After grabbing sounds and field recordings all over the world, where she also traveled for anthropology research, Zoë McPherson started putting the first bricks for the transmedia project String Figures (an audiovisual project in 7 chapters plus a vinyl, recently released by SVS Records) together. In her own words, “I edit, add beats, synths, vox etc and then present some of the tracks to Falk, the percussionist with whom I work, who adds some grooves. He learned rhythms while living in Brazil and visiting Benin. We jam, and that’s great; I like being two rather than always alone. We jammed a lot on track ‘Deep.’ It’s our favorite track because we’re really together and absolutely free with the track’s dynamics.” The main connection with her anthropology research of the final result of this sonic output of String Figures is related to the interesting Inuit culture: “So that their culture shall never be lost. I’m referring to some cultures that have been spoiled, from the middle ages’ crusades to the oriental world to the story of Native Americans, indigenous people. But it’s also about how that culture evolves as it gets passed on and embraces modernity.” We had a quick chat about this project with Zoë…
Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Zoe! How are you?
Zoë McPherson: Hi! Good, and you?
Chain D.L.K.: String Figures seems to be your debut album. Before focusing on it, let’s trace your path towards/into music back. First of all, do you remember a particular moment when the interest in music making sparked?
Zoë McPherson: Hahaha. Well. always. I made an EP before, played drums before that and was listening to my mom singing before before before before that.
Chain D.L.K.: I read you’ve done some anthropology studies… Can you tell us more about that?
Zoë McPherson: Sure, I did some research, not studies. I researched about Inuït culture, Vodun culture, basically reading all I could find online, and all I could watch or listen to.
Chain D.L.K.: What are the “meeting points” of your musical and anthropology searching?
Zoë McPherson: It became my inspiration.
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s get deeper into String Figures… First of all, how did you meet Alessandra Leone? How did your collaboration begin?
Zoë McPherson: We met at a female:pressure meeting in Berlin two years back, when I was looking for a director to collab on my next album.
Chain D.L.K.: I really enjoyed the sound you squeezed on String Figures… How would you describe it?
Zoë McPherson: Thanks!
I don’t know how to describe it, that’s why I find it actually really interesting to read the reviews these weeks!
But people told me after our performance that it’s hypnotic and wild.
Chain D.L.K.: I hear some influences of tribal and techno as well… Besides Brazil and Benin, did another place starting by B, Berlin, have an imprint on the final sound of String Figures?
Zoë McPherson: Yes, everywhere I traveled to. But on this one, as stated, Norway, Indonesia and France, of course.
Chain D.L.K.: Did you use any traditional instruments as well?
Zoë McPherson: Yes, sure. The hardingfele is a traditional Norwegian instrument, and Falk plays traditional percussions from Brazil, as stated in the credits.
And I guess some animals do a pretty good job of being “traditional,” so to say.
Chain D.L.K.: Why a title like “String Figures” for your project?
Zoë McPherson: Because of the obsession I had with Cats Cradle a few years ago, when studying Inuit culture.
It links people.
It’s passation, transmission from elders to youth
spiritual in some cultures
it’s very human
cultures from all around the globe practiced this
even us as kids, at least myself as a child from the 1990’s
I think it’s amazing
Have a look here for more info: http://www.stringfigures.xyz/About
Chain D.L.K.: Could you help someone who doesn’t understand French to understand how you became a Shaman? 🙂
Zoë McPherson: Hahaaa, this will remain a secret until you learn French 🙂
This is a collected story from an Inuit Shaman, where I sing her story.
She describes her own very painful birth. It’s pretty disgusting, and fleshy.
This girl gets rejected by others as a child; when she gives a present, the present brings bad news to the receiver.
One day she decides to isolate herself in nature, and discovers a new way of seeing and hearing.
Soon after, she discovers her spiritual powers, and is able to help others.
Chain D.L.K.: I saw you released some clips…any word about them?
Zoë McPherson: Each track is a chapter, as we called it, as it is a video as well.
We imagined this audiovisual album together with Alessandra Leone, and commissioned pretty amazing visual artists, choreographers, costumes designers, etc.
We’re currently still working on forthcoming chapters!!
If there any questions about visual direction, I’ll gladly put you in touch with Alessandra.
And of course, live, we play an audiovisual show.
Chain D.L.K.: Besides video clips, I think String Figures could be perfect to be performed on stage (maybe through professional dancers)… I imagined something similar to what Juno Reactor made years ago…are you performing SF on live stages yet?
Zoë McPherson: Yes! that’s what we’re working on indeed. You can check it out here: http://www.stringfigures.xyz/Live-show
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
Zoë McPherson: Always. I’m getting into Djing a little more at the moment, producing new tracks FOR SURE when the time is there. But I have many many ideas for more danceable and more experimental or more vocal directions I wanna go to. New instruments I wanna work with.
Also working with dancers in Antwerp, as well as this coming year with a dance company to create the sound universe of their new piece. Exciting!
Thanks for listening and for your curiosity!
visit String Figures on the web at: www.stringfigures.xyz