Spiers, Jenny

Jenny Spiers
from Australia

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biography

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Interview: 10 questions

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

I’m interested in codes and language and I started using sound because I found that I could only investigate language to a certain point in the form of text or visual codes.

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

I’ve always enjoyed music but I’ve also always felt slightly awkward in my attempts to make it. As a child I found piano lessons boring, and singing in my primary school choir shattered my musical confidence. Since then I’ve felt as if I wasn’t qualified to make music or sing, and despite having lots of musical friends it’s only in the last few years I’ve considered using sound as a form of expression. That sounds so sad when I read it back! On the flip side, having no formal training allows me a lot of freedom and forces me to trust my intuition. I’ve been reading This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin. It’s made me realise I already know a lot about music even if I can’t talk about it yet.

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

No, music is not my profession. I work as a media and communications assistant and do some freelance graphic design so most of the time I’m very focused on text and image. I use sound to explore ideas, but only when it’s most suitable.

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

I work with a mixture of codes, concepts and feelings. Sometimes I hear patterns of notes in my head, other times I’ll work from a mental image. If I’m working with text, sometimes I think it just needs to be communicated audibly (though not necessarily spoken).

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

At the moment it’s very simple. I use Garageband on my iMac.

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

I’m generally very hands-on when I make art so I like the idea of touch screens or custom made digital instruments. I think it’s interesting to combine “new” media with older technology and natural human movements.

7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?

My projects are fairly low cost. I work full-time so finding time is generally the hard part.

8. Do you work individually as a musician/soundartist or in a group or collaborative?

I work on my own, but I discuss a lot of ideas with other artists.

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

I saw Bjork play in Osaka early last year and her band included a Tenori-on and a reacTable. This was the first time I’d seen any instruments like this played live – I was very impressed. Then a few months ago I ended up at Colourama, a chiptune music event in Kuala Lumpur where there was a DIY reacTable and lots of modified Nintendo controllers. I realised this sort of instrument was not only of great interest, but something I might be able to get access to.

I also really like Tujiko Noriko and Laurie Anderson.

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

I’m doing post-graduate study in Interaction Design this year and I’m particularly interested in manipulating sound and video with touch screens or peripheral controllers beyond the mouse/keyboard setup. I have some experience in silver-smithing and resin casting so ideally I’d like to add some electronics, sound and interaction design and work towards creating some musical interfaces.