Published January 9th, 2017
LA-based composer, producer, wizard and musician, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, is about to unleash her unique approach to electronic music upon Australia and we’re overjoyed to chat with the sound-bender before she makes her local debut. Scheduled to perform at Sugar Mountain in less than two weeks, Kaitlyn will be working in collaboration with the iconic (and fellow Buchla player) Suzanne Ciani for the thirteenth installment of RVNG intl’s FRKWYS, entitled ‘Sunergy’.
Kaitlyn’s music is entirely avant-garde. With its combination of eerie yet soothing sounds, her music is primal and raw, resembling something more aligned to nature than electronic music, similar to the sounds of her childhood in Orcas Island.
We checked in to chat about jungle soundscapes, Sunergy and how the unconscious became the subconscious when it came to creating and ecosystem within her music.
Your music is quite avant-garde compared to what is usually produced through a synthesizer. Talk us through it.
When it comes to composing a song, I just follow what feels good for me. I’ve always lived near the water so I think just by default, that’s a part of my world and my subconscious. Nature is definitely something that I can’t really separate from myself because I’ve spent so much time in it.
How did growing up on Orcas Island influence your music?
Growing up with half forest and half water made it a really big part of my life and my early musical influences are actually sounds that I’ve heard in nature and since I’ve studied synthesis, my brain is constantly trying to figure out a sound and dissect it. For Ears, my most recent album, it was a really conscious decision of being in a futuristic jungle. I was very intentional in putting in a lot of lush sounds to give an impression of a lot of life, a lot of water and a lot of vitality.
What aspect of nature inspires you the most to create music?
Something I love when I’m sitting outside in nature is how many things are going on all at once. It’ll start off with just one sound and then as I focus myself more, the more layers I hear so I like to work with that in mind. I try to create an ecosystem if you will, where at first you’ll think you’re listening to one sound but as you focus more, it’ll be something like 30 sounds and a bunch of layers. I find it interesting how many animal sounds sound mechanical and vice versa. There are so many things I could say [laughs].
Tell us about Sunergy. Why did you choose Suzanne Ciani?
Sunergy was this great collaboration with someone I admire. It was around this time Susanne, who’s this amazing Buchla player and one of the first Buchla players and one of the first female Buchla players who had this massive break from electronic music and focussed on piano music, decided to play electronic music again and was releasing all these old recordings she found and a paper she wrote on how to compose on old instruments. It was kind of like a recipe book so we used some of those “Recipes” as our inspiration. And then we improvised for three days and captured it all and she has this epic window that stares out at the ocean and we’d just stare at it and make music.
Is that a process you’ve done before in making your music?
It wasn’t the way I make music and it wasn’t the way Susanne makes music. Personally, the way I go about making music changes everyday. It depends on what I’m trying to do. It’s just how it happened for us making that release.
It’s your first time in Australia, how’s the vibe?
There’s so much I’m looking forward to. I’ve planned some exploration time there and I’m going to go to New Zealand while I’m close. I’m really excited about the whole thing. It’s my first time ever coming here.
We’re just as chuffed to experience the futuristic jungle sounds IRL. Very limited Second Release ($109) tix remaining to Sugar Mountain 2017, going down Saturday 21 January and now with even more artists on the premium line-up. More info here.