A Conversation with Glasser

By Nicole Kaack

Oct 19, 2015

Singer-songwriter Glasser uses her music to explore the symbiotic potential of organic and digitally-developed sounds, producing compositions that have been characterized as both icy and ethereal. Glasser’s most recent project Charge addresses the tension between social access and physical distance latent in new technology and social media. Charge turns the human body itself into a source for material, finding and distorting the rhythms of the artist’s own breath in a performance that functions as an “intimate yet exotic embrace.” In advance of the opening of Charge at The Kitchen on October 23, Glasser reflects on the expression of this investigation of the synthetic and the real in her recent work and in her collaboration with artist Jonathan Turner.

Nicole Kaack: In a 2013 LA Times article you said you were in opposition to the purism of other musicians. Do you still see your work to be political in the sense of confronting the separation of so-called "organic" and "digital" sounds? To what extent are they distinct or intertwined in your process? 

Glasser: To some extent I still see my approach as being a modern one, although the rise in popularity of electronic music has made digital sounds more familiar to listeners. The world will always be full of contextual snobbery, and I guess my response, at least for the moment, continues to be one that challenges that way of thinking. There is no right and wrong in expression, there's probably only a spectrum of how singular one wants to be about how they express. I would rather just be moved by something which moves me than to have to consider whether or not it's "real"—that feels like a waste of time.

NK: You have worked with Jonathan Turner on several projects now and his visuals seem to perfectly complement your synthesis of digital and organic media. How did you first begin to work with Turner and can you describe something of your collaborative process? 

G: I first saw Jon's work with Yemenwed, the collective he's in with a bunch of other artists I admire, including Megha Barnabas, whom I have collaborated with on a number of projects including the two music videos for Interiors. Another mutual friend introduced [me to Jon] and I presented the concept of Interiors to him and we started meeting regularly to talk about it. With us it's always a lot of visual references; I usually have something on my mind, to which he responds with about 10 different movies and artists for me to check out for further research on the subject. We just have a constant dialogue about the look and feel of things and, lucky for me, no description of seems to be too out there for Jon—he has a wide reaching aesthetic vocabulary.

NK: You have said that through your last album Interiors you wanted to make your "own little statement that the mixture [of organic and digital] is part of the beauty of where we're living these days." How would you describe "where we're living these days," and is that desire also reflected in Charge?

G: I think where we are living these days is a garden of invention and graveyard of ideas. All the digital influence is really changing about life is the fact that we will never forget anything again! The archive is here for our benefit and to our detriment. That "statement" is probably the most prevalent aesthetic theme in Charge, only this show deals specifically with the lens through which one can view and present one's own self. As well as my own musical style, which does tend to have a blend of sounds, [Jon and I] are using a mixture of real and animated video in the show. I can't really separate myself enough from the time I live in to know how I feel about it, but I think I'm just living and observing humanity the way my own generation expresses it. There is still humanness everywhere.

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