Holly Smith once made a documentary live coding reassignment study for classic format. If that’s not enough, she’s also a wonderful live performer. We asked her to introduce herself before her performance in Live attack on September 29.
Who are you?
I’m Holly Smith – live electronic artist, DJ, radio host and producer, occasional music event organizer, and frequent dance floor frequenter.
Where are you from?
Originally from Gloucestershire, home of intrepid people who dash down hills after wheels of cheese (weird tradition, I know), I have now been a Londoner for eight years. The rent may be as steep as these hills, but to me its creativity, vibrancy and diversity are priceless.
how do you sound
I’m still figuring this out to be honest, but a running summary: a smorgasbord of styles, from eff-off bangers to poignant downtempo soundbeds and the occasional cat scurrying through a pan shop, except a little more quantized.
Why should we follow what you do?
I’ve mostly played live, but I’ll be bringing new work to pilot in the audience at the first Attack Live. Come and find out.
What is coming out in the near future?
An EP will be released this fall. It’s time to finalize the abundance of live noodles and sketches into something more concrete.
What or who is your biggest influence and why?
Although I’m a dancefloor enthusiast, I’m also a big fan of Nils Frahm for his emotional compositions and injection of modern classics into electronic music. I’ve always had a natural inclination towards composing modern classical tunes and mixing them with electronic sounds.
My late grandmother was an avid classical listener and singer and also influenced me musically. Amusingly, she seemed to enjoy my electronic squeals and hums and even four-to-the-floor musical explorations.
If you’re a fan of classically inspired electronic music and/or live coding, you might be interested in a mini-documentary I created on my live encoding reassignment study for classic format. I hope it inspires.
How did you get into DJing/producing?
Most recently when I studied Electronic Music Production/Music Technology a few years ago. I jumped at every opportunity to perform live – nothing has changed! I started DJing around the same time, which was also a lot of fun.
A Keystep Pro; a larger mixer for Mr G-style live performance experimentation; and, deviating from the electronic equipment, the khaen – a large mouth organ with a bamboo tube. Multi-instrumentalist Hal Walker plays some beautiful original pieces on one of them. I would like to rework this into an electronic song.
Who or what have you sacrificed for your art?
Space in the room! I’m pretty sure mine cable for every occasion the box is multiplying – and spending time on this list of mundane grown-up things, because it’s so much more fun to do all the music stuff, right?
What is your favorite place to play so far?
As part of the DHM collective, myself and fellow DJ/producers organized and played a series of warehouse events in London. The community aspect of hosting these nights combined with the rawness and intimacy of DIY events is what I find magnetizing.
We’ve played to crowds of 30, we’ve played to crowds of 300 and everywhere in between, and each time there’s an infectious energy in the space that inspires us to host more.
I’m also super excited and honored to be playing the first Attack Live next week!
What one song will be featured on the soundtrack to your life?
Left field – “Swords”.
What motivates you?
Shared experiences. From previous projects and performances together, I learned that the result was always greater than the sum of our individual parts.
I directed and acted in a compelling, storytelling performance, coded dystopia, about the malevolent influence of artificial intelligence on modern civilization, along with a classical pianist, a spoken word artist and a bass player. It was a truly rewarding experience.
I have also always been motivated by live performances. Che now energy and live feedback, both as an audience member and as a performer is exhilarating.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I am the host “Public records‘, an interview-oriented radio series discussing music, injustice in the arts, and community and creative organizations on Voices Radio. Previous episodes include:
In discussion with the Night Industries Association of The effect of COVID-19 on nightlife
The threat of ennoblement of music halls and warehouse communities.
Call if you’d like to participate in a future discussion, I’d love to have you on the show.
What is the best advice you have received?
I had the pleasure to talking to Sam Aaron, creator of the Sonic Pi music encoding program in a previous radio show. It encourages sharing music/code, no matter how basic or pointless you think it is. You never know how someone might be inspired by what you’ve created.
Where will you be in five years?
To quote a psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi“autotelic activity is one that we do for its own sake, because the main purpose is to experience it.” I’m not sure what five years will look like, but one thing is for sure, I will be doing more of autotelic: music, performance, collaboration , radio and many more.
Catch Holly Smith at Attack Live on September 29th. Find Holly Smith Instagram.
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