This week we caught up with inspirational Italian Sound designer Chiara Luzzana. She is also a music composer and visionary multimedia artist for art, fashion, TV and movie….
We discussed creativity, inspiration, fashion and soundtracks!
Would you mind giving yourself a brief introduction?
I learned to listen to the sounds and to the music even before I started to speak. This soon became my language.
When I was 13 I studied guitar, then clarinet, then sax and finally piano, but I learned so fast that I soon got bored. There was something in that extremely strict way of teaching that stopped my creativity. So, I decided to take those instruments and to alter all the scores mixing them with improvisation and new sounds captured from everyday life and putting everything together using analog synthesizers.
I always had three main passions: music, cinema and design. The combination of these passions, both auditive and visual, enables me to reach an utter symbiosis with the artistic subject.
To overcome my shyness and a solitary adolescence and transform my compositions in body language, when I was 18 I became a DJ, initially cutting and pasting old tapes, then using my beloved vinyls.
When did you realize you wanted to work in music?
When I was a child, I was very quiet and solitary. I used to wear headphones all the time and my walkman was always on.
Due to family problems – my parents divorced when I was 5 years old – I had difficulties in expressing my feelings, and during the first years of this separation I was inclined to “freeze” every sensation. And it was to try to express myself that I started playing music. Music became my shelter and my new language.
We noticed you also studied film history, video making and motion design. Did that set you up for the transition from Dj-ing to audio visual installation?
My “visual” studies taught me how to see. Music taught me how to listen. And maybe this helps me in the intimate “translation” of my feelings. If you work on either a soundtrack, a DJ-set or a music installation, you always have to “express something”. And, to express yourself properly you need to know who is in front of you. It can be an artwork, it can be a film, it can be a packed dancefloor.
How do you create these “handmade” instruments for your work?
The design starts from an onomatopoeia through which I discover the features and the frequencies of the sound I want to recreate as well as the material I have to use: iron, glass, wood, etc. Then I add a sounding board, strings if the instrument needs to be “plucked”, or rudimental pads if it has to follow a rhythm. I use special microphones to record the sound and then I process it using different synthesizers. I never use sounds from preexisting libraries. It would kill the authenticity and the creative challenge of my work.
You were awarded the first prize at the Soundtrart international contest for your soundtrack. What was unique about your final piece?
Creating a soundtrack is different from creating an ordinary song. A soundtrack must produce an emotion related to something you’re watching, whether it is a film, an exhibition or a fashion show.
It might not be the main character, but music has a very important role: the wrong soundtrack could produce distorted sensations and ruin the final result of the work. That is why in this job it is essential to be in symbiosis with the work you’re doing. Music will be the voice of what the eye will see.
I think that a soundtrack like “Fragmento” won because it has reached precisely this goal: translating in music the complex and corrupted world of mass media, giving the listener a sense of hope and positiveness.
What is your most preferred part about the creative process for your projects?
Hearing is one of the hardest senses to understand. And this is paradoxical because our inner ears, with all the little bones and the tympanum, reach their adult size and function at the fifth week of pregnancy.
This enables the fetus to get used to the sound texture which there will be outside, after the birth. Unfortunately, as we grow up we lose this listening ability. In fact, it becomes automatic.
So, this is the most exciting part of my creative process. Learning how to “see with the ears”. Translating in sound what the eye sees. Getting into this emotional psychology is surely what fascinates me the most about my job.
Your work for Valentino Haute Couture, Jean-Paul Gaultier enhanced the clothing and collection direction. What is your advice for creating the perfect fashion Soundtrack?
The colors and the cuts of a fashion collection often say a lot more than the designer himself. Closely examining the movements of the clothes, the way they “fall” on the models, the fabrics, the accessories, helps me a lot to understand how a soundtrack has to be.
You’re a very talented human being, how would you advise others who want to take a similar career path?
It certainly is a hard job. It goes beyond music. Often you have to interpret psychologically your client’s expectations. My advice to whoever wants to work in this field is to never forget that behind every single sound there is an emotion. A wrong sound can ruin the moment.
You do a variety of work within branding, art, TV and Fashion. What can we expect to see from you during the rest of 2014?
I have a sound research project which I’d like to start and finish by the end of 2014.
Unfortunately, the personal projects are always those which fall behind, because of the priority of the “official” works, but they are also the things which shape your personality and give you the chance to go beyond your limits.
And now I know that this is a moment in my life in which I need to go beyond myself.
For now enjoy a wonderful mix created by Chiara