Passion for the ether
The artist known as Hypnotique is a Jill of many artistic trades: she's into cabaret, performance art and music, plays several key and wind instruments and loves to collaborate with other creative souls. However, she is not as gregarious with her latest project.
So far, she's been handling all things related to Hypnotique herself and she's very convinced of her work - and rightly so! The following is a condensed version of an extensive conversation we had at her studio in North London. Turn on, tune in, and find out:
EoIpso: Who is Hypnotique? Is it just a fancy name or would you say Hypnotique is your alter ego, a fictional persona that embodies parts of yourself?
Hypnotique: It's more than just a fancy name! It is my essence. When I started playing music, I came from a tradition of cabaret and thought Hypnotique, taken from the great Martin Denny exotica album, was a great name of an act involving the very hypnotic theremin instrument. Much has developed, and now Hypnotique is the sounds and ideas which I emit from my heart and lungs and outwards, it is my "vibration" you could say, or the conventional among us may say an "ego". At the moment, Hypnotique is the name of my band - but there is only one member - me! Maybe one day I'll have a section of violins and mandolins accompanying me!
EoIpso: You are quite a multifaceted artist: you play several instruments and pursue your own musical projects, but you're also involved in other people's performances and you teach music, too. Tell me a bit more about it, with a focus on the latest projects you've been involved in.
Hypnotique: When you're trained to play classical music all your life, it installs in you a work ethos to just do it - even if you feel like crap, or your fingers are weary. So playing with others, be it a session for a radio show, a commercial recording for an album, or my own music, is something I make myself do like a job, as Gilbert & George and other artists do. You cannot wait for inspiration on the top of a mountain, but let it come to you during other actions - in the shower, taking the train to work, walking the dog - but set aside work time to develop the ideas each week. To me, the pleasure is in the accomplishment, rarely in the act. I learnt my trade playing and recording - mainly keyboards - with a lot of bands like Zorch, Nought, Heist, and Dawn of the Replicants, to name a few. But lately, I feel that "other people's music" will never fulfil my desires. Bands are strange hierarchies. Everyone wants to be Freddie Mercury and no one wants to be John Deacon, so it's rare to get the balance between people right.
So now I mainly play on my own, and I also have a duo project called "Rhythmicon", named after the other great musical instrument made by Leon Theremin for the composer Henry Cowell, the world's first sequencer and drum machine. Sadly, we have no rhythmicon as it is extinct now, but we like to feel we create some sounds as dark, loopy, and sonically challenging as the original instrument - but in an industrial style. There are a few other big projects I'm working on - but for now they are secret.
My other main passion in life
is the radio, and I am producing a series of Radio documentaries called
On" with the maverick composer Bruce Woolley. It's a celebration
of 125 years of electricity showcasing historical electronic music recordings
and pioneering inventors. So far it's been like a dream; I've met many
of my favourite stars of esoteric electronic music, like Jean Jacques
Perrey, Bob Moog, and Gershon Kingsley. We aim to showcase great inventors,
their recording and ideas. To think these great men who were just a name
in a book when I was a student studying electro-acoustic music, and now
they are colleagues, and even friends! My paper at university "Space
Age Music and the Moog" was the start of my interest in all things
eclectic and electronic. I learnt a lot about sounds and electronic music
from studying tape loop theory - cutting and splicing tapes and making
giant loops around the room.