Today meet January mentees isa holo & MINQ in a ping-pong interview. The two emerging musicians spent a month in the Amplify studio mentored by DJ/Produceur Afriqua. Listen as well to the tracks resulting of their residency. BONUS: due to the corona regulations, they weren’t able to meet for some joint sessions – nevertheless they created a remix of each other’s songs, ENJOY!
L to R: MINQ, Afriqua & isa holo
isa holo is a fractal echo of multi-disciplinary artist Lisa Stewart exploring the resonance of sound as a vessel for transportation and energetic transmutation. Her tracks create holographic landscapes that tour micro/macro-verses through layers of rhythmic and melodic loops that absorb and disintegrate within continual reduction-expansion cycles.
MINQ is a Berlin-based DJ, sound artist, and cultural producer. With roots in the queer underground, their work is by and for queerdos, weirdos, freaks and geeks and draws from a multiplicity of movements and spheres including DIY ethos and punk aesthetics. A self-identified queer, Black music nerd, their creative process is fueled by the belief that music is a place of connection, to the self, others, and the world. From non-fiction to fantasy, MINQ’s work is a mode of storytelling – stories from the past, present, or future. Today they are curious in exploring ways in which music is omnipresent by using field recordings, vocal samples, peculiar analog machines and experimenting with audio collage, non-conventional rhythmic patterns and song arrangements.
Inspired by music and artists who unapologetically and boldy shake the system, MINQ also uses music as a mode of activism and enjoys being localized and interacting with the community and environment around them. Currently they are involved with the the Queer Black Therapy Fund, which is raising money provide access to Mental Health Professionals for people who identify as Black, of the African diaspora, and LGBTQIA+. They are also developing WE OUT HERE | A Moment of Black Tea, a docu-series exploring the lived experiences of Queer/Trans/Gender Non-Conforming, Black People living in Berlin.
Outside of their work, MINQ enjoys meditating, practicing yoga, going on long bike rides in and around the city, watching “She-Ra”, raising my happy plant family, rollerblading in Templehofer Feld, reading – especially Sci-Fi, writing – mostly journaling and writing poetry, DANCING! and cooking for their loved ones.
M: For your radio show you were interested in storytelling. What stories are you interested to tell?
IH: I like stories that fold that blur the boundaries between the seen and the unseen. As a genre I am typically writing in the lines of magic realism, abstract fantasy or what I call sci-fi existentialism. I like to make my stories quite slippery and hypnotic, creating a gentle river of thought streams that a listener can drift through in their own ship. I set the main current, but the navigation amongst that is up to the listener. On their journey they can take what sticks, create their own connections and then let the rest flow past.
I’m interested in fiction as a tool to cut into truth in a sideways manner. I find storytelling an interesting category to work within as often anything that is deemed ‘fiction’ or ‘make believe’ is taken with a certain sweetness, like it’s just child’s play, yet on the other hand some of the greatest wars have been started in the name of narratives that are essentially speculative fictions. So I’m curious about the inherent power in storytelling and enjoying playing within the form to find ways to expand our abilities to connect seemingly disparate micro and macrocosmic threads.
M: What kinds of things do you think about when making a track?
IH: In general I try to be less in my thinking brain when I’m making and work from my subconscious. But in general I like to consider things like:
Unfolding worlds and landscapes.
Rhythms and textures. Malleability and rigidity.
Constellations of sounds and resonance.
Unlikely collaborations between sounds.
Cuts and manipulations within samples.
Is this sound pleasing to me? Mmmmm. Is this sound not pleasing to me? Erggghghgh.
These sounds are behaving oddly together. Why?!
How could I rearrange better to let each sound feel its vibe best?
Or how can this sound be subverted when it’s in a strange environment?
How much context can change the understanding of a sound’s personality.
It’s these sorts of puzzles that I find intriguing within the form of music making – how vibrational elements interact and interplay. Learning which sounds in my banks can transmute a lot and which sounds have more fixed personalities who can rarely be changed.
M: What’s been your happiest memory of the past year?
IH: Thanks to covid I got to spend a good few months last year living in the Australian bush with one of my best friends. Together we created some paradisiacal sleep-art-life sanctuary where we were making perfumes, weaving, surfing, dreaming, cooking, hanging out with a lot of visiting birds. I have many happy memories from this time, just enjoying simple pleasures like collecting sticks for the fire and hanging up giant sea kelps on the terrace (this made a very beautiful curtain that the sun would pass through lighting up the kelps in fire orange tones).
And then being put to sleep by sound of waves breaking, rustling eucalyptus trees had me very at peace. I’d forgotten how unique the resonance of the land in Australia is and how grounded it makes me feel (maybe most people have this effect from their birth country?) But I just felt very happy to reconnect with old familiar landscapes and so much wild nature.
IH: Do you see your music practice as completely separate to other practices in your life or is it intertwining? How come?
M: My music practice is totally connected and intertwined with other practices in my life. I feel the most whole when I am working on a multitude of personal and professional projects that are all working together or are directly and indirectly connected. When I am moving in this way I feel so fluid, at ease and empowered. It helps me dive deeper into everything because I’m able to stay in similar states of mind and work flow for longer periods of time.
My music practice is also not just one practice. I am a DJ, Sound Designer, Producer and currently toying with the idea of being a Performer. These five music practices alone call on different parts of my knowledge, experience and other practices in my life. For example, I am currently developing a Queer Meditation series. This pulls directly from my practices of music production and meditation and my lived experience as a queer person. It’s projects like this where I am able to use several different parts of myself to create that make me the happiest.
IH: In your life are you more about creating stability or instability?
M: Both. There are times when I enjoy stability and there are times where stability is boring so I have to shake things up. Creating instability is exciting, scary and thrilling and it’s when I can really enjoy having an adventure. I feel alive and motivated. But this motivation is motivation to create stability. Things can only be shaken up for so long before it becomes exhausting so rebuilding is also part of the fun.
When I was living in New Orleans I had quite the stable life. Though it was super fun and exciting it was still very stable. I shook things up by quitting my job, selling all my stuff and getting on a one-way flight to Europe with a backpack. Finding my way back to stability has been an amazing experience filled with lots of learning and beautiful people and experiences. Now I try to remember to create instability more often in smaller ways because I know how good it feels and what can happen in these moments.
IH: Where do you see yourself when you’re 80?
M: Firstly, I hope the world hasn’t burnt up or gone under water by that time. But as an 80 year old I see myself living somewhere warm, in the countryside on a huge plot of land (maybe 1-3hours outside of a city), near the ocean. I want to be surrounded by people I love and close to nature. I hope to have written at least 2 books by then; one fiction one non-fiction.
I would like to have been involved with the creation of an art and community center for Queer and Trans Black, Indeginous, People of color, which has it’s own garden/farm and hosts workshops focused on the Arts, Mental Health, Permaculture and everything inbetween – making connections worldwide and possibly having sister locations. This will be the place that I am living, of course. I basically hope to be living an easy healthy life and have created some sustainable structures for other people to do the same. I think I will still be creating art and music.