by Zolton in New Music on Wednesday 31 January 2007

We love the music of South African-born, London-based producer Mira Calix. It’s rustic, cerebral and slow-building, kinda like that first slither of daylight that stirs the morning heartbeat. We interviewed her recently about her new album, Eyes Set Against The Sun. You’ve done a lot of installation soundscapes for galleries and the like. What does that medium offer that an album perhaps doesn’t? ‘When I’m writing music for a particular space or for a function, to help communicate something that has come from someone else’s needs, it means I have to consider that space in so many different ways – the position of the audience, the speakers, the room size and so on – as well as trying to create an atmosphere and language to tell the ‘story’ that needs to be told. It means there is a lot to consider when writing. Sometimes really it’s more like problem solving, but coming up with ‘solutions’ – things that work. I guess that is what is really stimulating to me because it challenges me to think and sometimes take a different approach. It’s very different to my own studio work. All I really have to consider then is my own desire’.

At what point did you start performing under the name Mira Calix and why? [her real name is Chantal Passamonte] ‘I started djing under my own name more than ten years ago, long before I released anything. It was the time of my first release on Warp – a 10″ called Ilanga – that I decided to use a pseudonym. I’ve been working under the name Mira Calix ever since. I guess I was just shy’. Are you still enjoying listening to [her song for Alexander’s Annexe’s Warp album] Push Door to Exit? ‘I don’t think I’ve listened to it since I mastered it. But we’ve been performing it live. We just played it this weekend in Berlin at the opening of the Transmediale festival. Live the piece is different every time. I’m still very much enjoying playing it and shaping it for each performance’. If you were to program three songs right now to start off a dj set supporting Aphex Twin, what would they be? ‘Mmm. What a question. I’ve played before Richard [D. James, aka Aphex Twin] a couple of times but can’t remember what I’ve played. It would very much depend where the gig was and what time of night. But here’s three possibilities … DHS – House of God; Meat Beat Manifesto – Babylon; Mike Ink – Paroles’.