FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Magik*Magik Orchestra

Fractured Air 31: Australian Double-Triple (A Mixtape by Christina Vantzou)

with 2 comments

2014 marked the hugely anticipated release of Kansas-born composer Christina Vantzou’s breathtaking second album ‘N°2’, featuring, once again, Minna Choi of the San Francisco-based Magik*Magik Orchestra and Adam Wiltzie (Stars Of The Lid, A Winged Victory For The Sullen). Since its February 2014 album release on the Chicago-based Kranky label, Vantzou has also filmed and directed a film for each of the eleven pieces from ‘N°2’, as well as inviting a host of artists to remix and re-interpret the material from ‘N°2’.

mix_sleeve_christinavantzou

Fractured Air 31: Australian Double-Triple (A Mixtape by Christina Vantzou)

“I made sure to keep some room for experimentation and failure. Leaving room for failure was very important to the overall process of ‘N°2’.”

—Christina Vantzou

 

To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-31-australian-double-triple-a-mixtape-by-christina-vantzou/

——

Tracklisting:

01. Grouper ‘Made of Metal’ (excerpt) [Kranky]
02. The Dead Texan ‘The Adversary of Evil Budd’ [N°1 DVD & Remixes / Self-Released]
03. Popul Vuh ‘Aguirre I, from ‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God’ (excerpts) [PDU]
04. Daniel Lanois ‘Oaxaca’ [Anti-]
05. Animal Collective (feat. Vashti Bunyan) ‘It’s You’ [FatCat]
06. Grouper ‘6’ [Kranky]
07. This Mortal Coil ‘The Lacemaker’ (excerpt) [4AD]
08. C. Young ‘Shereen’ [Jj funhouse]
09. Earl Sweatshirt (feat. RZA) ‘Molasses’ [Columbia]
10. Grimes ‘Dream Fortress’ [Lo Recordings]
11. The Caretaker ‘False Memory Syndrome’ [History Always Favours The Winners]
12. Arvo Pärt ‘Antifone al Magnificat – 07 – O Immanuel’
13. Eleni Karaindrou ‘Voices’ [ECM]
14. This Mortal Coil ‘Song to the Siren’ [4AD]
15. Eleni Karaindrou ‘The Weeping Meadow I’ [ECM]
16. Jacaszek ‘What Wind – Walks Up Above!’ [Ghostly International]
17. This Mortal Coil ‘Fond Affections’ [4AD]
18. Giacinto Scelsi ‘Anahit’ (excerpt) [CP² Recordings]
19. Moebius ‘Ay Juz Doh No’ [Joseph C Montanaro]
20. C. Young ‘Big Choice’ [Jj funhouse]
21. Animal Collective (feat. Vashti Bunyan) ‘Prospect Hummer’ [FatCat]

————

The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

 


 

no2_kranky_web

“N°2” is available now on Kranky.

http://www.christinavantzou.com/
http://www.kranky.net/

————

 

Written by admin

December 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Chosen One: Christina Vantzou

leave a comment »

Interview with Christina Vantzou.

This year marked the hugely anticipated release of Kansas-born composer Christina Vantzou’s breathtaking second album ‘N°2’, featuring, once again, Minna Choi of the San Francisco-based Magik*Magik Orchestra and Adam Wiltzie (Stars Of The Lid, A Winged Victory For The Sullen). Since its February 2014 album release on the Chicago-based Kranky label, Vantzou has also filmed and directed a film for each of the eleven pieces from ‘N°2’, as well as inviting a host of artists to remix and re-interpret the material from ‘N°2’. We’re delighted to premiere the videos (directed by Christina Vantzou) for both ‘Anna Mae’ (opener to ‘N°2’) and Ken Camden’s exclusive remix for Christina Vantzou’s ‘The Magic of the Autodidact’. All films are made in 100% slow motion using a Phantom Miro 320S slow motion camera. ‘N°2’ is available on all formats via the Kranky label.

Words: Mark Carry

christinavantzou_1

The Kansas-born and Brussels-based composer, Christina Vantzou is one of those rare treasures in the 21st Century Neoclassical realm whose music has graced the world with her stunningly beautiful compositions. The latest album, ‘N°2’ is the appropriately titled follow-up to 2011’s utterly transcendent opus ‘N°1’ released on the formidable Chicago based label, Kranky. What remains vividly present on Vantzou’s newest masterwork is the infinite beauty and unlimited emotion that pours from the intricately layered compositions. Similar to its predecessor, ‘N°2’ bloomed into vital life over a long period of time (over a four-year period to be precise) and it is the composer’s meticulous detail and sheer musical capabilities that lies at the heart of these truly captivating artistic works.

