Another instalment of the Tribal Gathering of Tongue Tasters is coming your way. Curated by Bani Haykal, the session this month will be featuring a collaboration between experimental Chinese instrumentalists Sa Trio and sound artist Darren Moore. We chat with them in preparation to get our minds thoroughly liquefied this Saturday at The Substation.
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How has working together been like?
Although we are from different backgrounds and disciplines, coming up with a show for the tribal gathering has been straight forward. The SA trio members are great musicians who are open minded, which has made it easy to explore and work together.
Interesting! Also intellectually stimulating, we come from different musical genres and backgrounds, which allows us to bounce off ideas with one another. Also, we explored the possibility of how someone can remix our sound live.
(For Sa Trio) You make music that is quite experimental in nature, yet rooted in tradition. Tell us about how you decided on this direction.
Our direction comes from our individual backgrounds; our experience from living in Singapore, experience from living/studying overseas. We have a wide scope of interests – Andy loves Michael Jackson and Steve Vai; Cheryl loves Techno and Drum & bass; Natalie loves Mando-pop; and we all love classical music, and still love classical chinese music!
We have all reached a certain level of technical abilities, and it came to a point whereby we wanted to expand and break new grounds, and that’s how we started exploring different sounds.
We belong to the current generation, and we want to be current with our Art as well.
(For Darren Moore) You usually dabble in modern genres, and now you've been working with a band who uses traditional Chinese instruments - how did you find this experience?
After performing a lot with experimental musicians from many different places, it becomes apparent that the instrument itself is nothing more than a sound producer. I have played with musicians who use the same instruments as the SA Trio (guzheng, percussion and flute) in unconventional ways to create new sounds so working with the SA trio on traditional instruments wasn't so foreign.
What difficulties did you face in the process of working together?
The only issue was finding enough time in our schedules to work together.
We are all rather busy, especially in the first week of residency, and thus it was difficult to fit our schedules together. There were also some technical issues we had to solve because of the different nature of our instruments and presentation.
What have you learnt from this residency?
This residency has taught me that there is more depth to the Singapore music scene than I am aware of.
This residency gave us opportunities to create new worlds and conceptualize new thoughts. We appreciate having the space as it allowed us to have the time and space to just create music.
How do you think musicians and artists benefit from collaborations such as these?
Collaborations like this get you out of your comfort zone and your immediate circle of usual collaborators. I am accustomed to performing with other musicians in improvised situations that I have never played with before, but we share similar background, references or traditions. In this situation, it encourages you find a middle ground with musicians from different backgrounds.
It expands possibilities, and we can feed of each other’s ideas, concepts and sounds. From such collaborations, it allows artistes from different backgrounds to come together to create something new, to share their own ideas and advancements in their own respective fields, and thus allowing further progress.
Tell us how the experience has broadened your musical direction.
This residency has allowed me to explore the interaction between acoustic drums and electronics in more detail. I work a lot with both aspects separately but I seldom work with them together, this collaboration has been a good starting point that I will continue to explore in the future.
We learnt how our live sounds could be remixed to create a whole new sonic art altogether. We were also introduced to Carnatic rhythms, and created a section of our presentation based on the Carnatic rhythm.
What do you think you have achieved with this collaboration?
Hopefully something new! There is the argument that there is never anything new, but hopefully the combination of our backgrounds, skills and ideas will create work that synthesizes our individual inputs into a unique product.
New sonic experiences.
What can the audience expect from the show?
I don't want to give too much away, but the audience can expect to hear instruments played acoustically and processed through electronics, conventional and unconventional playing of our instruments, set form and improvisation and good musicianship.
Come What (May)…