A selected bio from www.interlog.com/~speeb
Sarah Peebles is a Toronto-based American composer, performer,
and broadcaster. She pursued violin, composition, and theatre studies
in her native Minneapolis, MN, and received a Bachelor of Music
degree in composition in 1988 from the University of Michigan School
of Music at Ann Arbor. Peebles studied traditional and contemporary
Japanese music at Toho Gakuen School of Music (1985), and studied
and performed traditional and contemporary music in Japan independently
and as a Japan Foundation Uchida Fellow over extended periods between
1985-1993. She has composed for electroacoustics, small ensemble,
dance, installation work, video and film, animation, inter-disciplinary
collaborations and music-theatre. Her current music focuses on computer-assisted
composition and improvised performance using Max programming with
internal sampling software, often together with live and/or prerecorded
sh (Japanese mouth-organ), and often explores alternative
performance settings, such as museums, bamboo groves, temples and
parks. She is a member of "Smash and Teeny" (with guitarist
Nilan Perera) and "Cinnamon Sphere" trio (with Perera
and calligraphy performance by Chung Gong Ha).
A selected bio from www.interlog.com/~speeb
I'm interested in finding out more about what the response
has been to your music from audiences that have not had as much
exposure to experimental or leftfleld music? I'm sure many into
Max, sound design, and sound work have their own approach and interests
but how have others reacted?
It's been surprisingly positive and gratifying. I've received many
positive responses from all sorts of people, many who have expressed
they enjoy working to the music, doing yoga to it, even listening
to certain works in times of personal introspection..... and they
just seem to enjoy it. Still, to be realistic, most people just
don't get it - but that doesn't surprise me.
I'd like to know a little about the ideas or concepts behind
the "Insect Groove" album.
The CD is a collection of performances, studio works and field
recordings which I felt, at the time I compiled it, in the year
2000, represented my strongest work, and, which could exist together
in a way that flowed well. The sonic materials themselves have common
threads because I tend to work by drawing from an ever-expanding
library of sounds which I collect. During this period of work, I
collected a lot of insect sounds.
There seems to be some political motives with regards to the
issues you address regarding the forests in British Columbia?
Absolutely. Canadian forests everywhere are being mowed down -
rather than judiciously regulated - and BC wood, much of which is
200-600 years old, is sold mostly these days for millions of shiny
new homes constructed in the U.S. The issue, I think, isn't really
the need for such a huge volume of houses, it's about a money-driven
industry, and it's about consumption - as with highways, build them
and they will come. I suggest your readers check out the web site
I listed on the CD: www.ran.org. Oh, and of course, without forests,
much of our insect diversity would vanish.
Many are familiar with writer and musician David Toop but could
you tell me a bit about the other artists you worked with on the
One of my primary improvising partners is Nilan Perera, a Toronto-based
sonic explorer, improviser and composer whose work expands the language
and techniques of experimental electric guitar performance. Together,
we've worked in the mixed media trio "Cinnamon Sphere"
(myself, Perera and calligrapher Chung Gong Ha) since 1996, and
in our duo "Smash and Teeny" since 2001. Perera is an
extraordinary musician whose approach to working with sound is always
fascinating and mesmerizing: he utilizes preparations of assorted
paraphernalia such as swizzle sticks, paper clips, metal brushes
and the like, as well as feedback and a variety of electronic effects.
Cinnamon Sphere invited Jin Hi Kim to perform with us in 1997.
Jin Hi Kim is an internationally recognized komungo (a fourth century
fretted board zither) virtuoso and composer. She's pioneered a wide
array of compositions for the komungo in combination which she has
performed with the likes of the Kronos Quartet and the Xenakis Ensemble,
and has been very active composing cross-cultural mask dance music
theater and other collaborative forms between cultures. Kim has
also co-developed the world's only electric komungo with Joseph
Yanuziello, which you can hear in the track insect groove. Kim is
also unique, I think in that she's developed a series of compositions,
"Living Tones" , where each tone is alive, embodying its
own individual shape, sound and subtext.
Kô Ishikawa is one of Japan's principal shô (Japanese
mouth-organ used traditionally in gagaku, court orchestra music)
performers and improvisers, who also works with electronics. His
work with leading composers of written music and with ensembles
performing new and traditional works around the world is extensive,
and in recent years his activities as an improviser and performer
works involving electronics, including Cathode with Otomo Yoshihide
and Let there be Light with Nami Hotastu, have been substantial.
