Monday, 26 November 2012

Interview: Sabrina Ratté/ Roger Tellier-Craig

Sabrina and Roger very kindly agreed to do an interview for Video Circuits. I have a been very interested in both their individual and combined creative output for a while now. Sabrina makes some of the most aesthetically considered video art I have seen online, Roger is a musician who has released so many great diverse records, his approach to sound is equal parts beautiful and experimental. They combine their skills as Le Révélateur, a project that I am very eager to see live. 


















https://www.facebook.com/pages/Le-Révélateur/115675061783356
https://twitter.com/motion_flares

1) Sabrina and Roger could you talk a little bit about your working
relationship how and why you started producing work individually and
then together? Please discuss your past and current focuses also talk about Le
Révélateur and the relationship between the audio and the visual
aspects of both your work.


Roger) I started making electronic music on my own sometime in the spring of 2008. At the time, I was still working on a pop project called Pas Chic Chic, which I had started right after my other band Fly Pan Am had ended, and I had grown very disillusioned with the music world I was in and I really needed to get away from that and find some meaning again, to connect with the act of making music purely for pleasure. I had heard this record, “In Light” by Arp, and it triggered a very intense desire to start working on solo material of my own, something that would connect all the dots between a lot of music I had always liked but never tried my hand at; psychedelic music, krautrock, and soundtrack music like Goblin and Fabio Frizzi. Later on that year I would come to meet Sabrina, but I never actually thought at that point that we would ever develop such a collaborative project. Around the same time we met, I discovered the work of Lillian Schwartz and it blew me away instantly! I was really into psychedelic and experimental cinema, stuff like Philippe Garrel and Pierre Clementi, so I kind of randomly found out about Lillian Schwartz coming from that angle, but I got a really different vibe from this stuff. I was amazed that someone was doing something that was entirely electronic, visually and sonically, working with folks like Gershon Kingsley, Emmanuel Ghent and Jean-Claude Risset, so early on at the beginning of the 70’s, and I guess this discovery kind of planted the seed in me about working on an audio-visual electronic project. At some point I started working a little bit more seriously on this solo electronic project, which didn’t really have a name at the time – I kept changing it – and Sabrina, who before this had mostly been working with film in her own work, started experimenting with video and she asked me to provide some music for her first video. We were pretty happy with the results so we did another one. Eventually I started getting offers to play live and inviting Sabrina to be a part of the project, now called Le Révélateur, just seemed to make the most sense, since we shared a lot of similar influences and ideas. And vice-versa, I have consistently provided the soundtrack to most of Sabrina’s video work. I see the way we work as two different projects: Le Révélateur is initiated by me, where I write the music with a record in mind and then ask Sabrina to make a video for some of that music, whereas with Sabrina’s work it’s the other way around; she initiates the process, develops the video material first and then gives me some indications regarding the kind of music or mood she would like me to come up with. In both cases though, the process is very organic and mostly we are both developing the material as we go along; I never give Sabrina a finished piece and neither does she. Everything is interrelated.

Sabrina) My individual practice using video started around 3 years ago. That’s also about when Roger and I started collaborating. We were both exploring a new approach to our medium, and the timing was there for us to work together. More than the timing, we were also inspired by similar things. We were talking a lot about mediterranean imageries, watching psychedelic films and discovering computer artists who worked with electronic musicians. We liked the idea of mixing images of nature with electronic images. Also, Roger was always inspired by images to compose his music, and music was an inspiration for the production of my images. So it’s seemed natural that we would collaborate, and make Le Révélateur an audio-visual experience when performed live. Our creative process didn’t change so much since the beginning, but it is evolving gradually, as we introduce new tools in our practice and as we are inspired by different yet related ideas. For example, I started to introduce images from my new video synthesizer, from which I’m still discovering all the possibilities, and inspiration wise we have been very obsessed by science fiction in the last few years which unavoidably shows in the work we produce. 


2) Could you both talk about your influences in video, art and music?
I know Sabrina’s work originally though her excellent blog where she
shares her own work along with her influences and discoveries. Roger
your synthesis work I discovered inadvertently online without
realising until recently I had heard your work before on various great
albums (Fly Pan Am etc.). How did you both end up working with the
process and ideas you now employ?


Roger) I guess I kind of answered this with the other question. Maybe I can develop a bit by saying that the more I started getting involved in electronic music, the more I felt an urge to dig deeper in the past and explore a ton of stuff I had ignored during my first wave of discovering stuff like krautrock back in the mid-90’s. I initially came to krautrock through bands like Stereolab, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, early Pavement, and then Julian Cope’s Krautrocksampler book, so I had a pretty biased perception of what German underground music of the 70’s was like, kinda more rock based, post-psychedelia, so I had initially written off pretty much anything after Neu! ’75 as being crap! So let’s just say that when I started this project, I went in really deep and totally fell in love with stuff on the Sky label, Innovative Communication, Franco Battiato, Laurie Spiegel, etc. Sabrina was doing exactly the same on her own with video art and early computer graphics and that was also really inspiring since they so many parallels could be drawn between both medias and their historical development. We were also watching a lot of sci-fi films from that era and this definitely had an impact on us, stuff like the Michael Crichton film “Looker”, “Tron”, early Michael Mann films like “The Keep” and “Manhunter”, Paul Verhoeven films from the 80’s, the 1983 sci-fi film “Wavelength” and itsTangerine Dream penned OST, Xtro, etc…

Sabrina) As you mentioned, a lot of my inspirations are on my blog. I was always very inspired by anything that had to do with the electronic or the digital image; 3d animation, synthetic images, computer art, etc., especially in its early stage, but also more contemporary. These days, I find myself being also inspired by architecture, artificial light, art deco, gardens, shopping malls… The graphical aspect of things fascinate me, as well as the surreal atmospheres that can emerge from the lighting, especially at night. I also work more with photographs, which I like to animate. But this is mainly for my individual work. With Le Révélateur, I tend towards a more abstract and Sci-fi world, something that would be like living inside of a computer.


