DMSA Feature: VASCHA

We catch up this month with VASCHA who is in the 3rd year of the DMSA programme to discuss with their work, influences and process.

Three words that describe you as a creative person?

AL: Resourceful, impulsive, perfectionistic

When did you start working with sound and music?

AL: In 2012 I got this Yamaha keyboard and by using the 3-track ‘record’ setting, I would recreate entire EDM tracks (drum kit, bassline, synth) by artists ranging from Swedish House Mafia to Lady Gaga. It wasn’t until 2015 when I found myself in the vortex of the micro-genre and internet movement ‘witch house’, when I released an original song on Soundcloud for the first time. This genre was based around occult imagery, wobbly bass, trap beats, sawtooth synths and seering, delayed vocals with unintelligible lyrics. Producers like S4LEM and Ritualz blew my entire perspective of music out of the window because so much emphasis was put on texture and atmosphere. I had no technical or academic knowledge about music production, which meant slowly teaching myself as I went along, dealing with musical ideas that were way too ambitious for my mixing and mastering skills. During this time, Soundcloud offered a more communal and democratic platform that allowed musicians to find and connect with each other through ‘groups’. Living in a lonely village outside of Colchester, various spaces like this on the internet became a safe space to kind of express my ideas and make connections with like-minded people. When I moved to Brighton 2 years later, I took a course in art foundation which is where I made my short film ‘Dead as Night’, whilst simultaneously creating the soundtrack which became my first EP. This was an exciting moment where my confidence in my craft was validated and solidified. However, my technical skills I mentioned before were still underdeveloped, leading to some messy first live shows. Learning some of these skills during the Sound Art course has been a joyous experience. Since then I have worked with some some of my favourite local and international artists such as Satvrnxx, Diana Starshine, Oscar Cheung, An Nguyen and Charlie + Jenny from ZLUTZ.

In what ways has the DMSA course supported or helped you to develop into who you are today creatively and professionally?

AL: The DMSA course has enriched my senses in the very fabric of electronic sound. This new perspective has given me a voice and a freedom to expand my artistic boundaries. It has introduced me to such an eclectic mix of artists and tutors. The facilities have allowed me to learn new skills (shoutout to Bob and Paul) and has opened my eyes to the ways in which this passion is of use to the world around me. Becoming friends with fellow course mates and performers (such as IAMFYA and CURRENTMOODGIRL) has been a wonderful experience. It shows me that although Brighton’s electronic scene often lacks space for queer live performance, something super special is happening in DMSA and change is upon us. This is so much more than just a music course.

Can you tell us a few words about VASCHA?

AL: VASCHA is an alias that landed with my the aforementioned EP ‘Dead as Night’. It is a an unintentional outlet to express my anger, pride and grief in which I have not found anywhere else in life. Some people claim to see her as a character, a mysterious pop star with an imprinted sonic identity. This identity is inspired by things like David Lynch films, euro-dance, outer space and the sounds of London Underground trains.

 

What are your plans for the near future?

AL: I’m currently expanding my sense of performance, and incorporating a more physical, live element into my work ready for my final DMSA project here in Brighton. I aim to learn fearlessly by embracing everything I still do not know yet as a challenge. My goal is to branch out to audiences in places like London and Bristol and to release my next musical project which embraces a much more personal presence than my previous music, with each track based on a different Hieronymus Bosch painting.

Follow Vascha:

DMSA Feature: Hal Kelly

Hal graduated from the DMSA BA in 2022 and presented for their Final Project ‘Listen to your World’, an hour-long theatrical gig infused with mindfulness and ecstatic dance. We catch up to discuss what they have been doing since completing the course.

 

Three words that describe you as a creative person?

HK: Explorative. Intuitive. Strange

 

When did you start working with sound and music?

HK: I taught myself piano in my teens and also did Music GCSE. The first music I made for myself was in GarageBand using a free synth plugin I downloaded off the internet – quite interesting but terribly produced! Then, after I left school, a friend of mine showed me the joys of Ableton Live, and I began using it for theatre shows and to make the soft experimental electronic music that would form my first album, Like a Liquid.

 

In what ways has the DMSA course supported or helped you to develop into who you are today creatively and professionally?

