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Nik Void and Ashley Paul

Interview

Experimental electronic artist and producer, Nik Void, and multi-instrumentalist/composer Ashley Paul, discuss their new collaboration appearing in Venus Unwrapped & Luminate.

Experimental electronic artist and producer, Nik Void, and multi-instrumentalist/composer Ashley Paul join us on Thu 17 Jan to present their new collaboration as part of 2019’s Venus Unwrapped programme and Luminate series.

Nik and Ashley, we’re very excited to be hosting the premiere live performance of your new collaborative material. How did you and Ashley first meet and when did you decide to make music together?

Nik Void: We first met when I was approached by Ashley to participate in a collaborative performance with herself and Simon Fisher Turner for The Pace of Time series for The Roundhouse. The idea was to follow an illustrative score Ashley had prepared using my own interpretation with my tools of choice. At this time I was experimenting with Electronics and extended techniques with the guitar.

Ashley’s instruction was to begin our independent following of the score at a different starting point to the next, all three of us set up in the corners of the room like a triangle. Sonically the effect was exciting and unexpected, members of the audience explained afterwards their sensory reaction was transient, hypnotic and peaceful.

Ashley Paul: Yes, we met and performed first at the Roundhouse in 2013, days after I’d moved to London from New York. We’ve kept in touch ever since but have only performed together once more, in Rhys Chatham’s mega Guitar Trio about a year ago. I was thrilled when Nik was able to do the remix for Bounce Bounce. It made me absolutely giddy with joy. She transformed the piece into her own very unique soundscape whilst retaining elements of the source material in a unique way. I’m thrilled to be continuing on a journey making music live together.

‘I would love for [gender] to someday be a non-issue, where women are simply ingrained in the fabric of new music.’

Can you give us a hint of what people coming to the show can expect?

NV: As it has been a few years since we last performed together my set up has changed. My main instrument is the eurorack modular, including synths and noise generators which give me the flexibility to work live in ways that are half unexpected and half controlled, great for improvisation.

At home in the studio I’m using Ashley’s stems from her last full-length release Lost In The Shadows as a source, along with my own catalogue of sounds, similar to the way I approached the remix I produced for her this year Bounce Bounce. What I’m really looking forward to with this collaboration is unlike most of my practice that works on electronically sourced sounds, to use acoustic sounds pushes me in a whole new sonic direction.

Our 2019 Unwrapped series celebrates radical female composers and artists throughout the last 1000 years. What’s evident is how much of a struggle it has been for female composers to have their work heard and performed simply because of their gender. How do you feel about opportunities for and attitudes towards female composers and electronic musicians today? Do you get a sense that the tides have changed or are changing?

NV: I think the emergence of supporting female artist has displayed a significant rise in the last year. More opportunities to apply for grants directed at women in music by the PRS Foundation, engineers and producers like Marta Salogni winning MPG Breakthrough Engineer Award and Shiva Feshareki winning Young Composer award.

At the tail end of last year I was approached by André de Ridder to produce a composition to perform with his orchestra collective at The Spitalfields Festival to give women in music a platform, it seems festivals and bigger organisations that are watched by the greater public are consciously offering shows to female artists to give a balance.

Primavera Festival in Barcelona for example, this year has made a clear point by appointing 50% female and 50% male artists for 2019. So yes I feel the light is beginning to shine in a very positive way.

AP: The increased support and visibility of/for women composers seems to be a positive step forward. I would love for it to someday be a non-issue, where women are simply ingrained in the fabric of new music so completely that we don’t need to even think about special considerations, but we need to take steps in correcting ways of the past before moving forward.

Who is inspiring you within music currently? Any favourite albums or tracks for 2018?

NV: Ashley’s record Lost In The Shadows is a meaningful one to me, and I just purchased Shiva Fesharek’s debut New Forms last night, so looking forward to this. Hiro Kone Pure Expenditure is tough and beautiful at the same time!

Lucy Railton’s minimal, haunting textural album Paradise 94, Sarah Davachi Gave In Rest is probably my favourite album of 2018, along with Heather Leighs Throne on Editions Mego. I can’t wait for Cosey Fanni Tutti’s record this year, and on my wish list, a new release from Klara Lewis. My fingers are crossed.

AP: Ha! I tend to just listen to the same records over and over all the time… Maher Shalal Hash Baz with Bill Wells,  Bach Goldberg Variations, Brigitte Fontaine with Art Institute of Chicago, Morton Feldman Rothko Chapel and Captain Beefheart are on constant repeat in my house. I am most inspired by seeing music live. I was particularly moved by a duo concert of Mette Rasmussen and Sofia Jerberg. I had never seen Sofia perform and it just blew my mind, I nearly cried. I also loved a short piece by Bill Wells at a recent show in Glasgow.

What are your plans for 2019?

NV: I have a few scheduled solo performances next year. London Electrowerkz, performing live and DJing at Grauzone in The Hague in February and more performances at festivals that yet are to be announced. A couple of NVPR shows in Paris in May, NPVR is a collaboration between myself and Peter Rehberg (Pita) founder of Editions Mego label.

More recording with Dominic Butler. Between, I plan to continue with my debut album in my studio and ongoing work that results in an exciting Carter Tutti Void announcement in 2019.

AP: I’m very excited for this duo concert. I have a few solo shows coming up as well as performing as part of the week long Stereo Spasms Festival celebrating Luc Ferrari’s 90th birthday in February (Cafe Oto). I contributed a track for a compilation LP on new label out of Berlin ‘Canvas’, which will be out in early February and I’m beginning work on a new solo release.

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