The scene, the sound and the visual: Interview with Daina Dieva

Daina-dieva

The fact that experimental sound scene most of the time lacks the touch of a woman is no news. Usually women are either the moral support or the visual +1, may it be literally in a sense of creating the visuals or plain „I will just stand here being pretty and pretend to hit the drum while he will do all the work“. Well, that is cute, but  it does not cut it. And here comes DAINA DIEVA, one of the few Lithuanian ladies, who actually knows how to make music. And visuals. And texts. She also is one of the curators of performance festival CREATure in Kaunas (interview with one of the artists of the festival – here) and is a performance artist herself. She plays under DAINA DIEVA and collaborated with others (e.g. Lithuanian noise project LAPOT). Last year she answered some questions about Lithuanian experimental scene, and now you can read some fragments of that interview + brand new Q&A about other stuff.

>> Hey Daina, can you shortly introduce yourself? What lured you into experimental music?

Deeper knowledge about music came after I started to host on-air radio program for metal music, „Audronaša“. But at the very same time I started to think that I would like to have different show of my own, where I could merge literature and music – like ambient, industrial. This is how „Tirpstantys tekstai“ („Melting Texts“) were born in the summer of 2007, and I was living and breathing this show for some time – listening to lots of various music, collaborating with many artists and labels. Before that I was listening mostly to metal, folk, neofolk. In autumn 2008, I moved to Italy, and started to play and create myself. Mostly I was using guitar and vocals, later started to add more programming.

>> Could you tell me more about your project DAINA DIEVA?

Everything was pretty chaotic – there was no such thing as „project“. To be fair, today there is no project, too – I am just making music. Everything started when I was collaborating with Italian artist SVART1 as a VJ and prepared visuals for his performances back in September 2008. At the same time, I started to play myself, using vocals as the main instrument. I began to sing when I was 7 years old, and the practice of 13 years was pretty useful in creating all the weird melodies. It is pretty hard for me to describe, what I do.

Somebody said it‘s similar to ambient or folk music, but I think it is neither of them – maybe something closer to postfolk. And definitely post, not neo, because music I create is transformed and does not refer to folk music tradition. My texts are based on my inner thoughts, but maybe I use harmonies and accents which seem folk-ish. Linguistically, my texts remind folk narratives because of the images I use, but I see it as something what talks about totally new experiences and the old characters are placed into new stories.

I like recording long sessions and then put one layer onto another, both when I work with my music or when collaborate with other, more noisy projects. All of these things came from the same source – a bit from the dreams, a bit from the Other side, everything which comes through your hands, your fingers, your audio chords, and becomes something unexpected.

>> How do you see experimental/industrial music scene overall? It is possible to say that being in the experimental scene/community in a way is criticising the society? Keeping the distance? Simply reflecting it?

Ambient music seems to have nothing to do with the „real“ world. But I guess that if you talk about industrial scene in the broadest sense, it is something like a model of ideal community – as an opposition to our must-believe society. Here you can find everything that is somewhat non-existent in today‘s reality – for example, real democracy or true humanism. This community is a part of a society, and I can only wish that the society was similar to this community. Here we have people, who talk about things they truly care, people, who know how to share, people, who can live without money, sleep on a couch of a friend and create, because they have support from like-minded friends. Of course, I take a pretty wide discourse here, but I see an opportunity, a model of how our society should be working. Industrial community is an opportunity to exist differently. And yes, sometimes it becomes a critique of the society – a world with lack of values, with too much information needs some kind of alternative. Industrial music culture is a way to express your thoughts, a way to discuss, a way to shout loudly about what you think is wrong with you, with the society, or with anything else. On the other hand, it is also a way to construct your own world, your own reality. For example, while performing, I try to construct my own „wanna be true“ realities. Others may be expressing their hate and direct critique though noise.

>> Noise and power electronics project sometimes (well, most of the time) uses controversial topics. Do you think that this is advocacy of one or another thing, or just discussing the matter? 

Most of the people would say that this is a provocation. Talking about inconvenient subjects is a provocation both to the audience and to yourself. It is not necessarily a negative provocation – it is just a way to embrace free speech. Because freedom of speech is very uncommon in our „democratic“ society. We see paralyzed forms of freedom, distorted norms of morality, and this music throws into your face everything what is inconvenient, inappropriate or invisible. Probably it is the only way for the people who create this kind of music to try awaken the society, to spin the carousel – to make people discuss things which are forbidden.

In Soviet union, there was no sex – children were found in a cabbage soup, right between a potato and a carrot. It would be a spit in the face to the bigger part of our society to see extracts of porn used as visuals during a performance. Sometimes the ways of performing become very shocking – shocking even for me, even though I am pretty tolerant. But it was truly hard to be in one concert in Helsinki, where there was a woman, hanging on her breasts, being whipped and stabbed. I can ask myself, why it is so hard for me to look, if that woman wants it, if she sees that as an opportunity to feel sexual pleasure. All what makes you uncomfortable, makes you think. Mass media is drugging us – therefore we are society, which does not feel, does not talk and does not think. So in this context, it is very healthy to have an alternative.

