SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Irvine, Zoe


Zoe Irvine
from UK

  • artist biography
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    Interview:10 questions

    1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
    I began to work with sound in 1994 when I got a job interviewing editing for a magazine on cassette. I got this job while I was a visual art student, it was not long before I realised that sound is a very powerful and in fact ‘visual’ medium. I would not say that I specialise in making music although sometimes I do, I think of myself as a sound artist or an artist using sound.

    2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
    I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, I had a visual arts education was in London and Madrid.

    3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
    Well, as I say I make sound work principally, but I do make music and sound design for film and television, I also make experimental radio pieces and am a lecturer in sound art at the University of Dundee in Scotland.

    4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
    I approach each activity and each project differently – to that extent my work is concept rather than process driven. I have a broad scope of practice from installations to radio programmes, large scale participative project and small scale individually authored sound works and musical pieces. I enjoy elements of work that take me out and about recording, then composing using a computer, but also it is important to some of my work to create a platform for others to take part in – projects like DIAL-A-DIVA and Magnetic Migration Music.

    5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
    I often use Abelton Live and Protools to create both music and sound works.

    6. What are the changes of New Media for the music production in general
    and you personally?

    I learned to edit on a reel-to-reel tape machine which gave me a sense of the materiality of sound – I loved that I could hold a particular sound in my hand. This love of tape has not diminished and I celebrate it with projects like Magnetic Migration Music ( I am currently using a flash card recorder with no moving parts, but somehow I still prefer my DAT recorder. I use computers all the time and appreciate what they do for me but sometimes long to find a way of working away from machines.

    7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
    My work is generated through a combination of artistic commissions and more commercial projects.

    8. Do you work individually as a musician/soundartist or in a group or collaborative?
    Both for different projects.
    If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

    I do not prefer one or the other – they both have their advantages for different types of project. It is fantastic to develop a whole musical community for a project like DIAL-A-DIVA or work collaboratively on sound with another artist – contact with others always brings a lot and generates new ideas and sounds, but then of course there is something magical about being lost alone in a sonic world making a piece of work.

    9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?
    I would say an ongoing influence in the projects I do – though not the piece I am submitting, is early sound recording and transmitting technologies – for example the theatrophone was the inspiration behind my DIAL-A-DIVA project (

    10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?
    Having spent a period collaborating with many people to realise DIAL-A-DIVA I would like to spend the next period composing a linear sound work. I have not decided what yet but it would give me great pleasure to spend time absorbed in beautiful sound, composing at my computer, perhaps introducing instrumental elements as well as field recordings to make a poetic work.

    Can works of yours experienced online besides on SoundLAB? Where?
    List some links & resources