Laura Misch has pieced together a series of photos for us to get to know the lady behind the sounds.
After playing her first ever solo show in 2017, this summer sees Laura Misch sharing the bill with the likes of Sister Sledge and Candi Station at Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival, and Marika Hackman and Idles and Visions Festival. The London based multi-instrumentalist – who plays a key part in south London’s burgeoning neo-jazz scene – creates textured, intricate jazz as a saxophonist, singer, and songwriter. Her live show is comprised of visuals produced by Ina Tatarko with Laura alone on stage with just her sax, mic, keyboard and loop pedal for company. Occasionally her performance will see Laura swap the sax in momentarily for a recorder, in a bid to take her audience back to their formative experiences of learning music.
Laura has taken some time to piece together a series of photos for us to get to know the lady behind the sounds. A former science student, it’s interesting to learn how her scientific mind and attention to detail filters into her music making process. What’s clear is that Misch is as layered as her music, with an interest in spirituality, art, and the cognitive science that comes into making music. Laura will play live at this year’s Visions Festival in London Fields on Saturday 4th August. Read our preview of the festival HERE.
Ahead of her performance at Visions, get to know the very lovely Laura Misch In Photos, and find out why she looks at her performances like engineering a rocket ship…
1 + 2. I never went to music or art school, I studied science and then media and communication. So, I thought I’d start with a photo from a recent appointment. My ankle swelled up on a flight back from playing a show in Bulgaria. I studied biomedical science and I’m a visual thinker so I love these diagrams! I dropped out of science, but it really informed my approach to making music. You can see by the next picture, of the original live rig design and processing I created with Simeon Rodgers. Simeon introduced me to the infinite possibilities and touring realities when creating live sonic playgrounds to perform in.
3. I often sit on this hill and listen to bounces. It’s a great sunset spot and I’ve come here since I was born (about 50 meters away.) I ritualistically listen to my productions as they evolve as bounced mp3s in different environments, particularly walking around supermarkets and climbing hills to look out over open landscapes. When your track feels lethargic in the laptop, try taking it for a walk, seeing how it interacts with the outside world. The book Every Song Ever 20 Ways To Listen To Music by Ben Ratliffreally helped me to think more about listening.
4. This is a 3D printed necklace from my good friend Chong Yan Chuah. He makes insane VR worlds and graphics and has produced two visual treatments for my songs in the past. See MOMENT OF CALM and SLIDE. He’s supremely talented at seeing shapes in new formations, often in grotesquely beautiful ways. I like that the saxes feel like 4 swans kissing because my music often layers multiple sax lines and this feels like a physical manifestation of that.
5. This is from the video shoot for ‘Lagoon’, which will come out soon. The video itself is much more abstract but I’m drawn to this photo because it references Ophelia and themes of eroticism and death that I researched when writing the track. I love the mystery woman’s shadow – it’s either Tarn Rodgers Johns or Olivia Hird who filmed and directed. We had such a harsh winter, so I’ve been chasing light, and capturing shadows has become a visual obsession. I like the way shadows distort shapes and are infinitely changing as the sun shifts.
6. This was me queuing for catering at Sounds From The Other City in Salford. Catering is still exciting for me even when the food’s bad, I really like the school dinner table vibes, the paper tokens, the reduction of choice, there’s something grounding in these transient communal eating spaces amidst the chaos of festivals.
7. This is a badge from a John Lennon and Yoko Ono exhibition called DOUBLE FANTASY I went to see in Liverpool. That exhibition blew my mind! I was humbled by the participatory ethos of a lot of the work, inviting the audience to engage, demystifying the process. I play the recorder in my set for exactly this reason, people often tell me it takes them back to being a child and playing music. So I like to think that in that moment, I and the audience are both identifying as musicians.
8. This is a new age spiritual shop in Dublin. It became an unconscious and bizarre ritual to hang out in these shops after sound check, before stage time. There seems to be one in every city I’ve played in so far and I like to smell all the essential oils, it’s a kind of momentary sensory high or escapism from the nerves surrounding my performance.
9. The jumpsuit I wore for 12 shows straight, it became a uniform. Touring my one woman show solo around Europe was when the work suddenly felt mechanical, in a positive methodical sense. I would set up all the programming and cabling each day and the jumpsuit helped me get into that mind-set. Unexpectedly it was David Byrne who got me thinking about the symbolism of clothes on stage. His book How Music Workshas a great chapter about the evolution of the Talking Heads aesthetic.
10. This was a moment in Leeds when my loom broke mid-show and I went into re-patch mode. Doing a one-woman show with lots of electronics, you feel like your repairing a spaceship every time something breaks. If the show is a rocket trip then the audience’s attention is suspended until you can get the engine back on track.
11. I’ve started bringing a giant meteorological balloon to many of my shows. The one I currently use is from Japan. The idea originated from Ina Tatarko (who often does live visuals in the show) suggesting a balloon as an alternative projection surface. Then my friend and producer Jasper Tygner introduced me to weather balloons. After that, I met Sara Green a choreographer who trained at the Laban Dance Centre, and she introduced the notion of a kinesphere. For me the balloon represents this notion, it reminds me to not be afraid to take up space, both physically and sonically.
12. It also looks like mars!
13. This was jamming in the park in Barcelona with my friend Mospodbefore Primavera. This little girl was really transfixed. Most of the shows I play are 18+ so I really love to play to kids when I can, they are the harshest but most honest audiences. They will literally cry and walk away if they are not feeling it! I’m as fascinated by streets and parks as public performance spaces as much as designated stages and feel privileged to experience both. It’s such an insane contrast playing in the park in the morning then jumping on a set and playing to 1000 people in the afternoon, yet I’m finding it a useful way to explore my relationship to external validation as a performer.
14. This is my mobile studio on a carpet in Bulgaria. I’ve been touring lots recently so recording in-between. I’m doing a solo show so my set up has always been defined by the limitations of dimensions and weight. I’m forced to assemble what will fit into EasyJet’s 20kg bag allowance and then that becomes the tool station. The abundance of options can become paralysing so in a way it’s a crafty blessing.
15. This is my little merch shop on tour in Copenhagen. I was doing support shows so would run to the front and hard-sell after I was finished. The tapes are of my self-produced LP Playground and the T-shirts are the painting I did for the cover.
16. This is Meg Lavender, a wonderful woman who hosted us when playing shows in Brussels. She is an expert on the south London music scene. She informed me so much about the music in my own area and the bands she’s met, from HorseytoLoyle Carner. She’s got a name as the “Belgium Mum” for many touring bands and was so hospitable. Through her I was able to step outside the bubble and look at the scene from a distance. That made me think how exciting it is that so much new music is being made and wonder what will remain in 10 years? We are obsessed with hype and data, but as time passes what residue will remain and what which was previously unnoticed will rise to the surface? I’ve found this a healthy practice when getting too self-absorbed in my own project.
Don’t miss Laura Misch at Visions Festival, Saturday 4th August in London Fields.