‘N°2’ was composed using synthesizers and a wide array of unidentified samples that were manipulated beyond recognition. Although similar patterns can be traced on ‘N°2’s gradual ambient flourishes (akin to Vantzou’s beautifully constructed frame-by-frame animation work), compositionally, the record shows a more daring approach with added instrumentation and the presence of a 15-piece string section. New addition of bassoon and oboe adds gorgeous colour and texture to the densely layered strings that enriches and heightens the musical journey unearthed by the U.S. composer. A wider sonic palette is used throughout, from the gentle ripple-flow of piano notes on the album’s penultimate track, ‘Vostok’ and prominence of harp on the achingly beautiful ‘VHS’ to the rapturous crescendo of strings of ‘Going Backwards To Recover What Was Left Behind’ where an emotion-filled sadness engulfs your every pore. Elsewhere, slowly shifting layers of brass and woodwind drifts majestically in ‘Brain Fog’ before brooding strings come to the fore, resulting in a cathartic release of energy. Layers of angelic voices appear and disappear throughout, forming not only a monumental symphonic movement but also an other-worldly choral work. ‘Vancouver Island Quartet’ could be the record’s pinnacle as a seamless array of fragments (celestial voices, empowering strings, tranquil harp notes) coalesce together forming a deeply affecting and cohesive whole.

A collaboration between Vantzou and Minna Choi of the San Francisco-based Magik*Magik Orchestra took place once again for ‘N°2’s recording sessions. Prior to recording at Tiny Telephone studios, Vantzou and Choi worked on the notation and arrangements. Later, the Brussels-based artist spent four months pre-mixing the album before close friend and colleague, Adam Wiltzie (Stars Of The Lid, A Winged Victory For The Sullen) engineered the final mixes, in addition to adding his signature sound texture at his studio in Brussels, Belgium. As Vantzou previously described of the mixing process in our interview from last year: “Adam Wiltzie is now doing the final mixes and it’s a mammoth effort. He’s peeling back layers and adding a few special touches. There are so many layers. I’m not exaggerating, it’s a bit of a monster.”

The results are nothing short of staggering where a ground-breaking work of immense power and cascading emotion heightens all that surrounds you. As the drone embellishes of ‘The Magic Of The Autodidact’ blurs in and out of focus, a magical spell is cast upon all those fortunate enough to witness such unfathomable beauty.

————

‘N°2’ is available now on Kranky.

http://www.christinavantzou.com
http://www.kranky.net

————

“Anna Mae”

From the album “Nº2” out now on all formats via Kranky.

Directed & Produced by Christina Vantzou
Cinematography: Léo Lefèvre
Assistant Camera: Elvis Fontaine-Garant

Featuring: Stefanie De Regel & Marcus Doverud
Gaffer: Denis Antheunissens
Key Grip: Artur Castro Freire
Assistant Director: Adrien Monfleur
Color Grade: Florian Berutti
Shot with a Phantom MIRO M320S

Special Thanks to: Perrine Wens and BFC, Julie Calbert, Eye Light & KGS

————

Ken Camden Remix: “The Magic of the Autodidact”

Directed & Produced by Christina Vantzou
Cinematography: Léo Lefèvre
Assistant Camera: Elvis Fontaine-Garant

Actress: Stefanie De Regel
Gaffer: Denis Antheunissens
Key Grip: Artur Castro Freire
Assistant Director: Adrien Monfleur
Color Grade: Florian Berutti
Shot with a Phantom MIRO M320S

Special Thanks to: Perrine Wens and BFC, Marcus Doverud, Julie Calbert, Eye Light & KGS

————

Interview with Christina Vantzou.

Congratulations Christina on your truly stunning ‘N°2’ album. You must feel deeply proud of this mesmerizing and beautiful work of art. It’s a real pleasure to ask you some questions about your latest masterpiece. Please discuss the four-year period where you worked on composing and recording ‘N°2’ please and the creative process that ensued?

