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Q&A with audio collective FÜNF

photo: Erin Sexton
FÜNF is a collective formed in 2011 that, thus far includes 6 Montreal based musicians who create sound with a myriad of handmade instruments, modified sound makers, repurposed motors, found objects, and obsolete technologies. The collective performs as a quintet, which is reflected in the FÜNF name. The members of the collective are Magali Babin, Andrea-Jane Cornell, Martine H. Crispo, Anne-Francoise Jacques, Émilie Mouchous, and Erin Sexton. 
After seeing their performance at Mutek 2013, I wanted to find out more about their approach to live electronic sound making as a collective. Andrea-Jane Cornell (AJ) and Erin Sexton (ES) were kind enough to answer some of my questions over email.
You've collaborated together in the past in different configurations - how do your individual approaches to sound complement each other when playing together? Are there new directions that emerge when you play together?
ES:  ça change tout les temps, c'est de improvisation.  We all have our "comfort zones" with sound, our habits, our inner structures.... but things get very interesting when we are challenged to open up, to explore unfamiliar territories...  to be uncomfortable, to be overwhelmed, to be put on the spot...  it is a great personal challenge to work in a group of 5 highly experienced experimental musicians, but this dynamic tension can create a very rich experience for the listener, and is very exciting and rewarding for us as well.
AJ:  The degrees of separation between the different members of the collective are really interesting and so it means that there are preexisting collaborative experiences that sometime some into play when two frequent collaborators are engaged in a duet within a composition. I think that we each bring a different aesthetic to the table. We are all improvisers, with a distinct sound, thought here are moments when we are all playing simultaneously where we mistake someone else's sound for our own and vice versa. I think that we are all being challenged , stimulated and are collectively pushing each other to explore a range of  approaches to group improvisation that fall beyond the methods of our regular practices. We arrive at our compositions by doing improvisation exercises,  freetime-based exploratory jams and working with graphic scores, but ultimately we use our ears and take note of things that work well, and compositional elements and interecations that we need to work on to make the group stronger as a whole. 
What are your relationships to the physical materials and devices that you use to generate sound? How important are they to the performance?
ES:  art, sound, and electronics are a way for me to create more complex and meaningful feedback loops with the physical world... to have a more direct and embodied experience of the cosmos.  performance for me is about patience and trying to be completely in the moment, dissolving my subjectivity to create a link between my experience and that of the audience.
AJ: I suppose it is hard to build a relationship to a rubber band, or broken piece from a snare drum... i'm not super fetishistic about gear, i"ll work with what I can get my hands on. I don't think my choices of instrumentation are based on the physical materials or devices themselves, but more on they kinds of sounds they inspire me to eke out of them through amplification and processing.  I have a penchant for sustained and or cyclical sounds that have a short attack, long sustain and long decay, so i seek out processors that enable me to extend the sounds I am generating in this way. 
Can you tell me about the video element of your Mutek performance? 
ES:  i was working with a microscope video camera, complicating scale and perspective, bringing the audience intensively closer to the objects we were working with live. 
Are there future projects or performances lined up for FÜNF?
ES: yes :) 
AJ : FÜNF (with: Magali, Andrea-Jane, Martine, Émilie and Erin) is scheduled to play at the tenth edition of the  AKOUSMA festival  on the 23rd of October at L'Usine C at 10pm. There is also something in the works for us to be giving a performance during Temps d'image in the spring of 2014. 

FÜNF on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ffunff 


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