|A sonic Madagascar|
EoIpso: What do you want to express with your music? You mentioned your solo improvisations were influenced by a soundtrack you recorded for a CNN documentary on the evolution of life.
Pamelia: Each performance is a little bit different, also depending on what I am going to shoot for. Sometimes I want to recreate something I've recorded in the past, but have to figure out how to do that with loops of up to fourteen seconds. And it's always going to repeat, I can only take a phrase I've done and then build from that. Sometimes there are rooms where things start to rattle when you hit certain pitches, and sometimes accidents happen when you're recording, because once you record something into this pedal, you can't erase it, so you're stuck.
EoIpso: Did this happen to you?
Pamelia: Oh, it happens a lot of times. You could either stop completely, or it forces you to listen back to what you've just done and hear it a different way, or figure out what to do next. While your're doing something like that and have the pressure of being in front of an audience and not being able to stop and start over again, it's like no turning back. You have to make a journey out of it. It depends on your audience's patience whether they are willing to go on that journey with you.
EoIpso: I would think of your music as a symbol for evolution. Your improvisations evolve from very basic elements and then slowly grow into complex structures.
Pamelia: It's true on one side of it. When I started using a second pedal, you can think of it as Madagascar: oh, another life form on the same planet, with different animals and different plants! You can change the focus then and eventually bring it down. While simultaneously you have two different loops you've developed at the same time, you can bring down the volume of the first one and pay more attention to the new existence you create with the other pedal.
I sometimes transfer that onto the first pedal to erase what was in there, then it leaves another open space to record more or to use one of the green pedals as an effect itself. But if I want to use the delay algorithm on it, I can't make a loop while it's in that mode. Or, if I want to make a very short loop and turn the mix down on that effect, it leaves almost a tail on the end of that note. I could use that as a sound to put into the second green pedal that I'm making the loops with. This way, I'm not stuck with the regular sound of the theremin.
EoIpso: You are playing with bands as well, so this is but one form of you playing live.
Pamelia: Well, there's Barbez, which is this weird music that I can't describe.
EoIpso: I didn't hear much theremin playing in Barbez, it's generally more in-your-face stuff.
Pamelia: Sort of, it depends which song you have in mind. Sometimes, the theremin's taking the violin parts or cello parts on certain songs, or I almost treat it like another vocalist or a solo instrument. It's really hard to describe, because there is a strange interaction when we play live.
EoIpso: It's also got an improvisational side to it, not just sticking to song structures, but using free form as well.
Pamelia: In Barbez, we have songs that we stick to, but there are some odd-meter rhythms in it. In some of the songs we really have to know where we're at, so as to land in the same place. There's room for improvisation within that framework, whether it's playing a solo or creating chaos at a certain point in a song. Other times when I play live, I play classical music with piano and strings. Recently, I collaborated with an accordion player, playing music by the Russian composer Schnittke. I'm always open to different opportunities, I like to work with new musicians or meet new people, hear different styles of music and learn from that.
EoIpso: Barbez is the project you're currently involved in. How long have you been playing with them, and how about other band and session projects?
Pamelia: I've been with
them for three years. I'm on some other things too, like a band called
GeggyTah, it was the last album they'd put out that I did some work on.
At that time, I was also playing upright bass and electric bass. Then
there's a bunch of recording sessions I've done for other people's albums.
I toured a little bit with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and recorded
on a few tracks of their album. It was fun doing that tour, their album
had many, many tracks of instruments, and it took them two years to do.
By the time they called and said "OK, the album is done!", I'd already
forgotten about it. Sometimes I play sessions with them. Last year I was
on a couple of tracks for David Byrne's album "Grown Backwards" - that's
a sweet album, he actually does a version of an operatic aria, and it's
cute to hear him singing. It's sincere and sweet.