Interview with Alienna

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1. Alienna, I’d ask you to tell us something about yourself, but on your website there already is a great bio. It says you loved to listen to your parent’s vinyl collection. Can you tell us something about that first moment how you discovered that you wanted to make music of your own? That spark that started it all?

It all happened long ago. As a little kid I understood music’s language before I could even speak. I remember I cried when Ennio Morricone was on, but I couldn’t tell why.

I grew up with music. Always and ever there was music playing, from Vivaldi to Janis Joplin. When you put on the lights in the bathroom, music automatically started playing.

We also watched a lot of science fiction movies at home. The film ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind‘ was a great trigger. A space ship using off-worldish sounds to communicate with humans! Marvelous, isn’t it?! I wanted to be able to do that too. And so, I got my first big keyboard at the end of the eighties (Casio, with 220 sounds with adjustable waveform, and 110 post rhythms and a recording ability). I was super proud and brought my keyboard everywhere!

I built my own studio, basically just a table, the Casio and a tape recorder which I used to play music or record my own voice and mix it with the keyboard’s music.

2. You started your musical career as Miss Ann, now we know you as ALIENNA. Where did the name come from?

It’s some sort of anagram. “Alien” stands for alienation, the effect which occurs when you’re busy with music, when you cut yourself off of the world, and live like a hermit behind the machines. It also stands for my fascination for space, the stars, the moon, the infinite, relativity, everything extraterrestrial. To finish in a dull way: Ann is my first name and you can find it backwards in ALIENNA.

3. Isn’t it scary to play before a totally different audience than for instance, Extrema Outdoor (Belgium, 2017)? What are your expectations in this?

It’s always scary to stand before a crowd; either a big outdoor festival or a niche audience. So I foresee the normal stress factor, nonetheless. Performing your own music demands extra concentration and is very intense.
Because I am somewhat shy in nature, I always have to push myself to let go and live the moment. That moment of letting go and getting submerged by the energy of the music and the audience is very special to me.

At the B-Wave Festival I’ll play a live set in the foyer. I just expect a pleasant audience of people with the same interests: synths, drum machines… and of course Electronic Music. I hope to meet new people and to learn from other live artists. Really looking forward to it…


4. What are your dreams for the future…?

I hope to witness a next musical revolution. What will follow? How does the music of the future sound? How will it be created? I often think and dream about this. As long as we keep making music in the same way, we will only hear variations on a known theme. That certainly wouldn’t hurt, for it is the same music we love and grew up with.

But fortunately there is a lot of experimenting and pushing of boundaries going on in the electronic genre.

5. Suppose you get stranded on a desert island. What three albums MUST be with you in order to survive this?

To stick to the theme, I will limit myself to electronic music. Otherwise it will definitely become an impossible task…

  • Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
    An album of very great importance and influence to me. I use to listen to this one in several different ways each time. Just for joy, but also for learning how to create my own music.
  • Massive Attack – Blue Lines, Mezzanine or Heligoland
    I can’t choose. Massive Attack’s music is really “Massive” to me. Besides, their live gigs are always really memorable too. The dark guitar riffs, swaying beats, the fantastic vocals, visuals and what else more…
  • Laurent Garnier – The Cloud Making Machine (2004)
    My musical hero DJ and Producer Laurent Garnier swoops the boundaries of electronic music. Dark, atmospheric, experimental, combined with modern jazz. Goose bumps!
    Along this album by Laurent Garnier there are also lots of EPs I would like to sneak in as well.

6. For the synthesizer- and audio freaks: what gear do you mainly use?

For my live set I use an analog DJ mixer, the Xone:42 by Allen & Heath. Connected to this mixer are the Rytm, the Elektron Analog Four and the TB3 of the Roland Aira series. At the moment, the Octatrack sampler – also by Elektron – is connected to the audio inputs of the Analog Four.
Furthermore I use some guitar pedals and the Elektron Analog Heat as a sort of pre-master for my live set.

7. Is there one piece of equipment that you’d NEVER EVER want to lose?

Maybe this sounds strange, but I’m having trouble making a pick between my Technics Mk2 record player or the Elektron Analog Four synthesizer. Except for a gear freak, I’m also a huge vinyl lover. What good is my record collection if I don’t have the means to play them? On the other hand, I really love my Analog Four. To me, it is the most versatile and useful piece of gear to make music with. I use it as a drum machine, to make bass lines and to create warm organic sounds. You can use the inputs (CV and Audio) to connect other gear to it, or use it as an effects processor.
Last but not least, the built-in sequencer makes it indispensable for my current setup.
It is a big dilemma. Can I choose both?

8. Last question, and not the least: Pro tips for young (or old!) upcoming talents:

  • what to DO?
    Stay curious: listen to new music, watch tutorials and discover other artists and gear. Go to your musical instrument shop to test gear or to get expert advice. Surprise yourself constantly. Trust your gut feeling and your intuition. Jam with friends to expand your horizon. And experiment. A LOT. As long as you are having fun, nothing actually can go wrong.
  • what to DO NOT?
    Don’t expect to be famous or successful instantly or even on the longer run. Dedication, passion, having fun and patience are the most important building blocks to keep doing this for years.
  • what to BE?
    Be respectful to others and above all: be your unique self!

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