Working at the crossroads of performance art and club culture
The experimental storytelling of producer, CORIN, is undeniably making her mark on Amsterdam this summer. The producer, composer and performer works at the crossroads of performance art and club culture. Through her synergy of science fiction, classical music composition, and ancestral myths from her Filipina heritage CORIN creates an experience like no other – and let’s just say we’re obsessed. In her sets, cinematic ambience merges with hyper-digital industrial sounds to create a tapestry of speculative futures that reflect on the present moment. Kicking off FIBER Festival with a breathtaking live AV performance on the 20th of May, CORIN is returning on the 18th of June for a highly anticipated DJ performance at Garage Noord. We got the chance to catch up with our new favourite Australian to talk about her journey, inspiration, and upcoming sophomore album.
How are you today?
C: I’m good thank you! I’ve had a long day and am currently fighting off the jetlag. I did my soundcheck today and met Lee Gamble for the first time which was really great because he runs the record label that I’m part of. It’s nice to connect with people I’ve only met online.
Well welcome to Amsterdam! And thank you for speaking with me. When I saw you on the FIBER lineup I was so excited.
C: Aw thank you!
Let’s begin with your craft, how would you describe your work?
C: I’m an electronic artist, sound designer and composer. It’s a cross between a few styles but I would say that it’s part ambient, part rhythmic driven with trancey synths, sometimes baroque melodies. I’ve been producing my own music for a couple of years, slowly developing my craft over time. I compose music for other artists ranging from video art to dance, working with Sydney performance artists Angela Goh and Justin Shoulder. I started doing this kind of work over the past couple of years and it’s been an interesting experience because of how multi-disciplinary it is – focusing on sound in space as opposed to just performing or making music for my solo project.
Yeah for sure. You’re a complete multidisciplinarian. What would you say inspired this very fluid attitude towards creating?
C: Originally I didn’t intend to do composition work, however, I started looking for other kinds of work as performance opportunities are quite limited in Australia. I ended up getting into composition work because a lot of my friends are performance artists. They just asked me to come on board for their projects and I taught myself a lot of the techniques to compose and mix music within that context (such as surround sound, and working with movement). I didn’t plan it, It all happened quite fluidly.
What would you say your journey to this point has looked like?
C: Like most things, it hasn’t been linear. I studied music at university so I have a music degree in classical piano. After I finished my degree, I actually wasn’t really that interested in venturing into the classical music world so I had a bit of a break. Eventually, I returned to music, making sparse loop based ambient compositions using mainly iphone piano recordings (as I didn’t know how to produce electronic music at that point). Since then, my music has changed quite a lot over the past years. It’s a lot more synth and sample based. It still has aspects that are quite ambient but there is also a strong influence from club music from various scenes.
Working in this industry, I feel like the timelines are always a bit patchy. It takes quite a while for releases to come out, especially if it involves a physical release. So by the time you start playing the launch shows for your album you might be in a completely different headspace. Not just musically but even emotionally, compared to the time the music was actually written and recorded. You always have to find a way to keep things fresh and interesting, even if you made the music two years ago. So it’s this continual process of making music and releasing it on incongruous timelines.
In today’s world. It’s so hard to feel like what you’re doing is unique.
C: Yes it’s quite oversaturated and I’ve definitely had those moments of imposter syndrome. I’ve always tried to stay true to my vision, at least that’s what I hope to project to the world. The absence of live music during the pandemic made me feel quite alienated and disconnected. I didn’t have an immediate response to what I’m creating, such as the audience response to a live performance. I really underestimated how that process of performing live informs the way I’ve made music. Ultimately, I ended up finding ways to channel that alienation and disconnection in the music I ended up making during that period of time. A lot of which I’m starting to perform now in my live shows.
That always makes it rough. Especially when what you do is strengthened by the community’s presence. It’s so different when they aren’t physically there.
C: Yes. it’s been great preparing for this show because I realized how much motivation comes from me performing live. That excitement of presenting something to a new audience in real life as well. The real-time connection and meeting with other artists.
So your taste is not limited to one genre. I mean, we’ve got EBM, trance, ambient and so on. What is it about each of these genres that really draws you in?
