Meg Stuart
Damaged Goods
Jozef Wouters/Decoratelier
Articles
Interviews
Teaching
BRUZZ, Headaches and Damaged Goods: Celestial Sorrow premieres at the Kaaistudios - Michaël Bellon (01.2018)
To be as visible as possible, Interview with Meg Stuart and Jompet Kuswidananto - Jeroen Versteele (2018)
The sound of a railroad tie and broken records, Interview with Mieko Suzuki and Ikbal Simamora Lubys - Jeroen Versteele (2018)

The sound of a railroad tie and broken records

Dramaturge Jeroen Versteele in conversation with Mieko Suzuki and Ikbal Simamora Lubys

Jeroen Versteele: How did you meet Meg Stuart?

Mieko Suzuki: Three years ago, Meg invited me to participate in a project that she was working on with Maria F. Scaroni at HAU Hebbel Am Ufer in Berlin: City Lights – a continuous gathering. I’d long worked with visual artists, fashion designers and sculptors, and also performed as a DJ, but Meg said: ‘I want something else.’ So, I started breaking records. (laughs) I smashed records, taped them back together and played loops with them. I thought: other musicians play on prepared guitars or pianos, so why can’t I prepare records? This is also how I used them during the rehearsals for Celestial Sorrow: I’d take a tiny fragment of the track on the record, connect it to the effects pedals and build up the sound. I’m using the record as existing physical material. This all came about thanks to Meg pushing me and saying: ‘I want something else.’

Ikbal Simamora Lubys: I was very lucky. Six months ago, I saw Meg Stuart’s performance VIOLET in HAU Hebbel Am Ufer in Berlin. I loved it. A few months after that, I was invited to a workshop at Melati Suryodarmo’s house, an Indonesian artist who knew that Meg would be visiting Java to prepare for her Europalia project.

Suzuki: We met a lot of musicians on Java and discussed what it was like to collaborate with choreographers. Ikbal and I had an immediate connection. Afterwards, I suggested to Meg that we should work with him. I hadn’t heard any of his music, but sometimes you don’t need to.

Versteele: How do you collaborate during the rehearsals? Do you have any rules?

Lubys: Mieko is the sound director and she takes the decisions. I offer my sounds and ideas.

Suzuki: We’d discuss what possession means for us. Is it possible for an animal to invade your body? Is there a difference between trance and possession? Is repetition the most important thing for trance?

Versteele: Do you go into trance yourself when you play your music?

Suzuki: I can reach that level when I’m listening, composing or playing. I enter into a state of intense concentration.

Lubys: When I play music with Melati, I can easily go into a trance, as I can when I play with my metal band.

Versteele: What is a trance?

Suzuki: It can be a deeper or higher state of consciousness. It is elevated, but at the same time heavy. It makes us experience time differently. We know that there are only 24 hours a day, but when I’m in a trance, a minute is not a minute. Sometimes, two hours seem to pass in twenty minutes. Perhaps time ceases to exist when you’re in a trance? There is only the moment.

Lubys: When Meg asked us to make music on the theme of trance, Mieko replied: ‘trance is not about music, it is directly related to time.’

Suzuki: I’m delighted to be able to work with Meg because I’ve always been deeply fascinated by trance. The word ‘celestial’ describes my state of consciousness when I’m in a trance, concentrating intently on the sounds and frequencies. This consciousness makes me feel very tense, and I might see a horizontal line in the air, for example. There is a tension in the air. It’s almost as if this tension cleanses the air, as if a huge pressure has built up, but cannot escape. This feeling is a constant theme in my work. It is what my sound resembles.

Versteele: Apart from taped-together records, what other material do you use in the performance?

Suzuki: I made a lot of sound recordings in Indonesia, such as city noises, traffic, the buzz in restaurants, footsteps, forest sounds, the movement of air. I also recorded a choir singing a capella at a wedding ceremony and a traditional kecak dance that we witnessed. And I bought a metal spring that I also use to generate sounds.

Lubys: I built my guitar from a piece of wood cut from a 300-year-old railroad tie. It doesn’t sound like a guitar, more like a percussion instrument. And I use a stethoscope to obtain really low sounds from my mouth, teeth and throat.

Versteele: Do you draw inspiration from Indonesian musical traditions?

Lubys: Rather than play traditional pieces, I create new music. But I do like the attitude of the gamelan musicians, who play traditional ensemble music in Java and Bali. It’s not about being a superstar or even about the best band or musician. They don’t need a stage or an audience. The musicians play throughout the villages, either in halls or in the homes of people wealthy enough to possess a set of gamelan instruments. They just play, not for a project, not to earn money. They don’t just play for the audience, but also for themselves. I love that mentality, treating music as a spiritual activity.

Jeroen Versteele


The time we lost, A conversation with Rimah Jabr - Chris Keulemans (02.18)
The Young Ones, An interview with Meg Stuart - Kinga Jaczewska (23.02.18)
Focus Le Vif, A hurricane on stage - Estelle Spoto (24.05.18)
Focus Le Vif, Ouragan sur la scène - Estelle Spoto (24.05.18) [ French ]
Mouvement, Nous sommes accros au démantèlement des choses - Aïnhoa Jean-Calmettes & Jean-Roch de Logivière (03.18) [ French ]
Mouvement, We are addicted to dismantling things - Aïnhoa Jean-Calmettes & Jean-Roch de Logivière (03.18)

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