Meet the April 2019 residents of Amplify Berlin: AIJU & M Wingren, who’ve spent the month working with their mentor Ville Haimala of Amnesia Scanner. Each have completed a track as part of their residency and will play a live set at the showcase event on April 28 at ACUD Club on a lineup alongside their mentor, who will be DJing.
The mentees have interviewed each other revealing more about their practice, their inspirations and some of the motivations behind what they do.
L to R: Ville Haimala, M, AIJU (Photos: Jan Durina with assistance from Diane Esnault)
M: Tell us about your track.
AIJU: Sure, to start on the lyrics, those are snippets from Hayley Kiyoko’s “HNLY (He will never love you like me)”. The last couple of years giving queer womxn and gender non-conforming people voices in pop and it’s opened a lot of room to experiment. How valid feelings are seen and how much space is held on for them depends on which body you have. The track pulls heavy metal drums, broken pads and with its heavy atmosphere and claims the expressive space in music that is associated with audiences whose feelings literally eats space from others.
M: What are you communicating, and what are you combatting?
AIJU: I’m really into Melika Ngombe Kolongo’s (NKISI) idea of sound as a public space. The sonic language I’ve used comes from the point of my communities’ well-being and how sound spaces could validate those agencies. I work with messy feelings that many navigate having complicated identities, where social spaces fracture. Many of my friends are queer, deal with cultural longing, migrations and other sensitivities – there is extreme creativity but also burdens like intergenerational trauma, and expanding empathies is really key to be able to be in this space.
I think the social non-context is similarly important; being sincere about what social spaces you can represent in your own tracks, and to what extent. My way of combating is to counteract, to turn to my communities. Having produced just a couple of months, my communication is still taking shape but I’m really excited to hear the first reactions from people I care about.
M: Describe your ideal music scene.
AIJU: Who has material access defines how we think about creativity and what the purpose of music is. I’m unsure how my ideal scene would exactly be like, but it would be a product of a very different society centering very different people. There are microcosms of that, small collectives and labels do some really radical work on what it means to make music, how to connect and support new stories. Protecting way-of-doing things, formats and institutional art education are everything but creativity, and it’s exciting to see me and friends shaping (being shaped within) culture in ways that can bypass some of these things.
AIJU: How do you see the present cultural logic of music affecting and showing agency spaces for you? E.g. how people interact with hiking land prices in capitals; clubs shutting down, people not having time and people by-passing large cities to pursue music; scattered groups connecting on socials?
M: I grew up in DIY music scenes – this was necessary because the spaces we wanted and needed were either shut down or didn’t exist. I see this model everywhere I’ve lived – make space for the music of your community and keep it going however possible – extract from your own wage-labor, savings, fundraisers, whatever. Sometimes it’s not sustainable, sometimes it’s not safe. Friends have died because of this and that’s both tragic and systemic – the most marginalized voices are in the greatest danger. Culture is generated and transformed by people on the fringes. Being in Europe, this is the first time I’ve encountered (and benefited from) music programs that have government funding, and it’s wild to me that the “state is not my enemy” (Aiju quote). The obstacles I observe for (my) agency in music are not solely related to music, thus can’t be viewed in a vacuum. For instance, I am seldom safe when I go out, in spite of being unafraid to fight (I wouldn’t bring this up if it wasn’t a constant problem, I’ve been assaulted 4 times in Berlin in the past 6 months). The injustices in music culture are created by larger societal structures. Regardless of that, I feel at home in the present music-culture. As a denizen of the electronicavantgarde™️ I am variously networked to people spread across different places, with similar goals. Overall, I feel free to be as loud and expressive as I want and I have some platform for that, which is expanding. I have sufficient privilege and attitude, plus love and support.
AIJU: Many layers of social transitioning—How does what have you left behind and where you are headed to show in your work?
M: What I have left behind?
– friends/networks of home country
– lack of upward mobility
– assigned gender
Where am I headed?
– continue to produce music, and develop my style/live show
– discover a career in that, in combo with my other interests
– be part of movements, stay in motion
How do the prior 2 show up in my work?
– DIY mindset and toolkit
– flippant attitude
– sense of urgency
AIJU: Tell us about your practice of listening.
M: I feel like listening is my most important tool as a musician, and maybe also as a human. Being in a state of attentiveness/openness allows the necessary signals to come through… up from one’s gut.
My practice of listening can be:
– actively hearing my environment as music
– actively hearing music as music
– field recordings at the club
– appreciating heater-drips, firework snaps, etc. and trying to replicate their component parts through digital synthesis
– questioning the sound design for various notifications (ICU equipment, busses…)
– interpreting the tone of a conversation
– noticing and releasing tension in my body
– realizing that I’m dreaming
Catch them all at the monthly Amplify Berlin showcase event at ACUD Club on Sunday, April 28.