Interview for Barely Dry Ink

I had the pleasure to chat with Gaudeamus about my upcoming piece ‘Shadow Index’, an audiovisual work composed specifically for the Pentacle surround system.
Link to the interview here. Written by Rebecca Kreyenberg.


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In the many concerts during the Gaudeamus Muziekweek, a lot of works are performed of which the ink is only barely dry. We talked with several composers about the composition that we commissioned them to write.

Irene Cassarini a.k.a Guenter Råler will perform her new work for the Pentacle at Gaudeamus this year during the Saturday Night in TivoliVredenburg. In 2020 she already made a piece for Gaudeamus as part of the Archive Dive project. It was a tough year for artists, but also a successful year for her. She graduated with a master’s degree in Music & Technology at the HKU and was one of the five winners of the HKU Prijs. A good starting point for her career as a composer, producer, DJ, visual artist, sound designer and curator.

‘Guenter Råler – where does this name come from?’ For her bachelor’s degree she went from 2016-2017 to Stockholm. Laughing, she said that she then illegally downloaded a software program where the fake license was named Guenter Råler. The idea of ​​having a second identity seemed like a nice way as an artist name. “I think using my real name would be too attached to myself and how people know me. That’s how the idea came to embrace a new identity and take distance from me.’

Before coming to the Netherlands she did a Bachelor’s degree in electronic music in Italy, where she comes from. It’s a study that mainly focuses on electroacoustic music, about the kind of groundbreaking sound between the ‘50s and ‘90s. “So it was quite experimental, but that certainly shaped my interest in experimental sounds.” Ultimately, she didn’t just want to become a producer for pop, techno – or commercial music, which brought her to the Netherlands to study at the HKU. As a result, her interest in visual art grew and she began to combine digital media with her music productions. ‘I learned a code language to create my own visuals from there. It was fun at first, but it quickly became a bit limited, mainly black and white geometries.” She wasn’t really looking for that and so she started collecting images from the internet and archives. “I really like this very raw aesthetic that you find online.” This is reflected in her live performances, such as in Shadow Index. A performance with live visuals, which almost resemble a kind of game world. When I asked her if she’s a gamer type, she laughed and replied, “No. I was mainly inspired by social media and internet trends. Which made me want to bring this aesthetic back without using direct references specifically. This naturally creates a world of its own.”

In her work she addresses social and political issues, such as internet culture and queerness. This motivation came from the need to not only make dance music. She wanted to delve deeper into social and political activism. “How can I still fight for what I believe in while making music? Music is a very abstract art, but I was able to find my own language in it to express this’. She undertook this research in her master thesis ‘Music as an agent of societal change: self-expression, introspection and activism in avant-garde electronic music’. It can also be heard in her 2020 released EP ‘Data/Death’. A pretty extreme title in my opinion, so I asked her what it meant. During the onset of the pandemic, she focused on her relationship with her phone. She thought it was a strange idea that all these big companies that she knows nothing about own her data. The question of what would happen if she decides to step out of social media and what happens to her data was a big part of the making. “I thought about the idea that my online persona is dead on the internet, but lives on outside of it.” It is ultimately a piece about the relationship between the existence of online and offline. A theme that also concerns me because I come from the generation that grew up with social media. Today I find it very difficult to find a healthy balance between the online and offline world, whereupon I asked her if she is looking for an answer in her music and for her audience. “Social media is of course a very useful invention, but we sometimes forget that the algorithm can be polarizing, leading to discrimination against queer people, people of color and black people, for example. I don’t really give an answer, but with my music I want to reflect on what our position is in relation to the internet and social media’.

Irene constantly challenges herself as an artist and human being, which can also be heard in her latest Dekmantel release ‘Scores III’. In this work she brings together natural sounds with mechanical sounds for the first time. “I focused on the sound of our ecosystem while making it. Of course also focused on the consequences of climate change. I tried to give that problem a sound, but from a very peaceful and dreamy aesthetic.”

In the Netherlands she has the feeling that she gets a lot of support for her ideas, which led to the founding of the queer collective ‘Queer in wonderland’ in 2019. A collective that (actually) organizes events in clubs for and with the LGBTQIA+ community. She understood that she had a voice that she wanted to use for a greater purpose. “It sounds very cliché, but I just like the idea of using my platform to do something good for people.”

‘Art is a form of extremism’, a sentence that I noticed while listening to her music. After I spoke to her, I understood better what she meant by this. You will probably see this sentence in her performance on September 11, 2021 in TivoliVredenburg. An audiovisual performance with the Pentacle Surround Sound System where all her ideas about internet culture and queer theory come together and lead to a world of experimental club music and post-digital aesthetics.

‘Scores III’ release on Dekmantel

Scores III is available in one of the following stores:

Dekmantel Shop (vinyl)
Rush Hour (vinyl)

Boomkat (vinyl + digital)
Serendeepity Milan (vinyl)
Bandcamp (digital)

“Thrilled to introduce ‘Scores III’, Dekmantel’s third joint effort with @revive_this in which they pair modern electronic artists to independent archival footage. Redefining their soundtracks and translating it to modern times, the EP sees @interstellarfunk taking on 1940’s amateur aquarium movies edited by Sjoerd Martens (@kaasverhuur), and abstract artist @guenterraler working with a collection of nature film — with spellbinding results. Out on all platforms on May 17th.”

