PROFILE | Sharyn Brand – Sound Designer

Posted by Cecile Lucas, April 19th, 2017

After touring regional WA for two weeks, the Small Voices Louder crew is back in Perth for an intensive week of audio editing to piece together some of the most insightful children’s answers recorded across the tour. On the soundboard is Melbourne-based sound artist Sharyn Brand, whose artistry in kaleidoscopic audio assemblage brings a whole new dimension to the production. In the coming days Sharyn will be weaving these small voices into an audio snapshot of regional WA kids’ brave and profound answers – we can’t wait to share the end result with you. While you’re waiting, here is a conversation I recently had with Sharyn, to hear about her artistic background and what brought her to work alongside Alex Desebrock on this production.
–Cecile–

Cecile Lucas: What first sparked your interest in exploring sound?
Sharyn Brand: I can’t really remember the first time I was interested in sound, I feel like it has always fascinated me. I loved listening to music and I spent many years as a nightclub DJ, this is where I began experimenting with composition and making my own tracks. Now, I not only have a fascination with music and sound, but also with the technical side of how it can be created and manipulated.

CL: How would you describe your approach to working with sound – and the kind of work that you make?
SB: My current works focus on the human voice. I am very interested in words and stories and how they can move people. My work is as much an exploration of listening as it is of sound, as I am investigating how people listen and what they hear.

In my current work I explore the notion of the sound bite. How a short 30-second recording of words may speak of one thing, yet the same words can be edited, truncated and rearranged, and be heard differently.

CL: How did you start working with Alex Desebrockand Maybe (   ) Together?
SB: I shared a studio next to hers in the same artist warehouse in Melbourne, and at the time my partner was collaborating with her on a wonderful outdoor children’s work. I had been doing some stage managing and was asked to join the team. I then learnt more of her development of Small Voices Louder and knew I wanted to be a part of it! I was brought on board with four other sound artists for a 2-week development at Arts House Melbourne. My work really resonated with Alex’s vision for SVL, and she offered me to be part of it.

CL: What do you like the most about collaborating with Alex on Small Voices Louder? Is there anything in particular that you learned through this experience?
SB: Alex has a real passion for giving children agency and allowing their ideas and voices to be heard. This totally aligns with my practice, and I am so thrilled and grateful to be working on this project with her. I love listening to the voices – children are always surprisingly insightful.

CL: Atmosphere, space and setting are very important components when producing immersive performance, and can influence the way people respond to the show. In your work, the concept of confined space and confessional experience is quite recurrent. What is it that you like about it? How does that environment influence the responses you get?
SB: The setup of the recording space in my current work gives the participant total control and privacy. Just like the tent world in Small Voices Louder, there is no one sitting across from them holding a microphone eliciting a response. I like that this seems to give people the freedom to be very candid.

CL: Sound art is a very direct way of engaging people with art, with a great level of anonymity, yet can feel very exposing for participants. How do you find people respond to this contradictory concept of Anonymity Vs Exposure?
SB: For me sound as a medium is both a very personal yet at the same time a very connecting and shared experience. When people are being recorded, not amplified or broadcast in the same moment, it becomes a very freeing cathartic experience. In my work no one is listened in to that present moment. As the words and sounds are listened to at a time in the future, I feel participants quickly reconcile that they may or may not hear their words again so they don’t feel so exposed.

CL: What’s next? What do you have in the pipeline after Small Voices Louder regional tour?
SB: Whilst on tour in W.A. I will be exhibiting a composition in Phantasmagoria – a free site-responsive festival located at Bogong Village, Victoria. Reflection is a self-directed headphone sound walk, responding to the theme of Phantasmagoria and the site of Bogong Village. The sounds within the piece were recorded on a two-week supported residency in 2016. The stories I collected have been processed and morphed with the impulse responses of the natural acoustics of different spaces within the Village.

Keep an eye out for the voices of regional WA kids coming at you soon!

Filed under Maybe Together