Name: Siavash Amini
Occupation: Sound artist, composer
Recent release: Siavash Amini teams up with poet and author Eugene Thacker for their double LP Songs for Sad Poets, out September 2rd 2022 via Hallow Ground.
Recommendations on the topic of sound: Sound by Michel Chion and Listening Through The Noise by Joanna Demers are fantastic starting points for anyone interested in sound, experimental electronic music or sound art.
If you enjoyed these thoughts by Siavash Amini and would like to find out more about his work, visit his official website. He is also on Facebook, Soundcloud, and twitter.
Over the course of his career, Siavash Amini has collaborated with various artists, including Matt Finney, Heinali and Rafael Anton Irisarri.
[Read our Heinali interview]
[Read our Rafael Anton Irisarri interview]
For more interview with artists featured on the Hallow Ground label:
[Read our Reinier Van Houdt interview]
[Read our Norman Westberg interview]
[Read our Andrew Liles interview]
[Read our Marja Ahti interview]
[Read Marja Ahti talk about sound]
[Read our Maria W Horn interview]
[Read our Lawrence English interview]
[Read Lawrecne English talk about sound]
Which artists, approaches, albums or performances using sound in an unusual or remarkable way captured your imagination in the beginning?
The earliest I can remember is Pink Floyd. I watched Delicate Sound of Thunder on laserdisc with my cousin and with sound coming out of a huge hi-fi, it felt like being there. To this day nothing beats the crisp sound of the music I heard that day.
I still have the VHS rip of that laserdisc. I watched it a crazy amount of times. It always felt like a spaceship landed in our living room every time I put it on.
What's your take on how your upbringing and cultural surrounding have influenced your sonic preferences?
The upbringing plus the experience of growing up in a religious country from a secular family of music/film lovers has had a deep in pact the way I perceive contrast, similarity and nuance in my daily life and work in general.
Our community of like-minded artists and musicians which culminated in our SET collective has had the deepest impact on my listening and composing. Patient and focused listening which I value above all else in my work was one of the most valued practices of that collective as well.
Growing up in a quiet town in the South also laid the foundations for that mentality.
How would you describe the shift of moving towards music which places the focus foremost on sound, both from your perspective as a listener and a creator?
The musical decision in my case is tightly linked to the personal decision. I come from a background of metal and classical music, I never was satisfied with making music to be played in solo and band settings but could not find what I wanted until we were recording our first album in a professional studio.
It was there that I found out the things that make me excited in other people's music are more easily accomplished if I were behind the console or the computer. That’s where I decided to learn how to design and manipulate sounds and shape the structure of the tracks with the help of the computer. The possibilities seemed endless. I still feel they are.
On a personal level I found a great comfort in working alone behind a computer. After I was kicked out of my band (a week after we finished recording!) due to financial, personal and musical differences, I needed to find a new space where I felt safe, so I could build my musical world anew. Until that time my band was the most important part of my musical world. I felt I lost everything and didn’t have much self-esteem left.
I stopped playing electric guitar for a year and focused on learning music software and electronic music techniques and history. Working with computers was the thing I felt I was good at so that was a bonus. At some point I thought it would be a great way for making accompaniments for my guitar playing style that couldn’t find a place in my previous band. This led to three songs from my first EP.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and working with sound? Do you see yourself as part of a tradition or historic lineage when it comes to your way of working with sound?
I definitely don’t see my work as part of any particular tradition.
I have used techniques from quite a few different historic traditions which may at surface seem that they are at odds with each other.
Freedom of not being tied with any tradition is one of the things that I find most satisfying about making the music I make, although I am aware of the fact that this fluid position in itself is becoming a well established approach.
What are the sounds that you find yourself most drawn to? Are there sounds you reject – if so, for what reasons?
Long held highly textured sounds are the most attractive for me. I find patience and focused listening very rewarding both as a listener and maker.
Rejection is very context based. I’m usually open to most sounds.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, from instruments via software tools and recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you personally starting from your first studio/first instruments and equipment? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
My setup (a laptop, two speakers and a headphone + guitar) has not changed in structure over the past decade - I’ve only bought better speakers and headphones. Most things happen for me in the box, although I have limited myself to a few options in there as well.
I find limitations in devices very liberating. The possibilities appear more clearly to me when I don’t have to concern myself too much with how a lot of different software/hardware works.
Where do you find the sounds you're working with? How do you collect and organise them?
It depends on the project really. I use a lot of modular software for synthesis, finding sounds is not what I do anymore because I’ve been using less and less field recordings or found sounds in the past couple of years. For my recent output almost all sounds are synthesized and densely processed afterwards.
The same goes for the organization, there’s no one solution. I have to admit finding the organizing principle before starting to generate sounds is as important as a score for me. A lot of things depend on what the organization scheme is.
How do you see the relationship between sound, space and composition?
I see composition as the organizing of sound to create a metaphorical space.