Last year I was given a collection of Clarice Lispector short stories as a birthday present, and Daydream and Drunkenness of a Young Lady immediately stood out to me as having a very sonic feel to it; as though I could hear sounds, not words, as I was reading each page. By adapting Lispector’s work, I wanted to create a soundscape that had space and clarity, and that felt natural and not overly processed. Rather than presenting the listener with a complete story, my intention was to construct an aural narrative world in which the story takes place. I didn’t want to overthink it too much, and everything that you hear is a lucid but fairly abstract tessellation of fragments that express the story in a new way.
What was your inspiration for creating this soundscape?
First and foremost of course, was Clarice Lispector and her writing. This wasn’t my first introduction to her work (I’d previously read Hour of the Star) and I find her use of not only language but also orthography to be fairly unique, and so I wanted to create a soundscape that felt like a natural extension of her words, that was part of the same ecosystem, if you like. So, responding to Lispector’s writing was definitely a key inspiration for this work. In terms of what I hoped from the final result, I did have half an eye on creating something that felt quietly cinematic, at least, that felt sequential and expositional, and so what I essentially wanted was to find a way to use aural clues - details - to try and tell a story. In that sense there was a bit of a deliberate move on my part for this piece to be non-musical, as I didn’t want to fall back on that in terms of the how the story is expressed and how it’s experienced. So, to answer the question, a cinematic touch, but also, space: physical space, liminal space, air, breath, that sort of thing.
Who is this piece for? Who do you think will enjoy it?
I’m interested in what people think of it whether they’ve read the story or not because I kind of feel that all responses are equally valid. I’m also curious as to whether common themes emerge among the two camps; people who are and are not familiar with Daydream and Drunkenness of a Young Lady. Because it is fairly abstract in composition, I’d say that anyone can respond and relate to this piece, though for people who know Lispector’s work and in particular know this story, there might be a bit more for them to chew on, so to speak.
What were the hardest challenges you faced in realising this work?
A big challenge was how to tell this story; what to include and what not to. That decision making process of what is important or vital, essential or superfluous to the story I wanted to tell (but which might be very different to how someone else would tell it) was certainly hard. It was hard because I had to almost dig a tunnel and kind of filter out all the things would or even could lead down the path of another interpretation that wasn’t where I wanted to go. So, once certain decisions were made, I suppose I had to stick to my guns really, and once I’d decided on the interpretation that felt right to me, to go with it and really embrace it, understanding that there were many other interpretations that were being left by the wayside and trying not to be bothered by that fact. One decision I faced early on, before I actually started working on the soundscape was that the original short story was written in 1960, but trying to authentically re-create 1960s Brazil, or Rio de Janeiro to be more exact, would have been an enormous challenge in the time I had, to the point where it could have knocked the project dead on arrival. So, deciding not to make it a period piece and instead having the soundscape in a timeless, ageless, and wordless environment is an example of that tunnel visioning.
What goals did you set for yourself, if at all?
While I was still in the preparation phase of this project I asked myself what I wanted to achieve with this project, and how what I wanted to achieve would impact how the piece actually ended up sounding. Each project presents itself differently, and with this one I realised that the goals I wanted to achieve basically split into five baskets: creative, immersive, experimental, realistic. I also set myself the taks of important using only sounds that I had recorded, and this felt like the right thing to do because it is quite an intimate piece really, and I find it can be very difficult to create personal work or work that has a natural texture to it, with sounds that are from a sound library, for example. I’m guessing this will change, is already changing, as sound recordists switch on more to that the fact that sound designers want sounds to not just be good but to be customisable. Anyway, part of the aesthetic that I wanted kind of necessitated using personal field recordings, let’s say, and I was able to that. In the end there was just one sound that I had to delve into a library for.
You’ve mixed this binaurally, how was that different to a non-binaural mix?
That’s a good question that I’m not really sure I can answer! Daydream and Drunkenness is the first time I’ve mixed binaurally, and the thing I found is that results have a lot to do with intention, I think. Well, for me, at least. Which is to say that I chose this particular way of doing it because it seems to better justify what I wanted to achieve, and so the process was very similar to any other in that sense. I didn’t have to 'think binaurally', which is a bit of misnomer, but do you know what I mean? There was no special hat to put on, because it was simply the process of trying to realise the work in the way that best represents it. Having said all of that though, space was a very present concept, and even a feeling, throughout working on this project, in terms of trying to make sure that there was the right kind of space throughout, in each section. Some parts might feel quite claustrophobic, other parts less so, and space I suppose is the invisible glue that is enabling all the elements in Daydream and Drunkenness to work as well as they do.
Questions asked by GIA.