Lesley Flanigan is an experimental electronic musician living in New York City. Inspired by the physicality of sound, she builds her own instruments. Performing these instruments alongside traditional instrumentation that often includes her own voice, she creates a kind of physical electronic music. In her two-day “Residue” performance in the Guggenheim (below), she performs on minimal electronic instruments built from speakers and microphones. Periodically Flanigan enters the room and adds new elements to the system. As the textures react and build on each other, the space reverberates with subtle sonic imperfections, creating a physical sense to the sound in the space.
I found out about Lesley as she is playing some gigs in Europe, alongside sound artist Tristan Perich (whose Microtonal Wall we’ve featured before). One of them being the Fluister concert series in The Hague, the Netherlands on April 3rd. Furthermore they’ll be playing France, Switzerland and Germany as well in the coming days. Check out her website for more dates.
1. What sound from your childhood made the most impression on you?
First, is the sound of my mother’s voice resonating within her body. This is a sound I would hear with my ear was pressed to her chest as she sang or read to me. Her voice was so warm, like a blanket. Second, is the sound of my own voice. There was a hallway in my childhood home that had a natural reverb, and I used to sing in that space when no one was home. It was not a large space, but when I sang, my voice would soar and fill the air like I was in a cathedral.
2. How do you listen to the world around you?
When I actively listen, I am usually taking a long walk outside or sitting with my eyes shut.
3. Which place in the world do you favor for its sound?
Oddly, when I think of places that I favor for sound, they are all very quiet places… where sound is almost, but not entirely, absent.
4. How could we make sound improve our lives?
I think it’s about listening. I feel that when we take time to truly listen — to actively engage in listening to another person, to music, to sounds in nature and in cities, to all the many sounds in world around us — we give ourselves time to be present in our lives. That’s very meaningful to me.
5. What sound would you like to wake up to?
Ocean waves. Birds. Trees blowing in the wind. My husband and daughter laughing.
Thanks Lesley! See answers by other artists in the Five Sound Questions section, and be sure to check her out on one of her tour dates.