Hailing from London, Laura Misch is a singer-songwriter and saxophonist. Her work often explores the environment and our relationship with nature. In pursuit of new and emotive sounds, she has developed her own recording equipment that she uses within the landscape. Her work fuses jazz with electronic sounds, and she has performed with artists including Soweto Kinch, Andrew Ashong and Binker & Moses.
Hi Laura, how are you today? All well?
Hey, I am well, thank you. I am just about to go and plant eight speakers in a garden. I’m feeling excited to hear my saxophone through them.
Your music has a really ethereal quality to it. How would you describe it?
Ethereal! Hmmm. Ethereality is something I think about a lot because, being a saxophone player, I am always thinking about drawing in from the air. So I feel a deep connection between ethereality and wind in the sense of something floating, or being untethered, and that’s how I would describe the process of making music; it has always felt very free.
Rhythmically I am drawn to beats and textures which are always collages of different samples and loops I find along the way, so these have evolved over the years. But the thread is definitely my saxophone and my voice.
I really love synthesis, so I do a lot of processing of sax through FX to create horn stacks and clouds of sound. I’m obsessed with saxophone synthesis and, in a lot of my music, what you might think is a synth has a sax genesis. And then sometimes there’s the lyricism, which generally emerges from the sound bed I’ve created.
Your music-making process is quite unusual – unique, perhaps.
Can you tell us a bit about the equipment you use and how you undertake your field recordings?
Process-wise, I am continually experimenting with tools, trying to find the right balance of hardware/software and limitation/freedom. And on my last self-produced project, I was glued to my laptop. There was so much automation mapped in and micro editing that it felt like I was inside a sort of sound computer game, which is wild for your mind but a cage for your body.
I started to find producing inside really stifling and just wanted to be playing and walking, so I worked with my friend Andrea Adriano to build a pedal belt, which consists of a pre-amp we made in a make-up tin, a looper, a zoom and two rechargeable battery tins. We also experimented with fans to generate enough wind power to charge the belt. We then went on these expeditions to capture sounds and saxophone in different environments. We captured some really beautiful recordings, some of which I intend to weave back into the album we are making.
You initially trained as a biomedical scientist before switching to music full-time. Did that have any influence on your work as a musician?
It feels like a lifetime ago, and I am not sure how much I retain in a factual sense. But definitely, there’s an appreciation for systems and a curiosity around interconnectedness that stems from that time in my life. It’s funny because I left that world because I struggled to see myself working in a laboratory, but in a way, I ended up generating a laboratory of sound within my practice. So life has gone full circle.
Your work is very inspired by nature, and you undertake a lot of your work in the environment. Why is that important to you?
Where did this passion and interest stem from?
Music isn’t created in a vacuum and as time moves on, I feel a deeper appreciation of the elements of life; air, water, soil and ecosystems, which are all in danger. It’s all interconnected, and I guess the importance comes from the urgency of it all. To pay attention and attend to the environments within and around us. I don’t find myself with all the solutions to what we face, but I think there is a lot we can learn from listening. And in some small way, I am trying to shift my work to create space to help us all stop and listen.
What have you got coming up over the summer? Gigs, releases, projects?
The next gig is July 15th in a former fireworks factory at Woolwich Works in London. I will be playing new material from the album and reworking old songs with Marysia Osuchowska on harp and Tomáš Kašpar on guitar/electronics. Then dropping the album… once we’ve recorded enough air.