Snippets:
https://soundcloud.com/guenterraler/sets/guenter-raler-scores-iii

Pre-order vinyl: https://dekmantel.com/shop/records/va-scores-iii
Pre-oder digital: https://dekmantel.bandcamp.com/album/v-a-scores-iii

‘Archive dive’, a commissioned piece from Gaudeamus and Stranded FM

Gaudeamus and Stranded FM commissioned five contemporary artists to dig up music from the vast archives of 75 years of Gaudeamus and make something new with what they found. On 11 February, they premiered the results via a livestream. The streaming features brand new creations by me, saxophone player and performance artist Elsa van der Linden, percussionist for Oerknal and DJ Christian Smith, Panenkov (the drone alias of multi-instrumentalist Marlon Penn) and Stranded FM organiser and DJ Luke Cohlen. My piece, titled “Chorus”, starts at 13’50”.

Thanks to Allard Pierson – the Collections of the University of Amsterdam.

The Facebook live stream with the premiere of all works can be watched here.

Visual design and audio mixing for Casco Art Institute

I collaborated with Casco Art Institute to do the audio mixing, video editing, subtitling and visual design for the concert series held at Casco in Utrecht during the lockdown period.
Concerts were performed by Mira Thompson, Shishani and Marikit as part of ‘Common Grounds: Song / Value, Channel 1’, by Casco Art Institute.

Sound descriptions by Casco’s Staci Bu Shea.
Visual identity for the Live Concert series by Yessica Deira.

Piano by Thijmen Schoute


Check the full program of Common Grounds: Song / Value via https://casco.art/en/program

RE:VIVE x Dekmantel present ‘Scores III’

Scores III is an audiovisual project commissioned by The Institute for Sound and Vision to producers Interstellar Funk and Guenter Råler.

“The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s RE:VIVE initiative and Dekmantel teamed up for the third time to invite artists to bring fresh music to a curation of Dutch archival films. This year Artificial Dance label boss Interstellar Funk teamed up with Dutch visual artist Sjoerd Martens and Amsterdam-based visual artist and composer Guenter Råler.”

I am elated to be part of this year’s Dekmantel Connects, with ‘Scores III’, presenting an audiovisual work that I composed and scored for RE:VIVE. The film will be screened on Decemeber 16th h 21.00 on Dekmantel’s website.

‘Scores III’ is a collaboration between RE:VIVE (The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision) and Dekmantel. I had the amazing opportunity to work with their extensive archive, focusing on nature-related material.

The score will be released on vinyl on May 17th on Dekmantel records and Rush Hour.

HKU Gemeente Utrecht prijs winner at HKU Awards 2020

On Thursday 7th January, during the online talk show HKU Awards Future Talks from Library in Neude (Utrecht), the HKU Awards were presented for the most striking and special graduation projects of 2020. The HKU Prize for the Municipality of Utrecht was also awarded for a project with special social relevance from Deirdre Carasso, director of the Utrecht Library.

At the HKU Awards 2020 I have been nominated in HKU prize for the Municipality of Utrecht, for my commitment into social and political activism through music and art. It is an honor to announce that I won the first prize of 5000€, a great recognition from the HKU University and Utrecht.
My graduation project and thesis “Art as an agent of societal change: how music and political activism intersects in avant-garde electronic music” can be found at HKU Exposure.

The jury

An independent jury determined the nominees and winners of the HKU Awards:
• Rutger Verhoeven (founder and director of Clever Lions) – chairman
• Alain Dujardin (Creative director of digital design agency Greenberry)
• Marjolein Oomen (Entrepreneur and Business Strategist)
• Anne van der Zwaag (curator, writer, including Object Rotterdam, Stichting Doen)

More informations and streaming on https://www.hku.nl/het-werk-van-hku/projecten/hku-awards.

“We Good” premiere on Antistandard Recs [ITA]

Ambient and drone, noise and deconstructed club, bassline and dubstep, grime, footwork and jungle, acid and techno plus many other shades refractory to simple cataloging and easy dogmatisms. To animate this collective project, keywords such as research, crossovers, sharing. “AntiWorld A” is born with the aim of breaking down the idea of musical and geographical borders and wants to be the forerunner of a set of compilations designed to probe different creative possibilities and potential amalgamations between seemingly irreconcilable universes. A microcosm in which blocks of tracks draw unusual sound constellations.

Released on 31st July 2020

Guenter Råler ✮ We Good

from WVA001 / VV​​.​​AA. ✮ AntiWorld A by VNTISTVNDVRD

about

✮ Guenter Råler [NL / IT] (76666 / Stranded.FM)
soundcloud.com/guenterraler

HKU Exposure, graduation festival 2020

This year’s graduation festival for HKU (University of the Arts in Utrecht) will be online: on the website, around 700 students present their exam work online to the general public to view and experience it all.

My portfolio with some of my most significant works from the past two years has been published online, together with my master thesis “Music as an agent of societal change: self-expression, introspection and activism in avant-garde electronic music”.

You can check my portfolio here.

 

 

 

Mention in EKKO’s highlight

“Every week we focus on a Utrecht maker. From illustrative to visual, from DIY designers to established names, let’s support the hardworking independents in the art sector!

As @strandedfm – resident and audiovisual artist, @guenterraler brings out progressive sound while capturing emotions in pixels and making the digital analog. Abrasive leftfield house, polyrhythms and hardcore colored by chatroom recordings, fully queered. As the artistic director of one of our favorite new nights @queerinwonderland, Guenter Råler is a refreshment for Utrecht nightlife with the creative energy and strength in the right place.”