SRF Innovation Award // Live Showcase // Introducing: Lady Vendredi
November 19, 2015
On the 26th November, we’ll be putting on a London showcase featuring the artists supported by the Steve Reid Innovation Award. Set up to aid the development of unsigned artists who are pushing musical boundaries, the award provides financial assistance as well as vital mentoring. Taking place at The Forge, it’ll be an opportunity to see the artists perform at an exciting point in their development. You can buy tickets for the show for £5.
To give you an insight into the artists before the show, we’ve asked each of them a few questions about their inspirations and ideas informing their music. We spoke to Lady Vendredi about the records that have influenced her, the impact of her Nigerian heritage and how she sees the ties between classical and electronic music.
Could you name one instrument or piece of kit that you couldn’t do without and why?
I’ve been halfway up a mountain in a little farm house with nothing but my laptop and headphones writing tracks. So they are pretty essential.
What are three albums that have been influential for you?
Rhythms of Rapture – Sacred musics of Haitian Vodou
This is a good intro to Haitian Vodou music. My main influence.
Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet
Can’t remember the orchestra. I sometimes prefer to listen to orchestral recordings alone in my room than in a concert hall – I can immerse myself in the music and feel comfortable in my body – dance around if I want. But, saying that, when I saw the ballet for the first time I really cried at Juliet’s death – an ultimate moment of catharsis in the perfect coming together of music and performance.
Tom Richards – Broken Patchbay
I’m a bit obsessed by Tom Richards. He’s been researching Daphne Oram’s oramics machine and custom builds his own incredible synths influenced by her method of audiovisual synthesis. Apart from the sounds he gets out of the machines, what gets me are his rhythms.
James Blake – James Blake
I met him at a party. I tried to convince him that he’d love Haitian Vodou music. He seemed convinced, but who knows. This album really touched me. Every clicky beat is just so and it feels like he says everything in the way he wants to say it, in the time and place he wants to. One feels comfortable in strength of his artistic voice.
Your involvement in theatre seems to be closely related to your music. Could you explain how you see the relationship between the two?
They are inherently connected. If theatre is the particle and music is the wave, then Lady Vendredi is a double slit experiment.
For me theatre comes from ritual practice. People created rituals to re-enact myths. They created the myths (as we still do) to deal with the fundamental awe-full-ness of our existence. Music and rhythm are essential to ritual. So I create music.
I write myth into the music and create appropriate rituals for the myths. That might be a weirdly circular way of saying I have to connect the two because to me they are connected.
Could you pick out any aspects of music from Nigeria that have influenced your music?
It’s more than just the music – there is a longing to connect to a lost past that holds within it music, rhythm, dance, ritual – real and self-consciously mythologised.
Musically, the most important element for me is rhythm – the part of music that literally moves you. There is a rhythm from Haitian Vodou called the Ibo, which actually comes from the Igbo people in Nigeria (I’m Igbo). The rhythm is about liberation – freeing yourself with only the strength of your will. I love that there is this connection that goes across thousands of miles and years and enslavement. This is rhythm as revolution – that very literally empowered enslaved people to rise up and defeat Napolean’s army in Haiti. But it comes originally from Nigeria. That’s quite beautiful.
How do you see the relationship between classical and electronic music?
Elements of electronic music definitely grew directly out of classical music. Some of the most amazing early electronic music was in the Western Art tradition like Messiaen’s Oraison written for Ondes Martenot (kinda proto synth) in 1937.
There’s connections – sampling and music concrete, the experimentation with hardware and the DIY spirit that brought composers like Zinovief to gather post WWII equipment and create a giant computer in a shed or inspired early turntablists to create a new instrument that would revolutionise club culture.
The experimentalism, the impossibility of sitting still when there are new ideas to be had and new sonic worlds to explore. The beauty, the drama, the ecstasy and the passion. It’s not about putting strings on shit.
Buy tickets for the show on Thursday 26th November.