HK: DMSA opened my eyes to the vast range of interesting and experimental music that’s been made over the course of the last century, but more importantly it gave me the creative freedom to explore my own practice, try out different styles and eventually produce a final project that I’m proud of. Without the support of the tutors and technicians I would not have been able to create a performance I’m so happy with.

 

Can you tell us a few words about your recent project ‘Listen to Your World’?

HK: Listen to Your World is the performance I developed for my final project. Somewhere between a gig and a piece of theatre, it is best described as a mindfulness experience through sound and music. In the show I portray an alien who has come to Earth from their home planet and is amazed by all the beauty they find here. Realising that the humans don’t always see things this way, they attempt to encourage the audience to pay more attention to the beautiful sights and sounds to be found on this planet, before ending with ecstatic dance.

 

What are your plans for the near future? 

HK: I have just moved to Bristol and am planning to split my time between freelance music and theatre work, and climate activism. This year I developed a new musical called Armageddon Attenborough with my collaborator, poet Chris White. We will be performing it in the South West this September before developing it further and touring it next year. I also intend to pursue my solo music career, releasing my new album at some point next year.

 

 

DMSA Feature: Greta Carroll

This month, we speak to Manchester-born Greta Carroll who goes by the artist name CURRENTMOODGIRL.
Three words that describe you as a creative person?
GC: Curious, theatrical, visual
When did you start working with sound and music?
GC: I was around 16 when I started playing on Garage Band, using loop pedals, and making weird music that I showed to no one; I thought what came naturally to me was strange and I was a little ashamed so I started to explore other avenues to fulfil my needs in a more expectable way.
I went into jazz singing in jazz clubs around Manchester from 17 to 20.
But I ended up back to making strange industrial sounds and songs after this when introduced to Ableton around 21 and haven’t looked back.
In what ways has the DMSA course supported or helped you to develop into who you are today creatively and professionally?
GC: I have learnt a lot about things I was always curious about and found a greater depth in knowledge in them this year. 
I’m dyslexic so have never dared to think i was good enough to understand the history behind sound and the science but the course has invited me with no prejudice to learn what I desire. 
I’ve been more open to new ideas and learnt new ways of how to record sounds of electricity which i have always been curious about.
Can you tell us a few words about CURRENTMOODGIRL?
GC: CURRENTMOODGIRL is my artist name, the project has been going for around 3 years now and the main ideas behind it is the many different moods and emotions I feel intensely. Music helps me to say how I feel. 
Performance is one of the main and strongest parts of this project being on stage where I can really show people what my sounds are about.
The music is mainly industrial but can be floaty at points, it’s a bit of a pull and push of soft and hard. My vocals are quite dramatic as well, I would call it industrial melancholy pop.
What are your plans for the near future?
GC: I want to carry on learning more and capturing my ideas that are in my head, get better at mixing my strange sounds and recording, try out new software and learn more on the modular synth.
I want to built songs and soundtracks in different ways expand my knowledge on artists from the past and present.
I would like to build my performances up more theatrical with stage lighting visual ideas and interesting props, or instruments made by me that I can physically use on stage to captivate the audience more.
I want to record underwater pieces; there’s lots of things i want to do – the possibilities are endless and I’m open to everything.
Find her work here:
https://www.facebook.com/CURRENTMOODGIRL/
https://thequietus.com/articles/30760-currentmoodgirl-interview

DMSA Feature: Josh Bell

We caught up with BA and MA DMSA alumnus Josh Bell who just released his MA Final Project: ‘End of Play EP’ under the name BUL_i.

Three words that describe you as a creative person?

JB: Noisey, Experimental, Visceral

When did you start working with sound and music?

JB: I started playing guitar when I was quite young, this usually involved strumming along to Van Morrison at family events. I probably learnt most of what I know about guitar chords from an Oasis (I know) song book owned by my Dad. Music was very much a communal thing in my family and usually involved some form of singalong.

In what ways has the DMSA course supported or helped you to develop into who you are today creatively and professionally?

JB: DMSA gave me the opportunity to explore sound both theoretically and practically in a more visceral and textural way. I moved away from a practice developed solely dedicated to harmony and rhythm to one that explored noise and textural objects to express ideas as a whole. My massive shift in practice is the use and manipulation of audio especially with samplers which has completely transformed the way I create music.

Can you tell us a few words about ‘END OF PLAY’?

