A Festival Of Underground, Experimental & International Music
2 – 5 April 2020
Various Venues Around Glasgow

As we build for the future, looking at ways we can support artists and communities that thrive on the creative process, we are positive that we can move forward and build up new strength from ideas and a shared resolve that culture matters. Things will change. They should. Over the last seven weeks one thing that we have had is time. Time to take account of what we do.

Other festivals and arts organisation are doing the same. Tectonics Glasgow, the BBC SSO and Ilan Volkov’s festival which Counterflows Creative Director Alasdair Campbell co-curates, has just delivered an online version of the festival. No-one thinks that this digital method of consumption can compare with the live experience, being in a space with friends and artists sharing the experience, but it does offer a different opportunity to consider music and performance. With Tectonics the strength of the archival material shone through. We will be considering how to build such a resource for Counterflows, thinking creatively how this can be done with less capacity and funds.

Which brings us neatly to our third Intervention; this series is a way of offering a platform to artists that we are or will work with to showcase some of their explorations. It is also a nice way to begin our archive. Soft Tissue were meant to perform this year at Counterflows so it is right that we asked them to contribute to this series. Simon and Feronia also contributed an amazing mix to our Counterflows/Clyde Built Radio day which you can listen to here on the CBR Radio link above.

Alasdair & Fielding

Soft Tissue

An interview by Stewart Smith, May 2020

As soft tissue, Glasgow-based artists Feronia Wennborg and Simon Weins use everyday objects, micro-amplification, pre-recorded elements and digital processing to create unpredictable and quietly compelling music. Their debut cassette on the estimable Penultiate Press is a fascinating, strange and curiously touching experience, in which quotidian sounds – footsteps, teaspoons clinking on cups, the gurgle of water in the throat - meet the gauzy static, puttering delay trails and near subliminal synths of abstracted dub techno.

Can you tell us about your backgrounds?

Simon My background is in the visual arts. I used to do installations and those kind of things, but have largely stopped doing that around two years ago. Since then I have been mainly working with sound. Often in collaboration with other people.

Feronia I played the violin from an early age and went to a classical music school in Stockholm, so I very much grew up surrounded by music. I also had a few years of studying and working with film making, but in more recent years my main focus has been working with sound in performances, installations and music projects.

You both have projects of your own - could you tell us about these?

S Currently I am working on an interactive feedback-environment that will hopefully become something like a useable instrument one day. Generally I am very much into programming at the moment which luckily goes quite well with the current situation. Before we started soft tissue, I have been working a lot with Phillip Jondo as Garland. We played at a few festivals in Belgium and the Netherlands over the last year and did a short residency at STEIM. Aside from that, Feronia and I are running the free improvisation night Soup, Zuppa with Caroline Hussey, Nuno Mendoza and Tom Mereweather on a monthly basis.

F Most of my work is based on collecting and digitally transforming sounds recorded within everyday life. I’m currently working on new bits of music continuing this process. Last year I released some of my audio work on tape and did a residency researching non-verbal vocalisations. Collaboration is central in most of the things I do and I realised I have a habit of starting projects with all my close friends. I also really enjoy programming and organising events, and am currently in the committee at Market Gallery, an artist-run space in Glasgow.

You previously collaborated on the ECCO tape for GLARC.

F Our friend-in-common Jack Wansbrough initiated this project and asked us both to join, together with Elina Bry and Caroline Hussey. We all didn’t really know each other and kind of came together to make this strange pop album based on 60’s dolphin research. We had one rehearsal and then went into Green Door Studio to start recording mostly improvised sets, and the project had this overall very light and fun touch which created a space to just throw ideas in and explore without inhibitions.

S We played one gig before Jack went back to Australia. It was just a lot of fun and a space to do things we normally would not. I played an untuned acoustic guitar with a missing string and I think Feronia played the drums at some point.

How do these other projects feed in to soft tissue?

S I am not entirely sure ECCO fed directly into what we do as soft tissue, but this was certainly the reason that Feronia and I met in the first place. We met after a Miki Yui concert around two years ago, who turned out to be one of our unannounced heroes at the time.

F Maybe some of the playfulness in ECCO laid a good starting ground for soft tissue, and also playing together monthly at the improvisation night Soup, Zuppa which Simon mentioned earlier. I think most essentially we also started a friendship through working on these projects and it probably made it easier to get over some thresholds and start making music together.

Is there a concept to soft tissue?

S I think we are both interested in this momentary blurring of materials, where agency becomes slightly more fluid. But there is not an overarching structure that we abide to. And I think that is for the better. However, we might have a certain aspiration - especially when we play live - to not draw any borders between “environmental” or “accidental” sounds and sounds that we initiate. Sometimes the unintended can be much more profound, beautiful and surprising than all the preconceived ideas one brings to a certain situation. During our last gig at Celine gallery, we had a creaking door and a barking dog as collaborators. They nearly stole the entire show.

F I think our collaboration has grown out of a shared excitement for sound and a similar way of listening, but I think there has been very little verbalising around what we want soft tissue to be or sound or how to approach it conceptually. I think we both enjoy this as a way of participating and maybe bringing attention towards the messy relationships which are already producing sound with and around us all the time.

Could you tell us about the soft tissue process?

S It always depends a bit on the project, but also just what we currently have at hand. For the tape on Penultimate Press we were mainly reworking pre-recorded material that we send back and forth to each other. Feronia was sampling some recordings we made individually and I usually processed that in some way. It was rather simple and innocent. Since we have started playing live, we explored how we could translate this into an environment and play with duration. And this has again fed back into our recording process. Currently its a wild mix of working with samples, real-time processing, feedback and unconventional amplification methods. We have become quite fond of using bone conduction and generally try to find alternatives to the portrayed neutrality of a traditional stereo or surround sound setup.

F For the last release we didn’t compose the tracks from different recordings, but rather made them all from one sample each. This kind of just happened naturally and we kept going this way. It was quite nice working within this limitation and explore which different sounds that can emerge from one sample. We will see where the new material takes us, as Simon says we are kind of throwing everything in the air and will just see what happens.

Can you tell us about the film you’ve made for Counterflows?

F We just wanted to make something simple to go alongside our new track bird, and filmed small moments in our flats, similar to our way of recording sound. One of the recordings ended up as this lil video.

What next for soft tissue?

F We are working on new material, towards what might become a next release. The current lockdown situation means we can’t meet up to work on things together but we have found different ways to be productive and work collaboratively within this new situation. We are also planning to keep developing our live setup later in the year for times of gigs in the future.