Christina Vantzou: Thank you. It’s difficult to encapsulate a four-year period in a few words. I remember a lot of composing time and then long listening sessions. Sometimes I would listen to rough draft portions of the record while I cleaned my apartment. I had too much raw material at first, so the decision-making process, as far as what would go into the studio, was long and arduous. It’s both meditative and maddening.

————

It is clear upon listening to ‘N°2’, your compositions are more adventurous than ever before, with use of added instrumentation and heightened layers of immaculate sounds. For example, I love the use of woodwind instruments and the prominence of solo instruments on particular pieces. Can you please discuss your main priorities from the outset, in what you wanted to achieve on ‘N°2’ and the direction you were moving towards from ‘N°1’?

CV: I was sure I wanted an oboe in the sound. Adding a bassoon was second priority together with a bassier string section. There was one track that was intended for woodwinds only – a woodwind quintet. I had put together 15 tracks for N°2’s recording session, and 11 tracks made it on the final album. I made sure to keep some room for experimentation and failure. Leaving room for failure was very important to the overall process of ‘N°2’.

————

Since the last time we spoke, it feels that the process of making ‘N°2’ follows a similar pattern to that of its predecessor, ‘N°1’, in terms of collaborating with Minna Choi, Telephone Studios in Francisco and indeed, your trusted collaborator Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie. Can you please recount for me your memories of working again with these gifted people and the collaborative process between you and Mina and Adam?

CV: Yes, like ‘N°1’ ‘N°2’ involves close collaboration with Minna Choi in the early stages and Adam Wiltzie in the final stages. Minna and I have built an interesting working relationship together: I think the work we do is special because of her excellence and my naïveté.

For both ‘N°1’ and ‘N°2’, I composed some tracks that were more or less finished in their midi stage, without much transformation, but a lot of tracks were quite sketchy and some were just weird ideas, like a drone-y audio file with a list of instructions on paper and a few images for inspiration. Minna has a way of attacking everything, no matter what stage, leaving nothing untouched or unconsidered.

Although mixing took several months, there’s an efficiency to working with Adam because we have done so for a very long time. Both Adam and Minna were very generous towards ‘N°2’. When the record was passed to Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering service, I felt he took special care of the record too. Jay Pellicci at Tiny Telephone is very much a part of the sound as well. Everyone’s time and care had an influence.

————

What stage of the process is the most challenging, Christina? I’m always amazed to think of the time, emotion, artistic input and energy that pours into a record such as ‘N°1’ or ‘N°2’ but one can feel that space and time embedded in your heavenly music. For example, working on the notation part of the music with Minna or finalizing arrangements, mixing stages towards the end, are just some of the stages of the creative pathway. What stage comprises the moments you cherish the most?

CV: Every stage has its challenges. Composing is challenging because it’s done in isolation. It takes a lot of time, and most of that time is in front of a computer. When I passed the record to Minna it felt like Christmas. She sent me mock ups for each track — samples transformed into midi arrangements that would then be turned into notation for the ensemble at Tiny Telephone. The recording session was like triple-Christmas, the pre-mixing phase was terrifying at first because the record was a monster. Some tracks consisted of more than 20 layers. The tracks were still forming in the pre-mixing. Hearing the final mixes was like Christmas again, and then I still had to see if anyone was interested in releasing it.

————

I was intrigued to read about your work as a SAT university entrance exam mathematics tutor that entirely funded the making of your album. I must ask you please about this aspect of your work: is there a correlation between mathematics and music for you, as I imagine there must be some sort of parallel between both worlds?

CV: Math is in music, but in my case the two worlds have not quite unified. That might change…but to date I haven’t composed along to a click track, so the Math goes out the window right there.

————

My favourite piece at the moment is the gorgeous sonic creation ‘Sister’. The moment the crescendo of strings arrive is one of the many defining moments of this captivating album. I love the layer of ethereal voices that flows beneath and also, the woodwind re-occurring motifs present. Can you please talk me through this piece of music, Christina?

CV: Sure. ‘Sister’ was one of those monster-tracks. The original composition was made in Reason, with a beginning and a middle like what you hear on the final version. Minna added a crazy ending with voices, piano, and winds. I ended up re-working her idea in post production and changing the part she intended as piano to pulsing strings. I also found an instrument line in her midi mock-up that was muted and discarded. I turned that melody into a harp part. All of these additions lead to more and more tracks and big mess in Pro Tools. I color coded the instrument sections to make it easier to navigate. But it was still ghastly. So ‘Sister’ is the only track that Adam did not mix. He refused on account of too many layers.

