Interview: Katatonic Silentio
Katatonic Silentio is sonic sculptor, live performer and independent researcher in sonic and performing arts, new technologies, gender and body studies.
She also is host of Expanded Radio Research Unit, a platform for innovative works at the intersection of music, spoken word, performance and sound to challenge the limits of broadcasting. Also she has releases on Bristol NormCore, Mother's Finest, Haunter Records, Beat Machine Records and many more.
TF: Tell us something about you. What is your background? Where did you studied and who influenced you to explore musical processes?
KS: I started DJing when I was 14. Mainly I was scratching & digging lot of hip hop records, some of my friends were breakdancers, so I started playing at some battles.
Not long time after, I was gigging in clubs in Naples (my hometown) and I slowly moved towards electronic, soul and house sounds.
I moved to Milan when I was 18, a bit of time to adjust, and I continued my musical career by studying music production and sound design, along with a degree in communication. I think all started from my needs to explore sound in the round. Along the way I met many fascinating people, friends and artists, this was very inspiring.
TF: What are, according to you, the artists that make the most interesting work today in this way ? Globally, who influences you the most nowadays?
KS: Well, there are different strands and different scenes. I am very fascinated by the club scene with experimental tendencies, but also by the more electro-acoustic and theatre scene.
There are many names around, but I think the most interesting works are those that go beyond the purely musical question, works that have some kind of research behind them, those able to embrace several artistic and cultural fields at the same time.
TF: What do you try to (re)produce during a studio session?
KS: Honestly, I don't know.
Every session of mine definitely starts with an intention to experiment. I always try to push myself, using that thing I've never used before or play with that tool I've never experimented in the past.
It's easy to fall into habits, as far as the production process is concerned: using the same machines as always, the same effects as always, or even setting up the session in the same way. Let's say the thing that I try to reproduce is the lack of repetitive patterns in the production process.
TF: Can you describe from beginning to end how your album "Prisoner Of The Self" – is made?
KS: I would say that I didn't intend to work on a whole album, it just happened that at one point I had a lot of tracks from the various live shows and a lot of tracks to work on.
The approach was based on how Ableton Live works, plus a lot of writing for the drums and recordings made with both Max/MSP and Access Virus reworked. The focus was kept all the time on fast, intersecting drums and sound design.
I can say that the whole album was done using mainly Ableton, Max for Live and Max/MSP plus an Elektron Machinedrum, the good old Access Virus, some external effects, mainly a spring reverb.
TF: What new hardwares and softwares did you apply to make this album. Do you have a particular method while working in the studio?
KS: As I said above, no extremely new things, no brand new synths or software. As for the method, I don't really have a precise one. Sometimes I start with drums, for example, and sometimes I start with ambient sounds or pure sound design experiments.
TF: The Forgotten had the opportunity to release one of the original tracks from your EP entitled "Prisoner Of The Self" released on Bristol NormCore. To start the year you and the record label have decided to announce their version of remixes, can you tell us how was the selection process of the artists who collaborate with you for this release?
KS: Well, all the process related to the record was quite long, the artistic one less so. All artists involved are persons that I respect and that I met during the last year thanks to various live shows. For example, I met Zuli and Herva in Rome, Stenny in Milan and then in Turin, Kinlaw and Franco in Bristol and in Turin.
The only one I have never met personally is Walton, despite this, me and the BNC guys were quite motivated to propose the project to him anyway.
TF: Can you give some details about your approach to sound design?
KS: I tend to try to dissect sounds, and bring out sounds that have a 'grain'. In order to achieve this I use a lot of granular synthesis, which allows me to go into individual micro-sounds, a bit like micro-crystals of sand.
TF: You usually do DJ sets, but what about a live approach? Do you plan to work more on this aspect in the near future?
KS: Actually, in the last 2 years or so I've done a lot more live shows than DJ sets. There is definitely work to be done! After all, if you think about it, live shows are so complex, they require constant study and constant evolution of the set up, of the method and of the general approach.
TF: Any book or movie that you would like to recommend to the public to feed your creative side?
KS: Uhm let's see, right now I'm reading a very fascinating book on philosophy and music called "Rhythm, Chaos and Nonpulsed Man: Towards a Chaosmotic Philosophy" from La Deleuziana, a creative commons licensed and peer-review open access journal.
As far as films are concerned, I recently watched Fellini's '8 and a half', which should be watched periodically!
TF: Can you tell us more about both your future projects?
KS: I have several things coming out from March onwards: an EP, two remixes and several VA releases. Plus I'm working a lot on my Expanded Radio Research Unit radio project, which is really stimulating my research.
Format: Vinyl 12'' + Digital.
Buy link, here.