The World Looks New (work in progress)

This flute and guitar duo is based on Alana Dugandzic's experience with cancer. It will be premiered at the Brushes with Cancer event in Austin on October 20th, 2019 with guitarist Leah Mosier.

Soundtrack to a Seashell (2018)

Soundtrack to a Seashell is a hybrid of a spoken word poem by Christopher Michael and music composed by me. It was premiered in video form at the Translating Frequencies event for which it was written on May 19th, 2018. 


I was given this poem and 2 weeks to create something based on it. Rather than a direct collaboration, this was an exercise in making connections. I had to figure out what Christopher’s words meant to me - and we had grown up in very different circumstances, so at first it felt difficult. I pulled out two key ideas to illustrate that I felt were universally relevant:

1. "the ability to recognize beauty in what appears to be ugly, or mundane”

2. "the creative power of the individual to manifest change."

The song illustrates key ideas in the poem, chiefly these two: "the ability to recognize beauty in what appears to be ugly, or mundane," and "the creative power of the individual to manifest change."

 

The song uses flute, voice, and a few other miscellaneous instruments, in the style of a symphonic poem or film score. The sounds of seagulls are mimicked with a loon call that I picked up at a farmer's market in Alberta. The shape and details of the song were molded to the words of the poem. 

Translating Frequencies is an artistic telephone game - sculptors, painters, musicians, muralists, spoken word artists and more carried a thread of inspiration through the influence of the work created directly prior to them in the order of artists.

 

Florine's Flight (2018)

Pains 

I composed the music for this collaboration led by costume technologist Marika Wynne between summer 2017 and spring 2018. Florine’s Flight is an original dance film that follows the psychological journey and self-actualization of a princess trapped in a tower (from The Bluebird, a fairy tale written by Madame d’Aulnoy in 1697). In its original telling, the male protagonist gets the most “screen time” as he endeavors to visit and save her.

I started out with a small role in this project - I was supposed to record a pre-written piece of flute music. However, the artistic director was open to a more creative retelling, which led to my role as a design facilitator and composer for the film. and I found it vexing that a team of mostly women was retelling a helpless princess story, so I proposed we use the research we had done on the original text to identify what important themes we could use to send a more relevant message for women today. I guided the artistic director and choreographer through an exercise to uncover possible messages, and converge on one we all felt was meaningful to share.

 

We decided to follow the princess’s psychological journey, thereby highlighting her agency, which we hoped would be relatable to others feeling “trapped” by their circumstances.
To depict the psychological journey, I worked with the project lead to define the states the protagonist would move through. We went through a few iterations, as I wrote music for the sections, the dancer/choreographer mapped some movements to them, and we found out what worked and what was more of a stretch to fit together. We ended up with:

         1. Solitude (fear, cold, loneliness, emptiness → resoluteness, courage, exploration)

2. Visitors (trepidation, strangeness, courtship, instability)

3. Self-discovery

4. Self-actualization (confidence, freedom, bittersweet reflection)

 

I composed the music to meet both the artistic vision of the project lead and match the movement style of the dancer/choreographer. This led to some interesting conflicts of needs and necessary iteration - for example, the section from 2:24-4:04 (Visitors) was originally a sweet love song, but it did not play to the dancer’s strengths as an experimental-contemporary specialist! So I reworked it to invoke more strangeness and halting sensations, which also worked well with the story’s narrative.

Flute and Marimba songs (2016)

Percussionist Nathan Smith and I co-wrote two tunes in 2016 while we were both living in Austin. So far they only exist as these videos - we've never performed them live!

Third Imbrication for Flute and Marimba

Flute and Guitar songs (2014-2015)

Five flute and guitar works came out of collaborations with Mexican classical guitarist Ana Fernandez and indie singer-songwriter Leah Mosier. There isn't any sheet music for any of these yet, but let me know if you want it and we can make it happen!

Hold It Up to the Sun (2014-2015)

Hold It Up To The Sun is about discovery, creativity, and looking at everything in a new light. 

LOOPS EP NOTES

I was heavily inspired by the minimalist and profound cello layering of Zoë Keating - I wanted to evoke lots of emotion with simple sounds, sort of like when you smell a scent that triggers a vivid memory from your past or childhood. Most of the songs are narrative, since I tend to write by imagining a story first and then a melody and then what will back it up.

Song stories:

Nervous Song: when I moved back to Austin from Barcelona in 2013, most of my friends from grad school in Austin had moved away. I wanted to make new friends, and although I consider myself a pretty outgoing person, it still made me anxious, so I wrote this kind of comedy-performance piece about how I couldn't decide how to present myself to a new person. It usually lasted about 7 minutes, and it would end differently depending on the mood I was in the day of the performance. It was only in the studio in May 2015 that it was condensed into its concise, EP-track form.

Neverland: it started out as an untitled improvisation based on the two basic sections of the piece, the ethereal chorus and the jazzy beatbox groove. It didn't reach its final form until a year and a half after I started performing it as "structured improv #1!"

The Rifleman was written after the spirit of my daring, hilarious and adventurous uncle, Luke Slottow. I struggled for weeks trying to write something that would capture his immense love of life, exhilaration, and the outdoors, but it was only in the last few hours before I was to play at his memorial service that the melodies and sounds came together. A Moment of Silence was written for my grandfather. It is the first sad song I have ever written, but someday I hope to be able to harness more of the power of all my emotions into music (not just optimism!).

DANCE EP NOTES

These songs were inspired by F-Zero racing in my childhood, dubstep violinist Lindsey Stirling, and the blue alien Diva Dance from the Fifth Element.  This EP brings the energy, driving beat and dynamics that I love in dance music, combined with the soaring melodic voice of the flute. There are no lyrics to distract you, and your imagination is your guide through the cinematic universe.

 

Song stories:

In 2013, the idea was planted in my head that you could play a classical instrument with electronic backing and make it into something you'd want to dance the night away to. I've always loved dancing and was thrilled by the idea, so I started writing out some florid flute melodies and a grooving flute bass line. I was living in Barcelona at the time, and got together with a producer there to turn my two melodies into fully developed songs. While the song was still in development, I filmed a music video of For Harriet, since my idea for the story was more fully formed than the melodies that would fit into the song structure! After I moved back to the US (Austin, TX) we continued working together over Skype until the songs were finished.

Demon Dance was born out of a feature film idea that never got finished. The director had seen me play at an open mic and asked if I would write something for his campy Halloween comedy. The song was supposed to illustrate the moment when, at a big Halloween party, the clock struck midnight and dozens of demons revealed themselves and ate all the humans. So I teamed up with Chris Gowin to create some dirty beats and a flute line as erratic and crazed as I could imagine. With the film unfinished, I turned to my dance collaborator Yuki Ishiguro to work out a new storyline. He heard the song as a tale of the legendary Japanese demon master "En no Odunu" and his two demon servants, Zenki and Kouki, and we've been performing it that way ever since.

© 2018 Kenzie Slottow