LA based composer Katya Richardson talks genre-blending, film composition and her EP Left From Write.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR US WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL. Hi! My name is Katya Richardson and I’m a composer, vocalist, and producer based in Los Angeles. My training is originally classical, but I also have a background in jazz piano, electronica, and film scoring. Much of the work I create centres around collaboration and blending genre, so I often find myself combining all my backgrounds into one and working with other artists like filmmakers, dancers, and choreographers. Although hard to categorize within a certain style, I’m most interested in exploring the boundaries of electronic and acoustic instruments, within the realm of a cinematic tone. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE? Left From Write is my first release as an artist and my first time properly combining all of my musical influences of classical, electronica, and jazz. So I think it really encompasses me as an artist. Almost a year in the making, I mixed, recorded, and produced everything, and it is probably my most detailed and extensive project to date. Musically, it is far more experimental than my film score work, and is largely inspired by artists like SOPHIE, Son Lux, and Flying Lotus. I recorded my friend on sax, myself on vocals, collaborated with a choreographer, and made beats from samples of everyday objects. It’s not every day that I get to write music that’s groovy and fun! WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM? My EP was originally written as an art piece - as part of a dance production with the Norwegian National Ballet at the Royal Opera House in London. It was a collaboration between a choreographer, lighting designer, animator, and myself, to visually and sonically recreate the multi-layered experience of a dyslexic. The most challenging aspect was translating dyslexic thought-processes into musical ones. My choreographer, who has dyslexia, explained how she often wore orange-tinted glasses in elementary school. In my mind, “orange” embodies a 70’s energy, so my first instinct was to infect the music with a funky, hyperkinetic jazz vibe - resembled by the tactile percussion, irregular phrases, and noodly saxophone. Vocal loops also function to provide moments of clarity or alienation, either by locking into a glitchy groove or encircling the stereo space, as if getting lost in one’s inner monologue.
CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS? Left From Write is a 3-part, electrojazz narrative that celebrates dyslexia - looking at individuality as something both organized and chaotic, but ultimately human. WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY? Orphée by the late film composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson. What I love about his music is the simplicity of layers and themes, yet immense intimacy and complexity in depth and repetition. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a visceral connection with cinematic music as with this album. It’s also special to me because I was lucky to see Jóhannsson on tour with this a few months before he passed away. It was a live, 2 hour set without intermission, and I remember moments where I was staring into the ceiling of the concert hall, completely transformed. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND OR ANOTHER ARTIST? Oh, I have so many favourites! I like a lot of Kendrick and Logic music videos, specifically Humble and 1-800-273-8255. And the video for Feel It Still is super fun too. I recently saw a stunning video by Neels Castillon, filmed on the beaches of Iceland, with dancers and an upright piano. That’s probably been my favourite, less-mainstream one I’ve discovered recently.
WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT MAKING MUSIC? Probably out in nature, trying new foods, or travelling! And documenting everything with my film camera. DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING LIVE, IF SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT? I used to play piano at various competitions when I was younger, and I’d always get so nervous! Often what would help was imagining myself alone in a room, blocking out everything around me, and just playing for fun. Seeing the reactions and smiles of everyone after my performances always made it worth it though. I’d like to get back into performing again! HOW DID YOU FORM THE BAND? My father is a jazz musician, and some of my earliest memories are hanging out backstage or going to concerts. Getting involved in music was inevitable for me, and ever since I started playing piano I knew I wanted to write music. It wasn’t until high school where I had more opportunities to pursue that dream and really got serious about it.
Left From Write is a 3-part, electrojazz narrative that celebrates dyslexia - looking at individuality as something both organized and chaotic, but ultimately human.
HOW DO YOU WRITE? - DO YOU HAVE A KEY SONGWRITER OR DO YOU ALL WORK TOGETHER? I write and produce all my music, but a lot of the time my work is influenced by discussions I have when collaborating with directors, choreographers, and live musicians in the recording studio. I’m very tactile when it comes to writing, so I usually start improvising at a piano, playing with various samples, or recording layers of vocals and seeing what sticks. Sometimes my music is influenced directly by what I’ve been listening to. But I generally approach each project - whether it be a film score or a song - as its own entity, so the process is a little different each time. WHAT INSPIRES YOU? I’m inspired by various forms of art - whether it be dance, poetry, or film! I’m also very inspired by artists that are ambitious, dedicated to their work, and push my personal and creative limits. As a kid, I remember watching Fantasia and being fascinated by the idea of combining animation and music. I have always loved John Williams’ soundtracks, and more recently, the works of Alexandre Desplat, Nicholas Britell, and Isobel Waller-Bridge. Film scores, probably more than any other type of music, remind me why I decided to become a musician. WHAT IS NEXT? I just finished scoring an experimental dance film about plastic pollution in our oceans, and I’m very excited to share that soon. I have a few other film and dance collaborations lined up, but my priority for the next year is to start working on a classical album and apply to Master’s programs! PLEASE TELL US ANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS SO WE CAN SHARE. Instagram: @katya.richardson https://www.instagram.com/katya.richardson/?hl=en Left From Write EP: https://open.spotify.com/album/0KNJa0wQm7ezIkgPmASCHY?si=Bfy0ZY8qQWGiorApveg0bg
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