We’re back! It’s been quite a while since our last post, but you know… life happens.
For all of you who still visit this place from time to time: thanks a lot! You owned yourself our heartfelt gratitude! For everybody else: welcome to Horizontalpitch!
The last years have been quite a bit of a journey for all of us here (both metaphorically and literally speaking), so it’s only fitting that our first post after the break is one about a journey as well.
When I first saw one of Ann Annie’s Field Trip videos I was totally captivated (actually I should say hypnotised) by it. It’s such a simple, yet powerful idea and taking the synthesizer(s) out into the landscape is the perfect extension of Ann Annie’s musical approach. Episode 1 dates back to April 2017 , but it’s a very interesting one on many levels, and definitely worth watching again in case you already saw it. The whole field trip idea was initially intended to be just an experiment, but it turned out much better than imagined (as Ann Annie tells me before starting the interview), so more of these were made in the months that followed (and can be seen on Youtube here).
Like in many modular videos, we never see who operates the instrument, which mostly plays by itself, with little human intervention. One could argue that the modular is the actual instrumentalist, and the person who made the patch is the composer/director, but that is food for another article I guess. It’s interesting though that by literally taking it on a ride, Ann Annie does not only humanise the modular, but also makes it become protagonist of a little story. In these videos, the synth not only plays music, it also does things and goes places.
This Chosen Wave is structured a little bit different from previous ones, because the interview resulted into one long, continuous answer to my questions, so I’ll just reproduce it the same way here.
Ann Annie: My musical background began when I was quite young. I started learning Piano, training myself by ear. Eventually I decided to try out a few other instruments including guitar and traditional rock band instruments. By high school I was in a band regularly playing shows around Portland. During this time I took an interest in Modular and analog Synths. I was immediately captivated and spent hours each day drooling over the strange world of modular synths, however it always remained a pipe dream in my head. Upon leaving high school and moving to Denver I dedicated the entirety of my free time to continuing my study of Jazz theory. Still intrigued by analog synths and hardware synths I bought a few keyboards and various devices such as the Korg Minilogue and Volca Keys. At this point, a Mother 32 found its way into my hands. The Modular world felt so close yet so far away. That is until I sold all of my instruments save the Mother 32 and bought a Mutable Instruments Rings.
Playing and building a modular to me is one of the most personal experiences an instrument can offer. As each rack is different, with a single patch never powering up to be the same twice, I find it to be a beautiful contrast and battle of controlling chaos while guiding it into desired sound. The limitless experimenting and exploration makes it one of the most freeing experiences as a musician.
My recording and composing process usually consists of immersing myself completely into the modular. I often will start patching with a single particular sound or concept in my head and building from there. Often times the end result will be completely different than the beginning. I also will try to emulate natural instruments or sounds to create patches.
The idea to do Modular Field Trips came from watching R Beny on Youtube and falling in love with his ability to make organic and natural sounding atmospheres with such an alien and industrial instrument. I wanted to take this even further and place the strange machine in beautiful scenes of nature, showing the contrast of nature and industry.
The actual process of making the field trips begins in the bedroom creating a patch. For the first episode hadn’t completely worked out the logistics of powering the modular. Eventually I got impatient and frustrated and decided to just go for it. I have to credit luck, or maybe sub-conscious instinct for the musical relationship to the sea.
My albums are usually slightly different versions of my field trips and videos I’ve posted, although I’m trying to move into separating the two, as time allows. I describe the music I make as rather atmospheres and textures to reflect and inflict a mood. As I wrote for Modular Field [the label who released AnnAnnie’s full-length album Athmospheres Vol.1 ed.]:
Ambience reflecting nature and the contrast of synthesized music, Under many atmospheres, flowing together, far apart, While running through the creation of worlds in between sound and emotion, Beautifully dancing with each other, colliding and warping, loosely like a dream, textures and rhythms that elicit a mood.
My Jazz background has greatly helped my improvisational skills, during my modular performances I am almost completely improvising. The only pre-determined composition is the concepts of where I’d like to head. Although I find one of the greatest beauties of the modular world to be the ability to let it take itself where it wants to go. This feeling of being simply a guide, never fully in control is something I find to be beautiful yet frustrating at the same time. A lesson in patience and letting go.
To see more of Ann Annie’s videos visit this Youtube channel
Ann Annie recently released a full-length album titled Atmospheres Vol.1 on the German label Modular Field
Cover photo courtesy of the artist