"I think sound is about balance and all the sounds that I make have to have this"
Piksel has an honest and sincere career. Her musical selection and good judgment has dared borders. The productions and dj sets by Ieva are powerful statement, emblematic of her no-holds-barred approach. We take the opportunity to interview her.
Hi Piksel! Where can we find you right now? How did you start off your day?
I’m currently in London! I started out my day with a little walk with my dog and a strong black tea!
What was your first foray into the world of electronic music?
It was a mixture of listening and education. I was listening to a lot of Burial, Amon Tobin and Four Tet as a teen, but at the same time I took music technology as A-level…so it was lucky timing to be honest – to learn about the production but also to be completely in love with sound!
I see that you also play with many instruments. With which of them do you feel more comfortable?
Violin is the main instrument I ‘play’, but I would say that the computer (and my DAW) is the instrument I’m most comfortable using!
When did the idea of starting a project begin to take shape? Has it always been something you’ve wanted to do?
Piksel became a ‘project’ more when I was coming towards the end of uni, but I was making electronic music and building my sound for a couple years before that. It’s definitely not something I imagined that I would do when I was a kid, but it makes sense now.
Which artists have your interest these days?
I’ve been really into Anne Muller recently. I love how she uses her cello and makes these beautiful ambient soundscapes. The cello is such a versatile instrument.
How do you manage to combine such disparate genres? How do you manage to give them unity and harmony? What do they have in common for you?
I guess I listen to a lot of different music – dance, classical, jazz, electronic and so on. So it kind of rubs off on my music too. I think sound is about balance and all the sounds that I make have to have this. A lot of the time it’s the ‘organic’ quality – so if I had a very electronic beat, I would counteract that with acoustic sounds such as a violin or vocals – but then also add some textures to the beat itself to make it more ‘human’. It’s hard to describe, but it’s based on the process of painting.
What have you learned from your work at Noods Radio?
I’ve only recently started a show at Noods, and it’s been really nice to have an outlet of ambient music I’m currently into. I learnt a lot about what makes a good mix, as well as how other DJs might be looking for music. I’ve also learned new ways of discovering new artists.
What can you tell us about your Some Silver Burns EP? What was your musical criteria? What inspired you?
I wrote this score for a multimedia dance piece with Syntrex originally. It was about exploring our connection with nature and man-made forms. Musically I wanted it to be very organic – so I ended up recording a lot of the instruments, textures and field recordings. I wanted to create some complexity in simple things.
What about downtempo that you like so much?
I think downtempo can sometimes be an over looked genre, as it’s not always played in every day spaces (such as dance music or pop). I like its subtle and calm nature.
What can you tell us about Project Syntrex? How is it born?
It started as my final uni project and ended up going further from that. I was already working with Amy Dang on a couple of dance films, so it made sense to do visuals, music and dance live – as a single art form. Sometimes people think of contemporary dance as something you’d go to see at the Theatre, but we wanted to bring this whole art form into other, more accessible spaces – such as clubs and warehouses. Our choreographer – Magnus Westwell also had a similar outlook on this, so it all gelled very nicely. The premiere of Some Silver Burns at the Place was actually our first proper ‘theatre’ performance!
How do you deal with C19 confinement with your work? Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
In some ways it has been nice to have more time for writing music and just concentrating on that. On the other hand I’m finding myself more and more boring every day – I need to go and see some live music and art! I also had more time to think and check out more podcasts, music and books and it has influenced how I envisage my music to continue.
So what music are you currently obsessed by? Have you picked up any records recently that you have been playing in every set or have been listening to every day?
I’m very into Djrum’s ‘Portrait in Firewood’ (and have been for several months), as well as some artists from labels such as Erased Tapes. I have definitely been searching for something more intimate and I’m discovering things every day.
What makes a good mix to you?
I think a mix has to take you on a journey. It’s a bit different dancing to a DJ live in the club and listening to something on your own. If it’s a radio mix, I really like to get to know the DJ – their personality through their music. It’s also nice to have a mixture of new & established artists.
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
Elsa Hewitt recently released an album and it’s really beautiful. I think it’s perfect to sink into with a glass of wine!
What makes you happy?
Wow – what a bit question! Mainly little things – like good food, sight of nature and trees, good music, nice people…
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects?
I’m currently working on another EP – which will solely be my musical expressions (as supposed to a soundtrack for something else!) I’m excited to make it but also have nothing to hide behind…so we’ll see how that goes!