17 Nov 23

Sound Generator: Spotlight on Chizu Anucha


Sound News

Photo of Chizu Anucha. Photo by Julia Bauer.

Sound UK’s artist development programme, Sound Generator, supports early career artists and the work they present.

In this series of Spotlight interviews, we find out more about the artists on our 2023 artist development programme, delve deeper into their Sound Generator project and discover what the process has meant to them.

This week, we talk to Chizu Anucha.

Chizu Anucha is an audio-visual artist working with music and its relationship to the moving image. Their practice meets at the intersection of music composition, video and site-responsive performance.

Please tell us about your Sound Generator project. What is it and where did the initial inspiration come from?

The project – may the townspeople rejoice! huzzah!! – is an audiovisual botanic flower bed of music, ambient sound, video and writing that centres black and indigenous POC perspectives through the lens of spiritual practices, beliefs and rituals.

I’m inviting a group of creative practitioners to explore notions of ancestry, belonging, the collective voice, healing, pleasure and desire in response to a series of prompts.

It was initially inspired by a radio series called Two Way Dreaming. One edition of the series centred a conversation between black practitioners who spoke quite intersectionally and academically about nuanced experiences.

It was soundtracked by a mix of ambient, RnB and experimental music and this format of communicating ideas really resonated with me. Sort of part-podcast, part-music mix. It's so simple and just made a lot of sense.

may the townspeople rejoice! huzzah!!, 2023, collage of video stills.

may the townspeople rejoice! huzzah!!, 2023, collage of video stills.

How has your idea developed during the programme so far? And what have you learnt?

I started with a very strong intention to relearn the bass clarinet. It feels good knowing I have access to a woodwind instrument again, because without Sound UK's support I'd never have considered it to be realistic for me.

I've had a bunch of studio visits and mentoring with people I really admire. I've had conversations I never thought I'd have with people and I feel like my eyes have widened so much.

To the sound and music elements of the work, I've introduced video as a natural progression of this language and I'm looking into coding. I'd like to not pigeonhole the project into a film or installation so I'm looking into coding to see how it could maybe exist as a website or experiential archival database.

I'm growing more comfortable in embracing vulnerability in my work. The subject of it is deeply personal and it's sensitive, so there's a lot of trust involved in taking people's responses.

People have been so generous with what they have shared and with their time - so there's a responsibility to honour them with further work that does justice in service to what they have offered to it.

I'm accepting chaos and uncertainty and letting that inform and guide the work as opposed to adhering to rigid milestones I set for myself or for contributors.

What has this opportunity meant to you?

It's meant that I can freely experiment and fail. Normally there's no room for failure and there's a strong expectation to produce a material outcome.

Having this kind of support is huge for me because there's a level of trust that has been granted to just do what I want to do and pursue genuine curiosity. To have that accepted and genuinely valued means a lot.

Has it helped you to develop your creative practice? If so, how?

Just generally in my practice and in my life, I'm much more clear in what I want to do and how I want to go about doing it.

I feel much less uptight and rigid about things, whereas before I felt quite hardened by the art world and the competitive nature of the music industry.

I took it all really seriously and thought of things quite hierarchically. Now I feel warmer and more open to chaos, failure, rejection and these inevitable things I'd try to avoid completely.

It's a feeling I can't unfeel. I feel like I'm seeing something other people saw years ago and I'm quite new to it.

may the townspeople rejoice! huzzah!!, 2023, Video still..

may the townspeople rejoice! huzzah!!, 2023, video still.

Who are your key artistic influences for this project?

Going back to the feeling of being offered support and time which has given me more headspace and a feeling of trust. I feel softer in the mind and in my body and I hope it's reflected through a way of working which is new for me.

I'm allowing a lot of good habits, routines, departures, stillness and more running and cycling to influence my thinking and energy.

Some video art on Eternal Family TV: a comedy series by Simple Town called Livestock; and part documentary, part experimental fiction, La Roche.

Strong influences are so vast and can't really be pigeonholed. I listen to The Early Bird Show on NTS and the Breakfast Show pretty much everyday.

I'm a massive fan of The Blindboy Podcast, and recently there's been a lot of knowledge sharing surrounding Greek and Irish mythology and how they intersect with simulation theory. Also a lot of Limmy on Twitch too - he helps me do admin.

What have you been listening to recently? Any new music recommendations?

Some of my favourite music over the last couple of months has been:

- Slauson Malone 1 - Jasper Marsalis is my favourite artist alive today. No question. Multi-disciplinary magic.

- Tara Clerkin Trio - they always soundtrack the nights I'm on tour and I blissfully wander around cities at night.

- KMRU - I saw him at Sonica in Glasgow recently and that was a real highlight of the year.

- Headache - their album with Vegyn is perfect for riding around the city on your bike at night time :) very surreal, dark, funny spoken word over ambient flangey, wobbly beats. Stunning.

- Chanel Beads - they have a song called Ef that I always listen to halfway and restart, then repeat about 2-3 times and then queue again as a treat for later.

- Sessa - they had a really good show with Zakia on NTS which put me onto them and resparked my love of Brazilian guitar music, sort of psychedelic bossa nova. It's really beautiful.

- underscores - simply great for thrashing.

...and then lots of stuff on the radio.

What are your hopes for this project? How do you see it developing beyond this initial 6-month programme?

I'm developing it into a linear video at the moment, just as a way to communicate it in a way that makes the most sense for the elements that make it up.

I'm taking it to a residency in southeast France at the beginning of 2024 for about 8 weeks so I'm interested in how this same methodology will translate in Nice. I'll take a music kit and a couple of miniDVs and just keep making.

I'm interested in archival and anecdotal research of black experiences within the institution I'll work from; social movements documented on video and through sound; and in built environment structures and architectural/landscape design. The way that this work can sit in those contexts is really exciting to me.

We look forward to sharing more details about Chizu Anucha's Sound Generator project as it develops. Visit Chizu's Instagram and follow to find out more about their work.

Sound Generator is Sound UK's artist research and development (R&D) programme that supports early-career artists and seeds the development of an ambitious new project. Following an open call, a panel of leading figures across contemporary music, chose six early-career artists working at the forefront of sound and music.

Sound Generator supports artists in the first 5-10 years of their career. Over the six month programme, they each receive mentoring by a range of professionals to develop an innovative project ready for showcasing to the industry.

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