C: Trance has really stuck with me as a recurring theme. I’ve always been captivated by the euphoric nature of the genre, the rolling synths. Although at the end of the day, while genre will always be a consideration, what is important to me is the way in which I construct structure my music and live sets in order to tell a story. The way I like to tell stories is through the weaving of different genres to create a cinematic narrative. I hope that’s how it comes across to audiences.
But it’s those who get it who build such a strong community. Are there any subgenres and or cultures that you love that you think are underrated?
C: Not a particular, subgenre per se but I definitely think there’s like a lot of underground scenes and exciting music coming out from South East Asia. I’ve always enjoyed listening to everything on Yes No Wave catalogue. Nhac Gay, a Saigon-based party collective – I’m really liking their recent compilation. And also Matryoshka club in Manila – an online platform which hosts Minecraft raves, which I took part in 2020 during the first lockdown. I’m also grateful for platforms like Nusasonic which are helping to shine a light on some of these communities.
I’ve also read you draw on sci-fi and speculative fiction within your productions. Could you tell me a little more about that as well? And what roles does this play out in your shows?
C: It comes back to what I was saying about storytelling.I’ve always been drawn to futurism as a concept, drawing from science fiction literature and film. There’s the classic cyberpunk films like Blade Runner but more recently I’ve been drawn to science fiction narratives which convey a sense of timelessness, and explore the concept of bending of time. This aspect has informed my forthcoming music. So not necessarily giving a sci-fi aesthetic to the music, but more-so finding ways to convey a sense of gravity and suspension in the music itself, irregardless of what genre it is, or alludes to. What I find interesting is that more often than not – science fiction is actually more-so about the present moment. The ‘future’ context is just a vehicle or the grounds in which to play out different present-day scenarios. It’s also a place for dreaming as well. In my music I hope to project both a sense of utopia and dystopia because at the end of the day we’re balancing both those energies. When I make an album or live set there will always be this tension (within reason) but then in the finale, I always have some sort of cathartic release as a way of conveying a sense of hope or optimism.
I always find it so interesting when you’re engaging with older sci-fi how you really see the zeitgeists of whatever culture the author was in as their stories are their present reflections on the future.
C: Yes, exactly! More often than not it’s just a reflection of that. A lot of people dislike science fiction because they believe that it’s pure fantasy but there’s always some element of reality.
I totally agree! So you have played many festivals. What do you think makes FIBER a special experience
C: I’m really excited to be part of the festival and I think it’s a great theme as well, Mutation. I’m really excited to perform in the Netherlands for the first time. Also to be part of such a special lineup as well. As I said before, I hadn’t met Lee until today, so it’s really great to be on the same bill as him and to basically be premiering a new library of work. I’m really thankful that FIBER can provide that experience. I think it’s a really great international community of musicians that they brought together. It just feels really special.
what can we expect to see from you on June 18th?
C: I approach my DJ sets pretty differently to how I construct my live sets. With live, I feel like I have to set the mood, tell a story, conveyed through my own productions. I approach my DJ sets differently, just focusing on things I’m enjoying listening too, especially productions with good sound design as well as dropping a few unreleased productions in there. I like to play around with subdividing tempos and merging disparate genres together.
So I’ve heard your sophomore album is on its way! What can you tell me about it?
C: I’ve been working on it since the start of the pandemic. However, when I started making the material, I didn’t think about releasing it. The album has aspects of my previous albums like trance-synth elements and cinematic quality. However, I think it has more of a sense of timelessness through some of the samples I use, including acoustic instrumentation. I played around with the idea of suspending sound in space, focusing on the sound design of the musical elements as opposed to just the structure or the melody. In the past, I would structure my productions in almost a pop-like way, however with this release I tried to abandon some of that structure and focus moreso on the actual sounds. I experimented with a couple of techniques like granular synthesis, which I find interesting because it really sounds like the samples are suspended in space. I think this will be the most baroque expression of my music – like a weird pseudo-classical album but mixed with trance and other genres.
It sounds like it’s going to be beautiful. My last question: what are you manifesting for summer 2022?
C: I just want to be able to perform more shows and put more of my music out there. I don’t know if I’m manifesting anything in particular. I guess this year has just been about preparing new album material. I try not to plan too far ahead. Because of everything that has happened over the past few years I prefer to plan just a few months ahead. Nowadays I just manifest good health and happiness and being close to my family and friends. That’s all I can hope for.