Q&A with Dan West

Lynelle Moran

Q&A with Dan West

On Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September, Darebin-based artists Ai Yamamoto and Dan West will transform the arts venue Neon Parlour into an immersive performance space. Ai and Dan are premiering new electronic music with accompanying video projection, created especially for FUSE Spring 2022.

The duo began collaborating during pandemic, getting together in the breaks between lockdowns and also online. They quickly developed an empathetic musical dialogue grounded in their love of melodic experimentation.

Ai’s influences are ambient music and experimental soundscapes whereas Dan’s musical style varies from sound design for installation and dance, electronic beats and soul music. Together, their audio visual performances are full of beautiful melodies, abstracted rhythms and textural sounds created from analogue synthesisers and real time processing of field recordings, piano, strings and guitar.

We spoke to Dan about his artistic inspirations and about the show for FUSE.

Hello Dan, and welcome to FUSE. How long have you been practicing your art?

I have been playing, writing and performing since the 90s. I studied improvisation and performance on guitar at uni, and in the early 2000's I started getting into electronic music production, working with samplers and synthesizers. I also create music and sound design for theatre, dance and video artists. My Preston-based shipping container sound studio tweakandtwang has been operating for 14 years.

Please tell us about your artistic inspirations.

To be honest, I'm really inspired by the collective of amazing artists in my local community. I make work with Ai Yamamoto and Yumi Umiumare who both live in my street! Music producer and multi-instrumentalist Pip Norman lives one street over, and during the hard lockdown, we jammed together over the internet which was pretty fun.

Another place that is really inspiring is M.E.S.S. (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio). It houses a collection of over 300 vintage synths and drum machines, and it's a great place to discover new sounds and get some fresh inspiration. The main thing that inspires me is the connection and sharing of ideas that happens when making and performing music.

Tell us about your FUSE show.

We've been getting together in my shipping container studio and combining our influences. Ai's practice--creating morphing ambient soundscapes--has combined with my harmonic/melodic improvisations on electric guitar, vintage synthesizers and sampler. The result is new electronic music that traverses many sonic worlds.

Over the course of the performance, frozen melodies and shifting harmonic beds combine with found sounds and abstracted glitchy beats for an hour of sonic bliss. Ai has also created new video projections to accompany our music so we are really happy to be presenting this work with our good friends at Neon Parlour.

What do you want people to take away from your work?

Our intention is to engage our audience in active pause, allowing them to immerse themselves in an audio visual performance and lose time. The pandemic is pretty stressful for everyone, and allowing time out to engage in beauty is really important.

Speaking of the pandemic, it's had a huge influence on Australian artists. How do you see the situation now?

Thankfully live music is back. Not being able to perform was a big challenge to the idea of who I am as a human--it's something that can't be satisfied online. Connection to the immediate communities around me and taking the time think and develop my creative practice was something I learnt how to do in lockdown, and I've brought that into my weekly activities as an artist.


Dan's work:


Ai Yamamoto & Dan West: Live at Neon Parlour

Neon Parlour, Thornbury, 10 & 11 Sep, 8pm
Supported by FUSE Fund. More info & tix: fusedarebin.com.au/aidan

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