During December and January we are having a musician staying as a guest-islander in Træna Artist in Residence. Her name is Gundega Graudina and she is originally from Latvia, now living in Brussels. She spent the dark time of the year in Træna. But short days seems to bee fruitful for focusing! Darkscape is the suitable title of her production of soundscapes capturing Træna. We are now eager to hear more about what she has made! Read the blogg interview below…
Hey Gundega, you are in Træna in December and January to work with your musical projects as a guest-islander in our residency.
Who are you and what was your project about?
I’m a sound adventurer who finds combining acoustic and electric string instruments, field recordings and real-time digital processing the most engaging and exciting way of making music. I took my bass guitar and kokle – a Latvian traditional string instrument – to Træna to find out how these instruments sound in the island’s soundscape. Reading Petter Dass inspired me to create music which is both descriptive and locally specific (I did field recordings here) and also abstract and poetic (the recorded sounds are transformed and mixed with live instruments). Since I was here in the darkest time of year, my project has also been about capturing the darkscapes of Træna.
For a Belgian/Latvian musician, how did you actually find out about Træna? What made you come here?
I saw the open call somewhere out there on the internet, I guess published by one of the artist residency networks I’ve been following. What I read about Træna fascinated me so much, it immediately felt that I HAD to go there! I’m very happy that I could and even more fascinated after a couple of months here.
What is your experience? Both project-wise and personally? Did you experience something new, was it as you expected?
It has been a really special experience. My stay on this small island so far out at the sea has given me a broader perspective and new ideas. It must have something to do with seeing the horizon, the vast sky and the rough beauty of the nature, it being so different from my everyday life in a big city. Ever since I arrived here, it felt that I had to let the place lead me in my creative explorations, instead of just following pre-made plans. I’ve had time and space to re-think my practice. Besides that, it’s been great to get to know the local community – warm people who make their ideas live and see their place as constantly evolving, in the making.
Your project is about soundscapes- and you had an idea about darkscape and lightscape – what do you think about darkness when you’ve been here a couple of months?
Before I came to Træna, the prospect of having only two hours of light a day felt quite scary. Petter Dass had convinced me that winter is a continual night here, and everyone I told about my future journey seemed to agree with that. I had the idea of light and darkness being sharply contrasting – as if one doesn’t exist when the other is present – but my experience here made me think differently. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the long hours of twilight, the northern lights I saw for the first time in my life, days gradually growing longer, the way snow makes everything lighter – it all taught me the magic of noticing the tones between the contrasts. All in all, it didn’t feel so dark here!
So you will perform something of what you’ve been working with on Træna? Tell us a little bit about what we will hear/see/experience?
I will play a live set with my guitar, kokle and computer. It will include field recordings made on Træna – and even under water – and will be performed on a live electronics system I’ve created here. Working with several loudspeakers, I’ve explored the spatiality of sound, so you’ll experience sounds coming from different sources, filling the concert space and moving around in it. I’ll also talk about my composition process and answer any questions.
What is happening with the project now, will Træna be a part of your coming releases?
In the time I wasn’t outside exploring Træna, I have learnt a new visual programming language for audio processing and it has made it possible to improve my performance system and basically completely rework it. I will test it in the performance here and use it in my future concerts elsewhere. I’m also planning to do a digital release and the recordings I’ve done here and the sounds I’ve discovered will be an important part of it.
In what way is the project relevant for Træna, Norway or Europe?
The project carries the sonic imprint of Træna and being here has definitely influenced my work. I think it’s very important to explore remote and unique places like this and, in a way, make them accessible through one’s artistic work, wherever it is seen/performed.
Why are Residency-programs like this important (or are they important)?
Residency-programs like this are inspiring to the artist as well as the local community and lead to a unique interaction of both. As an artist, you get undisturbed time and space to immerse in your practice, new ideas and contacts. As a local, you witness the making of a new art work and become a part of it.
Last question, if you could send another person to Træna, whoever you wish. (Could be a celebrity, a politician, or who ever you think need a stay on our islands) Who would it be, and why?
Politicians could for sure learn a lot by seeing how engaged and open the small community is, how everyone appears to be a multitasker and how well it makes things function here. But, as long as they are respectful to the island and its havfolket, pretty much anyone should go to Træna! Okay, not at the same time though.
Thank you for coming here, and now we are looking forward to the concert! Good luck!
Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/hiddenite