Alison and Jan-Bas, multi-instrumentalist composer performers, join us for the tenth and final Handmade Homegrown concert at Theater Dakota. They will be giving us a sneak peak into their Pandora’s box of surprise sounds, instruments and electronics, giving us a glimpse into their unique world of creativity.
1) What makes you passionate about making a creating new music?
A :Washing machine cycles, fridge hums, whirring fans, bird calls, helicopter drones – our environment is stuffed with sonic input – each with their own qualities.
Making music is a way of responding to all this input. Of course it’s not just sounds that inspire – changing cloud patterns, flocks of starlings searching for a roost, elm tree seeds dissipating in the air – any situation in which things change over time can be a kick.
JB: It’s a passion and calling for new sounds and ideas.
2) What is your earliest memory of music making?
A: If we say that listening is also making then I guess the first influences were Bach, in vitro.
My mother is an organist and played organ music on the piano at home and from my earliest memories Bach was part of my sound world.
When she got a chance to practise on an organ my sister and I would run around in the church with the ‘wall of sound’ that romantic organs can deliver as our accompaniement.
JB : On the piano, when I was 3 years old. That’s when my mother started to give me piano lessons.
3) How did you first come to making music with each other?
JB: We met through Ensemble HEX, that Alison was playing in and writing for and that I co-started, was artistic director for, and composed for as well.
A: Although we were both involved in HEX in the early 90’s, Jan-Bas and I didn’t actually play together until some years later.
In 1994 we worked together on Hoofdwas- a piece for midi-controlled washing machine and mezzo-soprano. A few years later we made a version for the two of us and since that time we have sporadically made multi-media projects (live audio and image manipulation). I think this latest piece is the most low-tech piece we’ve ever made…
4) Tell us a little bit about the piece.
A: The piece is called Wissel – which means change or switch in Dutch.
We live in a world in which multi-medial input is taken for granted. By using the notion of switching (in this case between different media – audio, textual and movement) I wanted to approach a multi-medial environment from an inital acknowledgment of the separateness of the 3 media before considering the possibility of overlap, to encourage attention initially to the separate qualities of each media.
Secondly, I wanted to think about how material within any one media can change. In this piece we start with material from everyday life, and look at what processes enable material to transform and whether these processes can be transferred to other media in a meaningful way.
And meanwhile we move from domestic sounds to a pop song….
5) What is your favourite key?
A: Ha, well. the easy answer would be to say D minor because that’s the key of Bach’s Chaconne.
It’s a nice key on the violin – dark with lots of resonant overtones.
But actually I prefer self-made modes.
J.B.: Any key that is suitable…