Resonant Frequencies Vol. 4 – IVy Meadows
I understand you just began grad school to study coding and programming as well as animation and fabrication. How do you see these threads tying together and is there a way in which you see your music converging with these disciplines?
Yes, I just started at New York University's "Interactive Telecommunications Program" this fall, which is a technology and art program founded by a pretty radical woman named Red Burns in the '70s. She created the program in the same building where arts programs such as photography, film, dance, writing, etc live, with the intention of it being not just a cut and dry tech program but a hub of thinker and maker types to meet and collaborate and hopefully create new and better ways of using technology than we have in the past. It started with the telephone, which was the newest technology at the time the program was founded, and now spans to working with computers, the internet, and other newer interactive technologies that are being developed. Issues are also addressed regarding the impact tech has on the environment and on shaping society in general, and tries to incorporate ways to develop new projects with that in mind. The types of projects people are working on there range from assistive devices for people with varying abilities, to art and music, interactive installations, tech for live performance, apps, 3D sculpture, wearables, animation... and more conceptual classes too which focus on current events and issues of social justice and journalism in the age of the internet.
I'm coming from years of playing live a lot, a lot of ambient music and some listening meditations, doing some super DIY publishing and hosting events at various venues while working freelance on the side, and I started to feel that I wanted to focus more on contained projects that could be used for meditation or reflection outside of the live context, and bring joy to people in a time where that seems very difficult to grab ahold of and keep ahold of. I am a huge fan of Brian Eno's generative music and art or at least the idea of it, also more recently David Tudor's work I was introduced to a couple of years ago, as well as Tony Martin's interactive light installations, and am interested in similarly removing myself from the scene and creating spaces where people can experience the sound and visual aspects alone, or with some loved ones, without the dynamic of watching a performer on stage.
How was your time in Berlin this summer? You mentioned you were recording with a friend––I'm curious what you were working on.
I was working on an album with my friend Maia Ibar, a musician and artist who lives in between Biarritz, France in the Basque country and the United States. For the past few years she has been working with a group called International Integrators which runs workshops for people to deal with trauma through teaching them self care practices, where she holds sound healing sessions and workshops. She also hosts sound healing meditations in Biarritz which have a group from the local community that regularly attends them and seems to really appreciate them, especially as there isn't really anything else like that offered there. We had talked about wanting to make music together for years, and when she suggested meeting in Berlin to record this past summer the stars happened to align for me to do it. We rented a flat and recorded for most of three weeks, often with the sounds of people partying wafting in through our balcony windows, and watching the sky turn from dusk to night and then later nighttime dark blue to black and stars, as we would often be playing on a very late schedule.
There was definitely an energy there that is conducive to night owls doing their thing and not feeling off schedule or like freaks. We also recorded with Boshra AlSaadi, our friend and a musician who lives in NYC who was on tour in Europe with Janka Nabay & the Bubu Gang. She plays electric bass and had recently acquired a Moog Taurus bass keys module, and she laid down really beautiful bass lines on the ambient tracks which I am very excited about sharing. Maia and I had the idea in mind before we started recording that we would create an album that could be used by practitioners of various kinds to play during healing sessions such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, etc., but we also ended up making some off topic songs with beats and crazy vocals which will probably go on a second album! And we also had some other guest musicians come through to add potential pieces to be puzzled together later, and add to the magic of the process. Maia is going to be producing the two albums so we will be in touch over the winter when she plans to hunker down in the Basque country and take the tracks to the next stage.
In what ways do you find music to be most purposeful in the collective human experience?
One very important aspect seems to be that no words are necessary, or translation. Obviously a lot of music does have words but even then, anyone from any background can still enjoy it even just on a sonic level. I think it strikes me as most purposeful when I am in a group of people watching a performance and experiencing something together, this invisible bond that forms, a feeling in the room that we create together and stays with us after we leave and ties us to each other somehow. I also had this experience at Longwood Gardens at this sound and light exhibit which brought together everyone and their grandma and kids together, people of all ages and backgrounds came with their friends and family to experience something that in another venue could be seen as exclusive or just for a certain demographic. Something that ties together humanity in a way that feels like accessing a glimpse to another level of connection that we often don't necessarily feel or see feels like it could be very helpful in a time where the powers that be aim to divide us superficially.
