Zosia Hołubowska

Oramics / 10 Feb 2019

Queer sound artist, musician, and a music activist. Their experimentations are oriented toward “queering” electronic, and re-imagining archives through soundscapes, performances, and installations. Currently student of Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag.

1. Do you remember the moment when you became interested in the technology/gear that you work with now? How did you follow that path? Please tell us a little bit about what you do.

A long time ago I watched a video of Imogen Heap, who based her entire composition on loops. That really shaped my thinking about composition. And although the gear I am using and technology that attracts me have since changed, this thinking in categories of arranging phrases stuck with me. What fascinates me in electronic music is independence from other band members, from music theory and conventions. One person with one keyboard can do anything. I am working with sound performance and I build sound installations that research on queer as a methodology in creating sound. Does queer have a sound? What does queer approach in music mean? In practical terms, I seat in the corner and mix Slavic magic, synthesizers, and queer. I’m doing a Ph.D. on it at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and I am studying sonology at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag. I founded Sounds Queer? a flying synthesizer laboratory, I’m a part of Oramics. I perform solo as Mala Herba.

2. Have you ever had to tackle stereotypes in your head? Women very often say that in the beginning they had to fight with the inner conviction that gear is not for women. How can you deal with such a blockade?

My problem is more the class and small-time origin. Until I was 27 I was telling myself that I am not good enough. In Polish we say: “this doorstep is too high for the goat”. I think in this patriarchal order there’s no place for girls to make mistakes. If you are trying something out for the first time, it has to work out perfectly, otherwise, it means that you’re not good for it. BS! The first 10 beats you make will be shit. The 11th one will be ok. And the 100th one will be great. So let’s give each other support, tenderness, and patience.

3. What’s your current obsession, what are focused on during your work?

Currently, I am exploring coding (Super Collider, Max MSP and Pure Data) and composing the sound from scratch. I am trying to understand randomness spread and composing using probabilities (how often something in the given composition can occur).

4. What was the biggest inspiration for your work in 2018?

Networking. Sharing. Girlfriends power and helping each other.

5. What was the biggest obstacle or lesson in 2018 and how did you handle it?

Success propaganda in social media. There isn’t a day without me falling me into the hole of comparing myself to others and that leads to nowhere. I am torturing myself and cranking up the tempo until nervous breakdown threshold. And as an artist, I am dealing with a huge amount of rejections, refusals, lack of funding and scholarships, generally lack of money to pay the rent and so on. So I am planning to do less and smaller projects and not drain myself. You can make art with a Casio and sharpies, you do not need 100 monitors and lasers.

6. What advice would you give to women who would like to follow a similar professional/artistic path as you? How to get started? Who to talk to? Where to get familiar with the gear?

Go to a workshop, find an online platform that supports people with similar interests (production, DJing, composing). People affiliated with these platforms are waiting for you and will very gladly share their knowledge. Be careful with YT because it’s full of dudes who show off and sponsored content. I am recommending projects like Oramics Lab, Sounds Queer (Vienna, Synth Library (Prague), Who can become a producer (Malmo), Sounds School (Melbourne) and online groups Female Pressure, Femdex, Womb, Synth Babes etc!

Interview led by Justyna Banaszczyk in December 2018