Live poetry performer Aja Monet is next to Saul Williams perhaps the most important lyricist to introduce spoken word into neighbouring artistic contexts, without compromising the culture. Although residing in New York, a crucial portion of her creative platform is in Europe. Collaborating with Liven from Paris and Sleepin Giant from Amsterdam – we find ourselves in “Glitch” – a circuit bending of the arts. Liven is a respected profile in Paris, a powerful dancer who found an interest in producing electronic music and visual art. I asked Liven to share her inspirations and thoughts on the creative process when composing the video “Glitch“.
What are your influences?
I’m influenced by so many things, I don’t know where to start. First my identity, having a Danish dad and a Vietnamese mom but being born and raised in France, obviously really influences me. I’m influenced by the elements which constitute life, and our perceptions of them. I believe we shape our way of living, choosing by what we are going to be influenced by.
Where in the creative process do you feel most inspired?
The core of everything I create, and my first inspiration, is most of the time sounds. It’s building my way to create. When sounds or music inspires me I see images in my mind right away, then I try to translate it into real images. I think the best part of the creative process is when you’re at the first steps, when something inspires you, it’s always a great feeling. The part when you begin to put all the pieces together and you see your project getting real and alive is also really great.
How does producing music differ from the composition of video art?
When I’m inspired, I try to translate it into images or sound depending on what I try to re-transcript, so it’s not really a different process but more a difference of results. I feel like I can see sounds, and that I can hear images, so my way of creating is just trying to get that visible, consciously or not.
When you work on a project, do you have a plan or do you improvise from one shot to another?
My way to create would be like I’m building virtual limits and walls to my project, and when the room is set, I’ve established the playground and can have some freedom in it. I’m also regularly random shooting during my walks, building a personal bank of footage and sound elements. When it’s relevant I use them, as I did for the cloud images in ‘Glitch’ for example.
France is quite famous for producing advanced video animations, has someone mentored you in any way or are you an autodidact?
I learnt the editing software Final Cut mostly by myself, but well surrounded by professional and talented friends’ precious tips that I gathered while working with them. So lots of my friends and co-workers are helping me to improve my skills, consciously or not, even if they’re not mentoring me. For the graphics in the ‘Glitch’ video, I used Pure Data (a real-time graphical data flow programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing). Kirikoo Des – a talented friend from our artistic collective which he initiated – Spacecraft, a performer in this artistic field with whom I share many interests – increased my need to get into programming.
I eventually signed up to night classes during three months, ending with a presentation of a personal work in progress during open doors day at Mains d’Oeuvres’ popular art center CRASLAB. It was truly a great experience for me to have trainers that were current passionate programmers and/or artists. Human Koala was one of my trainers, and we’ve been able to keep in touch. He’s really helpful. I hope we’ll work on some projects in the future, whether it being mentored or performing together.
Please tell us something about your next projects, what are you up to right now?
I’m currently working as a videographer with the Philippe Almeida company, a dance company working on their first creation called “Boots“. It’s a modern choreographic tale, using the accessories of the boots, as a link to dance and storytelling (inspired by South African gumboot dance, hip hop, afro house music and b-boying). I’m also developing artistic directing projects with my arts collective and blog The Mab Lab with concept events coming this year featuring Isabelle Clarençon and Mai Lê.
In 2014/2015 I’ll begin to work on my first choreographing project, involving live dance performances with hair as a theme. My aim is to use hair as an echo of our body movements, playing with time and space. In a few months I’ll also release a snippet of a documentary I’m currently working on. It depicts the Krump culture, following the Madrootz crew. The documentary features the two co-founders of this style of dance – Tight Eyez and Big Mijo, initiated by my artistic connection Grichka – a great versatile dancer and choreographer, member of Madrootz and RAF Crew. I’ve just recently also premiered a film project capturing a dance rehearsal made for Tatiana Seguin, a modern dance choreographer.
Furthermore I’ll be doing a music report for the music band UNNO. All these next projects are intimately linked to the people participating in them and the values I see in their artistic expression.
For more on Liven, visit >> www.facebook.com/livenonmarch
GLITCH with AJA MONET & SLEEPIN GIANT
Visuals & Video by: Liven
Vocals, Lyrics, & Appearance by: Aja Monet
Music & Composition by: Sleepin Giant
“Glitch” is included on Sleepin Giant’s ‘Purple’ EP, forthcoming Original Cultures (March 2014)