Interview: 5 minutes with Linda Vogel
Swiss experimental-pop artist and harp-extraordinaire Linda Vogel began learning to play the harp as early as age six, thus prompting her to show interest in opera and singing. After studying classical music, and exploring her true calling, it was then time to gracefully transform her experimental leanings into her own musical language. Vogel then recruited drummer and percussionist Vincent Glanzmann, who holds credit performing and collaborating with renowned percussionist Gerry Hemingway. Linda Vogel has also received airplay on important Swiss radio stations such as public radio station SRF 2 and leftflield stations Radio Stadtfilter, Kanal K, Radio LoRa, Radio RNV and Radio La Fabrik.
Linda Vogel has developed her own unique signature style with her imaginative brand of experimental-harp-induced-pop. Utilizing techniques such as bespoke mechanical triggers and various home-made extensions for her electro-acoustic harp, as well various effect pedals to encapsulate on ethereal atmospheres within her captivating aural soundscapes. Linda Vogel’s latest single ‘Isis & Osiris’ is a melancholic, slow-strummed harp-induced dream. Vogel whispers a spoken word passage and hums along as drummer Glanzmann’s percussive build starts glows brighter with each passing bar like torrents of bliss.
We caught up with Linda Vogel on harp-modifications and her mysterious musical journey thus far:
(Be sure to stream Linda Vogel’s latest single ‘Isis & Osiris’ below!)
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
Because I can express my ideas of freedom through it.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
First a feeling, then an idea. All somehow linked to a vision of sound.
What’s on your current playlist?
Bob Dylan is an evergreen on my playlists.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
The space between the audience and me as a performer feels like a mystery to me. Every show ist different. Sometimes it feels as if i could fly above the audience, sometimes it feels as if i could fall into the space between the stage and the audience.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
The harp as a sounding body accommodates a great variety of possibilities. I’ve been experimenting a lot. My current setup involves a set of twelve homemade hammers (also called triggers) that play the bass strings of the harp, and are controlled with a midi-pedal through a computer. The specially adapted amplifying system of my electro-acoustic harp allows me to use various effect pedals to modify the sound of my harp.
In addition to that are the numerous ways to capture the sounds in the recording studio. We spent a lot of time experimenting and treating every single sound from the harp, the drums and the voice individually.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
We start at 10pm every morning and have a coffee first. The workflow only gets interrupted once a day for a small lunch at Hassan’s, where we eat incredibly tasty Turkish meze-sandwiches. Vincent and I feel very much at home in Manuel’s studio. We’re extremely concentrated, but we do laugh a lot! We’ll even have a little dance to our freshly recorded music every once in a while. Days at the recording studio are incredibly intense but very satisfying!
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
Making music has always been very important to me. Even though I like to introduce myself as a musician or harpist, I still find it strange to label myself that way. I am not a big fan of absolute terms. It feels more like an ongoing process instead of something I have just become on one specific day.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
The magic of performing, and my finger rings (I keep them in the pocket of my trousers because I don’t wear them when I play the harp).
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Being alive. My friends. The things I see, read, hear and experience. The night. Improvising.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
There are the drums of Vincent, my electro-acoustic harp and my microphone. My harp setup consists of the bespoke harp-triggers, an effect-board including a midi-pedal to control the triggers. To drive the triggers I use Ableton Live and Max on my computer where I can program different inputs, comparable to a sequencer.
I changed the amplifying system and built-in pick-up-system of my harp to have two different outputs, so I can process the bass and the treble separately.
During the songwriting process I often use a recording program (Logic Pro) to experiment with different layers of sounds that I can recreate with the harp. I also use extended playing techniques on the harp including tools like bows, sticks, clips, etc.
Any side projects you’re working on?
– My duo Schwalbe & Elefant with singer Dalia Donadio. We set Swiss German poetry into the periphery of improvised music and plain song structures. Last year we released our first album and are currently working on a new record. (www.schwalbeundelefant.ch)
– Free improvised music sessions with various musicians.
– And a small research project for a theatrical performance investigating the “language of hands“.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
Making music feels like a constant process; a long, beautiful path. Being on that path, with its ups and downs, means an ongoing refining to me.
Last year Sarah Palin (guitar, vox) started to play with us. What a pleasure to be working with wonderful musicians that bring a whole new world of possibilities to my music.
Starting the collaboration with the label and music agency Radicalis has been very supportive and a nice step forward.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
The release of three singles. (To tempt you for my album, which is going to be released in January 2019). One or two music videos, and a lot of concerts!
See Linda Vogel Live:
April 13 – Kulturaum Nische – Zurich, Switzerland
April 14 – Stanser Musiktage – Stans, Switzerland
April 21 – Albani – Winterhur, Switzerland
May 11 – Literaturcafé – Bienne, Switzerland
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