Saturday, 17 January 2015

Alien Dramaturgy: Fiona Soe Paing @ Edfringe 2015


Out-of-this world live music/cinema hybrid set to take off at Made in Scotland Showcase 2015 during Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Summerhall

“Very, very cool!” Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode)

Cutting edge electronic producer/vocalist Fiona Soe Paing’s unique and immersive show Alien Lullabies combines otherworldly electronica soundscapes and compelling live vocals with 3D animation by New Zealand artist Zennor Alexander to create an unsettling and mesmerising live music/cinema hybrid. The show features tracks from her forthcoming album, and the new single Heartbeat due for release on Hotgem Tunes this Friday 19.6.15 alongside a video premiere on on-line music and culture magazine The 405.

" won't fail to be hypnotized by the parallel world created by Paing's haunting electronic arrangements and Alexander's deeply creative design….so fantastically disturbing and unsettling that you can’t help but be enveloped..." Stephen Bevan, The 405

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
This has been a slowly evolving project since about 2007! It started with one song, which needed a video. That song/video needed another.... and another... there wasn't any overall plan... we just followed what the work seemed to need to do naturally... until we had a whole set of songs which when viewed/listened to in one sitting, from beginning to end... seemed to have an underlying, unstated narrative... so we then added a beginning and an ending, and decided to present the whole package in a more theatrical format, and so ta-dah, it became a show.
Why bring your work to the Edinburgh Fringe?
It's been quite hard finding audiences for our work, as it's not the kind of music that you'd find at a regular gig, and neither does it fit iinto film or theatre... and being based in rural Aberdeenshire there's not a big "scene" to tap into... so I decided to apply for the Made in Scotland funding, as it gives a platform to innovative and cross-discipline work, and since Summerhall is known for it's adventurous programming, I think it might find a supportive audience there for the Fringe. I also wanted to challenge myself to see if I could pull it off, and to see if I can up the game a bit... I'm also looking forward to making some new collaborations with other artists and companies in the fringe and meeting some new and inspiring people!

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
It's like watching a surreal animated film with an electro score and a live singer... it really takes you off somewhere else and is quite mesmerising ... some of it's quite unsettling... but some of the music is really danceable too.... The animations combined with the music and live vocals, is something quite different I think

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
It became clear during the making of the music and visuals that the overall piece needed to be presented and structured into a story-like form, rather than as separate songs or music videos.... the recurring images that we use in the separate pieces imply an underlying narrative, without spelling anything out.... and we shaved off some edges of the puzzle pieces to fit into the overall picture that was fuzzily emerging! So yes, that was really relevant, for the work to make more artisttic sense, rather than being just eye and ear candy.

What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work - have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
There are so many traditions and influences it's hard to know where to start.... punk rock maybe? Dance music of all kinds, from ballet to house, electro and techno... experimental theatre and dance, Brecht, Martha Graham, Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, Bjork, David Lynch, Kraftwerk, free jazz, PJ Harvey, Peaches, opera.

Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
Working on my laptop, I play around to see if i can find some sounds that are unusual or that have a sort of character of their own, and usually build something rhythmic around that... usually looking for sounds that suggest a specific atmosphere or feeling... other instruments fit around that and then I improvise some vocals sounds... sometimes I write lyrics to fit the melody, other times just keep the original improv and fine tune it and memorise the "words" so that I can do overdubs or harmonies. When there's a finished song with a structure, I send it to Zennor and he uses whatever images it sparks off to him to create his animations. 

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? 
They make all of it.... I still don't know what it means yet...   It has to be reflected back to you by the audience before you can start to see it clearly. 

Fiona will perform Alien Lullabies for ten dates at Summerhall for the Made in Scotland 2015 showcase during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“I’m delighted my work has been selected for Made in Scotland - its a great opportunity to perform alongside world-class artists on an international platform.” Fiona Soe Paing

Made in Scotland Showcase performance details

Dates: Wed 12-Sun 16 / Wed 19-Sun 23 August

Time: 10.35pm

Venue: Red Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL (Fringe Venue 26)

Tickets: From Summerhall or the Fringe Box Office 0131 226 0000

Of Scottish/Burmese origin, and living in rural Aberdeenshire, electronic producer/vocalist Fiona Soe Paing has been crafting her sound since 2005, and since 2007, has been collaborating on visuals for her live shows with New Zealand animation artist Zennor Alexander.

Her first home produced demo which she sang using random words from a Burmese tourist phrasebook, was found on Myspace by the legendary BBC world music DJ, the late Charlie Gillett, who included it on the album "Sound of The World 2007" on Warner Music, one of his annual compilations of the best in world music.

Her EP release in 2012 ‘Tower of Babel’ was widely praised in the media, receiving a Four Stars rating in The Skinny.

Fiona recently worked with Brit Award winner Beth Orton at a collaborative residency for Brighter Sound Manchester, and performed at the Wide Days music convention at the Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh.

Review - Alien Lullabies review

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