Anya Trybala is a multidisciplinary artist with her hands in the visual art, jewellery making and music baskets. Most recently, she has been working under her guise Ninoosh, creating music and collaborating with filmmaker Lucy McCallum from Third Ray Productions for her video for ‘Palms.’ As a quirky and contemporary take, the video was created while Trybala was in Perth and McCallum in Los Angeles. She’s also been booked for An Electronic Feast, an event that raises money for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and The Social Studio.
Looking at the past, present and future, Trybala delves into her thoughts on the electronic music industry of the future and fusing music and visual arts.
For your video for ‘Palms,’ you collaborated with Lucy McCallum from Third Ray Productions, how did that relationship come about?
Well, I was rehearsing at Bakehouse Studios in Richmond late last year, developing my sounds and experimenting a lot with Ableton, my voice and picking up my trumpet again after 15 or so years. It was the first instrument I played and I still have my (very oxidised) trumpet. Lucy has been working there for ages and her dog was always entertaining when I was making cups of tea. She moved overseas and was hanging out filming at Burning Man and involved in some awesome projects and I had just finished mixing and mastering the track Palms – then I saw her video for New Gods with all the animals and just loved the cut and paste aesthetic of it all – so woozy and whimsical. We communicated about the whole video via email – I was holidaying in Perth (where all the desert and water footage is filmed) and she was in LA, collecting old footage from archives and chopping it up. We just kept on sending clips back and forth until it was finished. Such a fun process! I am a big fan of remix and sampling – in music, film or whatever really.
Third Ray Productions’ videos are quirky, contemporary and can be quite dreamy and psychedelic, did you know from the beginning that this was the aesthetic you were going for?
Absolutely! I was also watching Twin Peaks at the time and felt like the film clip could be a little abstract. Lucy is such a talented lass – and so in tune with what I was thinking – willing to experiment. The lyrics to the song was actually written a few months after my grandmother’s death – I was in Poland with my mother at the time and it was an intense experience – lyrically ‘holding on to your palms – I see you on the edge – then I lose you to the edge’ – she was such a strong-willed woman who was told 30 years ago she was on her way out – I suppose surviving the Holocaust will do that to you! Grief is pretty potent.
What was your role in creating the video for ‘Palms’?
I suppose I let Lucy take the reigns in terms of art direction – after her initial cuts she asked if I could film myself singing so she could incorporate it – then I went a little further and used a contour camera to film the underwater footage and got my fiancé (he just popped the question!) Daniel, to film the desert footage in the Pinnacles in WA – I’m actually from Perth so it was nice to capture the beauty of all those rock formations – I’m a little obsessed with rocks to be honest, I have a collection which weighs a bit – I also did a bit of a creative trade – I gave Lucy a few pieces from my jewellery label Shy Piece to bring down the cost a bit – always fun to make pretty things.
Would you say that there is a connection between your relationship with music and your relationship with art?
Music is a form of art I think, at least to me – a more fluid form and the therapeutic benefits are incredible that I think can inspire art so they work hand in glove. I started making jewellery recently out of polymer clay and moulding to create silver castings and am now working as both a jewellery maker and also as a graphic designer for a local publishing company, Melbourne Books (working on a book about The Seekers at the moment!) – so I’m pretty much required to dig into my artistic side daily – which is actually pretty awesome although can be a bit tiring if it’s not happening! So I think creative pursuits are all consuming and multiple forms inspire interesting things – I’m currently working on the catwalk music for The Social Studio fashion parade as well as composing for a contemporary dance troupe – I like to work with responsive, interactive art forms. I also downloaded animations from vimeo and made music for them just to expand my creativity and break the blocks I was having. My sister, Julia Trybala is an incredible illustrator and artist who’s work ethic and the pieces she produces inspire me daily.
Things were very different a year ago though – I was in a very low, dangerous point after allowing an undiagnosed condition of Bipolar 2 disorder manifest and create havoc – I was a very temperamental and paranoid kid, super sensitive to most things, very moody – but people were like ‘it’s who Anya is’ until I finally got the treatment I needed – so I now divide my life into pre and post medication – it doesn’t work for everyone but it was a game changer for me. It allowed my to rebuild my self-esteem and I started making stuff again after a long hiatus. Art is therapy and there is treatment out there for conditions. When Robin Williams died I was devastated – but it also showed that depression doesn’t discriminate, no matter what people appear to be – it can affect anyone. I lost my boyfriend to suicide at 16 so was pretty traumatised – and it was shocking to think I could put my family through such devastation. I think a lot of Julia’s work last year was inspired by this period in our family. Lesson in life – Talk it out.
What are your thoughts on fusing music with art – like video clips, lighting? Do you think it enhances or retracts from each art from?
One of the best live performances I saw was Fever Ray in Gothenburg in 2010 – so many perfectly placed lasers, old lampshades pulsing, monster costumes and such an eerie presence by my hero Karin Dreijer – and then another one that stands out in memory is Josh Pyke – in simple pure form at the Hi-Fi with just his voice, guitar and no bells and whistles – I think it is really dependant on the individual artist. I also recently saw D.D Dumbo at the RRR live performance space and he was a one-man band with all his looping techniques and awesome voice. I personally am a huge fan of it – I’m working with an artist called BK who is a 3D visual artist who is actually developing visuals for virtual reality concepts – he is also currently mapping my singing head to create my next film clip for my track (a remix version he has produced) People in Speakers to create a hollow mask illusion – I’m all for it!
