Taking place within the city of Utrecht, Le Guess Who? has cemented a reputation for eclectic acts that provoke and inspire. In partnership with renowned fashion designer Iris van Herpen, sound artist Salvador Breed has curated WAS, Centraal Museum, Janskerk, and TivoliVredenburg venue line-ups. The Dutch composer’s work explores the way acoustics, silence and space resonate with one another, finding subtle ways to expand our senses. His power as a musician lies in discord. Fleeting moments are magnified and stretched, elongating their plasticity and immersing the listener in ambience. Salvador spoke to us not only about the upcoming programme, but also his influences; the sounds, materials and textures that inspire his diverse way of working.
Hi Salvador, how are you?
Very well, thank you!
So, how did you first hear about the festival?
I think I first heard of it when some friends of mine invited me years ago. The band that I remembered most was Akron/Family – which was really good. A small, intimate performance.
How has it been working with Iris? As a fashion designer and a sound artist, you come from such different backgrounds.
It’s been fantastic! When I look at Iris’ work, it’s hard not to see music and sounds. Collaborating on an aesthetic for both the shows and short films is really satisfying. She has really sharp vision & if I hear or make something I know quite fast if will work or not; it’s a very balanced, time-consuming process and its outcome often surprises me afterwards – which makes it really inspiring.
“We needed some time to figure out that perfect often is very boring”
Turning to the lineup now, AI is becoming such a hot feature of contemporary electronic music. And you’ve included two of the greats – Holly Herdon and Amnesia Scanner. These artists especially break the boundaries between “natural” and “synthetic” sound. Can you tell us how this dichotomy functions in your own work?
I think, as a society, we’ve passed through this euphoric moment where technology would make everything better for us. When digital synthesisers came on the market, a lot of people threw away their analogue equipment because digital was “perfect”. We needed some time to figure out that perfect often is very boring. I think a field that is very interesting is physical modelling: trying to create digital models that re-create physics. In sound, this is often done with voices, strings, spaces, etc. Experimenting with this so satisfying to me as it helps me to bend reality.
“A performance can be made or broken by the right venue, and Le Guess Who? with its huge variety of artists from a wild spectrum, is very aware of this too.”
You’ll be performing as Blazing Suns during the Festival. The collective uses lots of interdisciplinary elements like immersive set design and lights. Could you tell us a little bit about what you have planned?
Blazing Suns grew out of the wish for a playground that I shared with a few common collaborators; Nick Verstand, Boris Acket and Maarten Vos. Though we come from different backgrounds – sound, music, light, interactive and installation art – we all have created and learned many tools that we love to explore through our music. Blazing Suns brings together a lot of research from many of our artworks – and connects them together in different ways.
Then there’s the inclusion of incredibly stripped down, ambient performers like Murcof.
I was very happy to be able to have Murcof at the festival. He makes such beautifully insightful work. We’ve also worked collaboratively in the past when he created sound pieces with 4DSOUND – a spatial sound company/technology I co-founded. I think his subtle performance will work wonderfully in dialogue with some of the more extroverted acts.
What’s the relationship between space and sound in your work?
Space is very, very important. A performance can be made or broken by the right venue, and Le Guess Who? with its huge variety of artists from a wild spectrum, is very aware of this too. One of the main venues (TivolVredeburg) has that architecture has been built to display this variety – so each artist’s expression comes to light in the best way possible.
“Often inspiration comes from a moment of hearing a sound and mistaking it for something else.”
Given that space is essential – what are your favourite places to get inspired?
It’s very hard to pinpoint down a certain context. Often inspiration comes from a moment of hearing a sound and mistaking it for something else. This particular experience can greatly help with creating work that exists on the boundaries of realism. I love playing with that. Another impetus comes from visual art. I love looking at Japanese folklore drawing from the Edo period. In fact, this artwork greatly influenced my EP with Stijn van Beek. Seeing Iris’s structures; the way she evokes nature, always instantly triggers things in my mind.
Le Guess Who? takes place from 7 – 10 November at various locations in Utrecht. Purchase tickets here.