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Glasgow Film Festival

Glasgow Music and Film Festival dives deep for Wet Sounds

One of the most unique events at the Glasgow Music and Film Festival 2011 is Wet Sounds, which involves performing at a swimming pool. We talked to its creator Joel Cahen to find out exactly we can expect...

Michael MacLennan

By Michael MacLennan

19 February 2011 07:00 GMT

Glasgow Music and Film Festival dives deep for Wet Sounds

Making a splash: Wet Sounds is on as part of festival

One of the most unique events at the Glasgow Music and Film Festival is Wet Sounds, with musicians performing at a swimming pool. (Apparently goggles and swimming shorts are recommended.) We talked to its creator Joel Cahen to find out exactly we can expect...

Can you tell us the idea for how Wet Sounds came about?

There was a time when I was swimming regularly (well more or less), and as I have a curiosity for sound as a musician and collector and have been organising various multi-disciplinary art events in London, I thought it would be a good idea to try it out and listen. I love the weightlessness that movement in water gives.

My idea of it developed over the years, I started in 2008 and since then I’ve come to regard it as a great listening venue. I think there is a definite lack of these spaces in our culture, deep listening is either done in a concert hall, which is still modelled after theatre and is a primarily visual performance venue, or privately at home. Wet Sounds combines a recreational space with a listening space and a platform for musicians and performers.

How exactly will the performances work?

There are two performances. The one on the 19th Feb will be priced at normal pool admission. I will be playing an abstract sound collage through the underwater speakers. Within the mix, I will include the 2011 listening gallery which I curated this year from works by artists worldwide under the theme ReVerse.

The performance on the 20th Feb is ticketed. It will transform the swimming pool with light and an overwater system as well, creating three distinct sound spaces, one under the surface, one above the surface and one in between where both systems can be heard. The listeners move in and out of the water creating their own mix.

So audience should bring their swimming gear and goggles and prepare to plunge in.

Will the Glasgow shows differ from previous performances?

Yes, the theme is cinematic, taking part in Glasgow Film Festival. The pool is the gorgeous Victorian North Woodside Pool which will be transformed with light and sound. I have invited artists who play only at Glasgow. Should be a surreal night!

Can you tell us more about those artists playing the Glasgow shows?

Eric La Casa is a French Acousmatic composer. Acousmatic music is music which uses sound sources which are not necessarily instrumental but environmental. Eric La Casa manipulates these recordings and plays really immersive sounds which give a sense of the familiar and recognisable but at once blur the relation to their origin. I invited him because I find his music evokes immersive, strange and abstract narratives.

Adrian Moore is a British Electro-acoustic composer based in Sheffield who, through using self made software instruments, creates complex and interesting sound textures. He will also prepare new work for this event.

I will be playing abstract sound collages made from recordings, sound FX and music to create transient narratives with sound. I have been designing sound for films and dance productions, I also play on Soundsoup, my weekly radio show on Resonance FM.

How have they gone about creating work for this sort of performance?

They will create work which is divided into two: one played above the water and one below.

Is there any style of music you think wouldn't work for Wet Sounds?

I tried out many different kinds and I think that some music sounds better dry. Band music like indie/ rock/ reggae for example sounds better in a venue where you stand up and watch a performance and dance, I think this kind of music suits social events better when played publicly and listening to sounds underwater isolates you, gives you a more personal experience because you cant talk and listen and it sounds very close and intimate. 'Like being in the womb' as one person called it. Would punk sound good in the womb?

Is there any style of music you'd like to try?

I think I’ve tried most styles which I would like to try, live orchestral music would be interesting fused with electronic music and more experiments with the dual soundsystem, music that can be split into two different contents. I would like to try narrative based work which has one story above the water and perhaps an underlying story inside the water. Two sides of the coin, dream vs reality, etc... hence the theme for this year's tour - ReVerse.

What would be your advice for those planning on coming to Wet Sounds?

Dive deep.

Wet Sounds takes place today and on Sunday at North Woodside Leisure, for more details and ticket information visit the official Glasgow Film Festival site.


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