Artist: Hélène Vogelsinger
How was this track born?
Hélène: Illumination was born in March this year, exactly 5 days before the lockdown in France. But the process of its creation really started a month earlier, when I first visited the place, which was about to be my muse.
What was your process when creating this piece?
Hélène: At that moment, I was experiencing different creative processes.
On previous tracks, I used to first create the foundations and then search for a place to record it. A place which was aligned in terms of energies.
I focused on abandoned places. I love the fact that they have layers of stories and histories, with different occupants, often crossing-times, and always full of beautiful and melancholic poetry.
When you find those types of places, it is such an amazing discovery.
So with my partner Chalisk, who shoots all my sessions, we visited different places. We finally ended up in a very small town, which counts around 100 inhabitants. On top of a hill, there was this giant and magnificent, abandoned castle; we could tell by its dilapidated state and how nature had taken over.
When we arrived at its heights, I directly felt those strong, peaceful energies around me. While remaining prudent, we visited almost every room of this 1500m2 castle. We took pictures and videos and I recorded ambient sounds inside, outside and nearby. I even went for a small meditation session and asked the “invisible” if there was anything that needed to be transmitted and said.
Eventually we met and talked to some neighbours. That was a rich and intense day!
I came back to my small studio and started to create the foundations, based on what I experienced during that day, with the photos and videos under my eyes to refresh my memory. I also listened to the field recording during meditation sessions and before sleeping. I eventually incorporated some of them in the track, like for example, the sound of the river that was flowing behind the castle. The sample was so manipulated that one cannot recognise it anymore! You can also hear the birds at the end. (I always capture bird sounds everywhere I go). We came back a few weeks after, with all the equipment in our old Volvo.
The live session is another process in the process.
Now that I had created the foundations, inspired by this place, I was about to perform in its environment. Technically, it requires good organisation: 3 modular cases, hundreds of cables, a generator, a camera, lights, and even more cables. That is something, especially in abandoned places where you need to avoid obstacles.
Emotionally, there is the stress of being detected and asked to leave, after hours of installation. We generally wait until the last minute before starting the generator, which is very noisy. But it did not happen this day, and everything went so well. We were full of that peaceful and loving energy we experienced a few weeks ago.
We chose a room which was called “La Salle Aux Roses”.
We did three different recordings/shootings and I finally chose the one that became “Illumination”.
During that take something happened and I felt really connected to the place, like if its energy was guiding me. I was focused and in an altered luminous consciousness state.
How did the tools used for this piece affect the way it came together?
Hélène: Working with a modular synthesizer really modified my way to create music.
I love how this instrument captures a precise instant that will never be the same twice. This is a very magical thing for me. I think it really sums up well what life is: a compilation of hundreds of thousands of unique moments.
For “Illumination” that instant was in an abandoned castle from the 16th century, in a very small town, during a surprising summer day in March, in a precise emotional state and alignment.
What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about the track?
My favorite thing about this track is the suspended moment that starts at around 2:40. I really did not plan it and when I listened to it, when we came back home that day, it was a total surprise and a proof for me of an undeniable connection and guidance of that place and its energies.
I have a very special bond with this piece, and I often dream about the castle. So, if I have to really choose a least favourite thing, it’s more about a part of this experience, the part where I stressed about being kicked out and damaging the equipment.
But I finally managed that stress thanks to meditation and by trusting my intuitions and the place energies.
So at the end, it was quite a positive thing : )
Bonus question: where does the idea of recording your tracks as a live take in specifically selected places come from and how does this fit into your overall artistic practice?
Hélène: My life has always been like a moving sea of new environments.
Moving a lot as a child made me experience and understand the impact that our environment can have on us, on many levels. Free from obligations, I continue to move as a young adult, trying to find my place.
I decided to finally settle down 4 years ago; I needed a more quiet and peaceful life and moved to the South-West of France. Not far from the mountains, not far from the sea. Absolutely near nature.
During those years, while processing all my previous environmental experiences, I realised how many different lives I lived just by moving geographically, and how I was emotionally and spiritually bound to them. A new environment is like a new beginning, a new story, with different energies and sounds, a lot of new first times, a new understanding of all things. Each one of them subtly transforms who you are and alters your destiny.
When I entered the modular world, more than a year ago, it really opened a whole new dimension. A modular synthesizer is really an instrument you fuse with; It is an extension of yourself. It offers you its capacities to express in a deep way what you are experiencing. It made me understand and feel the frequencies behind the notes, and the energies behind the frequencies.
Everything made sense.
I first started to explore different rooms of my direct environments (studio, rooftop, garden, workshop). At that time, I was also taking a recording class, in which every week, we had to record different environmental sounds and create music with them. It really made me want to explore the outside of my secure space, to feel and capture the essence of as many different environments as I could.
It is a powerful and deep creative exercise that requires all the different layers: body, mind and spirit, and touches something pure.
You can see and hear more about Hélène Vogelsinger on Instagram
Cover Photo by Chalisk Pito