New Voices 2020 Q&A: Alice Boyd

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To celebrate the selection of this year’s New Voices cohort, we caught up with all the selected artists and composers for a quick chat.

Here, we speak to New Voices 2020 composer Alice Boyd. Alice is a London and Bristol based composer, theatre maker and environmental campaigner. Her work uses the voice, everyday sounds and electronic textures to tell stories about the world around us.

Can you tell us about your musical influences?

So far, I have primarily worked in the theatre industry and have been incredibly inspired by composers and sound designers further along in their career, including Melanie Wilson and Donato Wharton. I love how they both use electronic textures, mixed with instruments and vocals to produce their soundtracks.

More recently, I have become aware of artists like Mileece, Jason Singh and Michael Prime, who capture the bio-electric emissions of plants and fungi and translate it into music. For me, this discovery has got me interested in hardware creation, coding and sound installations, all of which I hope to explore in the New Voices programme.

I am also inspired by those working in the intersection between climate activism and the arts. The CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, Alison Tickell says, “the arts is the difference between knowing knowledge, and feeling knowledge”. This idea is central to the reason why I make music and sound art — I want to translate different forms of knowledge into something we can experience as a species who learns primarily through storytelling and the emotions we form as a result of this.

What are you working on at the moment?

Currently, my work focuses on the relationships that exist between humans, non-humans and the environment. We are going through a strange time where, as a species, we are growing more aware of our impact on the world around us and how it it affects us in return, while simultaneously becoming seemingly more individualised and isolated.

Over lockdown, I started a new collaboration with nonfiction writer Laura Grace Simpkins. In our sound piece ‘Germination’, based on a personal essay of Laura’s, we explore the untold devastation of lithium mining, an element used in many green technologies, as well as medication for bipolar disorder. The piece is currently part of Louder Than The Storm’s Climate Intersectionality digital exhibition.

Through New Voices, I hope to develop these ideas further, experimenting with how different elements in my music interact, and how these might reflect the networks that allow life on earth not only to co-exist but to live symbiotically. Studies into ‘nature’s technology’ proves that there are many opportunities to interact with organic matter in a way that benefits both society and the environment. I want to harness this idea by exploring how human, electronic and natural materials can together produce music.

What are you looking forward to most about New Voices?

When looking at the work of the artists who have previously been a part of the New Voices programme, it was so encouraging to see the breadth of projects and the range of new skills people had learnt with the support of Sound and Music. I am really looking forward to spending dedicated time researching and developing my practice, as well as learning more about the work of the rest of the cohort and the coaches. I hope to come out of the programme feeling confident in myself as an artist, having met some amazing people and explored new avenues of sound creation.

Sound and Music gratefully acknowledges support from PRS Foundation as a Talent Development Partner:

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