Letting the music be in control
As both an avant-garde composer and turntablist, Shiva Feshareki is a pioneer in contemporary music. On 03 December she’ll be building a sonic experience for us live at Ear To The Ground festival. We took a few minutes to talk about everything sonic, from turntables to geometry and how she's excited to play in Belgium for the first time at De Bijloke in Ghent.
How do you describe yourself?
I’m a composer, a turntablist and an electronic artist. I’ve always had a lot of different sides to my music and my artistry. On one side there’s classical composition. I’ve focused on that for decades and honed in on avant-garde composition. I’m always interweaving that with turntable improvisations and playful electronic elements. I merge them together so that I can make a deeply immersive and interesting experience. I try to be fully informed and fully involved on both the electronic side of things and the acoustic and instrumental side of things.
When did you start turntabling?
I’ve always been turntabling since my late teens, which is also when I started scoring compositions. So the two have always been floating around each other. They are both polar opposites, which meet in the middle in an interesting way. I’m not a classic turntablist or a DJ. I’m treating the turntables as a technology repurposed for my own needs and interests through improvisation. Lots of the techniques that I use were just spontaneous occurrences at first, so they’re techniques that are built around my own music.
All of my music manifests live in the moment
You seem to have a wide range of people who appreciate your music.
I have worked with so many different kinds of artists and thinkers, exchanging and sharing ideas in so many contexts. I think it’s because of constant curiosity and exploring new creative horizons that I just naturally have a diverse audience of people interested in my music. It's also to do with the fact that it’s electronic music with an acoustic, instrumental and classical side. It brings people together with different interests and everybody is hearing new things.
Is physical space important to your compositions or your shows?
All my music is focused on the physicality of sound and the physics of space. It is all in spatial and ambisonic form, which is to do with how sound is moving in acoustic space and the energies of the moment. All of my music manifests live in the moment, nothing is predetermined in advance. I control it all live, so there are these intangible objects of sound, moving, gliding and swirling within the concert space. I’m constantly responding to what's happening, everything from the energy of the audience to the architecture of the space, its history, its feel, and the acoustics, it all plays a vital role in the outcome of the music.
There're these intangible objects of sound, moving, gliding and swirling within the space
What other elements do you work with?
I’m really fascinated with how sound interacts with everything. Sound is at one with all these other disciplines and experiences that exist. Lots of different elements of life and existence are actually interconnected as one thing. I like to be able to highlight that in sonic experiences. For example, creating geometry in sonic space when I’m performing, or taking one sound material that's been recorded and then manipulating that, so the interpretation is infinitely changed.
How do you relate to your equipment?
I have a classical, crafty way of thinking about my equipment. It more comes from other music cultures, that idea of learning an instrument, practising it, and dedicating your time to honing in on the craft of that specific instrument. Yes, I do think about the turntables and the equipment that I use as things that I’m constantly practising with. l take the things that I have and develop a deep connection with the technology that I’m using.
Are you collaborating with any other artists for Ear To The Ground festival?
Well, I’m doing a set featuring the organist and jazz pianist Kit Downes. Kit works in a very similar way to me, we’re constantly responding in the moment, composing live and letting the music be in control of us rather than the other way around. I love collaborating with Kit. We’re on the same wavelength. We like to be spontaneous and see the benefit of that energy live on stage. We’ve done some really big concerts together, but we’re yet to rehearse.
So, what do you have planned for the concert?
I’m really excited to play in this context, the concert hall at De Bijloke is so amazing acoustically and historically, with just beautiful architecture. All of these elements become a part of the composition for me. I’m using a surround sound speaker array, placing 13-15 speakers around the hall so that the sound is completely spatialised and immersive for the audience.
Lots of different elements of life and existence are actually interconnected as one thing