As part of our Connect & Collaborate programme we awarded a commission to Club Soda to create a piece of site-specific work (music/sound art) inspired by our partners, the Southbank Centre.
Hear the full Club Soda commission here:
We spoke to Club Soda to find out more about their approach to this commission, their research & field recordings and to get their take on our DMResonate event.
Please tell us about your inspiration for your piece:
Echoes in Time by Royal Boil Alice (our Club Soda musicians) is a site responsive piece regarding Queen Elizabeth Hall, part of London’s Southbank Centre, which is currently closed for refurbishment – scheduled to reopen next year – and is 50 years old this year.
The music we made was concerned with the architecture of the building – which is in the modernist style of ‘Brutalism’ – and is influenced by some of the early concerts that were staged at the venue, notably that of Pink Floyd (1967), The BBC Radiophonic workshop and David Bowie (1969).
As part of the process we considered the architecture and recorded the piece on site; in various spaces – inside and out – around the Southbank Centre.
No post-production was used in the making of the record. Instead, we chose to focus on the acoustics of the site, the reflections / echoes in the various spaces.
We were also greatly influenced and impressed by the large amounts of free, public, equal-access spaces there are at the site; the area of which is larger then that of the ticketed concert arenas on site.
We saw this as possibly the most valuable legacy of the site’s design and planning. We consider this to be indicative of the Utopian ideals inherent in the ‘post-war period’; during which the Southbank Centre was conceived.
Can you describe your creative process and if or how Royal Boil Alice used Assistive Music Technology?
We made two visits to the Southbank centre’s archive. On our first visit we were given a tour and an introduction to site’s history.
We were also shown artefacts relating to the architecture, such as architectural plans, mood boards, and examples of the types if concrete used in the construction of the building.
The second visit focused on the early concert programming at the Queen Elizabeth Hall; notably David Bowie and Pink Floyd.
We considered that these artists had performed there early on in their careers. It was also interesting to learn of lesser know artists such as Vytas Serelius who had performed.
We made field recordings of the site, research areas and activities of sonic interest, such as the local birds, and scatters.
With our research in mind we had held writing sessions out of which emerged the idea for ‘Echoes in Time’. We rehearsed the piece and, once ready, recorded it live at St. Paul’s Pavilion (on Level 6 of Royal Festival Hall) over looking The Queen Elizabeth Hall, using miniature guitar amplifiers for our electronic instruments.
By serendipity there was a piano in the corridors leading to St. Paul’s Pavilion, which we used and recorded.
We then amplified and played particular parts of the recording – for example the vocals and violin – into public spaces on site – for example the walkway under the Queen Elisabeth Hall – and recorded the results.
We then mixed all recordings together – paying close attention to the ‘natural’ acoustic we’d captured – to make the recording’s final mix.
In terms of Assistive Music Technology, we used an MPC sampler to collate the edited clips from the field recordings and to trigger them live.
Were there any particular challenging moments during the process?
On the whole I’d say it ran pretty smoothly, to the credit of the group members, Drake Music and Southbank Centre.
I feel the musicians did especially well, rising to the challenge of working in a large group – ten members – responding to the site and the archive.
Also, they worked well in processing genres of music that were new to them, for example early electronic music, Musique concrète and experiencing new ways of approaching composition such as field recording.
What was your experience of the DM Resonate event at the ICA?
I feel it was an amazing and successful evening, showcasing some truly great commissions.
The technical team were a delight to work with also. I feel it was well coordinated, entertaining and engaging.
It was very interesting to see how the other commissions had been executed, especially their use of Assistive and accessible Music Technology.
I got some very positive feedback from our members, they really enjoyed the event, I feel it gave them a massive confidence boost.
What feedback or comments did you get after your performance?
Extremely positive, on the night there was a lot of very encouraging comments from members of the audience, other artists and sponsors.
Also on twitter for example there was quite a flurry of positive activity. One of our favourite tweets was @Vahakn:
‘Doom band Royal Boil Alice completely destroyed #dmresonate tonight. Incredible. Next gig??! https://t.co/6FEXFbcydq’
What are you future plans for work or performances?
Well we are looking forward for the second phase of this particular commission and performing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall when it reopens (TBC).
Plus, Royal Boil Alice would like to continue with site responsive works, so we are now looking into suitable locations and organisations. So watch this space!
In the meantime everyone is welcome to join us at Soda Beat, our regular club night in Croydon. Keep an eye on our website for dates.
Also many of the members attend a weekly Monday night music workshop called ‘Soda Beat Sessions’ in Croydon, open to all young people (aged 15 – 25 years) with a learning disability.
Keep up to date with Club Soda:
Connect & Collaborate London is supported by City Bridge Trust and DMResonate was supported by the Wingate Foundation.