Kelly Moran remembers her eureka moment like it was yesterday. It was a balmy afternoon last summer, down in the woods near her childhood home on Long Island. “I was squatted down in the forest, listening to the sounds of the wind and the wildlife, and all the echoes surrounding me,” Moran recalls. “I asked myself: How can I make music that feels like this: natural, connected, and effortless?” At the time of her epiphany, Moran had spent the better part of her career immersed in the painstaking, pedagogical praxis modern composition: a journey that, however personally and creatively rewarding, had come to an impasse. Her only way forward was to bottle up her stream of consciousness and boldly sail beyond her own boundaries. Such are the origins of Ultraviolet, Moran’s Warp Records debut.
1: Yuzuru Hanyu made history at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics becoming the first two time Olympics Champion in Figure Skating since 1958. (He won his first title in 2014 Sochi Olympics.)
2: Bees can see Ultraviolet light, which is why they are most attracted to the colors purple, violet and blue.
3: The Kon-Tiki expedition was a journey across the Pacific ocean in 1947 that was led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. The vessel was comprised mainly of balsa tree trunks, and the voyage set out to prove the migration theory that people in South America could have settled in Polynesia by using simple vessels that were carried west through the Pacific ocean by the Humbolt current.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Nature; automatism; trying to make a sound I’ve never made before.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I saw someone play piano on TV when I was 6 and asked my parents for one.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Tori Amos - Boys for Pele Kayo Dot - Choirs of the Eye Tim Hecker - Haunt me, Haunt me, Do it Again Smashing Pumpkins - Adore Future - DS2
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Unfortunately, the only time I’ve been to Berlin I was extremely sick from prior travels and couldn’t really leave my hotel room when I wasn’t performing. The thing I most associate with Berlin is laying in my hotel bed feeling like death while watching skating on my laptop…but I hope my association changes the next time I come to perform there!!
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
The nature preserve and the ice rink.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I would be an athlete - probably a figure skater. Or a pastry chef because I am great at baking and enjoy the precision involved in the process. But definitely figure skating first because it combines the most extreme extents of one’s athletic and artistic capabilities. Then I would retire and bake things.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Silent Servant - Shadows of Death and Desire
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Anyone who will gently force me out of my comfort zone
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
As a spectator - seeing the dance company Chunky Move perform their production “Connected”. Over the course of the first act, the dancers gradually built an incredible kinetic sculpture that they later both control with their body movements and interact with in different ways. It’s a really heavy and emotional show, I went to go see it twice because I couldn’t let go of it after I saw it for the first time. As a performer - it was probably when I did a small, private show in London last summer at the Erased Tapes Gallery where I performed on the Una Corda piano. It wasn’t my biggest show or my most technologically complex, but it was such a unique experience getting to play that instrument since it’s a rare kind of piano with only one string per note. It was so different playing my music on it and I responded quite differently to the Una Corda than I do to typical pianos, so it brought out a different side of my playing. I just remember feeling completely confident and focused for the whole performance.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
It’s very important. I rely on it as an organizational tool and a way to manipulate ideas. What I am most interested in is using technology to achieve sounds that aren’t possible in real life. I have built many custom sample libraries from recording extended techniques on piano (plucking/muting/e-bowing the strings, etc.) Mapping these samples to a MIDI sampler allows me to play these sounds faster than I am able to in real life, which opens up infinite more musical possibilities!
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I prefer not to answer this question.
Kelly Moran gives her Berlin debut at the Kiezsalon on Wednesday, 27th March 2019! Photo © Timothy Saccenti