26 Oct 23

Sound Generator: Spotlight on Nikki Sheth


Sound News

Photo of Nikki Sheth.

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 Nikki Sheth.

Nikki is an internationally recognised sound artist and composer. Her practice involves field recording, multichannel soundscape composition, multimedia installations, sound mapping and soundwalking. She uses sound as a medium to bring a voice to the environment and encourage a wider awareness of the natural world.

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

My project is called 'Immersive Soundscapes for Well-Being' and explores the use of environmental sound as a tool for well-being and fostering a deeper connection between people and the natural world.

I am using 3D sound technology to create an immersive listening experience using field recordings that I have taken on a recent trip to the Azores. I am collaborating with movement artist David Kam, bringing my sounds to his yoga and mindfulness practice in a view to collaborating for public sessions in the future.

I have been commissioned in the past to present binaural listening sessions for well-being by We're All Bats and The Space to Come, so the inspiration came from these sessions where I started to think about how these sounds could work in other well-being contexts.

Image of Nikki Sheth wearing headphones and looking out at a harbour full of sailing boats.
Nikki Sheth recording underwater sounds in the Azores. Photo by John Lucy.

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

My idea has been really well received by everyone I have spoken to about the project. I think it's become a bigger project than I anticipated as I was initially planning to record sounds in the UK but combined this opportunity with a trip to the Azores.

I wanted to explore the way sound could be used in yoga and mindfulness sessions and David Kam has been amazing to talk to about this. We spent a few hours listening to the sounds, discussing ideas about how the sounds could be used in sessions and the types of movements we would imagine with each sound.

We are hoping to turn this into a series of sessions in the future, which would be amazing.

What has this opportunity meant to you?

I have been sitting with this idea for a long time but never had the support to start developing the idea, both financially and in terms of mentoring opportunities, so this means a lot to me.

It's amazing to have the time and space to develop your idea and have Maija (from Sound UK) there to share ideas with, help with any uncertainties and guide me with the project.

I have especially enjoyed the mentoring sessions and getting input, feedback and advice from all of my mentors who helped me to think about the project in new and exciting ways.

Nikki Sheth recording frogs at a pond in the Azores. Photo by Nikki Sheth.

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

It's given me the opportunity to try something new, collaborate with other practitioners and forms of well-being practices that I have always thought my work would fit in well with. I'm taking my sounds to new spaces and new audiences which is really exciting. Talking to my mentors has also given me a lot of insight and information on how to move forward with my practice.

Who are your key artistic influences for this project?

The field recordings I took and my experience in the Azores hugely influenced this project as it is a very natural and wild place with lots of beautiful environmental sounds and landscapes. Also, looking at yoga, meditation, contemporary dance and mindfulness artforms.

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

I'd really like to see this turn into a series of sessions that could be presented in many different locations across the year, bringing these wonderful sounds to people who are interested in well-being practices but have never thought of how environmental sound could benefit them.

Nikki is wearing headphones and sitting next to a stream or river.
Nikki Sheth recording in the Azores. Photo by John Lucy.

We look forward to sharing more details about Nikki Sheth's Sound Generator project as it develops. Visit Nikki's website to find out more about her 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 judges including leading figures across contemporary music, chose six emerging 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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