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Interview: WHIM Talks About Her Debut EP 'Mother Tongue'

Interview: WHIM Talks About Her Debut EP 'Mother Tongue'

Brooke Singer / Monday 18th May, 2020 10:45AM

Deanne Krieg has had various musical outputs over the years, performing in the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, as a featured vocalist for electronic project Pacific Heights, in Ben Lemi's trippy Pōneke collective Dawn Diver and as part of chamber-folk trio Ida Lune. However, today we see a release from her solo project WHIM – her first EP to be released on Aotearoa imprint Home Alone titled Mother Tongue.

Mother Tongue draws from electronica, trip-hop, folk and jazz to build a frighteningly accomplished collection of songs she describes as an “autobiographical work which critiques the traditional and historical representation of the 'woman' in popular music, drawing inspiration from American-Canadian artist Miriam Shapiro’s domestic process of Femmage”. There are undertones of Björk and other avant-garde artists, with suspended harmonies, complex melodies, and austere soundscapes in which these songs and themes blossom.

I spoke to Deanne about the creation of the collection, press play and read on…


Brooke Singer: Mother Tongue is out today! I first heard about this album last year while you were producing it as part of your Masters project at Massey University. I understand the EP is a conceptual one, can you explain the themes you were exploring? How did it effect the lyrical and musical content of the EP?

Deanne Krieg: Devising this EP under a 'Fine Arts' umbrella made me realise how politically charged my work actually is, the personal is political!! Having to define my production process and critique the perhaps more 'unconventional'sonic decisions I was hearing in my head was a good way of understanding myself, my creative process, and the subconscious ideas at play in my (often) scrambled brain. To anyone writing or producing music – trust yourself and your process, go with ideas regardless of how mad or weird they are – who knows what you’ll discover about yourself or your sound.

Mother Tongue is autobiographical at heart, reflecting upon and critiquing my experience as a female composer, producer, and performer. Adopting Feminist theory, post-modernist methods and post-structural aesthetics, I argue that 'woman' in music has been constructed through traditional and coded organisations of patriarchal culture. This EP responds sonically, lyrically, and thematically to the ways I have personally encountered the masculine narrative informing or depicting feminine experience.

I would describe my approach to production on this EP as an 'Architecture of Sounds'; I store and accumulate field and urban recordings, online content, video samples and vocal ideas. I layer hi-fi with lo-fi, past with present. It’s a kind of cut-up and collage technique.

Dadaist and Surrealist art practice is popular for its methods of collage, bricolage, and decoupage which critique the correlation between words and meaning. Feminist artists have often used cut up and collage as a mode of aesthetic expression in postmodern art as a deliberate denial of formal contradictions (male/female, outside/inside, hard/soft, solid, vulnerable, armoured / wounded, repulsive / attractive. I wanted to disrupt these binaries with my production choices.

Lyrically, one of the main themes ‘de-mythologises’ the central narrative of Ovid’s Orpheus and Eurydice (as depicted in Metamorphoses) to critique the binary model of male artist, and female muse.

Popular music has referenced or retold the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus, but absent from these representations has been a critical response to the masculine depiction of Orpheus as a symbol of musical brilliance, and Eurydice’s subordinate role in their relationship. Eurydice’s mortal life relies upon Orpheus’s interest in the ‘erotic other’ to be saved. Ultimately it is both literally and figuratively Orpheus’ gaze which has the power to both give life to a woman or to end it. By appropriating this myth as a counter-hegemonic response I subvert the narrative of woman existing as muse through the imagination of the male artist, and give Eurydice a voice.


I recall that Holly Herndon approached her music from an academic perspective, having studied for her pHD at Stanford, and her album PROTO is influenced by her research into collaborating with AI. Do you think creating in an 'academic' environment has influenced the kind of music you've created?

Herndon / PROTO definitely had an influence on my work! Herndon cites Haraway's 1985 Cyborg Manifesto as a catalyst for her studies, adopting the cyborg metaphor to “reimagine(s) what music can sound like…(which) frees us from the tropes and archetypes of the past” (Herndon, 2015). I think the virtualities of cyberspace can challenge the fixed identities of “woman” in western culture by providing new intersubjective experiences for the post-human, and as we continue to become more enmeshed with technology in our daily lives, perhaps this points to a more utopian future for women in electronic music making?

However, as a trained vocalist, music making has always been a very embodied, and personal process for me, physically, when the body is your instrument, utilising technology can seem a little unintuitive at first. I was really interested in exploring what it means to have an embodied relationship with technology throughout the creative process. Taking Herndon as inspiration, I experimented with vocal based works and used pedals and DAW to explore the infinite possibilities of timbre, range, and temporality that technology provides. These experiments definitely informed the larger works on the EP, and altered my approach to vocal production.

What are your three favourite records that (may) have had some influence on Mother Tongue?

1. Flying Lotus - Until the quiet comes
2. Four Tet - New Energy
3. Holly Herndon - PROTO


P.s. I hear you now have a pet cat? SO LUCKY! Tell me more (this is the most important interview question).

Ugh yes! She’s the best. FINALLY my YouTube algorithms have shifted from post-humanism, and academic jargon to suggestions such as “How to know if your cat loves you?”, “Does your cat control you?” and “the cat from hell”. Pretty life changing.

Whim's 'Mother Tongue' EP is out now via Home Alone Records.

Links
whimnz.bandcamp.com/
homealonemusic.co.nz/
facebook.com/WHIMNZ/

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