>> Experimental music is not the only thing you do, so let‘s talk a bit about that. How and why did you start to create performances? 

Well performance art came quite naturally – I started out composing music for performance of my dear friend in arms Vaida Tamoševičiūtė, later we started out a collaboration on a performance “Šarvai” (“Armor”) and organized the performance festival together, during which we made another collaboration, and this time I was not behind the camera and techs, like lighting, music, editing and stuff.

So I embraced it all, ’cause it feels good to be able to use the body as one more instrument, to move in the physical space. When I play music, it’s totally different – the sound is the purest element the human being can generate, it’s pure emotion that assumes a more legible form, therefore the relationship that develops in the space that is filled with the sound, hence the relationship between me and someone who listens really and dives into that sonorous fields, is somewhat intimate. It’s totally different doing a performance. And worth mentioning that making a performance solo or together with Vaida are two very different things. When we do a performance together, it’s like a long talk, the most honest type, it’s an intense field of shifting gravity. When I do a performance alone (only a couple have been done yet), it’s more of a … self therapy. I’ve started this cycle of performances I named “Therapy” – each one is on one thing that scares me, on one question that does not give me rest, so each “Therapy” is my personal challenge, trying to transgress some of my mental and physical boundaries.

>> One could call you a nomad – just a month ago you came back from art residency Ptarmigan [interview with it’s leader John] in Tallinn, before that you spent a lot of time in Italy and France. How did all of that impact your way of creating?

Moving around sure had a huge influence on the amount of physical stuff I carry around. Instead of using lots of gear (for the sound it would be rather nice to have all those cool pedals and stuff) I must try to find the right sound with the virtual devices – I cannot carry a bag full of all those cute gadgets if I move every three months or so. Same criteria go for the video gear – it must be comfy to pack and carry around, so I can leave any time. Well, now I’m not that fast at leaving it all and going, but a couple of years ago it didn’t take me long to go and catch a whatever train.

I always thought that having all I need around me all the time will facilitate the process of creating, but one thing I’ve learned in all those years (since September 2007) is that I still need a space that is totally mine, even if it’s for a week, to be able to create something tangible (is music tangible? not really). Yes, one can write some texts in trains, and one can prepare some programming on the run, but I have to give myself time and sort of inhabit the right space to put it all together.

>> Maybe something a bit more about you being a resident in Tallinn? You told that you made documentary about locals?

Ah, the documentary. Well, it’s a documentary about the change and communication. Or the impossibility to communicate. I lived and produced the project in the area called “Pelgulinn” in Tallinn, which during the Soviet years was mostly inhabited by immigrants from Russia. One thing must be taken into account – at that time they were not immigrants, Soviet Union was one big fat friendly mother state, so those people were kinda at home. So when the mother state died, those people who once were at home, became the invaders and “the others”. What I did is to try to re-embrace the Russian language in order to communicate with the local Russians, Belorussians and others, so that they would tell me their story of that area and draw some kind of an emotional map of those streets. It was way more difficult than I thought it would be – people were scared of the camera, refused to talk, were asking if it’s for the government, if it’s for the paper, if it’s for TV, obviously tense – as if they would still be feeling the “eye” of the State watching over them, as it did in the times of the Soviet regime. At the end, although I talked to about 120 people, only less than 20 agreed to give me an interview and even less agreed to have their pictures taken and to be filmed..

But yea it was a great period – Ptarmigan is a great welcoming art space, I started to feel at home there at the end of my stay, even though I must still admit Tallinn being the emotionally coldest place I’ve ever been to.

>> You, among other things, are a video creator. What are your plans in this field?

Creator is a big word, maker is just perfect. Um, yea, first thing I’m planning to do is try some experimenting with a model for a video I was thinking of for a long time. I’m also working on one screenplay for a feature (dunno if it’ll see the light of day though) and a doc about mortuary traditions. Lots of plans in the air. Would be nice to make them things done.

>> Anything to add, anything to promote, any last words?

Nothing to promote, no products, only hopes – hope to see the documentary “Three Days” released on DVD some time in 2013, hope to see the “KAS” album released on tape sometime in spring, hope to get the script ready, hope to finish new material for a new album, hope it’ll snow again.

Thanks for the interview.

>>Oh no, thank you!

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2 responses to “The scene, the sound and the visual: Interview with Daina Dieva

  1. Pingback: SPEIGAS: slightly accurate, link-driven | Circa Buffet·

  2. Pingback: Weeks of stuff, venues in outskirts | Circa Buffet·

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