Interview: Karen Constance, 'I requested no vocals, the set will be improvised'

The sound artist plays Glasgow new music Tectonics with Adam Boham

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Interview: Karen Constance,

Artwork by Karen Constance

This year’s Tectonics lineup includes Karen Constance, sound artist, member of Blood Stereo and the Polly Shang Kuan Band, and co-curator of another UK experimental music festival, Brighton’s Colour out of Space. An accomplished visual artist too, it’s her haunting images that grace the festival programme. Constance will be performing alongside improviser and sound-collagist Adam Bohman (of Morphogenesis and the Bohman Brothers). We spoke to her ahead of her appearance.

What will your set entail?

Adam will be playing his mic’ed-up table of what looks like scrap metal/junk/bombs. I will be playing some pre-recorded sounds on various tape players and some loops. It's the first time Adam and I have played together as a duo. The only planning we have done for this is that I requested no vocals, the set will be improvised, I think this works best for me, plans never pan out.

How did you get involved in Tectonics?

Ilan asked me to play, I’ve worked with him a couple of times before and my husband Dylan [Nyoukis] played the festival last year.

What kind of brief, if any, were you given?

Not much at all. Ilan knows what we do and that's what he’s looking for, I guess.

Are there close ties between Brighton's underground and that of Edinburgh or Glasgow? How do the Scottish and South East scenes compare?

I wouldn't say there are, not any more so than the connection with Sheffield or Leeds. We have collaborated with Scottish artists and had them down here to play Colour out of Space. The word ‘scene’ gives the wrong impression of what's going on, it's more like a gang … there’s not enough of us to make it a scene.

How did you first get interested in experimental music, as a listener and as a performer? And what keeps you interested as the years go by?

I first became interested when Dylan and I getting together in ’96. He was already running his label Chocolate Monk, so I was hearing lots of new, weird, way-out music that I found really inspiring. He encouraged me to play with him and Lisa in their band Decaer Pinga (formerly Prick Decay). From then on I've been playing. Now, it’s such a big part of my life – along with making art – that I can't imagine doing anything else.

Who else on this year's Tectonics line-up are you particularly excited to see?

Peter Brötzmann and Heather Leigh should be good, Mariam Rezaei, Éliane Radigue's works, Hockyfrilla, Ben Patterson & Rhodri Davies – all of it, really!

Karen Constance performs at Tectonics Opening Concert, The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Fri 1 May.

Tectonics Opening Concert

The opening concert of Tectonics Glasgow 2015 is a quadruple-bill of intense, with composer / turntablist Mariam Rezaei joining the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and members of the BBC SSO; tapes and loops from Karen Constance (Polly Shang Kuan Band) and Adam Bohman (Morphogenesis); a solo set from the roaring boy of…

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