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Yann Novak

Menu Project

Again and Again Until We Feel Nothing

, 2020
— Video

Again and Again Until We Feel Nothing from Yann Novak’s album Slowly Dismantling on Room40.


Credits

Sound & Video: Yann Novak

Slowly Dismantling

, 2019
— Audiovisual Performance

Audiovisual performance based on my album of the same name published by Room40. Available for festivals and one-offs.


Credits

Footage by Geneva Skeen, Ian Wellman, and Byron Westbrook.
Thumbnail photo by Andrés Lam.

All Things End, Sometimes in Fire

, 2019
— Video

All Things End, Sometimes in Fire from the album Slowly Dismantling on Room40.


Credits

Sound & Video: Yann Novak

Related Recordings & Publications

Further Dismantling

, 2020
— EP

The idea for Further Dismantling came out of a conversation with Byron Westbrook while I was finishing my album Slowly Dismantling. He encouraged me to feature the final track, Again and Again Until We Feel Nothing, in some way because he thought it deserved it.  I had envisioned it as a closing to the album—something that could only be stumbled upon at the end.  I wanted the listener to understand the track as a conclusion to the ideas established in the preceding compositions.

Once the album was released I felt that I could highlight that piece by bringing the idea of community I had posited on Slowly Dismantling to fruition. I invited three artists close to me to remix the track: Geneva Skeen, my partner Robert Crouch, and of course, Byron Westbrook.  Asking each artist to use the closing of the album as the foundation for new ideas felt like the perfect way to extend and expand on the original concept through new ears and new perspectives.

To bring the idea full circle and tie it back in to the Slowly Dismantling’s personal roots I chose a photo by Tad Beck from his Double Document series for the cover. I met the artist though Robert and fell in love with this series, where he works with dancers, choreographers, and performers, asking them to either improvise or choreograph movements typical of their approaches. A selection of images is capture, then printed and placed on the floor, upon which the subject re-executes the original movements, distressing and tearing the prints. Finally, the original prints, which have become unique, damaged objects, are re-photographed with backlighting. The subject of the specific photo I chose is Jack Ferver, a prominent New York writer, choreographer, and director that I happened to have known in high school in Madison, Wisconsin.


Credits

Mastered by Lawrence English at Negative Space.
Cover photo: Double Document Jack Ferver 1 by Tad Beck.
Tracks 1, 2, & 4 published by Touch Music/Fairwood Music, UK.
Track 3 published by Coldtransmission Songs / Touch Music/Fairwood Music, UK.

Slowly Dismantling

, 2019
— Album

With Slowly Dismantling, Los Angeles based artist Yann Novak problematizes understandings of ambience as homogenous and static. Slowly Dismantling deconstructs ambient, pulling it way from the blank and the atmospheric, refusing the perceived luxury of sound within which context is erased. Reflecting on his formative experiences as a queer youth in middle America, he explores the idea of these acoustic and social spaces as zones of liberation within which a spectrum of identity is formed. He creates a series of dense sonic fields that reflect on how the past can be decoded and utilized as a device for contextualizing the future.

Notes on Slowly Dismantling from Yann Novak…

The cover of Slowly Dismantling features the remnants of Hotel Washington, home to the LGBTQ+ community in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin from the 70s until 1996 when it burned down. It housed a restaurant, a barber shop, a cafe, and an assortment of gay bars that served as a gathering space for the community. I was 17 when the hotel burned down and had only gone to the cafe a handful of times. What I expected to be the formative site for exploring my newfound queer identity was suddenly lost to the past, and I was left wondering how such a space would have influenced me. 

What remained in Madison after the fire was only the mainstream version of gay culture. The expressive camp of cinematic cult classics, drag shows, and quotes from pop culture was the language, and I didn’t speak it. Art and music are often identified as “queer” when they share these same core aesthetics, tropes, and character stereotypes. These signifiers have become acceptable ways to to express queerness within the larger heteronormative and capitalist gaze. This further taught me that, though I was queer, what I was making was not.

This led me to withdraw; the alienation that came with my introversion made it hard for me to take up space in the world. As my work as an artist and composer progressed, this lack of self confidence became part of my practice. I began using field recordings as a way for me to limit my decision making. I could shape and mold this source material to an extent, but there was always an external structure. While this allowed me to create work that was autobiographical, I was never totally in control of what I was making; thus, I was never fully visible in the work. 

This all changed following a transformative experience at a queer music gathering in the spring of 2019. I was finally immersed in a queer community that existed outside all dominant cultures, finally allowing me to feel seen as queer without any of the shortcomings the mainstream culture would have me believe. The acceptance and community I found there showed me the importance of identifying my work as queer—even if it does not deploy any of the codified tropes mainstream culture would be comfortable with—in order to make another version of queer visible. 

As I worked through Slowly Dismantling, it became a liberation from and a reinterpretation of myself. It allowed me to shed my insecurities and routines: grounding my work and process in something outside myself. Instead I choose to utilize digital and analog synthesis, recorded at my studio in Los Angeles and reprocessing recordings captured at MESS in Melbourne and EMS in Stockholm. Using pure synthesis allowed me to make decisions that were totally my own and present an album that is more personal and honest than any before it. 

Slowly Dismantling stands as a reminder that nothing is static; the world is ever-changing, just like our identities. It is an invitation to explore other modes of consciousness and the self, and it is these perpetual changes that make liberation possible.


Credits

Composed and produced by Yann Novak in Los Angeles 2019.
Source material includes recordings captured at EMS Elektronmusikstudion (2018) and Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio (2019). 
Mastered by Lawrence English at Negative Space.
Photo by Megan Sosa.
Thank you to Leah Clancy, Robert Crouch, Lawrence English, Megan Sosa, Byron Westbrook and all at GHT.