Remixing History

Womxn then & now.

Synth Remix was a celebration of the pioneering womxn of electronic music over the last 60 years that took place in November of 2018. It featured award-winning composer & performer Jo Thomas (she/her) alongside audio-visual artist Olivia Louvel (she/her).

Launching in London at 93 Feet East and broadcast live on Resonance EXTRA, Synth Remix toured to Manchester (the Anthony Burgess Foundation), Leeds (Belgrave Music Hall), and Birmingham (IKON Gallery).

Electronic musician Jo Thomas interpreted music by the pioneering female composers of the 1960s and 70s, including Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram and Laurie Spiegel. Archival research at the University of Manchester, BBC Archives, and Goldsmiths College offered performance of previously unheard music. The nights culminated in a headline set by contemporary artist, Olivia Louvel, who presented her audio-visual work, Data Regina.

Synth Remix celebrated the extraordinary innovation of female electronic musicians over the last 60 years, showcasing their aesthetic and technological legacy as well as the continued innovation of female artists working today.

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How important is history in your work?

OL: Our work somehow stems from exposure to pioneering artists who have previously paved the way, it’s inevitable, it’s a transmission. The history of electroacoustic music, ‘musique concrète’, informs what I do. I searched for role models and eventually I found those female role models whilst making my own mix tapes from my local library when I was a teenager.

JT: So both projects are about finding the legacy of women making in the past and reinterpreting it in our voices.

You’re taking Synth Remix on tour, to different venues, how does that affect your performance?

JT: My performance is always changing because Delia and the radiophonic workshop did things in real time - so there are sound files I designed and they work in the acoustic space. I made a live workshop space. We’ve played some really intimate spaces, and some huge spaces!

My performance is always changing.

How do you approach performing with electronics in a live setting?

JT: I have an order in my mind of what happens, but I wanted to create the ‘workshop space’; exploring the idea that people were experimenting in the Radiophonic studios. In Delia’s work, she knew exactly what made sound, she knew the fundamentals of sound - lists of numbers, Fibonacci series, she knew what frequencies made what - and that’s what I wanted to create in the performance. That’s why it’s called Nature’s Numbers, because Delia talks about nature and frequencies - and frequencies being ‘nature’s numbers’.

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_REMIX have offered workshops for female musicians alongside the concerts. What have these entailed?

JT: We’ve had such a good reception in the workshops! I showed the women that came the research that we did and we looked at the synths, and I talked about the poetics behind my work and behind the Radiophonic Workshop composers. They were all interested in production and music technology, and they got a lot from it I think.

What does the future hold?

OL: I’m going to perform this set more in 2019 and I’m working on another project which stems from my interest in sculpting sound, sound as a material.