————

In terms of samples, can you please shed some light on the various sources these audio recordings originate from? Similar to ‘N°1’, I love the plethora of voices that combines with the synthesizer lines, it works so beautifully.

CV: I used synth samples found on YouTube from early synthesizer instructional videos. I also used some Stravinsky samples (from The Nightingale), Snow White samples (from The Original Disney soundtrack), and there are some John Carpenter soundtrack samples…

————

Listening to ‘N°2’ almost religiously these past few weeks, the works of Jóhann Jóhannsson (particularly, The Miner’s Hymns) comes to the forefront of my mind, such is the sheer beauty and spellbinding magic unleashed by your music. I can imagine he must serve an influence on your music, Christina? I would love to know what records, gigs, artists you have been most obsessed with of late?

CV: Jóhann is a big influence. As far as I’m concerned in new classical music there’s Jóhann Jóhannsson and then there’s everyone else.

I saw ‘The Miner’s Hymns’ performed in Kortrijk last Spring. My mom was there with me. I played the same festival. I remember it was a stressful week getting ready for the show, but the Johann concert just sucked all the anxiety out of me and put me in a good place for the rest of the evening.

————

I am a huge fan of your video work that accompanies your own music and indeed the videos of Dead Texan’s music. I would love to learn more about this area of your artistic work and the processes and tools you utilize to create such human and affecting visuals? It’s clear that the frame-by-frame animations — a slow, gradual process — must act as a close companion to the gradual music of your own musical compositions?

CV: The slowness and gradualness of animation and maybe its simplicity as a medium / technology does relate well to the music. Making animations cultivates patience like nothing else. The slow pacing is a big factor in ‘Nº1’ and ‘Nº2’…I’ve tried to make faster music. I started a dance album two summers ago, but everything I make ends up slow and weird.

I’m pretty much attracted to anything slow and weird so for ‘Nº2’ I grew obsessed with a slow motion camera. It took over a year to figure out a way to work with the camera (I used a Phantom Miro 320S) and finally I decided to transfer my SAT teacher earnings into time with the camera. BFC, a rental house in Brussels, also decided to support the project so eventually I got 3 days to work with the camera. These experiments will become the videos for ‘Nº2’. 100% slow motion.

————

It’s really cool to see both your album and A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s new record enter into the world during the same general time-frame. I love the cover artwork you did for their first record. Can you please discuss this aspect of your work and your drawings — something that has been a constant for you most of your life — and how this feeds into your music? Any other projects in the pipeline, Christina?

CV: I’ve been drawing all my life — my mom is an artist so art supplies filled the house and it was just a part of everyday life. I remember writing an essay to enter art school about drawing. I said it was the only thing I’d done my whole life that I’d never got bored of. My most recent drawings were of young girls and old people. I have years of drawings in my apartment in Brussels and in Kansas City. The drawings are kept inside boxes that are inside drawers, so not many people know about that work. Adam became a huge fan of my drawings and prints at one point so he chose that particular nude drawing for the Winged Victory album. I hear that a lot of people liked it as a record cover.

————

no2_kranky_web

‘N°2’ is available now on Kranky.

http://www.christinavantzou.com
http://www.kranky.net

————

 

Chosen One: Christina Vantzou

leave a comment »

Interview with Christina Vantzou.

“Performing and listening to a gradual musical process resembles: pulling back a swing, releasing it, and observing it gradually come to rest; turning over an hour glass and watching the sand slowly run through the bottom; placing your feet in the sand by the ocean’s edge and watching, feeling, and listening to the waves gradually bury them.”

—Steve Reich, “Music as a Gradual Process” (excerpt)

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

no1_1_craigcarry

‘N° 1’ is one of those special records that holds a resonance and (quiet) power over you – the listener – long after the swirling ambient flourishes fade into the the star-lit sky overhead. The creator of this spellbinding music is Kansas-born artist, musician and composer, Christina Vantzou. Although released back in 2011, the record continues to reveal new hidden depths and meaning, such is ‘N° 1’s infinite beauty and remarkable artistic achievement. Much like the music of Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Arvo Pärt, Vantzou’s music becomes more than mere musical notes, but rather, a symphony of cascading emotion – raw, delicate and powerful – that indeed resembles the slowly sifting sand of an hour glass or the ocean waves’ slow-dance at your feet. The ebb and flow of Vantzou’s divine ambient soundscapes conjures up the spectrum of human emotion that enriches all of life’s surroundings. Very soon, before the year draws to a close, the follow-up – naturally titled, ‘N° 2’ – will see the light of day.