JB: END OF PLAY EP is a Noisey and Passionate scream into the void combining themes of Socialism, Alienation and Desperation into a response of my life and circumstances over the last 2 years during and after the pandemic. It’s primarily an anti-authoritarian piece one that is fearful of the rise of fascism in the west and trying to make sense of our current political climate

 

What are your plans for the near future?

JB: I have submitted my work to a few small festivals and gigs and am attempting to get it promoted on the radio. I also am starting work as a technician at an audio rental warehouse.

follow @joshbellsound on instagram
You can catch Josh live at Altered Images Festival

DMSA Feature: Anthea Clarke

Going by the moniker ‘I Am Fya’, Anthea who is about to start on her final year of the DMSA course, is a performer and experimental artist who uses field recordings layered with her voice and bold beats. We’re talking to her this month about her work including her recently ACE funded project ‘Heavy Flow’.

Three words that describe you as a creative person?

AC: Honest Badass Explorer

When did you start working with sound and music?

AC: Oh, it feels like a million years ago! I was always writing little poems and songs when I was a kid. I would listen to the radio and record stuff randomly on my cassette recorder. Bits of songs and talking, adverts etc. Then I would re-record bits onto another tape and make these weird little soundscapes. I was sampling but I had no idea what sampling was at that time, I wish I’d kept those tapes. I always knew I would end up singing, which I did for many years over other people’s beats before attempting to make my own beats around 15 years ago. I was gifted a little Zoom drum machine which gave me so much freedom to express, and I’ve been making music with machines ever since.

 

In what ways has the DMSA course supported or helped you to develop into who you are today creatively and professionally?

AC: The course has been everything I hoped it would be. I applied for uni during one of the early lockdowns. In the first few weeks, I was making the odd beat and singing a little but that eventually stopped. I was spending a lot of time on my own & my motivation to create art dwindled. I also had quite heavy personal problems and I was getting intoxicated daily. I had a moment of clarity where I thought “yo, you are not living up to your full potential”. I felt that although I had achieved lots of amazing things and had awesome opportunities in my life I was once again, stuck in a rut. Having all that time to think made me reassess everything, I did an online search and found this course. It sounded right up my street. I am self-taught and I had been producing my own music for quite some time, but I really wanted to up my game and try new things, get a bit weirder and more experimental. I figured I would be the oldest student on the course, which I am but it felt like a now or never situation. I had some anxiety about academia, so I always told myself that I wasn’t smart enough or, ‘too this’, or ‘not enough of that’ for university. The pandemic really made me realise that I was holding myself back, so I put my fears aside and it turns out I’m quite good at it! The course gave me the confidence to free myself up a bit. The structure, assignments and deadlines are also good for me because I’m ADHD gang and I can procrastinate and become overwhelmed at the thought of getting on with stuff. I have a lot of respect for the tutors who have been incredibly supportive. And the other students are bunch of legends, I have new friends who I would never have met otherwise, I’m grateful for the new connections and the support. It has been positive for me in many ways. This course saved me actually. It sounds dramatic but it’s true.

 

 

Can you tell us a few words about your recent project ‘Heavy Flow’?

AC: I sing professionally and I was on tour with another artist, we stayed in a brand new 5 star Hilton Hotel in Edinburgh. I was on my period and this huge ass building did not have any sanitary products. I was so upset, I cried at the reception. The staff (all women) didn’t help and acted like I was asking for some crazy thing they’d never heard of, it was weird. That night I announced to a band mate, “right, I’m gunna write a banger about periods because this ting is not a dirty secret” and started writing Heavy Flow that same night. I was angry, like…..can we normalise talking about this thing that half the population experience once a month?  It’s not an angry song though, it celebrates what our bodies can do and speaks of our connection to ancestors, the earth and nature.

So that’s how the project started, there’s only one song about periods though lol but one song led to another, and I made a kind of epic (as yet unreleased) album. I recently received arts council funding to develop a Heavy flow live show, which I have made a start on. But I need more funding to make it a reality so keep everything crossed for me.

What are your plans for the near future? 

AC: While I was in Barbados, caring for my parents during the various lockdowns I recorded a lot of sounds on my phone.  I used household objects as instruments, secretly recorded my family or friends speaking or singing, documented tons of environmental sounds, nature, birds, noisey a&e waiting rooms and noisey car rides. The first songs that I made from these sounds were created for uni assignments while I was doing my first year of uni online. The songs are really special to me as they document the development of my new direction. The songs are so different to what I was doing before uni.