He and I met many years ago in Tokyo and worked together on some
projects in the early Î901s. We invited him to participate
in our Cinnamon Sphere concert at Space Alta, and our connection
was especially rich because his father had been a calligrapher..
How did your relationship start with C74?
They sent me an email announcement that they were starting up a
label. I was on their list because I'd bought a copy of Max/MSP
software from them. As most of my music has utilized some version
of Max since 1995, it made sense to approach them with my work.
Open discussion of your software seems to be important to both
you and C74 while others seem to keep their methods behind a curtain.
What are your thoughts?
I haven't experienced others keeping their methods a secret. On
the contrary, there's a very open attitude in general among software
users who create experimental music.
How did your studies in Japan effect your current work? Could
you tell me a bit more about the sh?
That's hard to pin down for me. Living off and on in Japan provided
me with a large variety of really interesting experiences which
were both social and artistic. I think that just taking in what
that scene has been has influenced my aesthetics, from musicians/composers
such as Yuji Takahashi, Takemitsu and Somei Satoh to mixed media
artists like Sakaguchi Hirotoshi to Butoh people like Anzu Furukawa
and Min Tanaka to traditional musics such as Gagaku (court orchestra
music) and Edo Sato Kagura (Shinto pantomime mask dance dramas from
the region of pre-Meiji Tokyo). The sh has a unique and fascinating
timbre, and it has a rich and somehow mysterious acoustic presence
Ü you could say it throws sound in unexpected ways. I've always
been mesmerized by it. I1m not the greatest player, but I love playing
and exploring new territory with it.
What interests you in the type of music you create and what
pushed you in that direction?
I suppose it's timbre and form that interest me the most.
Do you feel their is an equal part of theory/development vs.
emotion driving your music?
I'd say there's some kind of balance between intuition and intellect
at work when I approach a project, maybe it's 50/50.
What instruments and software are you currently using in your
Macintosh G3 Powerbook (333), Max/MSP (Cycling 74) - an object-oriented
programming environment - for both real time MIDI control and digital
signal processing; Unity DS-1 (Bitheadz) as in internal sampler
(which is software-based); on special occasions the Hammerfall DSP
Multiface (RME) for converting my stereo output into 8 discreet
audio channels which are then routed to the Richmond Audio Box (Richmond
Sound Design), which work in conjunction with ABControl software,
via which I spacialize discreet channels simultaneously in real
time. In those cases, the ABControl is used on a 2nd laptop and
directed to the Audio Box via a SCSI connection. Additionally, the
sh (mouth-organ), which I use either acoustically (without
amplification) and/or which I process. I have some images of these
set-ups on my web
for now. Regarding the 8-channel stuff, I had the pleasure of doing
8-channel spacialized performances recently - Cream Test Centrifuge
- with David Toop, Nilan Perera and Darren Copeland in Toronto and
Montreal, which launched both 3Insect Groove2 and 3108ÜWalking
Through Tokyo at the Turn of the Century2 (enhanced Cds; more on
While a lot of artists seem to power up their laptop on stage
and go to work for live performances, I see you are involved in
a lot of multimedia work.
Yes, but I do both.
Could you tell me about what your live performances are like
and what you try to accomplish with them?
I don't try to accomplish anything in particular, except making
good art. And good art defies description for me. However, there's
a lot documented on my web site, and I think that pictures do go
a long way to getting a feel for what went on across. The work spans
Îmulti-media1 performance, film, video, studio works and such.
And maybe a bit about Cinnamon Sphere?
We decided to call it 3ritual, cinematic performance for the eyes
and ears2, because Nilan Perera and I felt that describes what it's
like to create a sonic representation or reaction to large brush
and ink paintings which shift each and every moment they are created;
Gong being the painter - sort of like a Korean version of Jackson
Polluck's approach. It's a bit like watching a movie, for both us
and the audience.
How did you get involved in the Whose Forest project?
I instigated it, produced it; spent 6 months doing it. Our Conservative
Ontario Government was doing a big big move to permanently redefine
the usage allowable for the vast areas of forestlands in the province
(as usual). I wanted to see community involvement in backing the
project and was quite surprised and gratified at the enthusiastic
artists and business support it received.
What new projects are you working on currently?
I'm attempting to enjoy doing nothing. The rest is a secret.
One last little question...when you're not working, what do
you like to listen to?
Folk music from various countries (I play fiddle), new music of
various kinds, Kid Koala, wind in the trees, surf and bugs.