3) Could you talk about how you see the relationship between the video and
audio processes you use, for example: video/audio feedback;
video/audio synthesis; editing marital? Have either of you been
influenced by the others approaches?


Roger) Le Révélateur in a live context is always me and Sabrina. The audio and video are definitely linked together. I want the music and the video to be the focus of the event, since I am not really that interested in “performance”. I see what we do live as a context to create an immersive audio-visual experience, and it is that experience which interests me. It’s not about us. At this point our live concerts still contain a considerable amount of pre-recorded material, since we are only two people, and with the kind of gear I have there is simply no way I could ever reproduce such a lush sound world. Also, as I said, I am not really that interested in musical performance, and for the moment I am still mostly playing keyboards live, and this is something I would like to change in the near future. I still don’t know exactly what we will change, but I feel like we are slowly moving towards a different kind of approach to doing live concerts and eventually there might be more space for improvisation, or spontaneous reworkings of pre-existing material. I have started using a bit more digital technology as of late, so this might open up some possibilities for me.

Sabrina) With this answer, I think that I merge your questions 3 and 4
To me, video and electronic music are very similar on many aspects. First, they have an intertwined history and a similar nature, being both a manifestation of an electronic signal. The fact that the electronic signal can be heard or seen is so mysterious and fascinating, and that’s one of the reason why synthesizers are such an inspiration to me. I am thinking of integrating my new video synth into the performative aspect of Le Révélateur, since Roger’s synth has the possibility to affect my images in a very direct way. But in the same time, I find that this kind of interaction can sometimes be too literal for what we want to do, and I also appreciate the fact that accidents happen, and that the music and the image respond to each other in a more random way. So right now I’m still debating if I want that kind of interaction, or how I would like to use it. But for sure, the way Roger makes his music, using the tools that he uses, influences directly the way I think about the visuals for the project. And the fact that we are both interested by mixing digital and analog techniques to our practice is also an important aspect to our collaboration. 

On a less technical point of view, Roger’s musical approach is very similar to mine, we both produce a lot of material from which we make a selection to create a structure. When I interpret his music visually, it is very intuitive. I rarely start with a concrete concept in mind, it’s more about being immersed in another world, virtual and fantastic. I try to create a space that could only exist through the meeting of his music and my images
.


4) Could you talk about your live performance processes? I understand
you perform both video and audio live as Le Révélateur,  Do you feel that the audio and video have some kind of intrinsic link and do you influence each others performance?


Roger) Le Révélateur in a live context is always me and Sabrina. The audio and video are definitely linked together. I want the music and the video to be the focus of the event, since I am not really that interested in “performance”. I see what we do live as a context to create an immersive audio-visual experience, and it is that experience which interests me. It’s not about us. At this point our live concerts still contain a considerable amount of pre-recorded material, since we are only two people, and with the kind of gear I have there is simply no way I could ever reproduce such a lush sound world. Also, as I said, I am not really that interested in musical performance, and for the moment I am still mostly playing keyboards live, and this is something I would like to change in the near future. I still don’t know exactly what we will change, but I feel like we are slowly moving towards a different kind of approach to doing live concerts and eventually there might be more space for improvisation, or spontaneous reworkings of pre-existing material. I have started using a bit more digital technology as of late, so this might open up some possibilities for me.
















































5) Finally could you talk about your plans for future work both
collaboratively and individually?

Roger) I started working on my next LP so I am definitely going to be pretty hard at work on that for the next year or so. When I completed “Horizon Fears” for NNA Tapes last winter, it felt like I had closed a chapter in my work that had started with my first release, “Motion Flares”. This first period felt like a time of exploration and a ways for me to learn how to use the tools I wanted to integrate into my compositions, like sequencers and modulation. The next LP is going to be a pretty different beast, not as clearly indebt to the past and definitely looking forward a bit more. Though it’s funny, I’m actually going back to using stuff like granular synthesis and samplers again, but in conjunction with analog synths, and taking off from where the first chapter ended. I guess I now want to make music that I don’t “understand”. I want to be surprised and unsure of what I’m doing. I feel like our collaborative output will definitely have to change due to this, and I know that Sabrina has been hinting at new things for a while, restlessly exploring her new tools, so we’ll see.

Sabrina) This fall has been very busy, for me as well as for Le Révélateur. I think that for Le Révélateur, we have been particularly challenged on the aspect of live performance, since we played in contexts that were quite different from the ones were used to. I feel that I’m at a point where I need to think differently about live performances, and I am working on a different approach. Also, Roger is now working on the next LP, which will lead us in completely different lands, yet connected to the ones we’ve explored… I’m looking forward for this next chapter.

On my individual practice, I’m working on integrating more video synth into my videos, finding ways of appropriating this powerful tool in a personal manner. I am also constantly documenting spaces, and experimenting a lot with these images. As soon as all my parallele projects are completed in December, I will focus more on my personal work, and making a final video out of all these ongoing experiments. I am also considering to produce work that would take other forms than video…


Thanks to Both Sabrina and Roger for taking some time out form their work and answering in such detail. Check out the links at the top for more great work from both of them and catch them live if you can.

Live Images thanks to datagarden.org

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