The Monthly talks to Spoken Word DJ and International Sound Installation Artist – Lisa Greenaway – (Part 2)

Part one of this interview can be found here

You have so many strings to your bow but you have moved recently to large scale sound installations. Why did you make that move?

I’ve worked with spoken word artists, I coedited the magazine Going Down Swinging and created my radio show/podcast, La Danza Poetica.

I got to a point where I was asking myself, and this was during a period where I was doing my radio show and my DJ sets, how do I explain to people what it is that I do.

I was getting very frustrated trying to get across the idea that I needed people to listen. That listening to the material mattered. It wasn’t just background noise.

How does that situation change?

A friend of mine, a video artist, offered me an opportunity to do the sound for an installation for White Night Melbourne, the installation was called “Ideation” and this was in the domed reading room in the State Library in Melbourne. That room, the La Trobe Reading Room, is amazing; it’s a huge room with 10 seconds of reverb. That really shifted my perspective. I loved working with the space and working around architecture and that set me on another trajectory.

I have presented three installations in that space and I have found that there is a sense of Theatre about that work; in some ways it is as if I had returned to the theatre, or perhaps working this way has allowed a theatrical approach to develop in order to present material in these spaces.

You ended up in Athens?

I have always been interested in active listening. I spent a fair bit of time reading about deep listening and sound healing and various other things. I was invited to undertake a residency in Budapest working with the 4DSOUND system. From there I performed work created in Budapest in Athens in 2018.

How do you feel about the work you are creating now?

For me there is a transformative element to the work I am doing now. It would take a fair while to explain what I ended up doing in Budapest; so briefly, I worked in an immersive space, there were 6 story tellers telling the same story in 6 different dialects. The space I was working in was designed to elevate the sound.

The Athens show was developed using the 4DSOUND System. I played with sounds that were recorded in Greece originally, I added sounds which were recorded in Budapest. I also added in elements of a DJ set. The theme was around the idea of trust.

Has this shift fused everything together?

I think that is a reasonable thing to say. I feel now that everything has come together to allow me to work on the installations. I still intend to do La Danza Poetica and I will produce my own material. I would like to do more work with the 4DSOUND System which is very inspiring.

Is there an underlying theme which guides your work?

There is always a theme guiding my work. The voices of women matter to me, the voices of people who rarely get a voice matter to me. Above all I want to encourage people to listen.

All the political elements are connected, I have been an environmental activist, questions of racism, sexism various other issues concern me and as I said, I start with the idea of encouraging people to listen.

How do you get your material out to the public?

Social media has been very useful for me. I am able to connect with many people all around the world.

I search the internet for material for my radio shows and DJ sets. I work with people who I have met through social media.

There are some downsides though; given the amount of material available it can be very difficult to promote what you are doing. I hope that what I do can reach people and get them to stop and take some time and listen to the sounds.

What is next for you?

I am excited about a project in February working with a Yamaha Spatial Sound System. I have completed a soundscape which is being played at the gardens in Melbourne. I have been, through that work, invited to work on a performance in February.

My set will combine music, sounds, field recordings and my own text. I am working on that project now, and the rest of the year will be working on my Masters.

I will be working on soundscapes and spatial sound projects.

Do you see yourself as an Australian or an international artist?

I am Australian, and I have been shaped here but I wouldn’t want to limit myself by expressing that. I really do want to connect with stories and storytellers from around the world.

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