Claudia Molitor

Claudia Molitor
(Photo: Ed Stone)

Claudia Molitor is a composer and artist whose work draws on traditions of music and sound art but also extends to video, performance and fine art practices. Exploring the relationships between listening and seeing as well as embracing collaboration as compositional practice is central to this work. Her work is regularly commissioned, performed and broadcast throughout Europe, working for example with festivals such as Wien Modern, hcmf//, Spor, BBC Proms and Sonica as well as organisations such as Tate Britain, NMC Recordings and the Science Museum. Recent work includes Sonorama with Electra Productions, Turner Contemporary and the British Library, which received a British Composer Award, Vast White Stillness for Spitalfields Festival and Brighton Festival, The Singing Bridge, installed at Somerset House during Totally Thames and Walking with Partch for Ensemble MusikFabrik.

Why do you make music?

The best answer I can give you is that there is nothing else I’d rather do. Making music is intensely exhilarating and melancholic at the same time, and affords a way of exploring the world in ways other than with words or images.

What music do you make?

My music…. I don’t mean to be glib, but I’ve tried very hard over the past 20 years not to be too easily categorisable, so that I have developed what you might call an expanded practice.

How do you make music?

In many ways, I improvise with instruments and various objects, collect field-recordings, write notation and words, draw, make films and take images, etc. But the main way of making music for me is to walk, to find time to think about the music I wish to make, so that the ideas can stay ideas for as long as possible before they are committed to paper or digital data.

Is any of your sound-based work not ‘music’ as such and, if not, what is it?

Well, I wouldn’t make a distinction between sound-based work and music, particularly as I have made work that includes no sound, such as zuhanden, which is a series of photographs, but I would still call that music. For me it is the intention that makes it music, not necessarily the medium it appears on or in.

How do you describe yourself (e.g. are you a performer, a composer, a technologist, an engi­neer, some combination of these or, indeed, something else) and why?

I’d like to call myself simply an artist, again, in order to avoid categorisation and an assumption of what media I may or may not use, but that doesn’t always make sense to others, so I tend to say composer, artist, performer.

What is the cultural context for your work - how are you influenced by music from other cultures or the other arts?

I am certainly influenced by other arts and cultures, but also by politics, philosophy, anthropology, science and anything else that I might come across. This is not necessarily explicit in my work, but of course my work, just as my self, can’t help but be inflected by the world.

What skills and attributes do you consider to be essential for you as a musician?

Critical thinking, daydreaming and curiosity…and the ability to play an instrument and use technology from pencil to DAW is also useful.

What are the distinguishing features of your sonic art/sound art?

I think that’s not for me to say, and what stands out to me might not be what the listener takes from it.

How do you approach the use of sound in space(s)?

Important is to explore the space physically, to touch it, smell it, listen to it, but also to engage with it conceptually, its history, its social meaning, before thinking about placing sound within it.

Do you have any other useful or relevant things to say about being a musician in the digital age?

Difficult to say, as I have nothing else to compare it to, but I would say that the ‘virtual’ world is one that musicians have always lived in to some extent.