01. KMRU & Echium - Nascent
02. Lee Gamble - Balloon Lossy
03. Flora Yin Wong - Hanging a Thief
04. Aho Ssan - Intro
05. Sote - HSFT Side B
06. NKC - Strak
07. Gabber Modus Operandi - Jathilan Titan
08. Le Dom - Side Quest
09. Bambounou - La Sagrada
10. Lurka - Rhythm Hi-Tek
11. Tzusing & Hodge - LCD (Estoc's TFW Your Name is Written on the Ostrakon Remix)
12. trngs - I'm Too Sentient for My Own Wellbeing
13. Authentically Plastic - Sabula
14. DJ Stingray - Assassin
15. Leevisa - Three Shifts
16. Prettybwoy - Mikoshi (Pinch Remix)
17. Sonia Calico - Division by Zero (ft. Air Max 97)
The NTS resident Corin Ileto not only recorded a fresh podcast but is also on her way to Kaunas, Lithuania, to perform at a new festival called Optimismo. It’s a joint venture between Digital Tsunami, a fellow promoter team Ghia and the program of Kaunas - European Capital of Culture. The festival scheduled for June 3-5 is part of Modernism for the Future, a special branch dedicated to establishing new relationships with urban heritage. Corin seemed like a perfect choice for the event’s lineup - here’s why.
The Filipina-Australian electronic producer, composer and performer working in the field of performance art, sound design, theatre and club spaces, is interested in her cultural connections to the Philippines, her mother’s birthplace and the landscape connected to it. “I’ve already begun to hear how it is influencing my creative output. Over the next year, I hope to produce an entire album which explores this connection”, said Corin in her recent interview with 15 questions. We asked her some more questions about that while listening to her selection.
Were you part of the underground electronic music subculture in Australia when growing up? How would you say the teenage experiences and experiments influenced your current self?
I grew up in a few places - a few cities in Australia and also Singapore. I’m not sure if the music I listened to as a teenager is reflective of my practice as an artist. I would say though that as a teenager I always had a DIY spirit - which I think is pretty key to electronic production. At the time, I wasn’t deeply engaged with any particular underground music scene, I was too nerdy and a loner for that! Most of the time I was actually at home fiddling around on photoshop, working out how to use the program. Although I was always playing music in high school, and practicing classical piano (which I probably hated at the time) I was actually more interested in becoming a graphic designer. My interest in electronic music came a bit later in life.
Your first album was called MANIFEST and was called a tribute to cyberpunk. Can you elaborate on your relationship with the subculture?
I was mainly influenced by narratives in cyberpunk films and books, dystopic futures often in urban cities. These narratives informed the overall sound palette and also the CGI graphic visual show which was made by Tristan Jalleh. As a subculture I like the DIY, underground aesthetic of cyberpunk such as hacker culture. Also how it is often set in the near future - as a science fiction genre the themes are still relatable and relevant (such as globalisation, decaying urban infrastructures and also environment in general).
You are a NTS radio resident. What is the narrative of your monthly shows?
There are two main streams or narratives which I mix up throughout the year. I like to have regular club mixes with guest slots from local and international artists, mainly queer and POC. I was lucky enough to have one of my favourite DJ/producers Tygapaw (Dion Lee) as one of my first guest mixes back in 2020 when I started the show. Since then some of my international guests have included Imaabs (Chile), Sonia Calico (Taiwan), Animistic Beliefs (Netherlands), Scintii (China).
I’ve started another stream of mixes which I call my OST special. The first mix came from talented CGI visual artist/producer Lawrence Lek (Hyperdub). I realised that many of my favourite producers create music that have a cinematic quality or narrative structure that lends itself to music that could be in a film, video game or other art form. So I wanted to have shows that were based around their own soundtracks or the soundtracks that have inspired their artistic practice.
It’s been such a pleasure being to engage with so many talented producers, especially those overseas who I have been unable to connect with due to pandemic restriction over the past few years.
Being a show host is the same as being a constant researcher and discoverer. How do your discoveries of music and artists happen? What channels most often introduce you to music you like?
Yes I agree! Sometimes it’s happened quite organically, when I’m introduced to artists through playing shows here or overseas. But nowadays I tend to find most of my music through soundcloud and bandcamp, which have always been my go-to music sources. I tend to follow labels mainly rather than particular channels - a lot in South/Central America and East/South East Asia. There’s so many small labels out there that don’t get the attention they deserve.
You also work with theatre and other artistic spaces, how do you think your electronic music side influences other artistic projects, and vice-versa?
I used to think of my composition work and solo project as separate entities, but I’m finding them now to be even more interconnected. There is usually some crossover with the palette of sounds I’m developing at the time.
