Soundscapes between contemporary and classic, abstract and identifiable
Ein Interview with Atte Kantonen
CHAMÄLEON Theater: Hello Atte, thank you for taking the time for an interview with us. For starters, please tell us a little bit about yourself. Atte Kantonen: I am a sound designer, composer and sonic artist from Helsinki, Finland. I am finishing a master's degree in Sound Design in University of the Arts Helsinki this coming spring, but have worked professionally for the past five years. I work mostly quite broadly on the field of performing arts but also do occasional installation works and compose experimental music. Was it working with collaborative efforts or doing solo work – the underlining precept for myself is that sound is a process.
Do you have projects that you're particularly proud of? I find it quite hard to pinpoint specific projects as I feel like every project has it's own unique qualities that I tend to feel proud of. It is not necessarily something that I have brought to the table or how I have succeeded myself, but the always so fascinating and rewarding notion that somehow all the creative minds and the creative efforts result in something surprising and beautiful. When a piece comes together it feels as if it is this luminous moon rock that shines beautifully by itself but consists of different unique minerals that themselves are quite extraordinary and together give it it's glistening form.
What's your history with Circo Aereo and how did you join this project? I started working with Circo Aereo in 2017, doing part of the music and sound design for a show called The Artist. Afterwards I have toured with the show quite extensively and did a show with Maksim in 2018. Working with the company and the wonderful people affiliated with it has been very pleasant and I was obviously delighted and excited when Maksim asked me to do the sound design for in_between.
Could you describe your work process? My work process is quite ever-evolving and depends a lot on the project. For circus shows, it usually consists of hoarding reference material, playing it in early stages with the performers rehearsing and monitoring which kind of moods, soundscapes, dynamics or linear structures seem to fit with the events and movements that they're creating. Sometimes there might be an existing composition that fits a certain scene so well that it's used and then it's more of finding ways to process and include it in to fit the flow of the show. Then, if the scene needs an original composition I tend to start working on it by creating kind of a "skeleton" so that the performer can start using it as a reference and then working on the composition and it's structure as the scene develops.
In a project like in_between, so many individuals make up the creative team and so many different voices come together. How do you work together with Maksim, the acrobats, other designers or musicians for this project? For me, it was quite extraordinary and super fun as the project boasts so much talent and unique abilities from the performers and designers alike and I feel like every scene is kind of it's own little show that was exciting to decorate aurally. With Maksim – he might have quite out-of-the-box references which I usually find very intriguing. We also have usually quite forward discussion about certain details in sounds or the music that fit the concept of the scenes. I enjoy the dynamics of the process – on the other hand it gives me a lot of freedom but at the same time valuable input from another perspective and one that's looking at the concept extensively as a whole. Even if the compositions might carry some qualities of being singular pieces of music, for me they are predominantly just a part of the bigger puzzle and the most important thing for me is that they complement the scenes and the show in hand.
What role does sound play in in_between? It is the aural part of the show (laughs). I'd say it acts somewhat as one of the tools to introduce moods and atmospheres in which the magic the performers conjure can happen.
How would you describe the style of music in in_between? I think it's a play on genres and moods. It's a big variety that somehow ended up working quite solidly together. For the original compositions, they are obviously crafted to orchestrate the scenes, but in them I think there's a lot of play with elements that I find quite exceptional with sound. I guess there's somewhat an attempt for a balance between contemporary and classic, abstract and identifiable.
How did your work process change due to Covid (if it did)? In the end it did not really change that drastically. Of course not being able to present the show to an live audience was new, but other than that the process was quite ordinary at least in terms of just trying to create a fun show in a fun bubble.
Where do you find inspiration? Similar to how I tend to work, I tend to find inspiration from a very broad field of arts and phenomenons. I am usually quite simply inspired by events or experiences that surprise me in a sense that I feel warmth for to have witnessed that single moment's existence. It doesn't really need to be spectacles or groundbreaking or -shattering experiences – just noting again and again that we live amidst some quite special minds, stories and phenomenons.
Thank you so much, Atte Kantonen! We are very curious to experience the sound of in_between and very much hope to hear it soon in the CHAMÄLEON. In the meantime, you can find some impressions out of the rehearsal room here.