di Luisa Santacesaria e Giulia Sarno
What is your musical background?
My musical background is almost from birth, so I am not somebody who came later to music. I started in music. I expanded from music. I began life as a musician [laughs]. I studied piano. I was trained in classical piano, I quit it in my late teens, early twenties: I basically named myself a composer, as I would rather be a composer. From there I have incorporated a lot of different kinds of activities. But always I try… Some people would just say at this point that I am an artist, but I try to include all the activities that make up my practice in this sort of umbrella of composition anyway, including improvising. I dawdled in other instruments, but the other instrument that still I am involved in is the turntable.
For your performances you are using materials from Deathstar now, right?
I am using some of the sounds of Deathstar, but I am mixing them very freely right now. The project that has been evolving under the title Deathstar and Deathstar Orchestration has to do with making a space, like a sensorium, like a surrogate for my body. So I am thinking very much about how I am relating to the sound of myself, and myself as a listening body, and the body that also sounds, makes sound, and what that could be like… I am thinking about the relation to architecture in the recording. It brings a lot of different aspects of sounding together, in relation to sight and to my body. So when I am now improvising with this palette it is quite different from the project, which is in strict terms notated music, and it has to deal with an object, a sculpture, orchestration, notation… But nonetheless at the core of the project is still a group of sounds, and those sounds are very much… kind of like if I would take myself and throw myself into space, and imagine how that would… Almost like if you could visualise confetti of yourself, just like tossing all the fragments of yourself into space and watching them fall and bounce off the architecture. That’s how I am thinking about this palette of sounds. So for the audience, it is an invitation to experience being in someone else’s body, to see how that sounds.
How do translate this experience, that is also a physical experience, into music? Into using dub plates…
I am playing the dub plates very freely, I am moving the needle around, or stopping and starting them, combining them… This part of it is completely free, whatever I wanna do I am gonna do. I am not really translating that experience, I think that’s the point: there is no translation, it is really extremely… you could say, “eccentric”, and it is more like I am allowing the audience into this eccentric space which has no translation, they should just experience it if they choose. There is of course no obligation to experience it, but I am trying to learn more about how physical listening together is, and I think there’s something quite profound, and even somewhat erotic about the physical experience of listening together with other people: the one who is making the sound is offering a kind of intimacy from themselves. Other times you find yourself in the audience and then you take humus from somebody else. At the moment when I am on stage I am the one who is offering those sounds, that’s how I see it at the moment. I haven’t thought a lot about how to bridge the space between my improvised music and the project of the Deathstar, which is not about improvisation at all, it is totally composed, and it has been more or less fully notated, and there’s a pianist who’s been playing the sound, Marino Formenti, and who’s going to play it in New York during 2019. That’s just exciting for me. So in this sense you could say I am going kind of against the project a little bit by opening it up, but I am finding it quite interesting just to experience these sounds again in a different way. And also, the other thing I would add is, the improvised music that I have done for many many years now with dub plates always has a kind of… after every compositional project I recuperate some sounds and I put them on dub plates and play them again, or play with them. So it is built into my practice that I like to do that for some reason.
Looking at your work catalogue, it is very wide. It is also very interdisciplinary. What pushes you to explore all those different fields?
The thing that is pushing me… I am following my ideas where they lead. I think the work has some very consistent underlying concerns, from the very beginning, which has to do with the repressed political register inside this abstract modernist account of avant-garde music, that there is another history possible, especially feminist history, that looks quite closely at the ways in which we organise and hierarchise bodies and social organisations in the act when we make music, and also when we listen to music and when we produce musical situations. With that in mind this leads to a constellation of activities.