I’m also collaborating with Lucy again on my track ‘That Sinking Feeling’ – a boisterous dance track with the reference to the ‘black dog’ and overcoming it – might incorporate my beautiful black dog Bowie in there somewhere!
Do you think I’m right is saying that visuals (like stage set up and lighting) play a big part in how people experience events today?
Well, I turned 18 just after the turn of the century, so I was exposed to the early Melbourne dance scene – some of my faves included Infusion, Midnight Juggernauts, Phil K, Cut Copy, Boogs, Sean Quinn, PQM, Ivan Gough – they were artists and DJs that built my knowledge and love for electronic music, plus they often had pretty rad visuals – it’s definitely getting to be a necessity to keep the attention of the crowd but again, it’s dependant on the artist. Gotye was also a huge inspiration, probably one of my biggest – I remember his show at the Prince of Wales in the early days and he had pretty random clips but I remember thinking how each song had its own personality and I think my music is a bit like that – hard to pinpoint and dynamic. Although to be honest, I love being a bit of a homebody these days. I got free tickets to Stereosonic last year and it was pretty intense – much prefer smaller, intimate performances.
Your bio describes you as someone who creates “melancholic, lilting tracks” and “explores nostalgia, grief and all spectrums of life,” how do you do this through sound?
The use of horns and layered synths mainly, experimenting haphazardly- and creating vocal layers and harmony with experimental effects – I’m playing around with live looping function in Ableton at the moment and I’m hoping to incorporate it into my live performance – tempo also has a bit to do with it – one of my tracks is in 6/8 timing so has a waltz sort of vibe – swaying and such – but with a political undertone lyrically – It’s the track I’m launching at An Electronic Feast – the benefit for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and called Football, a protest about the current state of punitive politics.
If I could play the cello, I would! Learning it is on my list of music goals – including perhaps writing a hit Eurovision song as silly as that sounds – being Polish my folks always watched it – don’t get me wrong, dad had awesome taste in music – his collection was full of Pink Floyd, Tangeroine Dream, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin records and the ilk – but there is something delightfully kitsch about Eurovision.
As a creative person, how would you do this if you were a visual artist? What medium would you use?
I like carving into wax – so maybe using that material on a larger scale with ridges and bends and strange angles then maybe cast it into a resin or something like that. I’m definitely attracted to big public art pieces that surprise you, especially on the long roads like Emily Floyd’s ‘Public Art Strategy’, aka the bird and the worm and the ‘Hotel’ by Callum Morton on the otherwise boring Eastlink – so I would love to create a bold structure like that – and I like sculptures made out of rusty and salvaged materials – I love buildings with wear and tear, like the old sheds you see on the outskirts of Melbourne. I’m a pretty nostalgic sort, so would use discarded materials like copper wire and things you would find in the salvage yard.
When did you develop this soulful and evocative sound that can be heard in ‘Palms’?
The song has seen a lot of stages – It was drafted in Ableton when I was living in the countryside in Sweden while my partner was waiting on his Australian visa – that’s when I started tinkering in Ableton just experimenting with all the raw synth pads and effects and then melody, lyrics and structure – it was strange for his family to comprehend that I could sit in the garage when the sun was out – then when I got back to Oz I took them to my production maestro Paul Lambert and incorporated the talents of drummer and long-time friend, Pat Nicholas and even got one of my fave singers Manny Sharrad from Infusion to play guitar and backing vocals – the deep ‘aaauum’ – and then added horns at the end. I actually decided to enter it into Tropscore as it gave me a deadline – which worked a treat – My 7 track EP should be finished by the end of the year.
In your band you play the trumpet, when did you start playing and are there any other instruments you play?
I was given the choice when I was 9 after being tested for musical aptitude, one of the only subjects that truly made sense – a saxophone, trumpet and a flute – the trumpet looked pretty sweet for some reason. I actually morphed into a huge band geek and even had a scholarship to study music at my high school in Perth – but I have to admit, I was also a bit of a fraud! I used to forge my dad’s signature in my practice book and became so terrified that dad would find out the lie kept compounding – the day I threw out that book was a good day! Other than singing, I play guitar and keys at a very basic level – one day I’ll learn the cello.
Paul Lambert is in charge of the production of Ninoosh’s tracks, what equipment and software does he use?
Well, I’m actually in charge of the ‘electronic’ side of things and bring all my raw Ableton files in to his amazing studio – Sound Machine Studios in Dandenong – he has awesome compressors and skills in mixing and production so he has finessed a lot of the tracks to give them that warmth and polished sound and then mastered by Dave Cooper – Paul plays bass, guitar and even play the trombone. You can hear the drones in Palms – he uses Protools – which I haven’t used much of – I think each to their own with software.
As someone you plays an instrument, what are your thoughts on people producing music by playing clips through a D.A.W (digital audio workstation) on their laptop?
Actually, that’s exactly what I do, I trigger tracks but then I add vocals, horns and guest musicians. I think fusing organic instruments with the magic of DAWs is a good way to go – it can just be a bit tricky to take it to a live situation – but I’m working on it.
Where do you see electronic music in ten years time?
More immersive technologies taking people into more escapist realms of blended audio and visual – like virtual reality – as my friend and collaborator BK puts it – all the bits and pieces are there, it’s just about the penny dropping and the content getting created – it’ll play a huge role in the future – perhaps the creation of new instruments? Who knows – it’s a mystery.
You can catch Ninoosh performing at an Electronic Feast at the Shadow Electric on 3 September.
Tickets via Shadowelectric.com