SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Jameson, Margaret (aka tinydiva)

tinydiva (aka Margaret Jameson)

  • artist biography
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    Interview: 10 questions

    1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?

    We always had a piano in the houses I grew up in (we moved a lot). I was fascinated by the sounds of the different keys and started banging around on the keyboard when I was 2.

    2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.

    I started taking piano lessons at the age of 5. But, I was far more interested in the tonal combinations I could come up with myself than practicing my lessons. Eventually my piano teacher began to work with me to develop my own compositions. My parents loved classical music and my brothers and I grew up listening to Bach, Borodin, and Mussorgsky. They also listened to pop music from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. So I heard the Silver Convention, the Beatles, Steely Dan, and a lot of crappy over-produced rock acts like the Alan Parsons Project and Asia. The later examples taught me what to avoid when I started producing music. Also, my mother was the choir director of our church and she would sometimes have me sing with the sopranos and perform the choirboy solos. When I was 11 I sang the Pie Jesu solo from Fauré’s Requiem (Opus 48) for the Easter services. At around the same time I briefly tried to play the alto saxophone in my school band. Like Lisa Simpson, I was a tiny girl blowing into a huge horn. Unlike her, I could barely hold the thing up and rarely produced an audible sound.

    3. Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice nowadays?

    I have been a professional musician since 1997 when the band I was in at the time was signed to Interscope Records. That turned out to be an unpleasant experience but I went on to further develop my skills as a musician and producer and have also attained purely technical skills, which I utilize as an audio editor and sound designer. I used to do vocal exercises every day but in recent years I have been more interested in expressing my musical ideas through the melodic lines, rhythms, and sonic textures I create. Some days I merely exercise my ears by seeking out new music and sounds from the most diverse sources I can find (internet radio is a great resource).

    4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, styles etc?

    There are usually two ways that a composition’s initial seed forms. I have a melody or a chord progression or a beat in my head (sometimes they come from dreams I’ve had) and I work it out using different patches I create on the keyboard. Then variations and additional movements evolve and I add treatments and textures. The other way I’ll begin a piece is to explore and play with a sound wave from a recording I’ve made. I’ll record street sounds from outside my window, or use vocal progressions, static, or digital errors to sculpt a new sound or excavate a series of chords, or a rhythmic groove, or an eerie melody. I don’t adhere to a particular style. My taste in music is really eclectic so the tracks I produce are as well.

    5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools?

    I have used a variety of software to create music. I used Cubase for a while but now I’ve made the switch to ProTools in conjunction with Reason and some other programs. I still use my old Roland Juno keyboard to make bass sounds and other unique keyboard patches.

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

    I think New Media and the internet are revolutionizing the music industry. These days anyone can start up a web-based radio station, tv station, gallery, or musical community. Information on any artist is instantly available as well as his or her music. Internet radio programs and podcasts from around the world, in addition to new software and plug-ins are accessible to anyone with a computer and a halfway decent internet connection. I use the internet as my primary distribution method and I think more and more artists are doing so. The internet constantly brings New Media artists together where we all experience each other’s work, which often leads to interesting new ways of collaborating.

    7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?

    I use my website to market my music and the production and editorial services I offer. I will occasionally receive a commission and I work as a dj and I produce tracks for other artists. I also work as an audio editor, sound designer, and composer for websites, web-based art projects, games, and software applications.

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

    I often work on my own but I also really enjoy collaborating with other artists. Earlier this year I completed a piece commissioned by conceptual art duo MTAA (M. River and T. Whid). I was intrigued and challenged by the assignment they gave me: to create a piece that a listener would hear while running, but not running as in jogging, running as in blindly racing through the streets without direction or goal. My brother, Tom, provided some great guitar riffs for one section. In addition to functioning as a producer for other musicians, I hope to bring more people into the studio to contribute to future compositions. I enjoy working alone and with others. I think it’s important to do both. Producing music individually helps me develop my own unique voice and collaborating enables me to think about music composition and sound design from a different perspective.

    9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?

    Henry Cowell, Moondog, Massive Attack, Yaz, Zimbabwean Mbira Players, Javanese Gamelan, Bernard Herrmann, Gustavo Pittaluga, Curtis Mayfield, Roy Ayers, Laika, Blondie, Big Black, Masters at Work, Tribe Called Quest, Fats Waller, Be-Bop, Franco Leprino, Kraftwerk, early Computer Music (Charles Dodge, Raymond Scott, and others), Arthur Russell, Desmond Dekker, my dear friend, the late, great, Adam Goldstone, and many more.

    10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?

    I’m looking for more opportunities to create sounds, soundtracks and musical environments for visual artists, designers, programmers, and film and video producers.

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