There seems to be a dichotomy of approaches to healing via art: fantasy and escapism on one hand, and direct political commentary on the other. Is there an angle that you favor from an audience perspective. Which do you find more powerful?
I find both to be powerful and needed in different ways. It has irked me in the past when people have referred to art or music that is focused on beauty or a peaceful tone as purely escapist, just the language of it is dismissive and maybe missing the point entirely. Life is not all beauty and peaceful feelings, that is for sure. But language shapes our perception and sometimes can make us dismiss the function of something before we even try how it affects us. Or it could affect others in a way that is beneficial even if it is not the chosen mode for everyone. I believe that in order to take action and stay above the forces of oppression, at least personally I need to find a place within myself where I can clear or transform as much as possible certain toxic feelings that I am otherwise prone to feel, such as helplessness and anxiety, which leads to depression and despair.
The one feeling that I think can still be useful is anger -- anger motivates, anger can put a fire under your ass to "do" something where complacency will not. But if you are someone who is prone to feelings of sadness, on the other hand, I don't really feel that is helpful at all for taking action. Sometimes you need to feel sadness, and process it, but beyond that it can be debilitating emotionally. So I see healing through art not as something to be done in order to "escape" life, but in order to be able to get back in it and do what you need to do. I see it more like going to the gym, or getting an acupuncture appointment to boost your immunity if you feel like you are getting sick.
Do you feel a middle ground between these ideologies can be achieved? Is there any art that comes to mind that does this?
I do think a middle ground can be achieved, and would be curious to see more of that or attempt it myself somehow. I think Julian Rosefeldt's recent work that I have seen at least achieves this for me -- creating something beautiful and encompassing out of a discourse of revolution, or drawing attention to the deleterious effects of humans on the environment that we are a part of through beauty in a way that really sinks in and becomes part of the fabric of your perception.
In this apocalyptic year of infinite critical issues, what feels most urgent to you on a social/political level? Is there an organization that you are particularly supportive of at the moment?
It feels urgent to me that we let people from different backgrounds that are being overtly oppressed see that we stand with them and will not back down. That we ourselves are working to counter the ignorance that is pervading the atmosphere through intensifying our focus on inclusion and diversity. That there is strength in diversity. Sometimes it feels like a fight between good and evil, like there are people who want to destroy humanity and bring the ship down in flames sooner rather than later, and those who want to preserve and build a future in harmony with the ecosphere. But even that is just another superficial projection. Being in this program with all these international students from all different backgrounds feels like a huge relief to me and reminds me of when I was in preschool at the United Nations in Manhattan with kids from literally all over the world, and in school in middle school in Chile with kids from all over the world too, and how eye opening and expansive that felt.
We are not just nations, we are people, and we are richer together when sharing different views and customs with respect. Diversity is exciting, diversity is the future or else we have no future. Without it we might as well hand the planet over to a monoculture of cockroaches. I don't know how this utopia can be achieved, and perhaps I am a hypocrite as I myself boycotted seeing some of my family members at a family gathering recently due to their continued support for #45. I had too much anger to be able to avoid political discussion. So I'm open to discussion as well, with others who are trying to figure this out, and hope to find some new connections and ways of thinking through continued discussion with others who are trying to do the same thing. Some larger organizations I support are UNICEF, Black Lives Matter, Amnesty International, more locally the Hetrick-Martin Foundation for LGBTQ teens in NYC and Newark, and the arts organizations Sonic Arts For All (SAFA) and PWRPLNT which offer access to learning tools and technology for making art and music to kids and teens in underserved communities, which were started by some of my peers.
Carlos Niño - "Yujyou (Friendship)"
Canada Effervescent - "Baie De La Sagesse"
Sunmoonstar - "Data Flow"
Sign Libra - "Pheromone"
Mikronesia - "No Kia"
Hildegard Westerkamp - "Cricket Voice"
Rhucle - "Cicada"
Upstate Music - "Shake / Friend Song"
Diana Policarpo - "Resonant Objects (Beating Back Darkness)"
Curved Light - "Chromakey"
Soda Lite - "Ode to a Wompoo Fruit Dove"
Ruf Dug & Jack Doepel - "TV Sky"
Inner Travels - "At Peace"
417Hz Wipe Out All Negative Energy
Forest Management - "Deep Sleep"
Vril 'Anima Mundi' SIDE A Track 4
Blondes - "OP Actual"