Zoë Mc Pherson

I recently saw her at Elevate Festival and was literally blown away by her live set!

However, I haven’t found much about her on the web. Has anybody got info about who she is, what she used, where she comes from, etc. ?

This video gives a good idea of what she does, although the live set I’ve seen was more refined I’d say:

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Most of the information on relevant websites about the String Figures album seems to have disappeared… but I found this information

about *String Figures*

from a press release about the album and stage show:

~ a transmedia project merging organic & electronic universes, folk & futurism ~

A multi-platform production that explores the overlap between the digital and the organic through field recordings of Inuit throat singing may sound, on surface level, to be something that is a rather niche. However, Zoe Mc Pherson’s exploration of this world on String Figures is a deeply rhythmic, immersive and forward-thinking piece of electronic-leaning music that remains just as danceable as it does experimental.

The album is fundamentally one of duality, exploring the traditional and the contemporary, organic and electronic, audio and visual, history and the future. Rooted in this duality is also a core theme around string being one of the most ancient and playful art forms and the seemingly infinite possibilities it offers in terms of shapes, structures and figures lines up with this as a trans-global art project. One that over time will involve video art, choreography, 3D motion design, macro film, instrumental and electronic sound. Although for now is being presented through an AV performance, films and a record with Mc Pherson collaborating with director Alessandra Leone.

Over the seven tracks (which are laid out as chapters) the record explores glitchy electronics, dub-tinged grooves, polyrhythms, and a huge array of instruments that takes in quiet blasts of atonal sax alongside wonky synths. This of course cross-pollinates with the throat singing and experimental field recordings to create an utterly inimitable sonic sphere. For Mc Pherson it’s about mixing worlds, histories and timeframes and she uses a 1991 quote from Laurie Spiegel to hit home how she has elaborated upon this original thought of history and future overlapping. “Folk music is considered anonymous common property in a culture and that’s what a lot of computer music and other kinds of music data may end up becoming.” However, there’s also a purer reason for the exploration of these worlds and colliding them together. “Basically I thought that electronic music that is only digital is a bit boring and as I’m connected to jazz music for many reasons, I wanted it to sound organic: real instrumentation, field recordings.”

Said field recordings took Mc Pherson to a variety of places and these were the initial impetus for the record. “The first step is being a weirdo with a mobile recorder, hunting interesting sounds,” she says. Such interesting sounds incorporate horses hooves in Turkey or the sound of bees in France. “I think Indonesia was funny because in some places it was hard to record as there’s so many people and traffic, and yet in other places it was forbidden to enter the room where the gongs where. It’s fun to have to deal with whatever is happening but those animals there are so incredibly loud, the smallest little animal there is just a giant noise. It’s pretty surprising”. Mc Pherson even stretched timeframes and countries that she couldn’t make it to physically herself to include on the record, utilising some pre-existing field recordings from Greenland and also using some throat recordings that stretch back to the 1950s, on top of the original ones that were recorded in Belgium.

After the initial field recordings are completed the record is then constructed in parts, as Mc Pherson explains. “I edit, add beats, synths, vox etc and then present some of the tracks to Falk, the percussionist with whom I work, who adds some grooves. He learned rhythms while living in Brazil and visiting Benin. We jam and that’s great, I like being two rather than always alone.

We jammed a lot on track ‘Deep’, it’s our favourite track because we’re really together and absolutely free with the track’s dynamics.”

Mc Pherson describes the end result of the album less in terms of genre but more in elemental terms, ones rooted in the make-up of the album’s production. “The constant shifting of the rhythm within the music opens up space times, where otherworldly liminal possibilities occur, “ she says, “The way we focus from one to another is almost disturbing yet powerful since it is movement. Textures evolve and engage in a dialogue as if they were creatures stranded or suspended in an unknown space”.

It is also both an exploration of, and love letter to, Inuit music. It’s about, Mc Pherson says, “So that their culture shall never be lost. I’m referring to some cultures that have been spoiled, from the middle ages’ crusades to the oriental world to the story of Native Americans, indigenous people. But it’s also about how that culture evolves as it gets passed on and embraces modernity.”

Modernity is something at the real core of this project. Whilst Mc Pherson’s director, Leone, describes the project as, “A collage of experimental vignettes and recurring motifs, glued together by the lead character and the micro-macro visual structure / narrative potential of String Figures.” It also succeeds on a physical, primal level of being an unshakeably innovative and leftfield piece of contemporary music.

BIOGRAPHY

Zoë Mc Pherson is a producer, vocalist, performer and String Figures’ artistic director.

