Guest of the Month February 2013: Elizabeth Walling
Gazelle Twin is the stage name and main solo project of British composer and artist, Elizabeth Walling. Drawing on diverse musical influences, her work extends beyond composition into production, film, installation, performance and costume, often exploring strong themes such as civilisation and anatomy. Her critically acclaimed, self-released debut album, The Entire City (July 2011, Anti-Ghost Moon Ray) led to creating connections and collaborations with artists such as Ridley Scott, Clint Mansell and Gary Numan. Her latest record, Mammal EP (January 2012, Sugarcane Recordings) has been released during numerous collaborative projects in art, film and music as well as work on her second LP which is due in 2012.
With funding through Women Make Music, Elizabeth has been commissioned by Spitalfields Music to create ‘Scanner: Form Flows’. She told us:
“It’s been a unique opportunity to reinterpret and explore some of the ideas that interest me about Dowland’s piece, especially the visual potential it conjures and the wider thematic elements there are to explores, such as the notion of melancholy and flow in music. I am enjoying finding and fusing connections between these ideas and the sites of Spitalfields as I’m always drawn to thematic narrative. In this case I have been quite forensic in my approach, trying to separate out the raw elements and transplant them again onto different spaces through performance and with my own aesthetic choices. It can be daunting to work on a project like this and to make bold statements on such iconic landmarks or compositions, but the challenge is really valuable to me.”
What 5 pieces of music or performances have influenced Elizabeth recently, or she would tip?
The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir. 24 September, 2011, Barbican Centre.
I can’t remember a time where I didn’t know about this choir and adore every aspect of their music, performance, recordings and technical mastery. The close harmonies and rhythms are a constant source of wonder. The choir’s performance at the Barbican was a life-changing event, both epic and intimate. I really wish labels like 4AD were still releasing and introducing younger generations to crucial music like this.
Xorcism EP by The Spaceape
This was a self-released, free EP that came out last year from The Spaceape aka Stephen Gordon. I encountered the video for ‘On The Run’ and found it instantly engaging – simple but dark and visceral, three elements I’m trying to restrict my own work to currently. I was also fascinated by the personal drive that created this work – relating to the experience of the human body and illness. I urge people to seek it out and support it.
Soundtracks: The Terminator (Brad Fiedel, 1984) & Blade Runner (Vangelis, 1982)
So much of my drive and inspiration has come from movie soundtracks, especially those from films of the 1980’s, where some of the best electronic soundtracks were created and still stand the test of time. These two soundtracks each have a very unique palette of sound and particularly delicate use of electronics that I am constantly drawn back to when producing.
De Profundis by Arvo Part
This piece of music was a turning point for me in my late teens. It made me to decide to study composition and write for the voice. It really does conjure a journey out of some primal, dark space. The movement of it rises gradually and intensely. The religious text, for me, has no bearing on this journey. I think music can often transcend the context in which it is initially placed, which is probably why I love so much religious music.
The Knife, The Roundhouse, May 2013
The Knife, to me, are the most successful electronic, conceptual art crossover act that I know of. By successful I don’t mean famous (although they most certainly are), I just mean that they are able to present very complex concepts in a non-pretentious, all-knowing way and still retain some element of humour. My anticipation for this show is like no other I can think of. I know that it won’t fail to overwhelm me.