Omnii Feature #3: Under the lid with… LIA MICE

Omnii
Omnii
Dec 5, 2016 · 4 min read
Photo credit: Sarah Shin

Meet Lia Mice, London-based experimental pop producer. Currently finishing her third solo LP, Lia took some time out of her busy schedule to prepare a mix of tunes that have inspired her including her unreleased brand new single “We Are The Beat” and answered some questions for us below.

Tracklist:
01. Meredith Monk “Dolmen Music” (ECM)
02. Via App “Sunkissed” (1080p)
03. Holly Herndon “Chorus” (RVNG Intl.)
04. La Leif “Chalkpit” (Lumen Lake)
05. Lisa Busby “Bells” (self-released)
06. Helena Celle “Live Slug Array for Information Processing” (Night School)
07. Delia Derbyshire tape c.1963 (unreleased)
08. Laurie Anderson “Big Science” (WB)
09. Jlin “Guantanamo” (Planet Mu)
10. Alice Coltrane “Journey In Satchidananda” (Impulse!)
11. Anohni “Drone Bomb Me” (Rough Trade)
12. Fay “C.A.Y.A.” (Time No Place)
13. Stellar OM Source “Elite Excel” (RVNG Intl.)
14. Karen Gwyer “You Big” (Opal Tapes)
15. Ela Orleans “Beatrice” (Night School)
16. Anna Zaradny “Theurgy Two” (Bocain)
17. Laurel Halo “Annome” (Hyperdub)
18. Lia Mice “We Are The Beat” (unreleased)

I had a dig and pulled out some of my favourite records by female-identifying producers, and included an unreleased track from my new solo album I’m currently working on.

I chose most of the tracks because they explore new territories in vocal production, from extended vocal techniques and harmonies to cut-up samples, and using the voice as a synthesizer or percussive instrument. I chose the Delia Derbyshire and Helena Celle tracks because they experiment with tape and that’s part of my process too.

Some of the artists I’ve seen play great live sets recently. Karen Gwyer, La Leif and Laurel Halo all use an Octatrack, which is a key part of my live set-up too. I’m always curious to see how artists can approach the same machine in a unique way.

[The photo below] is of the studio I share with End All Work in South East London. When I’m producing for my solo project, or creating film scores for that matter, I generally record synths and drums directly into Live, then load samples from those recordings into an Octatrack or Rytm. Then I’ll play with them on those machines for a bit then track them back into Live. This process can go around and around and can include other samplers and cassette or tape machines. Then I create the final mix using a half inch tape machine.

When I lived in New York I tried to start a band that would rehearse on weekends. The other members were always cancelling at the last minute so I’d use the time to record my own ideas into Garage Band. Eventually I shifted focus to a solo project so I could choose to either work alone or collaborate with other artists and producers.

My first LP Happy New Year was self-produced. Around the time I was making it I saw Harald Grosskopf perform and talk about how he made his solo album Synthesist. To paraphrase a little, he said “Use what you have or your dream will always remain a dream”. So I self produced that LP using what I had, Garage Band and a SM57.

My second LP I Love You was produced in New York by Daniel James Schlett who runs and owns a studio I used to assist at called Strange Weather. He taught me so much about studio production. He straight up didn’t care about peaking. He’d say “Don’t look at the meters, just trust your ears. There’s no right way of recording anything.”

Since moving to London I’ve been working on my third LP. It’s much more detailed in production than anything I’ve created before. Spending the last year or so completing a Masters of Music has allowed me time to develop my own recording techniques. But I am still doing it the Harald Grosskopf way of using what I have.

I’m obsessed with half inch tape and cassette. I use a Tascam cassette 4-track for performing live, and a Fostex 16 track half-inch tape machine for recording. Both are great for making warbled, out of tune soundscapes. When I was young I had vision issues so I mostly experienced the world through sound. I remember listening to music but also to everything else happening at the same time. Now when I’m making music, I’m always trying to sculpt sonic landscapes like the ones I grew up in and bury them in the track. Tape disintegration is part of that too. I lived by my Sony Walkman and played so many tapes to the point of destruction. I love that sound.

Look out next year for my new solo album and a film called A Quiet Room In Walthamstow, for which I’m composing the score.

https://www.facebook.com/lia.mice/

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London collective for women+ and non-binary producers, engineers and sound manipulators http://omniicollective.com/