A performance artist/inventor/composer/sound poet/installation artist/instrument maker/sometimes theatre director with a degree in philosophy and aesthetics, Tomomi Adachi must have one hell of a business card. In the weeks leading up to Adachi’s performance at Vancouver’s VOICE OVER mind Festival, I exchanged a few words with the Berlin-based polymath over email. Here’s our conversation in full.
What’s the significance of the human voice? Compared to purely “instrumental” music, what possibilities and opportunities does it afford the artist?
The voice has a significant variety of sound colors. A basic idea of modern instruments is to make a homogeneous tone with precise pitches. If you make music based on sound colors, not pitches, the voice has a big advantage.
Also the voice is a primal instrument for human being. Everyone has it and everyone can use it. It is a very important aspect for me, because I am interested in working with non-musicians. The voice gives a large possibility to make music with people who [have] a wide range of backgrounds.
Also we are using the voice mainly for speech in our normal life. It connects with language. The borderline between language and music is also my big concern.
In your work, you often combine the voice with electronic sounds and effects. What is the meaning—if any—behind such a synthesis?
At the same time, the voice is very personal. Sometimes you need to de-personalize it and objectify it to transform it to music. The use of live-processing is a way for the objectification.
I’ve heard that you’ve developed a “sonic shirt,” which hopefully we’ll get to see at the festival. In general, how important is invention and technology to your art?
It is [an] “Infra-red Sensor Shirt“.
I am building self-made electronic instruments because I am interested in my own personal physicality. Commercial musical equipments follow general ideas about music. It disturbs you [to] make an original music. The DIY approach to technology allows you to get an original voice from electronics.
It might sound like the contrary of the answer for the second question, but I am trying to personalize the technology and also to de-personalize voice through the technology in the same time.
These are enough? I hope they make sense for you.