Mónica Muñoz aka Nikka, and Alba G Corral, a prolific A/V artist from Madrid, both settled in Barcelona where they have been working for several years, nurturing their little baby, “The Space In Between“, an elegant project in which sound and code interact live, generating its own universe based on melodies and images. Aside from dazzling local audiences – together, Alba has been making similar magic with visual creations for Jon Hopkins, Lorn and RZA.
Q: Your project Nikka, just turned five and you just celebrated an event with a lot of artists and fans. I imagine that it must be rewarding to see all that you have created after 5 years, your fans , artists working with you, loads of music and emotions… what´s your conclusion when you achieve a moment like this?
N: It is a special moment when you see how your individual project grows, that your inner world which externalizes as a waveform, gets to the outside world.
I have to say that I have been making music and djing for much longer, I have also previously edited with other projects as Metronique and nnID.
But it is a thrill, when you decide to celebrate and you are surrounded by all those people who have shaped your project too – with influences or collaborations, and they decide to make a magical and ephemeral piece for that special moment. Lots of emotion.
Q: Alba, your visually creative savoir faire led you to receive proposals from different artists. Recently you´ve created images for the shows of Jon Hopkins, Lorn and RZA, reinterpreted Cortázar’s literary work, displayed the work of painter Victor Perez Porro, or worked in the ne Arbol project … what do you need to feel, to accept an offer from another artist? How did it happen with Nikka?
A: To accept the musical, I have to take a look at several aspects: intuition, the desire to want to dialogue with the kind of music that I am proposed and that the terms of the proposal are comfortable to carry out the collaboration.. I do not like to accept orders, because I take it as a partnership, as a team. The music needs to fill me so I can imagine the expression within it.
With Nikka it was very spontaneous. We had a joint performance at Niu and I was very comfortable performing and I loved the opportunities I gave her sounds to travel. She impressed me — elegant with machines and full of sensitivity. When the performance ended we where asked how long we had been working together. We connected, somehow we found each other and it was totally spontaneous. It’s quite often in this field that things happen naturally, synergies are there and invisible, the intangible has much more weight than the rational, and it was like this from day one.
Q: Nikka, I guess that when an artist creates a track, you have a special thought, pain or message you need to shape and organize, something almost therapeutic. How does it feel to see another person, in this case Alba, reinterpret your music visually?
N: Actually when I work on my songs, I usually document myself with readings, digital documents, etc. .. I put myself in a position on the idea that I want to transmit through musical expression. When I get together with Alba, it becomes a new concept, the subject takes another form, it loses its name and forms into new project. That’s why we call it “The Space in Between”. I generate my music, she does the visuals and again new forms and new creations arise, that may no longer have anything to do with the original, but generate a new reality, thanks to the process of getting carried away at the time. It is a flow of two artists, that although we are together, we let our unconscious flow independently, giving rise to new structures.
Q: The public which is not familiar with this audiovisual universe probably doesn´t know the tools you use to create and produce images from the music you receive from a sound artist. Can you explain?
A: I like that the general public does not focus on the tools so that the attention is in the art piece, the conjunction between music and the visual. How important is the process of ¨how¨ when you’re in a darkened auditorium and get the experience of an audiovisual piece? Does it change if performed with proprietary software or code in real time? Sometimes I think we have an aura of mystery or magicians who use code to create visuals. People who have the ability to speak several languages are far more magicians then we are.
We communicate with a computer through code commands, and the process is executed to modify the tools created in real-time and to paint live, together with the movement and time, getting carried away by the sound. Here I include all the creators of Live Cinema, Visual Coders, luckily there are more and more and we can use something as analytical as the code not only for office applications.
I deal with sound as the most important source. The beats, the rhythm changes, the need to feel like when you dance. And I also use the frequency (FFT) waveform to vary the visual and create a much more direct synchrony. It is a resource. The beauty of creating your own tools with code is that you invent, for you, without others deciding on your creative possibilities.
Q: In the past edition of MicroMUTEK you were invited to participate with separate projects. Nikka with her latest project PANDEMIA where she proposed a look into the microcosm and the intricacies of the virus and the ability of these organisms to reproduce, mutate and spread. Alba you invited us to accompany you on your visual trip with Stendhal Syndrome who where presenting their new album “Winter Is Coming”. After that and also thanks to the ICAS network, you represented MUTEK.ES with “The Space In Between” at the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester for FutureEveryThing, and a few weeks ago at the INSOMNIA Festival in Tromsø, Norway , a small island located 300km above the Arctic Circle. How was the experience? What do you remember of these two performances?
N: What I remember most of these perfromances is the emotions generated in the public seeing our project. That excites me, the power of impacting with your art, allowing the emotions to flow through the public hearing and seeing THE SPACE IN BETWEEN.
A: Future Everything festival is one of the most comprehensive, risk-taking and professional festivals I have ever attended. Manchester is all musical history. I thoroughly enjoyed all the activities at the festival, particularly the great hosting with its respect for all artists alike, which is appreciated because sometimes you go to festivals and it´s like football, you feel that there are artists of First and Second Division. And of course, our performance was not the same as Amon Tobin, but that the organization treats you in the same way is an example for other festivals in which this doesn´t happen. Like in Tromsø. In Norway we felt that culture is fundamental. In a place as iconic as the cinema in which we performed, knowing that people committed decades to different ways of expression and to give citizens different proposals, I understood the how fundamental it is to have these festivals.
When someone tells you it is the most beautiful thing they have seen in their city it makes you a push forward, it’s worth it, when you are grateful and you who feel you should be thankful, there is a synergy, a responsibility to follow, when I look at Nikka and only through our eyes we can know that we are in the same wave, traveling around our inner worlds but hand to hand and communicating, when you do not want the performance to finish…. these festivals are what makes it all worthwhile. Besides the fortune and gratitude of exploring different cultures and ways of thinking… which in our country is currently being almost criminalized, deleted and tampered with.
Q: MUTEK has proposed you give another twist to this language among you, What are you thinking? Perhaps we will have something to say to your fans?
N: We want to continue with the same concept of The Space in Between, it is very important not to change, to continue generating a flow between Nikka and Alba, but we want to add more interactivity live and Nikka can interact in Alba´s visuals and Alba can generate interfering sound sensations on Nikka’s music. We also thought the audience with their emotions can also interact in the project, and generate a The Space in Between among all present.
A: We want a common space, to break the line between the public and ourselves, that is participatory, that is generative. We feel that if we do, why not join the public? Another wall that we break is the sound and visual disciplines. Visualize with sound and sound with visual .. . The energy between Nikka and me is very special, and we want to continue down that road and to continue seeing us up there on stage and feeling privileged and happy that we are doing what we like.