1 month ago, 22 June 2014 · 5 notes
Establishing experimental and improvised music in Belgrade is a challenge: there are just a few funding opportunities, a conservative music education and a missing infrastructure. But musicians as the sound artist and composer Svetlana Maraš are moving back to Belgrade after years abroad and build up a new scene – with enthusiasm, good ideas and international collaborations. In this interview Svetlana speaks about her enthusiasm of living in her home town again, how she uses the laptop as an instrument in improvised music, and samples that attract her. Interview by Theresa Beyer from Norient.
Svetlana, six years ago, after your studies at the Belgrade music academy, you decided to leave your home country. What were the reasons at this point in your life?
At this time, Belgrade wasn’t really the best place to be. Music studies in Serbia were quite conservative. I wanted to learn things that weren’t possible to learn in the academic environment. I also felt that the system was slowing me down. I had a lot of creative energy and I felt that I could progress much faster in some better environment. That’s why I needed to go abroad. I found the Media Lab Helsinki, a school where I could learn about contemporary music in relation to new technology and sound arts. It turned out to be a wellspring of knowledge and ideas and one of the best decisions in my musical career.
Two years ago, after finishing your Masters, you decided to come back to Belgrade. Has the city changed?
Yes. The atmosphere in the city was getting pretty good, so I decided to stay in Belgrade. There appeared to be many other people who came back from their studies abroad. Although having different fields of expertise (some of us being sound artists, composers, instrumentalists), we all had a good academic background, lots of experience in playing improvised music and – what’s most important – we had this enthusiasm to establish our own music scene in Belgrade. With joined forces we are nowadays promoting experimental music, e.g. by hosting artists in our monthly series ImprovE.
How this growing scene in Belgrade is different from traditional centres of experimental and contemporary music like Berlin, Paris and London?
Belgrade surely is no hotspot. There are not so many things happening here or least not so often and there is also very little or rather no money for culture. So we can do projects just on a smaller scale and with a lot of effort. However, we are on the European experimental music map: we all work a lot abroad and there is a lot of exchange. More and more young people are interested in improvisation, noise, sound art and also the audience - created around events as Ring-Ring Festival or ImprovE - is getting bigger. These are all good indicators: Belgrade has the potential to become the leading place for experimental music in the region and wider.
Let’s speak about the work you create in this stimulating atmosphere. It is mostly based on samples. Where are they coming from?
I started building my sample library years ago, spontaneously, and I keep adding new materials when I find them interesting enough. I also modify the old ones until they become something new and I classify them very accurately. I use mostly these glitchy, digital sounds and the recordings of amplified objects. I also use field recordings and I sampled prepared guitar and no mixing input board, as long as I edit these samples up to the point that I can’t recognise anymore where they are coming from. At a certain point they start to be something else. Step by step my library became well defined in terms of sound. I think that gives a certain stamp to all of my works.Reblog Like