I am joining forces with Rosehill Records who will be releasing this project which is now called Homeland.  I’ve never worked with a label before. I’ve been performing in their venue in Brighton for years, and they are all like family to me now so I’m really excited to see what we can achieve together.

 

I will also be releasing some merch, t-shirts and vinyl, and as I make clothing, and I’ll be designing and making some super special one-off pieces.

I’m itching to do some collaborations so I’m plotting this with a couple of talented souls.  And just do lots more gigs, continue evolving as a human and as an artist and keep making cool shit basically. Oh, and smash the shit out my final year at uni.

 

Anthea will be releasing ‘Homelands’ on Rose Hill Records

The first single Consciousness is out on 30/9/22

Single Launch Party at the Rosehill on Friday 30th September / 7pm / free entry (but ticketed)

https://iamfya.com/

https://www.instagram.com/iamfyamusic/

 

DMSA Feature: Afred Isaac

Alfred Isaac has just graduated from our course with his incredible record and performance ‘When You Stormed My Castle’ which won him the 2022 Ithaca Prize. We catch up with him about his plans to release his debut album and other endeavours.

DMSA: Three words that describe you as a creative person?

AI: Instinctual, Solitary, Haphazard 

DMSA: When did you start working with sound and music?

AI: I started playing my first instrument, the violin, when I was a kid. I continued to pick up and play various instruments such as guitar and piano but when it came to practicing I always enjoyed writing my own melodies or songs more than working on my set grade pieces. I had always struggled and disliked working on computers and I had no idea how to record or produce until I was 19.  At 19 I lived with a few DJ’s and producers and quickly realised that my frustration of only being able to write songs on guitar and never fully realise them was due to me not using a computer, DAW and audio interface. After purchasing the items I required my true career and path in music started to take shape. 

DMSA: In what ways has the DMSA course supported or helped you to develop into who you are today creatively and professionally?

DMSA was not the first University course I attended. When joining the course I found it to be incredibly different to what I had previously experienced, there were unlimited avenues to navigate down and no restrictions on how I tackled them. The free and open attributes of the course and tutors is exactly what I needed and my previous course had lacked this. I went into DMSA very doubtful of what I wanted to do in music, my faith in my songwriting had diminished and I joined the course looking for other paths I could take. During the first two years I went down those paths with the set modules, finding interest in many different areas within the music industry. In my final year all this knowledge and guidance from the tutors took me back to having confidence in my songwriting but now with a wider knowledge and range of skills than I had previously had and with a new sense to experiment and push the boundaries of my chosen field. Being in a classroom of students who may become Sound Artists, Engineers, Producers, Composers, Songwriters or all of the above gave me perspective and knowledge that, I believe, is uncontested and purely a product of the course’s nature to allow the student to take any or all paths with no prejudice to them. 

DMSA allowed me to develop myself into who I am as a creative and professional today becoming a performer, songwriter and producer. 

DMSA: Can you tell us a few words about When You Stormed My Castle?

AI: “When You Stormed My Castle” is my first ever album that I have created. The album was created in my final year at Uni and involves a mixture of electronic and live instruments that accompany my vocals and lyrics with an emphasis on how the voice interacts with synthesizers. The lyrics are based on self growth, relationships and conflict that stem from my perspective of trying to understand the people close to me. At first an album was all that would have been achieved but with some convincing from my tutor Johanna, it turned into a performance. The performance is an impactful solo show using lighting projections created by fellow students Stephen Samaniego and Wolfgang Dubieniec. I am playing multiple instruments during the performance and singing as well.

The first single “Truths” is out 29/8/2022.

The album will be out at the end of 2022/early 2023.

DMSA: What are your plans for the near future? 

AI: I am moving to London to pursue my career as a solo artist and will be booking gigs and events where I can perform my album and gain a stronger following. During this time I will be mixing, mastering and self releasing singles from my album with the first, “Truths” coming out on the 29th of August 2022. The album will be released at the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023 and will be accompanied by a limited run of merchandise and physical platforms. I will also be continuing to mix and master for current and new clients, trying to always improve and obtain the vision for their own music.

Contact;

alfred@alfredisaac.com

www.alfredisaac.com

@alfred_isaaac