5.5 QUESTIONS FOR ODEYA NINI

1. A relationship between the body and voice is very present in your performances, but you also produce audio recordings. When conceiving new work, is there a point where you decide “this is going to be a performance” or “this is going exist solely as audio”, and how do you make that decision?

My earlier audio recordings were field recording collages, mainly. For a while I spent a lot of time fascinated by the sounds around me and tried to recreate those textures with my voice as well as harmonize with them.

These days, my main practice is deeply embodying voice in a solo performance. Most of the audio recording work I do is electro acoustic and would be a piece for voice and tape.

It did take a long time for me to figure out how to translate my solo work into an audio recording, until I realized the recording of those pieces would have a life of their own not transferable to the stage. I think of my album as an audio project that cannot be recreated live, even if I perform pieces under that title. The main thing that is lost in audio which exists live is the breathing space. I hold space a lot on stage which cannot be translated in recording. When I want to hold a sonic space, like a drone, or an overwhelmingly frenetic space with layering and effects, I turn to audio.

2. You’ve performed A Solo Voice in many locations around the world. How aware are you of the site when you are performing, and how much does the specificity of the site play into the performance and its preparation?

I always ask if the space I am performing in is resonant. If it is not at all, I will most likely not present my work there. There are a few exceptions – like this SASSAS concert! Often times outdoor spaces are the most challenging, but also the most inspiring. If the space is intriguing in other ways, I will modify my performance to suit the location. I will focus more on the performative elements, or think of how I can bring people closer and create intimacy, a sense of enveloping them in the experience and resonance in another way.

3. Is there an artist or vocalist or composer you were exposed to early on to whom you can credit your entry into music and art making?

I began my journey as an artist in theater from a very young age. Although I’ve played piano since the 2nd grade, I credit my entry into music to my frustration in theater. I realized after a long time that I actually wanted to be myself and embody different parts of me rather than a scripted character.

It’s the great singer songwriters that really opened my passion for music making. Joni Mitchell is a musical hero that got me singing and telling my story in song.

When studying at the New School for Jazz it was artists like Anthony Braxton, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra and John Cage that got me thinking of different ways of making music and art.

A lot of what I do today I can credit Meredith Monk who really helped me realize the possibility of integrating voice, movement, spirituality, abstraction, storytelling and composition.

4. What artists or genres have you been vibing with lately?

I love lots of different types of music. I’m not at all a music snob. I do love dancing, and have been vibing with disco music lately. The music on my playlist right now is (always) Simon and Garfunkel, Malagasy artist Rajery, my friend Shelly Yosha who recorded an album of beautiful yogic devotional music, and Beyonce and Jay Z – who I just saw live at the Rose Bowl and was absolutely blown away.

5. Is there anything about the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook that has you particularly excited about the performance?

I am excited about the wind. I am exciting about looking out onto the view. I am excited about the sky and the sage. I am excited about sharing this performance with my husband Archie Carey and other performers who are dear friends. I am excited about creating a ritual performance and taking strangers on this adventure with me.

5.5. Please pick a favorite or stand out clip/track from our archives and tell us why you chose it:

Yoshi Wada and Tashi Wada – bagpipes! I love the soundscapes here and the many different places this concert goes!

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