Laura Misch: 'I became more interested in field recording and deep listening'

From a hotel in Berlin, Laura Misch is reflecting on a “whirlwindy” European tour which has taken her across 10 European countries in the space of a fortnight – with three more in Scandinavia to come.
Laura Misch. Picture: Ella PavlidesLaura Misch. Picture: Ella Pavlides
Laura Misch. Picture: Ella Pavlides

“It’s so rewarding to actually get to play to people and for the music to evolve,” says the 31-year-old saxophonist, singer and producer from south-east London, adding that her live show might be “similar” to her debut album Sample The Sky, but it has “a different energy”. “It’s fun and it feels like it has a momentum,” she says.

This month she’ll be touring the UK – including Leeds – with financial assistance from the PPL Momentum fund. Their support, she says, has “meant everything”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s such a tough time for arts funding, so getting any funding right now you feel incredibly grateful. There are two musicians I play with (Marysia Osu on harp and Tomáš Kašpar on guitar) and it means we can do the show we want to do.”

Having started out as part of the “bedroom producer scene”, utilising a laptop on her earlier EPs, Misch embraced new practices while making Sample The Sky. “I felt like I was too inside the laptop and so disconnected from my environment and also the source of sound because often you’re searching for samples of things online,” she says. “It’s an incredible way to collect and discover sounds but it can be quite disconnecting.

“I guess I became more interested in sources of sound that are tangible, which have a history and a connection to my physical life and surroundings. That combined with the pandemic times, where the few times you got to leave London was on a trip to Kent or Brighton was really magical, and the expanse of real space was more and more inspiring.

“Increasingly I became more interested in field recording in a classic sense of capturing sound, but also deep listening, and that’s where discovering the work of Pauline Oliveiros and others came in. I also saw the Sisters With Transistors film (about the likes of Wendy Carlos, Delia Derbyshire and Suzanne Ciani) and that was really inspiring.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The music on the album was not only “inspired by nature” but also “pop song structures”. “It’s not an ambient field recording record; I wanted there to be story-telling and I wanted there to be expansion in terms of choruses and mantras. All the ways throughout the history of music that have been devised to compose, I wanted to draw upon all of that, but try to weave in this influence that I’d found from people like Pauline Oliveiros, Annea Lockwood and others, this daily practice of deep listening and how you move through the world in relation to sound and composition, rather than having the final piece be an exact translation of some of those philosophies.”

Woven into Misch’s saxophone loops and singing are the sounds of nature, from a field recording made inside a tree to winds sounds “that are layered into the percussion”. The song Synthesis was inspired by aeolian sounds and birdsong.

“There’s also a large portion of the record that was recorded in a studio, so it has got a sculpted-ness to it,” she says.

Laura Misch plays at The Wardrobe, Leeds on December 5.

Related topics: