Name: Marta Zapparoli
Occupation: Sound artist, improviser, performer, self-taught researcher
Nationality: Italian
Current event: Marta Zapparoli, alongside Billy Roisz and Sarah Davachi, is featured in the current edition of the Kontraklang performance series. The event will take place Sunday October 17th 2021, 8pm, Emmaus-Kirche, Berlin-Kreuzberg. Get tickets here.

Marta has also performed in various ensembles, groups and duos with artists like Anthea Caddy, Robin Hayward (with both in Splitter Orchester) and Alessandra Eramo.

[Read our Sarah Davachi interview]
[Read our Billy Roisz interview]
[Read our Robin Hayward interview]

If you enjoyed this interview with Marta Zapparoli and would like to find out more about her work, visit her official homepage. She is also on Facebook, Soundcloud, and bandcamp.

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?

Without the outside world, I cannot create my music!

On a large scale, the audible and inaudible sonic enviornement which surrounds us in everyday life, for instance the natural world and our techno-society are an endless source of information that stimulates my imagination, creativity, and awareness, allowing me to enter into boundless territories.

In the past years, what plays a big role as inspiration to create my compositions and live performances, is working with self made recordings of electromagnetic radiations coming from natural phenomena in the sky, from celestial bodies in the universe, radio wave communication and electro magnetic fields in cites. These waves, signals and noises are always present and mutable in space and time, and they become the mirror of our society and of the natural world in constant change.

Another important thing is my personal physical and sensorial experience in this environment during the out-door recording sessions which stimulate my fantasy and creativity. 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?

I often start from visionary ideas of what I can realize. I give my self many possibilities to see the work from different aspects. The only thing I do plan is a kind of time frame for the realization which helps me organize the working process.

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'?

For each artistic work I want to realize I always conduct deep research on the specific topic. This can take a long time because many of the works are not technically easy. Depending on whether the project is site-specific, a live performance or composition, I need different antennas, receivers and detectors; time and patience to experiment with outdoor recordings in the unpredictable environment and in specific locations.  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?

Planty of time, reading and playing with my antennas and radio receivers especially at night. Evenings and nights are my preferred moment of creation.

What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?

My first important part in the working process is out-door recording.

During these recording sessions I spend hours, days or months hunting electromagnetic radiations, including radio waves, at different locations. During these sessions, often I finding myself in a kind of meditative state of mind which bring me deeply in connection with the universe. These moments are fundamental to develop my research and a very exciting part of my work.

Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?

The listening session and selection of the recordings in studio, is a second step to create a sound archive which will be used for compositions or live performances.

In addition to the antennas and radio receivers, I‘m mainly working with analogue media, such as tape recorders and reel-to reel- tape machines. So I transfer to tape all the selected recordings and I freely improvise with them in order to shape my ideas.

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 not always being in control of the process, both for compositions and live performance. I'll utilize analogue tape recorders due to their physicality, the risk, potential, and imprecision involved, the different impact and freedom of handling which these machines can offer. They have allowed me to use my hands as a connection-interaction between different fluxes of energies.

When I manipulate the tape, beyond separate forms, there is a continuous development of form, and beyond variable matter, a continuous variation of matter. In short, it brings out the life inherent to matter.
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?

I have a book to collect "lost Ideas" which can be useful for future developments.

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?

My work is in between science and spirituality.

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?

A good example of my recent finished work is a composition for electromagnetic radiations. “Sonata Per Eterna” which came out as release in 2020 on Glistening Example record.

It is a deeply sentimental work, in which the meaning of some combinations of words are connected to selected electromagnetic radiations from our atmosphere and outer space. This piece is inspired by my personal romantic ideas, but also fed by scientific notions about the journey of the soul after death to a perpetual motion in the universe. Each time I perform this composition live, it feels as if it is still growing and changing.

I don‘t mind to still improve a finished work. It is a challenge for me even if I‘m already satisfied because it is never the same. Many of my works are a growing process which does not find always a real end.

Another example of suc a composition is with the duo project (PAREIDOLIA) together with Liz Allbee. The piece is: "ENANTIODROMIA" premiered at A‘larme festival film edition 2020.

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?

I‘m working with mixing in a simple way, but  takes a while until I‘m satisfied. Mastering is generally done by other people.

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 try to don‘t be melancholic about past releases or works.

I'm always excited to start a new work, which also means new adventures, new experiences.

A good example of a finished radiophonic piece is: "NOCTURNAL - Cosmic Trammel of Vital Rhythms" commissioned by SWR2 in 2021.

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?

My sonic expressions of reality are visionary and disruptive since they can transgress acoustic borders, pushing the audience into critical listening and reflection, making them think about the double character of our hidden acoustic environment, the polluted side and the natural side of it, to stimulate critical thinking, awareness, auditory imagination, and a transcendent experience with the universe.

I can‘t find another way to express that!

I cannot compare it with other mundane tasks.