harmonic navigation / an interview with yuka

yuka

yuka is a wanderer. she is a shaman. she’s a designer and an artist. she’s a collector. she’s a crate digger. she’s a songbird catcher. she’s a dancer, a guitar player and an inventor. she’s a traveler. she is so many things — but most of all, yuka is a music maker.

born in 1974 in the industrial beachside town of bratsk in eastern siberia, yuka’s home offered red earth and harsh climates; a fact that she doesn’t romanticize, even today. the town’s remote location in the depths of the taiga, as well as the severity of the soviet regime, meant that she relied on imagination, imagery and music to fuel her creativity.

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the hitch hiker’s guide to robert henke

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in 2007, a berlin-based producer, composer, sound engineer, and installation artist named robert henke wrote an essay entitled live performance in the age of supercomputing. it was a two-part piece that detailed the subtleties of live performance, and the different ways to move your audience. and henke should know. he has more than two decades of experience in the electronic music industry under his belt, not only as a producer and artist but likewise as the co-founder and developer of ableton.

his live performances — whether under his own name or as part of cutting-edge electronic act, monolake —  have brought him everywhere from the stages of mutek montreal or unsound poland, to the jagged rock cliffs of mexico or the empty airport hangars of france, to the dripping concrete walled nightclubs of his native germany. he works with anything and everything; lasers, kinetic light objects, field recordings, drum kits, helium balloons, computers, networking software. there is no limit to what henke can turn into music.

a few years after live performance in the age of supercomputing, henke rewrote the essay as a hitch hiker’s guide. the age of supercomputing, it seemed, had caught up with him. digital publication began calling for short, punctuated pieces; so henke obliged. written with a wink of irony, henke broke the essay down into accessible, easy to understand sections with titles like “play stuff the audience knows,” and “make sure it sounds great.” for our littlecity exclusive interview, i took a leaf from henke’s book: herewith you’ll find the hitch hiker’s guide to robert henke, an exploration of his work and values using the same sections as his pervasive essay. Continue reading

the muso next door / notes from the wohnzimmer

muso

it’s just past 5 pm on a saturday in february, and georgie fisher and i are on a hunt for plastic cups. wandering down marianenstrasse in kreuzberg, carrying multiple bags of ice, it would probably have been smarter to look for the cups first. i’m helping her set up for the travelling music event that she and her boyfriend, writer/poet wolf arand have brought to berlin. originally run by georgie’s sister and fellow musician stephanie grace in sydney, australia, the muso next door is a small-scale concert series that takes place in a different living room every month. february’s is their second. “we thought that after the first one, we’d have gotten the hang of it,” georgie says, balancing the bags of ice with one hand and smoking a cigarette with the other, “but you know… the second time around has taken even more organizing.” wolf has already had to rush back to friedrichshain to pick up the hand-painted signs their friend peer made especially for the night.

that’s the thing about putting up an event in someone’s living room. no matter how prepared you are, you’re never quite prepared enough. all things considered, georgie and wolf have done something really special. sometimes it seems like there’s an entire other world in berlin of which i’ve only just scratched the surface.

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on the street with georgie fisher

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have you ever been in love? georgie fisher has. i don’t know because we’ve talked about it — it hadn’t even occurred to me to ask — i know because i can hear it in her songs. warm, honest acoustic folk music that, while it doesn’t necessarily speak to break ups or relationships, is somehow grounded in the kind of openness that only falling in love can bring to light. or maybe it’s just that georgie’s is the kind of voice that you can tell has broken a heart or two.

the first time i heard georgie play, it was my second week in berlin. she and cohort harry leatherby had set up — guitars, amps, bottles of beer — outside an u bahn station in kreuzberg. we were just about to wander away when they started playing. we danced a bit. it didn’t last long, maybe a song or two, before it started raining and they were gone but i knew — knew — that i wanted to work with her on a piece for littlecity, which as it turns out, is my first rooted in berlin’s music scene.

when i meet georgie for the second time, we are both hungover. over bagels and coffee at friedrichshain’s shakespeare & sons, we talk about street performance, berlin, and her own history with folk music. a native of sydney, australia, georgie moved to berlin a year ago after a short while spent in london, where she recorded her debut EP playground. now based out of berlin, she quit her job bartending to pursue music full-time, a career that finds her not only playing gigs in small venues around the city, but on bridges, in parks, at the local flea market, and in the streets.

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september photo diary / and some things i’ve learned in berlin

one month ago, i packed up my entire life (and by that i mean i packed up 9 pairs of shoes, 7 pieces of outerwear, basically no clothing, and nothing else of use to me other than both my laptops, great job emma), hopped on a plane, and relocated to berlin, germany. it was scary. nothing anyone told me, and certainly nothing i told myself, prepared me in any way for the past four weeks. i’ve always published on littlecity in the name of full disclosure, so for better or for worse, here are some things i’ve learned about berlin.

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