INTERVIEW: Michel van der Aa

Hi Michel, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Good, pretty frantic, juggling the release of “Time Falling” and the work on a new opera. But thanks for asking J

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “I Think Of Fire”?

‘I Think Of Fire’ depicts a car accident and the moment when time comes to a halt, the driver is lost in ‘no particular point in time, no particular point in space’ and sees flashes of her own death; but then in recoiling from the impact, her sense of time and space return. She however laments her loss of timeless space, crashing the car continually to regain her place between life and death, where she longs to remain.

The track is recorded with analogue synths and drum machines from the 1970s and 1980s featuring the iconic Jupiter 8 synth.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I’m really interested in the idea of “Infinity”, in regard to ‘time’, and ‘space’; it is the theme of the entire album.  I’ve been researching instances where people describe what happens to them in an accident, from what I have read it appears a common sensation is the feeling of time slowing down.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

The 3D animations in the video were made by Darell Ferhostan, and they were processed into visual language by SanderFocus. With roots in the Commodore 64 demo-scene, they embrace the beauty of 8-bit limitations. Mixing the 1980s visual aesthetics with modern technology the video creates a wonderful new take on this era. A low-end / hi-tech crossover.

The single comes off your new album Time Falling – what’s the story behind the title?

‘Time Falling’ is a rather kaleidoscopic concept album centered around the theme of infinity, and is inspired by the writing of Jorge Luis Borges, Fernando Pessoa, Federico García Lorca, Emily Dickinson and scientific discovery.  The title itself “Time Falling”, is an expression from a poem by Fernando Pessoa.

How did you come up with the idea of putting a concept record together? How was the recording and writing process?

The idea for this album originates from the VR installation Eight that was produced in 2018/19 and also features Kate Miller-Heidke. Inspired by the installation project I spent much time researching the theme of ‘infinity’, ending up with so much material and musical ideas that I decided they needed to be explored through a full album. The musical language of Eight was already more in song form and closer to pop music, so I decided to continue down this path.

What was it like to work with Kate Miller-Heidke and how did that relationship develop?

I have worked on three previous projects with Kate, my opera Sunken Garden in 2013, a digital song cycle called The Book of Sand in 2015, and then most recently we collaborated on the VR installation Eight in 2019. I really love working with Kate, like me, she defies genre working in both classical and pop music, and has such a broad range and taste. She’s an amazing vocalist, and a wonderful artist to collaborate with, we really click.

How much did she get to influence the song?

The single “I Think of Fire” is written by me, but Kate collaborated on the lyrics of some of the other tracks on the album and infact two tracks are co-writes with Kate.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?

I love collaborating, when things go well, it’s such a magical creative journey and really more than the sum of its parts.  I produced this album together with Thijs de Vlieger of Dutch DnB act Noisia. His involvement added a certain edge and energy to the sound of the album that really adds to my original vision.

What role does Holland play in your music?

Holland is home to famous artists like Mondrian and Rembrandt and there’s a certain directness in their work and in our culture that I believe is also part of my aesthetics.

Any plans to hit the road?

No plans for touring this album as of yet, Kate and I live so far apart it would be a bit of a logistical challenge. But I wouldn’t rule it out completely.

What else is happening next in Michel van der Aa’s world?

I’m working on a new opera called “Upload, it will be premiered next March (2021) at Dutch National Opera and will tour to Oper Köln, Bregenzer Festspiele, and the New York Park Avenue Armory.

Watch the video for ‘I Think Of Fire’ HERE’

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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