometimes we just have an idea, a desire, the outline of something that happens to us, we start the work but we don't know exactly where it will lead me: and it's great!! Sometimes it gets us nowhere but will nurture another idea that will germinate.
Sometimes yes, it starts from a precise idea which we will immediately achieve, suddenly a planning of the work is imposed on me to lead to this precise idea that we have in the head
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
The best conditions are to isolate myself completely, with all my equipment, and create my bubble to then create there.
But sometimes it comes and I don't have the time or the conditions to isolate myself as I would like, so I adapt to the situation and find a way to realize this idea that needs to come out "now" .
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
I have no ritual, except to make room in my heart and in my head to start the creative process
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
My starting points are multiple: I can start from an improvisation on the flute, a pattern that I play in beatbox on the flute, a harmonic grid that I hear and that I play on the piano, a melody that turns me in the head while singing, a sample, a texture, a particular atmosphere that I want to create, mixtures of stamps ...
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
In different ways, it can come very directly and clearly, but it can also go through phases of research, trial and error, surprises ...
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
I love losing control, it's very often where new or innovative things happen … I'm constantly looking for loss of control, through improvisation. We will seek to push its limits or the limits of a style, an instrument or a process of composition.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
As I told you before, yes it happens to me and I love it. I love when an idea, a creative process takes me where I never thought I would go. I think that's mainly why I like to create.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
Of course there is spirituality in these moments of creation: we try to express something that lives in us but which we can't put into words. That's what art is for, I think.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
We can always continue, that's all the complexity for us creative artists: there is a moment when we have to decide that it's "now", that the work will be as it is at this precise moment when I decide it's stop.
But a little more concretely: there is a reality behind which is the release date of the album or the concert date which marks a schedule which results from it and which I take into account at some point in my creative process.
If I didn't, I couldn't stop myself.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
Once the piece is finished, it can either be played directly with the musicians and therefore undergo further modifications due to live reasons or instrumental practice. But I can also let it rest and come back to it later, especially if I feel that I am missing something essential that is not yet within my reach at the moment.
For example, that's exactly what happened on the track "Quiet Sunny Ice". I wrote it in 2015, I absolutely wanted vocals and a very particular type of voice. I sent it to several singers but in vain, I waited until I met Camille Durand (aka Ellinoa) who was the perfect singer and author for this song.
Everything was done in one shot with her, everything was obvious. But I waited 7 years before arriving at the culmination of this piece.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
For me, for the music that I play and that I compose, the production is essential, it is as important as the playing of an instrument.
Precisely what interests me in my research in the Antiloops project is to mix jazz techniques, this relationship to the present moment, to improvisation, we almost never play the same thing, this relationship directly with the instrument; and production techniques, what technology can offer us in terms of sound, digital sounds, effects etc ...
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
I don't know! I always have 1 or 2 projects in advance when an album comes out, I'm already creating the next one underwater. (laughs)
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
It often reminds me of the same process as cooking.