The Haxan Cloak has scored the whole of folk horror film Midsommar
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Zora Jones finds it a lot easier to articulate thoughts with some time to respond. As a request, the conversation with Fractal Fantasy's First Lady is conducted via email – which is meaningful, if only because the manner in which I receive her answers adhere to the same measured and patient approach she has applied to her work.
Maybe synonyms of patience aren't the words that come to mind when you hear Jones' songs: they're a speedball of high-octane, fast-tempo suites that require multi-hyphenates for the styles they span. For example, on her new single Ruby Fifths, Teklife member Heavee's vocals are spliced into a propulsive force of bass, drones, and punctuating percussion that overloads your senses. It's indebted to footwork and crunk; the former of which is what Jones has said is the music she loves and has influenced her the most.
Born in Austria, but now based in Barcelona, Jones established Fractal Fantasy two years ago with her partner Sinjin Hawke as a platform initially to host their computer graphic pieces and audiovisuals (with collaborators Cyberlight and Ezra Miller) and has since evolved to include code experiments and their solo work. A year earlier, Hawke challenged Jones to create 100 songs before releasing them to the public – seven of which make up her debut EP '100 Ladies'.
Bookended by the hollow Oh Boy and the dizzying First Light, '100 Ladies' is often formless, but Jones' fluidity is defined by her ability to find refinement with a few elements. At times, it sounds drugged by its own intoxication. Even when removed from the glossy hyperreal visuals, Jones' sound design is unquestionably experimental and at times too confounding for mere words. For example, when I asked Jones whether Psilocybin was influenced by or refers to any personal drug experiences, she told me that it's an inside joke with a friend that "wouldn’t make sense to anybody if I'd explain it." – after all, who need words when you can create a new form of expression in a virtual world of your making. It's fitting, then, that this is the first question Zora Jones answers.
I’ve noticed that you haven't defined your music in your words in previous interviews. Are you uncomfortable with describing what it is?
Zora Jones: I wouldn't say I'm uncomfortable describing it, although I feel that listening to music is a far more effective way of relaying feelings than trying to encapsulate them in words."
How do audiovisuals inform the composition of your music? Do the visuals come before the audio or vice versa?
Zora Jones: "Both. Sometimes we get fixated on an idea like The Uncanny Valley or Ferrofluid, and we’ll start producing with a visual prompt. Other times we’ll try to encompass visually what the music represents afterwards, as in ‘100 Ladies' or Neutrino."
Can you give us a summary of how the remaining "93 ladies" sound? Do you plan to share them or is the project complete for now?
Zora Jones: "I don't plan on putting the other "ladies" out. Most of them are just experiments and loops, some are full-grown songs, but when you listen to them you can hear how long it took me to find my sound – my identity just started crystallising in the last 20-30 songs."
How did you come to collaborate with Heavee and Scratcha DVA on Ruby Fifths?
Zora Jones: "Scratcha DVA was one of the first people to support me and believe in what I do, so I've been in touch with him for a while. The remix came about because Sinjin remixed one of his songs for Hyperdub and we thought it would be perfect to have a remix of Ruby Fifths to complete the circle. It was an honour to have him do it; I think the release would have been incomplete without him. He's always been so ahead of the curve; I usually have to listen to his songs a few times before fully internalising them.
I’ve also been in touch with Heavee for a while and have been a fan of his since 2010. The vocal for Ruby Fifths came from another collaboration I did with him and Sinjin called Loud. When we made it, we gave him a loop and just said “go” and he delivered an incredible 20-minutes of vocals, enough to make a bunch of songs."
How involved are you with Barcelona's club scene? Tell me about the nightlife there.
Zora Jones: "I used to go out quite a bit in Barcelona but that's slowed down a lot recently, it seems the clubs are catering more and more to tourists, and I've started focusing more and more on my projects. The festivals are great, though, Sonar is always a fun time of the year – the whole city livens up and has an incredible energy."
The animation associated with Fractal Fantasy's work reminds me of dystopian computer games – is video game scoring or design something you'd be interested in pursuing in the future?
Zora Jones: "I'm keen to start working with music and game-engines. The technology is evolving fast, and a lot of exciting possibilities are opening up, especially with virtual and augmented reality. We’ve already started experimenting with depth sensors and real-time 3D environments so I think the transition won't be too jarring once we can find a good patch of time to explore properly. But for now, we’re just waiting for the first-generation hardware to come out before taking the leap."
Zora Jones' latest single Ruby Fifths is out now via Fractal Fantasy (buy).