VOÏO: an emerging artist collective based in Montreal, currently high from their most recent release ‘Begetter’. Begetter is a thought-provoking song on the relativity of time. Released alongside a video made by VJ Speckies and artwork by designer Sarah Voss, the collective seeks to explore new ways of expanding human consciousness. They will be selling the artwork as NFTs in order to grow the project, create immersive VR experiences, and give back to causes and organizations they believe in. We got to speak to Sam Harvey, the electronic music producer who founded VOÏO.
Husa Sounds: Hey Sam – where are you speaking to us from?
VOÏO: I’m currently at my studio, north of Montreal Studio Big Blue.
HS: Let’s talk about your latest project, VOIO. How did it come about?
V: VOÏO started with the idea to create an electronic music project – with a twist. I had been making electronic music for a few years, but I wanted to start a project that was bigger than just myself, something that had its own identity and message, and that could eventually grow into a collective. So came the idea to create an artistic outlet that is oriented towards a particular imaginative world allowing us to make multimedia, conceptual art, and also collaborate with many other artists who could also express their feelings and intuitions towards certain topics.
HS: “VOÏO’s imaginative electronic world aims to explore the ways we conceive topics such as consciousness, intelligence, and the psyche” – Can you expand on your project’s aims?
V: I imagined VOÏO as a collective place where artists could collaborate in exploring new ways of expanding humanity’s consciousness. The aim is to try to conceptualize new structures of meaning, something that could orient humanity’s moral landscape in a constructive way. I think humanity needs a new transcendence, to guide our behaviour and orient our goals. We need to start conceptualizing new ways of guiding our “living together”. The places that I think we need to look for new transcendence are : astrophysics as the search for a universal cosmic consciousness, technology and artificial intelligence, ancient myths and stories, and neuroscience. VOÏO is about experimenting with these concepts in an artistic way, with music at its center. Since artists are always at the leading edge of new concepts and paradigms, the project wants to create a space where these topics can be explored and experimented upon, with music as a central axiom.
HS: Tell us a bit about the story behind your new release, Begetter. What were your main inspirations when assembling this track?
V: Begetter started with a discussion about the problem of time. According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, time is a malleable and relative experience. In opposition, quantum mechanics regard the flow of time as universal and absolute : it doesn’t flow in a single direction, it’s a whole dimension of existence. This discussion brings forth the importance of consciousness and involves the existence of other dimensions (ten, to be precise, according to String theory). I made the song thinking about travelling through time, from ancient to future civilizations, as we would travel from Montreal to Berlin and back without effort. Begetter is about time warps and portals across the universe, and it’s also about consciousness-altering practices – meditation, psychedelics, etc. – that could potentially be another way to travel beyond the illusion of time and space.
HS: You started your career as a singer songwriter and composer, nominated at ADISQ for Album of the year in 2017. How did you get to electronic music?
V: I think it was the natural next step for me. When I started, I only had a piano and guitar, so I wrote songs with that. As my skills and knowledge of music production grew, I became more and more interested in the possibilities of synthesizers. By the time I opened my own studio, I had fallen in love with electronic music, and decided to specialize in it : it became my superpower. Electronic music is the new frontier when it comes to music creation, and I’m naturally inclined towards the exploration of new realms of experience.
HS: How do you feel that your singer-songwriter background affects your composition of electronic music tracks?
V: I think writing music in general involves exploring the unknown and making sense of it, giving it structure, coherence and harmony. In that sense, writing songs and writing electronic music is a very similar process. That being said, knowing a lot about music theory definitely helps in creating complex harmony in electronic music, and because of that, there’s a definite melodic element to the music I make. But in the end, it’s all about listening to what’s being done out there, and to never stop being curious.
HS: The VOIO project aims seem to be geared for immersive and contemplative listening. Was this goal inspired or encouraged by the current state of isolation?
V: I definitely have a personal propensity towards that kind of immersive and contemplative experiences from the get go. It might have something to do with the ayahuasca ceremonies I’ve participated in, which have definitely been a strong influence on my art. But I think, interdisciplinary digital art, such as virtual reality, is going to revolutionize the way we experience art, life and our own consciousness. I’m a huge fan of events such as MUTEK, who make a point of exploring these avenues. But I think the current isolation gave everyone an incentive to go inwards and do some soul searching and self work, which is not a bad thing, if we’re going to evolve as a species.
HS: What can we expect from you in the coming months?
V: Well, there’s going to be a lot of releases – one single a month – many of those accompanied with videos made by VJ Speckies and other videographers. We’re also working with a few 3D artists to create artwork to sell as NFT’s. This is exciting because NFT’s are something positive for digital artists and musicians in general. Otherwise, when the COVID crisis comes to an end, I will travel to Berlin to collaborate with producers such as Hannes Bieger, Azaleh and Sublab. And there’s also MUTEK, where I hope I get the chance to perform.
Produced and mixed by Sam Harvey
Mastering by Pierre-Luc Darveau from Moderne Mastering
Video Art: https://www.instagram.com/vjspeckies/