Forward Festival: Yann Novak

— Interview

In another installment of our artist interview series as we lead up to the 4th edition of FORWARD Festival, collaborator Richard Chartier has a chat with Yann Novak. Yann will be making his DC Debut and playing at the opening night of the festival alongside Frank Bretschneider and Sutekh.

Have you ever been to Washington DC (if not… what do you look forward to seeing while here / if yes… what do you remember/like)

I have never visited DC before and am looking forward to it.  The thing I am most interested in seeing has to be the great Museums DC has to offer. I’m really hoping that some works from either the Hudson River School or Washington Color School will be on view.

For the performance on March 30th.. tell us a little about what you will be performing/presenting.

I will be presenting a piece titled Presence that pairs a slowly evolving sound piece to a looped video of equally paced color fields.  It is loosely based around a performance I did in the same venue as a dancer who’s performance greatly effected mine. Using this experience, the piece explores the trajectory from unease to epiphany that can happen when unknown variables are combined.

How do see the interaction between music and image affecting not only the way you compose/perform, but how do you see its linkages as integral to an audiences’ experience?

I do not think of the visual aspects of my work to be images.  I see them more as a tool to transform the light and space of a venue to enhance the experience and emotions I am conveying with the sound.  I take special care to make the video components as simple as possible so they do not detract from the listening experience.

How did you become involved in making art/sound/video

I had wanted to be a visual artist from the time I had my first art class in 2nd grade.  I originally got into electronic music in midwest rave scene in the early 90’s.  As my attention drifted away from dance music it was somehow natural for me to start thinking about sound in the same ways I did visual art.  Once that happened it became clear to me that I could articulate and express my ideas much better through sound.

What influences your work the most?

All of my work is autobiographical. I have made works based on really important events in my life like move to a new city, or really simple ones like being suck inside during a rainstorm.  I am continually collecting recordings and photographs to use in my work, and how these documents speak to me is the driving force for each new work.

The eternal artistic question: how do you know when a work is complete/finished?

Because I restrict myself to only documents that pertain to the project at hand, I am really limited, so more often the ending point is reaching a place where the material cannot be pushed any farther.

What upcoming projects are you working on?

I am currently re-working the score to a dance piece that opens in April in Seattle titled Dark Room.  In April I also have a new collaborative release titled Two Segments with mise_en_scene coming out on White.Line Editions.  Then in May I will be performing at The Stone in NY.  After that will be another collaboration, my first working with performance artist Taisha Paggett that will open in the fall  2011.

What was your favorite sound memory as a child?

My parents were both huge music fans so there was always music playing in our house, but looking back I think it would be my mother playing classical music on vinyl.  I can’t pinpoint a particular piece because she had an immense collection.