ana maria romano g. is included in this overview of contemporary and experimental music in colombia!
Lauren, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I learned how to perform in my late teens and early 20s by playing many, many shows in Scotland. I never stuck with a single genre for more than a few years, and I loved getting immersed in different roles and characters that I imagined around what I was playing at the time. Around 2005, a friend of mine moved away, leaving me with a load of music hardware to play around with. There was an old AKAI S1000 sampler, a Lexicon reverb/delay unit, a 16-bit ADAT recorder, an Alesis sampler, and a laptop with an RME audio interface. I still love RME! I moved out of the city to an old farmhouse with some friends and started making experimental tracks and putting them on Myspace.
Your work challenges the body and human experience, taking intangible motions and channeling them into forms of sensory experience through sound/visuals. What is it about the body that draws you to produce work in this way?
Lola: Each body is unique – by body I mean our own, those of instruments, and that of the space found within architectural form. The bodily themes came about while I conducted research, asking performers, dancers and choreographers questions about their experiences and emotions surrounding their body being curated and composed. What was it like being a living sculpture?
Borrowing this model, I applied it to the academic ‘human experience’ of being a musician, thinking of it as the years of study to impose one’s will on the instrument, to reach and surpass a technical standard. But this is not my experience as a musician, I view it as a collaboration between myself and my instrument. A place where my instrument resonates with my own body, or my body resonates with that of the instrument’s. My scores reflect this desire to unshackle a stiff approach to playing, holding and being with an instrument. I write in order to bring out the voice of the instrument, in a way that isn’t being forced out, and where listening becomes a shared experience of resonating bodies.
We Need No Swords (WNNS): Tell us about the genesis of this project? Was it a commission, or something you were keen on exploring yourself?
Lauren Redhead (LR): This was a project that grew quite organically. The first piece that I wrote was ‘leóþcwide’, which started life as a stand-alone piece just for organ and electronics that came from a Benediction service for organ and electronics that I co-wrote and performed with Automatronic (a collective for organ and electronics I have with organists Huw Morgan and Michael Bonaventure). The texts are from Psalm 4 and Psalm 23, although in the final piece they are obscured.
At the same time I started to be interested in the Anglo-Saxon sources, and so when I turned it into a concert piece I chose the title (meaning lay-poem, I wanted to contrast with the “religious” nature of the original sources) and then I chose a quotation from ‘The Wanderer’ as the programme note that resonated with the original texts. It wasn’t until this piece had been performed a few times that it then became the first of a series.
All of the pieces were created individually, but ‘seo níedhæmestre; se tidfara’ was invited for the 2018 BeastFeast festival in Birmingham, for the organist Mari Fukumoto to play, and ‘ingenga’ came about after an invitation to consider making a piece for an improvising viola da gamba performer.
and an interview!
How many albums did you release / perform on in 2017? I’m counting four…
2017 did feel like a really productive year but sometimes it’s hard for me to keep track because a lot of times the music was recorded the previous year. It was also an important year because some of the releases were physical, which is something that I hadn’t done in a long time. There were three cassette releases and I am really happy with them, both the music on them as well as the way they look. I also self-released some live recordings. For this I guess I’ll talk about them in order of their release…
Composer and improviser Lauren Sarah Hayes on making and experiencing sound — in a mausoleum, next to a waterfall, and through specially built furniture.