Originally from Toronto but now based in Montréal, the producer/sound artist known as Bénédicte specializes in crafting deeply affective aural environments using voice, field recordings and electronics.
For her new album When It Binds, arriving Feb. 26 on NY producer FaltyDL’s Blueberry Records label, Bénédicte takes an improvisational, abstract approach to sound design and vocal processing. This is not to say that the tracks on the album are entirely spontaneous or lack structure, but rather that Bénédicte creates intuitively, remaining open to contingency in her process and allowing for moods, feelings and imagery to flow naturally.
It makes sense then that When It Binds is publicized as a “personal exploration of emotional connection” and a sonic interpretation of “ever-changing emotional shifts.” Just as the intersubjective space is perpetually in flux, so too are Bénédicte’s patiently unravelling sound-scapes. We hear this most notably on the track “Drift” – a collaboration with Brooklyn-based artist XGLARE – wherein crystalline ambient textures are refracted through weightless vocal vapours and crisp, off-kilter percussion.
Bénédicte has been steadily honing her craft for several years and When It Binds is the sound of an artist fully coming into her own. At a time when immediacy and ceaseless productivity are being imposed onto artists (unfairly, might I add) as ‘new industry standards,’ it’s refreshing to hear a work that comes from a place of organic feeling, composed methodically without concern for external pressures.
SBVRSV director hologryphic recently spoke to Bénédicte about her creative process on the new album. Read below.
This release has been in the works for about 3 years, how did the tracks evolve over time?
It’s been an interesting progression! I think most of the songs on the EP were written in 2019 or 2020 but ‘Fall On Me’ has existed since 2017. Basically, I wrote a lot of music in the past few years and was working with Drew (FaltyDL) to choose tracks that would make up a cohesive EP. A lot of songs didn’t make the cut but then at the end of 2019 and early 2020 I wrote a lot of tracks really fast and they just kind of felt right to me. I think as I’ve grown as a musician and producer and got more confident in my artistic voice things just fell into place.
Lately there seems to be more and more pressure on artists to release music as often as possible to maintain relevance on social media and streaming platforms yet you do not seem to take this approach. Do you feel that patience is a virtue when it comes to releasing music?
This is a difficult question to answer but personally I don’t think there needs to be a rush. I’d much rather take time and actually release something I’m really proud of than force it for the sake of having something released. This is the first collection of music I’m really proud of and really took my time working on. On the other hand, I think I’d like to release my next record a little faster – not really from a business standpoint but just from my own impatience! This record in a lot of ways has been me learning the ropes and working with a bigger label. Now that I’ve had this experience and I know more about how things work I’m ready for the next one!
You’ve stated that this is a very emotional and personal record, how is this reflected in the music? Are there particular life experiences that informed your creative process?
“Often when I’m writing music I improvise with a melody or some sort of chord progression. Usually I’ll only want to continue working on a song if I feel like it has some emotional resonance with me and often it just happens to reflect my current mood. I think in the past few years I’ve met a lot of amazing people who I’ve been through a lot with. I think this record is me, sometimes subconsciously, trying to understand and meditate over these relationships sonically and abstractly.”
Vocal improvisation/experimentation is a central feature of this record, what interests you about the human voice?
I think the human voice is one of the most evocative instruments we have. I mean anyone can sing and now with autotune and audio effects you can transform vocals in any way you want. I often use my voice to sketch out melodies and then transform the notes into MIDI or something else so it’s tied deeply to my music.
On previous releases you employed vocals in a more traditional manner, what prompted you to adopt a more abstracted vocal approach on When it Binds?
I think now with my music I’m interested in creating more of a mood with the sound but still keeping it open to interpretation. In some ways lyrics are very direct and can tell the listener maybe too much. Right now I’d rather people bring their own thoughts and feelings to the songs – their own experiences can be the lyrics.
When It Binds is out 26/02/21 on Blueberry Records. Pre-order it here.