The debut album from Christina Vantzou was released on the Chicago-based independent label, Kranky. A common theme in the discovery of music – new or old – are the paths or desire lines you happily find that introduces you to a new artist. The source to my discovery of Vantzou’s music is indeed a figure integral to both Kranky’s roster of awe inspiring talent and Vantzou’s own musical compositions, namely Adam Wiltzie. The pioneer of ambient and drone music, has been involved in a wide of array of vital musical projects over the years. As one half of drone/ambient specialists, Stars Of The Lid – alongside compatriot Brian McBride – several life-affirming records such as ‘Avec Laudenum’ and the most recent LP, ‘And their Refinement Of The Decline’ were released on the Kranky label. Outside of Stars Of The Lid, more recently Wiltzie has been creating Neoclassical infused ambient soundscapes, under the guise of A Winged Victory For The Sullen (a collaboration with pianist/composer Dutin O’ Halloran, home to the Erased Tapes label). It is yet another project of Wiltzie’s that formed my connection to Vantzou, namely The Dead Texan, which is the collaboration of Adam Wiltzie and Christina Vantzou. The common thread here is the peerless independent label, Kranky, who released these ambient masterpieces into the world.

The Dead Texan’s self-titled record from 2004 is a wonderful document of a special collaboration between like-minded artists, that continued to filter into Vantzou’s solo music. ‘N° 1’ is produced and mixed by Wiltzie, as is the soon-to-be-released sophomore full-length, ‘N° 2’. Vantzou’s main role in The Dead Texan was making videos to accompany the drone-based musical compositions of Wiltzie. Having studied visual art and receiving a bachelor’s degree from the Maryland College of Art, Vantzou’s music can be seen as a natural extension from the medium of visual art. Similar to Stars Of The Lid, the music itself is rooted in minimalism, where melodic patterns – using only a few notes – are intricately layered, forming a rich musical tapestry of divine shades and textures. A parallel can also be drawn to Vancouver’s Loscil or Brooklyn-based duo Mountains, who effortlessly blend drone and ambient spheres of sound, forming a beguiling landscape of treasured sounds.

‘N° 1’ started in 2007. In the words of Vantzou: “I just kind of sunk into the composing.” Much like the frame by frame animations Vantzou worked on for years, ‘N° 1”s sublime sonic tapestry reveals a slow methodical process that lies at the heart of the music’s inception. ‘N° 1’ was made in tiny fragments, where each meticulous detail reveals a snapshot in time, like cherished memories from a distant past. Over the course of three years, the artist assembled together the tracks that would soon become the foundation of ‘N° 1”s final entity. During this time, Vantzou worked in isolation, using synthesizers, samples and her voice, before a long-distance collaboration ensued that would evolve the music into new realms of possibility. Minna Choi, director of Magik*Magik Orchestra, transformed the sprawling 45-minute single track into a score for a seven-piece orchestra. This culminated in a two day recording session with Magik*Magik at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco. The album of full symphonic movements was finally mixed in Brussels (where Vantzou resides) with production assistance from Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie.

The ten symphonic movements that comprise ‘N° 1’ showcases Vantzou as a powerful voice in contemporary Neoclassical composition. I feel the stunning music belongs to several genres, from drone-based embellishes of sound, where a single tone (of a violin, cello, french horn or clarinet) has a long, slow duration, to ambient flourishes that sees Vantzou tapping into a hidden, sacred dimension. The album ‘N° 1’ is a testament to the seamless array of gorgeous fragments that coalesce together, forming an achingly beautiful and cohesive whole. The instrumentation of strings (violin, cello, viola) and woodwind (flute, clarinet, oboe) performed by the Magik*Magik Orchestra creates an organic and enriching sound that fills the void and awakens your senses.

