Inside Celestial Spaces With Amosphère

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On Amosphère’s debut, More Die of Heartbreak (更多的人死于心碎), small sound fragments carry a mountain of weight. Born in China, partially educated in Japan, and now living in France, Amosphère is a multidisciplinary artist who brings listeners into an intimate, warm space and gently presses them into meditative states with waves of sound. Her work is expressive and inviting, but with the complex emotional subtexts woven throughout, it can also be challenging. These multifaceted aspects of her work kept me coming back for repeated investigations and each subsequent listen revealed a little bit more.

I interviewed Amosphère in March through email. More Die of Heartbreak (更多的人死于心碎) is out now via 33-33.

To start I’d like to ask about your early memories and experiences with music and sound. What songs or sounds really caught your attention when you were young and made you feel something different, or something that’s stuck with you ever since?

Since our memories are recorded in our bodies, I would say some music and sound could be found inside me during my mom’s pregnancy. During that period my parents went to concerts (rare concerts as there were rarely cultural events in my hometown), listened to classical and rap, I guess also sounds from their daily life and sounds of the amniotic fluid environment. 

What inspired you to learn to play music yourself and start composing your own works?

My mom brought me to my piano teacher’s place when I was 6 years old and those piano lessons continued once a week over the next 10 years. As I am an only child, my mom wished that music would become my soulmate. After discovering contemporary synthesizers and playing noises with groups in Osaka, I discovered more analog synthesizers here in France and started writing more compositions, first in groups, then solo, especially when I was an art school student. 

Photo by Rebekka Deubner

How did you become interested in electronic synthesis? 

My dad used to be a self-taught musician of keyboards, saxophone, guitar, and flute. He works as an engineer, had a collection of different machines, and offered me some gifts like toy cars, toy machines, and toy keyboards when I was a little girl. Then naturally in parallel with my piano lessons, I started digging into synthesizers quite early, but also continued hanging out with friends with similar interests in Japan, then later in France. 

You were born in China and lived in Japan for a time and now live in Paris. What have those different experiences brought to your creative practice? 

Including a six months’ experience of my Master’s study in London too, after a lot of traveling and moving in different cultural environments, it has been a long journey to find my own freedom of expression and of my own identity which my hometown didn’t allow me to do. It is a spiritual journey of one’s own rather than any creative process. I would say that I’m still on this journey as I’m still very curious to discover other cultures and environments. 

You played at the 2019 MODE exchange that was curated by Laurel Halo. How did that come about and what impact has it had on your work? 

In the summer of 2019, I participated in a composition workshop on electronic music led by Laurel Halo organized by Camp in the French Pyrenees. I was not confident enough about my work but Laurel has encouraged me a lot. Later, I received an invitation from 33-33, who organized the festival and signed me as their artist afterward. It offered me an opportunity to reach a larger audience and to release my first debut full-length on the 33-33 Label. 

So one of the things that really caught my attention while listening to your debut, More Die of Heartbreak, is the restraint in your music. There’s a real patience to let the pieces unfold in the time and space they need which kept drawing me deeper and pulling me into an almost meditative state. How important is it in your practice to use that restraint and let this music unfold at its own speed? 

Thank you, it is beautifully described as an unfolding action in time and space. It could have been much more pure and poetic but I do relate the restraint as a reflection of the education in school during my youth which does not let you be yourself and be free. It is probably also related to the practice of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy in everyday life, and for me, the stretching of time and space and the restraint are not the opposite but part of the freedom. 

The title track on the album has a heavy emotional undercurrent to it, at least as I listen to it… the way you shape the tone of the synth and the chord progressions lend themselves to this solemn feeling. In what ways do you try to weave emotions into your work and how does your music work as an extension of the way you are feeling as you’re composing? 

The title has its tendency to research the truth, and truth is quite often on the darker side of our knowledge. Sometimes I also personally get some happy and light feelings by listening to my own compositions. It is much more about moods or atmospheres rather than heavy emotions. A certain time at a certain space, certain people, certain living creatures, certain planets that influence us on earth from the universe. It’s all that revelation of things known and unknown, messages that have been transferred through me to the world. 

You worked with Marion Porquier on bassoon and Alberto Cavallaro on alto saxophone for “Celestial” and the interplay between their woodwinds and your synths creates an intriguing dissonance, almost like being suspended in some alien space. What was the experience like working with them and how did the piece come together? 

“Celestial” was an improvised graphic music score that I drew with colored circles when I was at art school, a course with my teacher Jérôme Combier who works for IRCAM also as the conductor of Ensemble Cairn, this gave me that opportunity to work with Marion and Alberto from the conservatory. They were not used to interpreting minimal work. The multiphonies of woodwinds combine well with the electronic organ. 

I find your work to be very transportive like it takes listeners into new worlds and places where reality is suspended for at least a short period of time. How do you think about the transportive power of music and sound and how do you try to bring that to your music? 

I do believe in the transportive power, telepathic communication, and especially the psycho-physical effects of music and sound to our bodies and minds. Music happens to be one of the most ancient forms of therapy to cure our melancholy. It probably depends on the sensitivities of each individual, more or less receptive, but I do hope that my music could bring people to an outer space where all pains are forgotten, at least for a while. ‘But everything lasts just for a while, probably eternity itself,’ wrote Etel Adnan. 

Photo by Rebekka Deubner

What has been the most challenging part of getting the album finished and out into the world? 

It always has been difficult for me to say, that’s it and it’s good enough. Maybe I used to lack confidence in my work and my compositions, but having doubts is necessary and leads to more progress. I remember in a documentary about Agnes Martin where she said because she was not responsible anymore, the most relaxing moment is to see her painting going out from her house to the world. 

What’s coming up next for you? 

Now I’m binding books of my scores, working on a meditative performance/installation, a second album, and some residency projects. 

And very important, I’m working on becoming a therapist to help people with their healing process.

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