SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project

Ni Riain, Ailis

Ailis Ni Riain
Irish soundartist

  • 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 taking piano lessons at ten years of age. I became interested in music and playing the piano when I attended ballet classes as a young child where I became fascinated by class accompanist’s piano playing than the dancing. I continued to study the piano seriously, compete and perform in Ireland until my early twenties.

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

    I live in the countryside, up a steep hill on rock face and commute very regularly to Manchester city in the UK. I am a classically trained pianist and have studied contemporary classical composition at University College Cork in Ireland, York University, Manchester University and the Royal Northern College of Music in the UK.

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

    My profession is a combination of commissions and arts administration. I compose regularly as I am often juggling a number of creative projects at any one time.

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

    If I’m composing an acoustic work I will hand-write my ideas and continue to build a piece from there. I don’t use software to score my music, I much prefer to hand-write my scores, it is very consuming but for me, very necessary in the creation of my work. My electroacoustic work is a combination of field recordings, sampling and computer based work.

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

    Pen and paper and piano. Occasional sound editing programmes.

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

    I enjoy the opportunities afforded by technology to create the intricate and eclectic soundscapes I hear in my mind which often cannot translate as well to exclusive acoustic instruments.

    7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?

    Much of my earlier work was self financed, however I have been lucky to have received a number of paid commissions for my recent work.

    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 have mostly worked as an individual artist which I have enjoyed however I am about to embark on a large-scale performance installation project with a devising theatre company in Manchester where my work will be organically created and inspired by the performers and director I will be collaborating with which will be a new experience for me.

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

    I am influenced equally by music, visual art (particularly painting, tiling and glasswork) and theatre – especially plays. The spoken word, the everyday and the simple complexity of existence are all important influences on me and my work. The work of Beckett, Beck, Messiaen, Miro and Will Self interest me.

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

    I will continue to develop my artistic practise as a composer, sound-artist and writer. I am working on a number of exciting projects at the moments and look forward to future music making, performance, collaboration and learning.

  • resources:
  • My website is My music can be listened to at