Welcome to Interviewed, a series of chats and discussions with creators from all over the internet!
Today we’re joined by Boe Huntress, Boe is a musician and artist in residence at Union Chapel Church. Through her work in this role she has developed thought provoking innovative pieces around themes such as masculinity, war and female power.
D: Could you tell us a little bit about you as an artist as well as ‘Medusa: The Transformation’?
B: I’m a songwriter, singer and writer, who also directs and produces immersive shows. I’m particularly interested in the mythic, and how it underscores our archetypal experiences as humans, as such I’ve been retelling myths for the past few years, both as songs and stories. Myth has often been relegated in our culture but I feel it’s a missing piece to our understanding of meaning in life. ‘Medusa: The Transformation’ will be an audio-visual spectacular immersion with a compelling story at its centre.
D: How excited are you for this show at Union Chapel, you’re an artist in residence here, why is Union Chapel the place for you and your art?
I feel so honoured to have the opportunity to create this show in the incredible surroundings of Union Chapel, we’ll be doing something unique that’s never been done before, which makes it extremely exciting. I was particularly drawn to Union Chapel as an artist because it lends itself to being used in a creative way. There are lots of spooky corridors and hidden rooms, with a sense of the mysterious about them. I also love the ethos of Union Chapel, in that the focus is primarily on creativity, community and culture, and exploring what makes life meaningful, rather than being financially driven. We take creative risks as an organisation and keep expanding our ideas, as well as making it a home for the community, from art lovers to the homeless. It’s a very special place. For me, the best art touches people deeply on the level of being human, and that’s why Union Chapel is the place for my art.
D: What was it that drew you to make Medusa the focus of your show?
B: As you will see when you come to the show, I had a personal experience of encountering Medusa in a symbolic way. This led to some research and when I dug deeper I discovered there is so much that is hidden about her origins and story. Like much of history, we’ve heard only the accounts of the colonisers, or the ones in power. This in turn gives us a very skewed idea of reality. It’s hard to recover what’s been lost in the burial of original stories, and as an artist, I take the approach of letting the material work on me, the feelings and emotions, the symbols and threads that can be traced back. I feel inspired to share what I’ve found meaningful in the Medusa myth with an audience, partly to wake us up from our assumptions about what we think we know, and partly to discover something deeply empowering that’s held within it.
D: Your work is VERY inspiring and truly fantastic, before this, I had no idea about the true origins of Medusa. What can we do to further educate ourselves on inaccuracies through history, as so much of it has been whitewashed and focused on men?
B: I think it’s always interesting to read a story against the grain, to question the assumptions being made, the point of view it’s told from, and lift the lid on the surface reading. I learnt to question the narrator when I studied literature at university, and it’s been a tool that’s stayed with me. It can be applied to reading anything, history, fiction, even the news and what appears in your Facebook feed. There’s always more than one story being told, or a story beneath the story, which may even be its opposite. It’s here where things become interesting and alive with possibility.
D: As a musician and artist, where do you draw your inspiration from?
B: I draw inspiration from all parts of life, from conversations I have, or overhear (!) from things that may seem initially other to me but which I might become curious in, from odd or recurring incidences, and even from dreams. For the past few years, I’ve been largely inspired by what’s been repressed, hidden or seen as taboo. What might initially appear as dangerous but which, once unravelled, stores a kind of treasure that might be essential to living a fulfilling life. Another word for this is the shadow. As part of this exploration, I’ve written a lot about female or feminine power, as something that’s been repressed for an incredibly long time. If you listen to any of my music you will quickly see this theme coming through.
D: Who are you watching and listening to when you create your own music? Are there any artists/musicians that you particularly enjoy?
B: I listen widely and draw inspiration from many disparate genres. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of world music, where the rhythms induce a different kind of feeling to western rhythms. I’ve been hugely inspired by artists who pioneer in some way, such as the jazz musician Sun Ra, Bjork, Kate Bush, David Bowie, Nina Simone, Jimmi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. For me, the best songwriting comes from a place that is reaching beyond the mundane and into our potential as humans.
D: How do you build your audiovisual experiences? Where does it all begin, and how do you flesh it out to create something so visual and visceral?
B: I start from the story and the overall feeling that wants to emerge through it. Every element that’s included in the piece needs to relate to this central feeling. With Medusa, I’ve been quite ambitious in what my intention is for the audience’s experience, and the overall feeling I would like them to leave with. You will have to let me know afterwards what you think my intended emotion for the piece was, I can’t give it away yet! There tends to be a kind of magic in how these shows develop, and although I am overseeing and making decisions, it’s often not until the show night that I fully understand the vision, which appears to have a will or impetus of its own.
D: What’s next for you after this Halloween performance?
B: My next show will be in May 2019 at Union Chapel, and as yet is a complete unknown. I plan to release an EP of music that will accompany the Medusa show and will be available to download from 31st October onwards, so I’ll be busy playing gigs live to accompany the EP in the months following Medusa. Do follow me on Facebook to stay updated with shows and events.
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