Stephanie Pan: creator, singer, instrument builder and composer, will be joining us on the tenth and final edition of Handmade Homegrown with her Taiko drum that she crafted with her own hand. This traditional drum of Japan, deep-set in the traditions of the court and in the military, demands one’s attention, being the lion of all drums. Taiko literally means giant drum and it’s deep resonant tones reach the very core of one’s body and soul. Stephanie will perform a set of her own pieces featuring this drum and more.
Interview with Stephanie
1) What makes you passionate about making a creating new music?
I’m fascinated by the search to find something relevant and current, but still timeless in the sense of pure communication. I guess my work is a particular blend of pop music, theater, experimental music, performance art, among other things. For me, part of what it means to exist in our current reality is access, and the possibility to blend all these different elements.
2) What is your earliest memory of music making?
Oh the first one that comes to mind is sort of depressing so I’ll spare you that… um so is the second one…! let’s just say what I can remember about music-making as a child was that I needed it.
3) What inspired you to make the taiko drum?
That’s a long story! But the gist of it is I’d always wanted to play the taiko, it was a kind of pipe dream for me, and in 2008 I met this group Uzume Taiko at one might say a fateful moment, and suddenly I realized all I had to do was start. As it turns out, a lot of taiko ensembles in the States build their own taikos, and after a lot of research on the internet, I made sort of an amalgamation of methods that could be done with only 2 people. Long live the internet! I just thought how beautiful would it be to build your own instrument, to understand it from inside out.
4) Tell us a little bit about the piece.
I like working with limitations as a basic framework and then work pretty intuitively when I make certain pieces and this is certainly one of them. For a variety of reasons, I found myself making this piece in London while on tour, and it was important to use only what I have with me, which turned out to be a great big taiko, an autoharp, a looper and 2 synthesizers and a drum machine (Nebulophone, Korg Monotron and a Bleep Drum). Pretty much the stupidest instrumentation ever, but it’s made for some interesting challenges. With the electronic toys on hand, I suddenly had the idea of working with the idea of a mixtape, which is essentially a bunch of sketches all mashed together, but I liked the idea of having one idea just moving into another in a sloppy kind of way.
5) What is your favourite key?
Oh, FM? dm? maybe EbM… d dorian. Does that count as a key?