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Puce Mary shares and discusses The Drought

October 2018

Frederikke Hoffmeier releases a preview of her forthcoming album and addresses its themes and motivations



The Drought
is Danish noise musician Frederikke Hoffmeier aka Puce Mary's sixth studio album. It follows five previous full length albums issued by Copenhagen's Posh Isolation imprint, and is released by Pan.

The record is about “the struggle with the self towards preservation”. Do you hope these ideas reach the listener solely through listening? How do you attempt to do this?

I think the fact that the vocals are more intelligible than ever on this record will help the listener along, but yes, the music is representative. The sounds that the listener is exposed to are, if not allegorical, functional, like a sonic lexicon. You listen to aural portraits of the ideas and struggles contained in the overall theme. I am pushing the listener more into an experience where the movements tell a story or express a system of thought.

How do you think people's experience of the album might change hearing it live or recorded? What do you hope stays the same?
I rarely play tracks just as they are recorded on an album – or I’ll play them live as a close version until they are released but after that point it usually starts getting boring to play and perform. I’m trying to get closer to a pretty uniform way I used to make music – writing for live shows and feeling out the pieces as I play them live. If they work in a live setting then I go back to the studio and conform them to an album version. That said, a lot of pieces do not make it to a live set before being released. Either they’re meant to be listened to in solitude or as a fragment of a whole. They are collages of sounds as opposed to what might more organically emerge within the constraints the live setting. I hope that people can experience a power and intimacy that I try and give at a show. People might take away the subtlety of the poetry more easily as they sit with the record.

How do you think you have expanded on the vocabulary of confrontational music? And how is your production set-up different to when you first started recording?
When I first started recording, all I had was a sheet of metal and a distortion pedal and it took me years to build up a proper studio. I learned a lot from listening, being curious about what friends used and trying to imitate instruments that I could not play or get my hands on. I think this has resulted in me being able to think about making music in a way that is very free and not reliant on certain instruments. I make room for the experience of not being able to know what the sound of the action I am doing will be. Gradually these ‘designed accidents’ accumulate and all together trends are discernible and those themes, suggested by the hand of my own unconscious and the sounds themselves, feed back into the composition of the rest of the track. Only after a substantial amount of the work is created do I really feel like I can exert my own conceptual control on the material. A lot of material is replaced and rerecorded. Like a regenerated organ or organ transplant... It’s like a body sloughing the dead cells and replacing them with rejuvenated ones all the while coexisting with colonies of bacteria in the same structure. I want the chaos implied by this to be legible to the listener so when a rhythm is guiding their ears along a piece of music, they are not carried away and are very much aware that a single tone, a single beat, can stop that sound and time completely.

For me, the structure of this record felt like a huge moment forward in my work in regards to the consideration of space-framework in music, what became the architecture of the record. Torbjørn Rødland talks about architectural choices, in terms of genre too, in photography. He said that he is trying to fill up completely emptied out forms, mining them for anything meaningful and not totally rotten by cliche. I think the forms of genre are spaces I used less in the design of this record’s architecture but they are still present and their ‘completely emptied out’ serves different uses in the music: as reinforcements or allusions or foreshadowing. They are part disintegration and permanence at play across the record and are a bridge between this structure and the body as a whole, the flesh. This whole corporeal architecture.

Can you remember what first drew you to industrial sounds? Why was it important for you to make music such as this?
It was a combination of industrial sounds and the extreme intention that was asserted with it that sold me on the vocabulary of industrial music. When you hear something by Maurizio Bianchi, if someone told you this is “audio transmissions from a windy day on a runway” or didn’t tell you anything at all and you thought that it might be called that, you would hear a very different piece than you do with the knowledge that the music is in fact a “Symphony For A Genocide”. What I heard or saw was that this was a musical vocabulary that was designed to express these violent, agonising extremes of human experience. I was attracted to how these expressions of extreme experience were not victim-coddling or euphemistic but powerful, visceral expressions. I wanted to harness this vocabulary for my own and explore my own understandings of these extremes. Along the way, the exploration for this understanding became tethered to the exploration of sound and I think the vocabulary became more and more robust until I realised I had long exceeded the original scope of my mission.

Do you ever bring in influences from other music genres?
Yes, I bring influences from all type of music, ambient sounds and real-life soundscapes. Genre is not really a determining factor for being included or excluded from the sound palette of my work. If it fits, if it sounds good, if it serves the piece well or can act as a specific gesture, there will be a place for it in the work.

Can you explain any symbolism present in the artwork, which features an apple studded with coins?
The artwork is by Torbjørn Rødland from 2006. I think the symbolism present, you can take at face value. My personal explanation of the visual art is in the text and music alongside it. Three sides to the same coin. Just like my original attraction to experimental music, the art I make now is not moralising. I am honestly just trying to understand and there are certain things we just do not have the words for.

The Drought is released on 5 October via Pan. Puce Mary is tested by The Wire's Invisible Jukebox in issue 384. Subscribers can access the full article via the online archive.

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