After spending the past few years making anthropological researches about Inuit cultures, Kurdish feminism and the practice of Cat’s Cradle ; Zoë created « String Figures ».

A transmedia art project : an audiovisual album in 7 chapters with a vinyl release in March 2018 via SVS records ; a special audiovisual concert and hybrid performances.

The audiovisual album is a collaboration with Berlin based director and alter-ego Alessandra Leone, it gathers several other artists from different disciplines.

With a Jazz drummer background, she started her musical journey by playing the Irish fiddle, and more recently studied Vodun rhythms from Benin where she met stage collaborator, multi-percussionist Falk Schrauwen.

She was Beursschouwburg Brussel’s 2016 and 2017 associated artist, where she curated a festival and premiered String Figures.

She is also currently working on a composing the music for choreographer David Hernandez’ new piece.

Always on the road, her travels and research result in exploring the liminal space between universes : organic/ electronic, folk/ futurism, ancient/ contemporary, earthy/ otherworldly, dance/ experimental music at the same time.

LIVE SHOW

String figures live shows take the shape of audiovisual concerts,

solo live-sets and hybrid performances depending on the venue and occasion.

Zoë Mc Pherson : electronics & voice
Alessandra Leone : live visuals
Falk Schrauwen : percussions
Ichi Go : choreography & dance
Jim Michel : sound engineer

Hope that helps.

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Did she have a very powerful wind machine? :rofl:

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Saw her at Elevate too, awesome. Mid-set she told me to fix her a gin-tonic! :slight_smile:

Here’s her instagram:
https://instagram.com/zoemcphers?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

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Yeah, it looks like she’s some kind of character :slight_smile:

What a nice event that was

(The guys playing just before were not bad either, by the way - can’t remember their name, though)

She was great, the whole night was nice!
The guys before are called /DL/MS/, I know cause I’m one of the two :slight_smile:

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Well, you’re the guys who brought me and my friends to that floor, as a matter of fact! :slight_smile:

Would you mind sharing your bandcamp or soundcloud or whatever?

That’s great to hear, thanks a lot!

Here’s our latest release on TRUST, later this year you could check Mechatronica for something new.

To get back at Zoe, at the soundcheck the lightguy made the lights to bright for her taste and she said she isn’t a singer/songwriter. I replied her name sure sounds like she would be one, which she found funny because her mother actually is one :slight_smile:

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I really like her take on the “dancers” in a club (at the beginning of the video), building a groove that’s confusing but still keep them captivated - or something
I think she really achieved her goal because that’s definitely how I felt seeing her live!

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…woooof…what a great discovery…really enjoyed that…
so, thanx for the hint…defenitly gonna book her, sooner than later and until now, i had no idea she exists…one of the grrrrreats…

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Yes, her grooves are something, I was quite captivated by her performance as well.

I think she recently released a record on Peder Mannerfelt‘s Label.

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Oh, I quickly searched but haven’t found it. If you’ve got a title, I’d happily get it. I already got Abyss Elixir, if that’s the one.
(I also got yours by the way)

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the performance is excellent

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Weird, can’t find anything with mannerfelt connected, maybe I mixed something up.

Here’s what I found:

And thanks for your support, much appreciated!

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This whole thread is super inspiring!

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This one I had already found.

But to be honest it’s just the very end with Mc Pherson that I found really good
(even if the rest is far from bad)

Ah sorry! Anyways it’s in the thread now :slight_smile:

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info dump time :slight_smile:

i first met Zoë McPherson in a dark barn in the Portuguese countryside checking out the RYTM MKII back in 2018 and recently opened for her at SVS Collisions festival (which i‘m incredibly thankful for, since i‘m a total fanboy of her unrelentingly blasting rhythms and fun, confident performance)

The release on Peder Mannerfelt‘s label is as Carbon 96 in collab with Ciarra Black, all Elektron machines:

The most comprehensive collection of material regarding the String Figures debut you might find at:

https://stringfigures.persona.co

In collab with Alessandra Leone she runs SFX label:

https://s-f-x.space

And…i don‘t know how to say this, but her Ableton Live session view is unlike anything i‘ve ever seen:

basically a spreadsheet of play buttons :sweat_smile:

Stefan Römer and Dirk Lebahn invited her to share a screenshot of it for the All_Go_Rhythm exhibition and concert series at gallery oqbo in Berlin last year.

i‘m sorry that i can‘t share a higher res version,
so here‘s some early 2000s internet nostalgia
A E S T H E T I C …i guess:

very happy this thread came to exist, please continue :slight_smile:

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