KUD Mreža online is now launching an interview series with our artists in residence at Studio Asylum, Metelkova. By the Five Questions-series we hope to gain a brief insight into our residents’ impressions, working ideas and methods during their stay in Ljubljana. Austrian violinist and composer Irene Kepl studied classical violin and jazz in Linz, now lives and works in Vienna. Her work focuses primarily on contemporary composed music and free improvisation. She has completed numerous commissioned works, has recorded albums with Mark Holub, Petr Vrba and George Cremaschi, and has worked with Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Tristan Honsinger and Joëlle Leàndre – among many others. In April 2017, Irene Kepl took part in KUD Mreža’s international collaborative project Borderless Dissonance, she participated at Improcon – 3rd Congress Of Free Improvised Music, Arts & Thoughts in August, and now she is spending her working visit at Studio Asylum from 15 August until 9 September.
– You started your Ljubljana residency with two concerts: on your very first day you played at Vodnikova Domačija Šiška in Ljubljana, and the next evening in Vrhnika. Did you know about the Slovenian improvised music scene, have you collaborated with Ljubljana-based musicians before?
Irene Kepl: „I have collaborated with Slovenian musicians who live abroad, but the very first time I collaborated with a musician who lives actually in Slovenia was when I took part in the Borderless Dissonance project which featured international trios consisting of musicians from Austria, Slovenia and Hungary – sending them on tour through these three countries was an absolutely wonderful idea and experience. Now, staying here in Ljubljana it’s nice to see, to jump in and experience this lively scene again.”
– What were your first impressions about Slovenia, Ljubljana and the people who live here?
Irene Kepl: „The culture and habits of the people all in all appear quite familiar to me, only languages make a big difference. Ljubljana itself is a cute city with nice, open vibe and a lot of nice places, and Metelkova – the place of this residency – is really inspiring. It is nice to be surrounded by arts, even if I didn’t have much contact with people around because basically I worked alone in my room. Also the support and hosting was incredibly nice, I felt very welcome.”
– How long do you stay and what are you working on during your residency stay at KUD Mreža’s Studio Asylum?
Irene Kepl: „I have been staying for more than three weeks to work on some compositional ideas that appeared during a tour in Australia and New Zealand last January and February. I carried around these ideas for half a year, but didn’t have time and inner space to work on them more properly. New ideas just acquire some space and some time in a raw to really elaborate and prove them properly. Here I found an inspiring place to make the reality check, create and see what else comes up. My time here is supposed to be for preperation of pieces that will be performed later this year in Vienna as well as for more future projects. Some pieces just appeared as a side product, others I didn’t do, because I found out that I need another starting point and know now the next steps that need to be done. You cannot always control what ideas really turn into at the end, so it was a great opportunity to delve into something deeply without knowing the precise outcome. Turns out that there was a lot of outcome, but in a slightly different direction. And it’s always great to have thought-out ideas, pieces and drafts, that wait for actual ‘birth’ at the right time, venue, occasion. Would be lovely to hear the new pieces in Ljubljana!”
– Is your residency work connected to artists who are from Ljubljana? Are you working alone or is your residency project considering collaborations with local artists?
Irene Kepl: „Unfortunately, I didn’t collaborate after the first two concerts you mentioned, since my original plan was to focus on composing – which I did. I definitely would love to work with people from here, since I got known some great musicians right at the start of my stay. So sure, it would have been great to perform it right here, but it simply was too short notice then to organize since you need musicians that are willing to rehearse a bit for the compositions. But I hope in the future – fingers crossed!”
– Please tell us about you plans after your stay at Studio Asylum. Are there any exciting tours, concerts or album releases in the pipeline?
Irene Kepl: „In mid-September I will play and record in the United States, mostly in Washington D.C. and New York. In October I will be touring in Germany with Trio FAQS which is Dirk Marwedel on extended saxophone, Uwe Oberg on piano and myself on violin. I will play contemporary music with Ensemble Platypus at Festival Wien Modern, perform at KunstbeTrieb Vienna some pieces by myself with Ensemble Verso, and direct the improv orchestra Orche Verso. I am also very excited to play with Joe McPhee and Paul Lovens in France in early 2018, and to tour with my duo, together with British drummer Mark Holub with whom I released an album two years ago. I have two upcoming cd releases in the pipeline: I play and compose for my string quartet Violet Spin, our second cd will be released by Unit Records in Switzerland next spring. In co-operation with Stadthalle Vienna I recorded in an underground carpark in the first week of August, I played Solo Sonatas and Partitas by Bach that I also improvised with, and additionally I played some of my contemporary compositions and improvisations. Since this project has just started, there is no release date so far…”