Most recently I composed an 8-channel surround sound composition for an experimental dance work by performance artist Angela Goh which premiered at the Sydney Opera House. I played alot with spatialisation at the time which I think informed a lot of the sound sources for my forthcoming album.
I’ve also done a lot of work with local artist Phasmahammer (Justin Shoulder). Phasmahammer is a performance artist based in Sydney, working with hand crafted costumes and prosthesis. I love how they create really immersive environments for their audience. The fantastical, organic nature of the work has definitely rubbed off onto my own music.
Does activism appear through your artistic mediums?
I don’t think my music implicitly has an activist element, but I do try to engage with community activism through the artists, labels that I support through my show and also through my engagements with particular collaborators, collectives and scenes. With my NTS show it’s been important to showcase a diverse range of artists, particularly POC and queer producers. I’m also really proud to part of a collective called Club Ate whose mission is to celebrate the queer pan pacific-asia diaspora, creating what they call their own form of future folklore. Their activities traverses video, performance and club events with an emphasis on community activation
As a music performer, you are on your own. In theatre and other art productions, you work with a team. Which is more convenient for you?
I enjoy being able to work in the theatre and have that dialogue and interaction with artists, especially artists from other mediums. It’s really interesting learning about their processes. At the same time, I do enjoy my alone time, working on my own productions. The best aspect of working on my own music is when I get to go on tour and finally perform my music, and meet other artists I admire - that engagement is really fulfilling for me. Especially after spending such a long time working alone on something.
Are you a full-time musician? What is the balance between freedom or limitations inside this way of life and work? How likely would you recommend this lifestyle to a friend?
At the moment, yes. It’s been challenging at times. My best advice would be to keep creating music every day even if it doesn’t have any purpose or end goal. I started doing that in lockdown and it really helped my creative practice, and exploring the meditational aspects of making music.
How did you start exploring your connections to the Philippines and the country's cultural heritage? Was it always an important part of your upbringing or did it come later in your life?
My dad is an academic, specialising in the history of the Philippines - so I guess my connection was always present since I was younger. In terms of music, I’m still figuring out how I would like to incorporate my cultural connections into my music. I started doing a project with Nusasonic led by Khyam Allami that explores South East Asian tuning systems and how to use particular music programs to interpret and use these tunings in my own compositions. It’s exciting new territory but I think it will really inform some of my future releases.
Since in the age of social media, visual and audio culture are strongly intertwined, are you creating your own stylistic image? How do you see the importance of having a signature look?
I’m not sure if I would say I have a signature look, it’s definitely changed over the years in tandem with how my music has changed stylistically. I think it’s great for musicians to think of the whole packaging of their music, including the visual aesthetic. At the same time it’s good to not let that aspect dictate or overtake the music itself.
In one way or another, collaborations with visual artists, fashion and graphic designers, always happen together with live performances or music releases. Would be very curious to hear which ones do you trust, love working with?
My main collaborator I’ve enjoyed working with has always been visual artist and director Tristan Jalleh. He has created all my music videos and also the live AV show for my last album. I’ve also enjoyed working with Wei Huang, a really talented local typographer. He did the the artwork and design for my ambient album Araw, and also is currently working on the design for my upcoming album.
How does the urban landscape influence your perception of sound? Do different cities leave different sonic prints inside you?
For sure. I think my music always has elements of textural industrial sounds. I like to think about the urban spaces I’ve inhabited and visited but also mythical urban spaces that don’t exist yet.
Travelling has become hard in the past two years; how do you cope with the lack of it? Do you have special rituals that maybe bring you to places you visited before?
Yes, that was really unfortunate, especially as touring is one of the main aspects that really brings me joy as a musician. Sometimes I would listen to music from artists I’ve met on tour or places I’ve toured before. I remember at the beginning of lockdown in 2020 I made a playlist for Currents that was sequentially ordered according to the places that I visited and the producers I met in 2019. That was actually a really nice activity for me to do at the time, a sequential sonic memory of the places I’ve visited and songs/musicians that informed that experience.
Your work has been performed in iconic locations such as the Sydney Opera House. How important is architecture for you? Do you have time to reflect on it when working on a specific art project?
Since working on commissioned projects for performance artists, I’ve been able to think more deeply about the spatialisation of sound and designing for specific architecture, mainly thinking specifically about the interior of the space in which the performance is happening.
What parts of modern culture makes you feel optimistic?
I’m optimistic about our capacity for mobilisation and change.
Finally, please tell us more about the mix you put together for us.
The mix is a selection of club music from artists from around the world that I like including Authentically Plastic (Uganda), Sote (Iran), Leevisa (South Korea), Sonia Calico (Taiwan) and Gabber Modus Operandi (Indonesia). Starts off with a mix of ambient, noise, techno, industrial, EBM and goes off into a bit of drum & bass, footwork territory. Hope you enjoy.