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Chords in Conversation: Antwerp Talks Cinesthesia

AliceCinesthesiaToday we have the musician Antwerp (Nico) in to talk about his latest project with Cinesthesia where he will be scoring old short films live. His approach to the project seems both innovative and exciting as he explores with things like translating brain waves into music in order to map out his take on Alice in Wonderland! Read on for more…
Hello there, thanks for taking a few minutes out to chat with me! How are you?
I‘m Good! Thrilled to be working with Cinesthesia and my sonic companions for our next events at The Hackney Attic!
First things first, what initially attracted you to this ongoing programme of shorts combined with music?
I always wanted to be a film composer. Antwerp started as an instrumental music project back in 2010 but only recently I’ve been invited by Cinesthesia and Filmphonics to create OSTs for silent films. I think the idea of showing old masterpieces accompanied by modern music is a real challenge for us all!As to being a film composer. Antwerp started as an instrumental music project back in 2010 but only recently I’ve been invited by Cinesthesia and Filmphonics to create OSTs for silent films. I think the idea of showing old masterpieces accompanied by modern music is a real challenge for us all!

As part of my writing process, I conceptualize sounds before I start working on music. This helps me to expand my way of thinking and generate new styles. For Un Chien Andalou I sampled the sound of objects, as symbols found in dream. For A Trip To The Moon I manipulated NASA sounds to create otherworldly soundscapes and for Alice in Wonderland I will translate brain waves into music.

Your intentions for Alice have been described as pulling ‘the audience on a sonic journey through Alice’s state of mind’ which sounds fascinating, can you tell us a little about how you plan on going about that?

I’m willing to alter your consciousness (all through music, of course) and showcase different mental states for Alice’s adventure in Wonderland. All the experience takes place within Alice’s dream where she goes through a variety of absurd situations. My plan is to experiment with EEG (electroencephalography), a hardware technique applied in neurology to diagnose sleep disorders. Brainwaves are divided into bandwidths to describe different functions. For instance: Alpha waves are associated with periods of relaxation, while still awake. The first stage of sleep is characterized by Thetawaves and so on…. The difference between brainwaves lies in their frequency. When brain activities are translated into frequency, the result is something resembling music.

antwerp 2It sounds fascinating! There is so much out there on Alice in Wonderland including books, endless films, music… where did you look to for inspiration?

Sleep disorders, dream interpretation and works of Lewis Carroll.

And what about the other films you’re taking on this month? What can we expect to see and hear with them?

The night will start off with Rebus-Film N. 1 which is an avant-garde short animated film (which was filmed with crossword puzzles) directed by Paul Leni. I sampled the ticking sound of a grandfather clock striking the hour of 9-10-11, a short phase played on a baglama, disrupted jazzy parts and more…

The second abstract film Ghost Before Breakfast is said to have initially been a sound film but the Nazi attempt to destroy all copies as ‘degenerate art’ has left us only a silent version. Again I sampled the sound of an old clock striking the hour of 12, a stretched theremin glissando and more. I sonorized the images rather than recording/playing music to synchronize with the images. There really is a strict correlation between the films: clocks, hats, cards, animals etc. The Love Of Zero is a rather remarkable short experimental film directed by Robert Florey.

Music-wise, I don’t want spoil the experience to anyone. We’re looking forward to seeing you on Monday night!

Have you any experience with putting sound to film before?

No, I haven’t. The idea of putting sound to film was already in preparation since I started playing music when I was 11 but I had to remain calm and learn step by step without jumping rapidly into reckless conclusions. Several young artists want commercial success, blinded by the Media and the market niche. This is totally irrelevant to me at the moment.

aliceI’m more like a chess player: one thing you can always focus on is improving the position of your pieces. If you haven’t heard speaking about my music by 2020, that means I’m not good enough to play chess!

Haha! And how does composing music for shorts like these compare to that of making ‘pure’ music?

I am striving to experiment with the relationship between live sound and image, foregrounding the role of music and sound in storytelling. I intend to give people plenty of bewilderment with my music and art. I love electronic music and how the intensity of repetitive sounds and eerie atmospheres can let my mind float away. Films capture my attention immediately. I must continue to glue my eyes to the screen so as not to miss something.. In a way, I reach the perfect balance when I compose music for films because I see it as a complete expression, compared to that of making ‘pure’ music. I have head in the clouds and feet on the ground.

And there we go folks! I hope you enjoyed this interview and that all of you who are London based are now considering going along to the evening at Hackney Picturehouse on the 16th!


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