SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Mairiaux, Isabelle

Isabelle Mairiaux
from Belgium

  • 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 have always been very sensitive to sound of all kind, hearing music in the tune of voices, in the wind or in the background of cities. In that sense, I think I was first MADE BY the music before starting to give myself something back. Music is for me a tool for expression
    When I was a child, I learned the piano, musical rules, transcription…but still improvisation, playing together and composition are what I like the most.

    2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
    My living environment has been changing quite a lot. Still I am the same 😉
    From classical piano lesson with an excellent Armenian teacher and voice training in chorus, to the creation of an original and self-trained polyphonic group “ZAKUSTIK” where 5 woman explore different music styles using only their voice as instrument.
    At the same time, I am also trained as a music therapist with Rolando Benenzon (Argentina) and the Belgian Music therapy Association. That training gave me an incredible background where music is used as a tool for communication in the therapeutic relationship.
    Recently I have been studying and practicing a lot of Asian music, especially Japanese music and Javanese gamelan.

    3.Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
    For a while I had a double profession related to music: one as a music therapist working through music with handicapped, mentally ill people, autistic children; the other one as a vocal performer touring with the ZAKUSTIK group.
    Recently, my practice has changed. I am not performing with group but more in solo or duo.
    And as a PHD student in Contemporary Art in Tokyo Geidai University, I have been creating artworks where the sound is either one of the medium used to raise a (political, metaphysical, poetic) question or is related to the theme of the artwork itself. I am, for example, working on a big installation piece focusing on the act of listening itself.

    4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
    Although in the polyphonic group we were composing together and arranging melodies and rhythm brought by the members, most of the composition is still for me a solitary work. There are no fixed rules. It all depends on the project: what the work is made for, objectives and context…etc. I try to work under necessity. Not the one of money. The necessity to create. The world is already very noisy, so I think it is important to think, as a musician, why we want to break the silence. Nothing starts without silence.

    5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
    I like and play many instruments but among them the voice is very special for me. With voice you cannot cheat as it involves your body and your mind together necessarily.
    At the beginning I used to perform only live concerts with the voice as the only tools (no mic).
    I have started only a few years ago to use computer to create music. Even if new programs like Max/Msp offer great possibilities, I still prefer most of the time to produce the sound with my own voice and /or to used personal recordings that I mix with simple tools such as GarageBand.

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

    New Media is no more so “new” but offers interesting possibilities compared to other media. The use of the internet for broadcast is particularly a good way to promote some musical approaches that won’t fit in any commercial categories, nor raise big money.
    On the other hand, I saw here in Tokyo a piano that can play without…a pianist. I couldn’t really see the point. They should next create something to replace “the audience”…

    7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
    When the musical production is made for a third person ( like some composition I made for a dance company) , the producing and financing is not my problem, which is good. Apart from that, I usually prefer to work with self-funding than compromising my work in order to fit in the commercial music machine.

    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 am used to both experiences. I guess, being able to pursue both is what I prefer as both approaches have their own positives and negatives aspects. One thing is clear, I get easily bored with any kind of music if it is out of the frame of a human relationship and focus mainly on technological tools (like computer, mixing and recording room)

    9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?
    The Bulgarian Voices, The Pygmies Aka Polyphonic Music, The Klezmer Music, The Revolutionnary Orchestra and Carla Bley, Keith Jarreth, Steive Reich, John Cage, Sainkho Namtchylak, the cicadas of Tokyo’s summer…among others.

    10. What are your future plans or dreams as a soundartist or musician?
    To keep seriously laughing about life.