Much like the music of Brian Eno and Harold Budd, what becomes important is the space around the music. It is through this space that an envelope of sound ascends upon the listener’s headspace, and soaring emotion is filtered through. This sense of oblivion is wonderfully present on ‘N° 1’ from the opening notes of ‘Homemade Mountains’ to the ambient ebb and flow of the closing ‘Joggers’. ‘Super Interlude pt 2’ is my personal highlight that evokes a vivid sense of nostalgia and melancholia. The crescendo of strings that arrives a short time later, is one of the many stunning moments dotted across ‘N° 1’. Gavin Bryar’s symphonic movement ‘The Sinking Of The Titanic’ could be a reference point here. Towards the close, some field recordings depicting audible voices conjures up the sound of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s timeless works ‘Fordlândia’ and ‘IBM A User’s Manual’. ‘N° 1’ belongs immaculately at the interface of contemporary classical and ambient music.

This year marks the legendary Chicago-based Kranky label’s twentieth anniversary, amongst its awe-inspiring roster of talent there have been innumerable classic albums that have showcased the label – and therefore independent music’s – best-loved and most revered records. And amidst the infinite sonic treasures that the label has been responsible for over the past couple of decades lies the spectacular achievement of Christina Vantzou’s ‘N° 1’, an album, while surpassing all boundaries, reveals the full possibilities inherent in the art of music-making at its most beautiful.

“While performing and listening to gradual musical processes one can participate in a particular liberating and impersonal kind of ritual. Focusing in on the musical process makes possible that shift of attention away from he and she and you and me outwards towards it.”

—”Music as a Gradual Process” by Steve Reich (excerpt)

————

‘N° 1’ is out now on Kranky. The follow-up, ‘N° 2’ is a forthcoming release on the Kranky label.

————

no1_2_craigcarry

Interview with Christina Vantzou.

Congratulations on the truly stunning album ‘N° 1’. It is such a transcendental ambient journey that forever evolves upon each revisit. Please discuss for me the three year period where you worked in isolation using synthesizers, samples and voice? I would love to gain an insight into the creative process involved during this time?

I started composing N°1 in 2007. I was a closet composer. I didn’t have proper monitors so I worked using headphones. I listened to sample libraries, researched orchestral midi possibilities, and made new samples when I couldn’t find the sounds that matched the ones in my head. I was pretty nerdy about it. I was going through some emotional turmoil and isolation was kind of a byproduct of a decaying relationship. That and also living in Brussels…I just kind of sunk into the composing. I had been doing frame by frame animations for years so a slow methodical process was comfortable to me. Someone had given me a CD of synth-y meditation music from the 70’s that I got obsessed with. I was also listening to a lot of film scores. I worked without a click track, and wrote everything using a midi keyboard. I could only muster playing small bits at a time. I made N°1 in tiny fragments.

————

Discuss for me please the samples you collected? What found sounds are on ‘N° 1’? I love how the samples seep into the music so effortlessly, and blends gorgeously with synthesizer and voice.

I sampled some Talk Talk (harmonium), I sampled of lot of film soundtracks, nature documentary soundtracks…I sampled synth tutorial videos on youtube and some real synths plus I sampled my own voice.
I remember when I was younger, going to a lot of shows where 2 guitars seemed to produce a 3rd voice. That 3rd voice always sounded like a distant female voice to me. That’s the kind of voice layer I was interested in creating on N°1. I recorded my voice and on top of most of the tracks.

————

I would love for you to discuss the long distance collaboration that ensued with Minna Choi, director of Magik*Magik Orchestra that transformed your 45-minute sonic journey into a score for a seven-piece orchestra? Did you envision this collaboration – and ultimate transformation – to happen during the time you were alone recording your music?

I had worked on the album for about three years around the time I contacted Minna. I had stitched all the Reason files, mini orchestral parts, and samples together into one long 45 minute track. I had no idea how to notate the music I had created, and I’d never worked with classical musicians before. I was also broke. Somehow I convinced myself to search for an ensemble to collaborate with. Meanwhile, I wrote a grant to see if I could get some financial assistance. I was looking for someone who would get into the feel of the music for the notation part of the job and to finalize arrangements. I also needed an ensemble to record with, and a recording space. I asked Dustin O’Halloran for advice and he recommended Minna Choi and Magik*Magik. I contacted Minna, sent her the 45 minute track, she was into it, and the collaboration began there. Minna worked by ear. I passed along details notes and an instrument list. There were click issues all over the place so she created a moving click with her voice.

