Acoustic Salvation

Hyenaz’ Music Expertly Fuses Noises from the Natural Soundscape

Picking at the remains of discarded pieces of metal, abandoned 90’s tracks, and field recordings, the Berlin musical duo, Hyenaz, show that scavenging can be a strangely beautiful act.

Mad Kate (Kathryn Fischer) and Tusk (Adrienne Teicher) first began their ‘music-sex-performance’ relationship after meeting at Ficken 3000, a famous gay darkroom in their home city. After working together at the DIVO institute in Czech Republic, they began to develop the sketches of their first album. Their unique approach to synth-wave sound incorporates both digital and organic elements.

‘Just about any organic sound can be the basis for electronic music, they told us. ‘It’s a magical thing.’

Their latest video Sister has been released ahead of their Asia tour, which begins September 1st. We asked Mad Kate and Tusk more about their music and upcoming tour:

The Plus: Which artists influence you musically?
Mad Kate:
Vocally I was influenced early on by American folk and blues tradition and I think that still resonates in the music I make. That’s why it was exciting on our new album to work with some a cappella sections. We are interested in the artistic and musical practice of artists like Steve Reich and Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Tusk: I’ve always been influenced by artists who merge the lines between music and performance art. I think of the holy trinity as Kate Bush, David Bowie and Klaus Nomi. As for contemporary musicians, The Knife are becoming much more unashamedly engaged with the world around them, which I find invigorating.

TP: What’s the concept behind the video for Sister?
T:
The song is about how our genders and bodies morph together and coexist in this “other” space that we can visit with our minds. We created the video at Hanging Rock, a geological phenomenon outside of Melbourne, Australia. We were inspired by the cult 70’s film Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Peter Weir. We decided to dress up like the missing schoolgirls in the film (if you haven’t seen it, we definitely recommend it!).
We are also inspired by butoh dance–this is one of the reasons we often paint our faces white, it is a way of setting a clean palette on the face.

TP: What is it like playing live to a crowd?
MK:
I think that sometimes we are more comfortable on the road than off. We love being on stage and getting energy from the crowd. We really live for that relationship with the fans and the sweat under the lights.
T: Playing live is an opportunity to experience our music, and our performance as a whole. Because this is the moment where we can experience others experiencing our creative vision, and when they respond well, I feel electric!

TP: Please tell us a little about your creative process, in creating your music.
T:
We spend the first moments setting the parameters for how we are going to work – we set rules and invent games that will help us to produce texts and music. For example, each part of this upcoming album relates to a certain physical space; the farmhouse, the water tank, the pine forest, the green forest- and so on. We took all of our key inspiration from these spaces, walked through them and sang whatever melodies they generated.

TP: What inspired you to tour in Asia? Do you have any exciting plans for your China gigs?
MK:
We were invited by Korean artist Sylbee Kim to come to Seoul, Korea, and perform at the Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art. We will be practicing a performance and musical installation called Spectral Rites. We just spent two weeks in a farmhouse outside Berlin writing the music for that performance, so much came out of it. Since we will be in Seoul we decided to take the club show to other venues in Korea, China, and hopefully Japan.