Hypnotique and Lydia

EoIpso: You've been playing the theremin for some years now. What brought this ancient instrument to your attention?

Hypnotique: I play many instruments, but the theremin is my calling. I'd heard about it, then I saw it played by a great Japanese rock star called Cornelius, and I knew I had to play it and started in earnest in 2001. If you are a true theremin fanatic you are always hooked, always fascinated to try and play it a little better, because it is so difficult to play, just in the air with no reference for pitch. It is always an experience of fractions: you are always down at the bottom rung, then you realize how far it is to climb up and be a better theremin player. When you climb up, you realize you are only on the second rung, and there are many more above. It is exasperating!

EoIpso: You say that by playing the theremin you "connect to the ether". Can you describe what you mean by that?

Hypnotique: No scientist has ever proved the existence of the "ether" - a Victorian concept of space and matter - but those of us who are a little esoteric know that vibrations, both sound and emotional, can be carried in the air, using lightwaves, soundwaves, radiowaves, and also, in the electrical age, carried via wires. Bob Moog tells me that you can connect to your analogue instrument: your body forms part of the circuit, and it is this human connection which produces a good or bad sound. He believes you can connect to your ordinary computer in the same way and be nice to it to make it work for you. I don't think these digital machines have quite the same emotions, they are not as "dangerous" as analogue instruments.

During the radio show I did on Leon Theremin and theremin music, we definitely felt his spirit in the ether - strange recordings and sounds appeared on the tape that were not in the studio. And two radio shows I have done I've had mysterious power cuts at home and at work the night before. I think Leon Theremin is mischievous, he is controlling the electricity supply and he is testing our mettle! A lot of more mechanical/electronic devices like printers, faxes, almost always fail and break in my company. I'm constantly getting static and jolts in everything I touch. Maybe it's the madness of the theremin or just the cheap fabrics I wear! The theremin is the ultimate connection to the ether, as it only comes alive when you interact with the space around it. And it is the most jinxed, and the most amazing instrument in the world, in its history, legacy and everyday involvement. Now you could say that theremin players are stereotypically a little crazy, but the horror stories we have! Instruments blowing up, gigs being cancelled due to wars, plagues and death... Even Leon Theremin himself found fame with his instrument, but he had little financial success in his lifetime and died in a tiny single room in virtual poverty and anonymity. You have to be in tune with the vibrations and ways of your particular instrument to allow your theremin to let you play it. And you must treat it with reverence, or it will be your downfall.

EoIpso: I understand the theremin you use is not an off-the-shelf-product, but an instrument built to meet your special requirements. Could you describe what makes your theremin special?

Hypnotique: I play a tVox Tour, which was actually custom-made for the great theremin player and my teacher Lydia Kavina. It's very stylish (white, slim and space-age looking), portable, and very smooth to play, and I trust her skill and judgment as a player enormously.

EoIpso: You have taken lessons from Lydia who happens to be the grandniece of the theremin's inventor, Lev Termen. How did that come about and how would you describe Lydia?

Hypnotique: Lydia Kavina is the world's most recognized player and teacher, and I was lucky enough to be able to arrange a trip to Hamburg to study with her for a few days and later in London. Lydia is a true professional and an inspiring musician, she can play any style of theremin - classical, avantgarde, contemporary, surf rock, film scores - and yet so few people in the world truly appreciate her amazing skills. As a teacher she is very Russian and very strict. She knows how to tell me off and make me feel very small and insignificant! I have many more rungs to climb.
> The art of noise


Hypnotique and Lydia Kavina in session

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