29 Jul 21

Sound Generator: Spotlight on Lori E Allen and Deborah Wale

Lori E Allen and Deborah Wale

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

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

This week, we talk to Lori E Allen and Deborah Wale.

Can you tell us about your Sound Generator project? Where did the initial inspiration come from?

Whilst working on our last release for Bloxham Tapes during the onset of the pandemic, like many artists we were exploring the impact that Covid 19 was having on our livelihood.

Though not a new area of reflection for us given Deborah’s work as an addictions’ therapist at HMP Brixton, we were struck by the experience of confinement on both a personal and mass level.

As the media began to vaguely explore the developing mental health crisis set to erupt from the fallout of en masse gen pop lockdown, our thoughts began to focus on the philosophical and socio-political deficit of the penal system as a whole.

We wondered why it is permissive on a societal level to lock people up for extended lengths of time, under a guise of rehabilitation and or payment for breach of social contracts when it is clear that such loss of liberty exacerbates the sense of personal isolation, complex mental health concerns, and addiction struggles experienced in free society.

How has your idea developed during this project so far? And what have you learnt?

Moving forward from our original proposal to examine the practice of locking-down individuals as part and parcel of civil society, our attention began to focus more specifically on the role addiction plays in notions of crime and punishment, social code of conduct, and care of duty in social systems.

Drawing from the work of Anne Wilson Schaefe, we began to explore the link between addiction and society itself in order to begin to understand how the general concept of certain addictions are criminalised while others are not. With an eye toward piercing the societal denial contributing to both addiction and criminality, we naturally turned to Disney.

So we began looking closely at Fantasia, particularly, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice to see what Lucian’s ancient fable The Lover of Lies – adapted by Goethe, referenced by Marx and Engels, and re-told by Hitchcock and Disney (among others) - might conjure up when viewed through the lens of addiction, and more specifically, an addictive system.

Who are the actors? What is the spell? Where is the magic? Who builds and where are the prisons of our daily lives? What is the relationship between fantasy and labour? We began to see that the story of addiction is the story of emotional containment and labour, and emotional containment of labour is the story of an addicted society.

The idea has had to be simplified at this moment. We always knew that the most challenging part of the project was going to be keeping it simple and working to tight deadlines, especially as we are so used to working in a way that is impulsive and meandering.

Given that so much of the foundation in recovery from addiction is keeping it simple, this has in turn provided an additional opportunity to reflect upon the struggle of simply keeping it simple. We are now finalising our storyboard, puppet animating our character and building the background for the setting. Once these elements are in place we will combine with the soundtrack to create a 3 minute trailer to convey the main points.

What has this opportunity meant to you?

I think mostly the opportunity has meant that we needed to focus and be more accountable and organised.

For many of our publications, we have often worked with labels that give us quite open briefs and a lot of control over the work and deadlines, which is wonderful, but not challenging in the way the opportunity to work with Sound UK has been. This programme is teaching us pace.

Who are your key musical influences?

This question is impossible to answer because it really depends on time, place, mood and what is the influence in that moment. There are too many options. For this project we will re-score Paul Dukas’ original piece (the Sorcerer’s Apprentice) with new instrumentation, field recordings, and personal interview.

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

We are most interested in securing funding and support in order for the project to grow. With the current time constraint, we will only be able to make a trailer that should portray the main idea as a taster. However, gaining an opportunity to fully realise the project feels crucial. Right now it really just kind of feels like a toddler.

To find out more about their work, visit their website. We look forward to sharing more information on their Sound Generator project as it develops.

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