————

As a composer of these gorgeous pieces of music, you must have been enlightened when you heard the full symphonic movements that were finally formed. Please recount for me your memories of first hearing the finished pieces with orchestra, and your thoughts, looking back now on how your music underwent this beautifully organic metamorphosis?

The week of the Tiny telephone sessions Minna sent me the first midi versions of the final arrangements. I was in Kansas City at the time. I hadn’t met Minna in person yet, we had only skyped a few times. I listened to every track, and I can’t really explain how I felt. I was really moved, it felt like a breakthrough.

————

Describe Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco and what makes this setting such a good recording place? It is amazing to think the recording session for ‘N° 1’ only took a mere two days. How was that possible?

Originally, the session was planned for 1 day but Minna strongly recommended a second day. Sometimes broke-ness brings on miracles. Even two days was a super economical, condensed approach but we got it done.
I was really impressed with Minna in the studio. She’s great at what she does. Jay Pellicci engineered the album and everyone worked tirelessly and gracefully.

————

It must be special to be composing music today, during a time when so much utterly captivating music is being made. You are a powerful voice in contemporary Neoclassical music. What albums for you have inspired you the most?

I listen to a lot of hip hop. I’m a foot soldier in neoclassical music. I admire Jóhann Jóhannsson. His records and live performances have been a big inspiration. I got to see him perform The Miners’ Hymns in Belgium last week.

————

Please tell me about your wonderful collaborative work with Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie of Stars of the Lid? I adore the music of The Dead Texan in which you both work together. Discuss the creative process between the pair of you and how you tap into this remarkable ambient music, when your two minds combine?

The Dead Texan was a special time. Adam and I work very well together. My main role in The Dead Texan was making videos. Adam wrote and recorded the music. He recorded my voice for When I see Scissors I can’t help but think of you and Glen’s goo. While he was working on the tracks I created the animations and videos. After the album was released he taught me the basics of how to use Reason and I played keyboards on tour. When I got the hang of how midi worked I started fumbling around on my own. We still collaborate. Adam mixed N°1 and he’s currently mixing N°2. I made a few tour videos and the cover artwork for A Winged Victory for the Sullen.

————

Looking back, when and where did your fascination with sound begin? What were the defining moments for you when you realized the pathway of creating art was the path for you to walk on?

My early childhood record collection consisted of The Muppets’ Greatest Hits, Tina Turner’s Greatest Hits, Talking Heads, Eurythmics, and the Annie Soundtrack. My dad snuck me into a 21+ Tina Tuner concert when I was really little. It blew my mind.

My mom is an artist and I grew up in an artist community in Kansas City. Drawing was the only thing thing I’d done all my life that I’d never got tired of so that’s why I applied to art school.

————

You currently reside in Brussels. It’s a city I’ve been to once and fell in love with the place. It’s clear that the arts and culture is in full bloom in this beautiful city. Please tell me about your love for this city and how the city helps you create art?

Brussels is very laid back. It’s inexpensive to live here, and there’s a lot of support and funding for the arts. I fell in love with Brussels when I first moved here. It’s a bit of a lawless place and there’s a laziness here that’s inviting. It can be slightly annoying sometimes too. There’s a fine line between laid back and lethargy. The city moves in slow motion compared to Berlin or Paris or London or New York.

————

Can you shed some light on your follow-up to ‘N° 1’? It will be another life-affirming record, for sure.

Mixing’s nearly finished. Mixing this record has been an unusually long, slow process. I spent 3 months premixing. Adam Wiltzie is now doing the final mixes and it’s a mammoth effort. He’s peeling back layers and adding a few special touches. There are so many layers. I’m not exaggerating, it’s a bit of a monster. Sound-wise there are a few new elementsthe ensemble on N°2 is a 12-pieceI added oboe and bassoon which add a particular color. The best creative collaborations in my life have come from a generous place. Both Minna and Adam bring this generosity to the record. The overall sound has matured and I’ve been a bit more daring compositionally this time. I’ll spend the summer making videos and it all will be unleashed by the end of the year.

————

‘N° 1’ is out now on Kranky. The follow-up, ‘N° 2’ is a forthcoming release on the Kranky label.

http://www.christinavantzou.com
http://www.kranky.net

————