MONIKA WERKSTATT: FEATURE
10 female artists from the Monika-Enterprise label travelled from Berlin to Uckermark. They opened up new forms of interaction and creative dialogue which found them falling into a process without any clear beginnings or ends. The end result was a beautiful and sonically rich album.
Ahead of the London date of their UK tour, we catch up with Gudrun, Danielle, Sonae, Barbara and Pilocka from Monika Werkstatt to talk process, improvisation, and creative collaboration.
What was the main inspiration behind the album? Did you have a theme in mind?
Gudrun Gut: The idea behind the album was to get different artists together to exchange ideas. We had done some Monika Werkstatt events before in different German cities, and saw how interesting it could be to share knowledge and have fun together as well. For me, the Werkstatt is a totally new extension of the label work. I knew all the artists, but they didn’t all know each other, so the interesting thing was the collective process.
Danielle De Picciotto: Improvising together, and experimenting in being very receptive to the ideas of other women. Also melting down borders and pre-conceived compositional ideas.
Barbara Morgenstern: Coming together and playing together — simple and easy!
What was the compositional process when you made the album? Did it change for each song?
GG: We recorded three days in the studio improvising. Then each artist took one or two tracks home to her own studio to produce it. This was really important part of the process, because I didn’t want to do an improv record and also wanted to shed light on different ways of producing. Not only did it involve mixing it, but also making a song out of the material, recording new parts for it and using samples from the work to create the track. There was total freedom of how to proceed.
DP: I imported the improv session into Ableton Live and worked from there. As I am very interested in spoken word being mixed with electronic and instrumental music, I produced in that way and added quite a bit to the songs. I really enjoyed working with the raw material and moulding it into something new and special. It’s a different process than if you are starting from scratch.
What gear and instruments did you use?
GG: Everyone brought a small amount of gear, as most artists came by train. Antye (know by her artist name, AGF) works a lot with iPad apps, Pilocka and Lucrecia (Dalt) both had the same Scandinavian little tape machine, Islaja brought a fantastic analogue drum machine, and there were already some synths in the studio. I had my computer with Ableton on it, as well as the Volca Beats, Volca Bass and Monotron.
DP: I brought recorded sounds and sentences that I’d prepared for the session on my Roland SP-404SX, my violin and my BOSS ME-80 pedal board.
BM: On my side, I brought the Nord Lead VA Synth and my Fender Rhodes.
Pilocka Krach: I brought the Korg MS-20, a Yamaha Keytar and the Teenage Engineering OP-1.
Sonae: I used self-recorded and manipulated sounds played on AKAI controllers and an additional Volca Beats — simple tools totally work, and it’s the ideas and effort that need complexity, not the gear!
What are your other projects?
What is everyone up to now individually?
GG: I am working on a collaboration track with Ame, and on some film music with Thomas Fehlmann and Frank Wiedemann, but right now I’m concentrating on my solo album.
DP: I’m also currently working on my next solo album, and I will also be releasing an album with Alexander Hacke on December 1st through POTOMAK.
BM: I’m composing pieces for a children’s choir for a theatre piece by the director’s group Rimini Protokoll, which will be premiered in May 2018. I’m also currently working on my new album, which will be released autumn next year.
S: With my second album release on Monika Enterprise ahead, I am getting ready for concentrated solo work — I’m thinking about how to prepare the release and the live shows for next year.
PK: I’m keeping focussed on changing the world!