Name: Ilia Darlin aka IOTA PHI
Occupation: Producer, songwriter, singer
Current Release: IOTA PHI's Homo Pauperis is out via Desire Bay.
Recommendations: Seven Life Lessons of Chaos by John Briggs and F.David Peat and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
If you enjoyed this interview with IOTA PHI and would like to know more, visit her official website. She is also on Instagram, and Facebook.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started writing poetry and playing music since I was in school, but I got into music production only like 4 years ago.
I think it was listening to my mom sing to me since I was a baby that opened up this path for me. She’s always been a very musical being, way more than I am.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
Most of the times that I listen to a piece of music that I like I get the chills. It creeps up like a wave and I’m embarrassed if someone notices, but I can’t help the effect of music on me. Same way you can’t control your eye pupils dilating when you see someone you like for example.
Music helps me tap into the well of emotions and creativity.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
If I were to describe it in a few words I would say that I’m growing up through music. My life is tied to my art.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
The track “In Control” talks exactly about that. It’s only one sentence and it says, “I was not born a girl, I was not born a boy, I was born in control.”
This is my take on identity and I don’t mean that only in a sense of gender identity cause it might seem like that, but as a general view of being. Same goes for my art. I try to allow myself to be as diverse as I want. I don’t stick to genres or mediums of expression.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
Work towards coming into balance with ourselves and with nature surrounding us.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
I wouldn’t try to do any of the two just for the sake of it because it would be pretentious. I do have a love for originality and innovation, but there is no such a thing in art as parthenogenesis, in my opinion.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
If you mean that in a broad way I would say psychotherapy and reading. Rewiring my brain, creating new brain synapses has helped me lead a way more balanced and creative life. I feel there are no energy leakages in my life right now.
In a literal way, my laptop is my magic pot where I can cook endless potions. My DAW, my video editing software programs, my cameras, my analogue synthesizers, my sewing machines are my tools and instruments. I love tools in general.
The most promising strategy for everything is devotion and consistency. People may think artists are “weird” or “quirky” or, I don’t know, get “crazy” a lot, and that may be true. But most of all artists are hard workers in my opinion.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
I wake up, I take my kid to school and then I get in my studio and work. I could be writing music, filming, editing, doing set design or doing record label duties. I love that it’s never the same and it never gets boring.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
I love treating a piece of music as a multi-layered work of art. I love expressing the core of it through different media to eventually create a world around it.
To be more specific, for my debut album Homo Pauperis I “discovered” a mutation of Homo Sapiens. Homo Pauperis. This new species anatomically resemble modern humans, yet they have a distinct new physical feature; a pocket sized side pouch.
The profile of Homo Pauperis encloses political and philosophical / existential concerns about the state of the modern human.
The hominid took shape through sculpture and prosthetic art and appears on the cover of the album. The core theme runs lyrically and sonically through the whole LP.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
I would say I’m a lonely wolf and I feel letting other people come into your creative world is a great deal and vice versa. But I also believe that whatever takes us out of our comfort zone is worth doing the most.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
Homo Pauperis is how I feel about the world right now and I think I’m not the only one who feels like that.
I would like to consider myself a positive force in this world. At least this is my goal.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
I have already experienced all of the above and some of it at a very young age and music has been my coping mechanism. A recent work of mine that deals with death and life is “Wide Awake”.
A life threating experience shook me to my core and made think about my mortality, which is crazy that we don’t think about it, even though it is the only certain thing in one’s life. It made think that I can’t be holding back in life in any way.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
In my humble opinion everything is correlated, in a more complex and profound way than Western man thinks or acknowledges.
I think science can document or verify only a fraction of it after it has compartmentalized its subject from the whole.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Theoretically everything is creative. A walk in the park, making a great cup of coffee as you very well said, but for some reason too much of mundane tasks kill me.
Maybe that’s my outlet though and how I can talk about death as we said before. But maybe for someone making a stellar pie can be their way of talking about the joy of living.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
Everything is vibration and look at this magic world we’re living in. Endless hues, shapes and feelings.