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Photo: Marissa Patrice Leitman /cropped

Perila is a St. Petersburg-born, Berlin-based sound and visual artist, DJ and performer exploring the sensitive borderlines and depths of subtle matter. Her sets are broad narratives drifting through a rich sound palette and immersing the listener into a pretty personal trip. Constantly shifting moods and textures of mixes create a space in which emotions float, merge, evaporate and ride in a deep context.

Your bio begins with: What do you mean when we say that substance matters? Substance is something that also resurfaces in the titles of your work. What is the importance of substance to you?

Substance for me is the tangible feeling of an emotion or a process happening inside. It’s a side effect of the hyper-sensitivity of experiencing the world texturally. Everything touches you and you touch it back with a reaction. Substance is an experience lived: the moment passes but the traces stay within you, and this substance is a material you can operate with while growing and analysing the current to set future goals and visions, something you can process and almost physically feel.

I like interacting with open space by asking questions whose answers could be the questions themselves. It’s an abstract thought stream that hits everyone differently, just like the music and sounds we hear and listen to every day.

On your Bandcamp, you release single tracks or recordings rather than full-length EP’s and albums, as is often the case. The tracks are accompanied by short poems. They remind me of fragments of a memory, a sonic diary of sorts. 

That is exactly it. Bandcamp is a place to release sonic reflections of a feeling, a place to process emotions and commemorate special moments, to remember and revisit them later in a gentle way. I like the idea of a free-form flow; you feel something and release it through sound, not knowing the outcome but just trusting the inner call to emit sounds. And then it is always very interesting to see yourself through that soundscape you have created almost subconsciously. 

Writing is a ritual I try to keep in my daily life; it helps me to let go of difficult states as well as praise beautiful moments as a reminder of the constant change in our lives. Writings accompany the sonic world I explore and act as a collaborator to complete a certain mood or message. I keep it abstract but emotional, just like the tracks. It’s interesting to look at poems as songs; while reading them out loud or to yourself they start sounding, resonating mentally and emotionally. Playing with rhythm is something I enjoy doing more in poems than in tracks for now, which is why I like working with spoken word worlds in my music.

What importance do topography and various geographies have in your work and inspiration?

I’m not chasing some specific places but I like to capture the sound world of the places I happen to be in. When I travel, I always have a recorder with me to catch moments, which are usually reflected later in my sonic diary or other projects.

Recently, I’ve realised that I really like to create physical spaces when I play a live set. In order to transcend it I use and process field recordings, creating these meta space interactions. I find it intriguing to bring other spaces in when performing. In this way, it feels like a boundless sonic field.

Can you talk about the birth of your music? How does it come to life? 

It really depends. Usually, it comes from an idea or a concept when I work on a particular project. I like to establish a special headspace, to think of a message I would like to transcend and then the means to do it. And only after I have this mental base do I move on to actual composition. For every project, I like to find new ways of expression, to challenge myself and approach sound from a new perspective in order to discover what I don’t know yet. That’s why my sound world is in a constant flux, resembling this desire to explore new realms and expand my practice.

But I also like to jam for no reason when I feel moody, for example, I get lost in sounds, releasing emotions through melodies or vocal rides. For these occasions, I really like playing guitar; for me it is such a healing collaboration with an instrument. There is so much to it, the way you touch strings and let the mood echo in a resonance.

One of the directions of my practice is to reach a state of constant flow where there is no beginning or end in making music or any other activity and it’s all an infinite process of interaction with the world inside and outside of you through sound, listening and observing.

To me, your music is very evocative. It evokes certain atmospheres, which are almost lucid at times. Is there a specific atmosphere you associate with your music? 

I like to create warm, fleeting atmospheres where you forget where you were a minute ago and a narrative keeps unfolding, taking you on a journey. Initiating a mood which then develops according to its own rules and forms in a process of “deep listening”.  I guess for me an atmosphere is a really important element in all aspects of life; it creates a safe place for me, an environment in which to feel comfortable and release what arises during the experience of creating, listening or contemplation. I see an atmosphere as a timeless capsule where one can detach from a routine state of mind and expand one’s vision to other realms of engaging with life. The atmosphere I create to heal and feel grounded in my sonic world is my favourite place to be.

What currently inspires you and affects you?

Nature has been my forever source of inspiration, especially at times when the speed of life escalates very quickly; I find it’s essential to go back to the roots, breathe, absorb and observe this wisest being, my master. 

Space: vast, open, empty, resonating, echoing, boundless and free is something I pursue a lot in my life and artistic practice. Blank space is like a canvas for me on which you can paint whatever you want with sound, movements and energies. Space in all its forms is very empowering. Performing is such a beautiful way to interact with a space.

Observation as a book of life and research to find ways to slow down and balance in this mad world. Overcoming fears to feel one’s true self and share knowledge with others. These are my motivational inspirations to explore and engage with life on deeper levels.

I worship silence from my window. As spring slowly lands, bringing life back, I love staying at home all day with the window open, listening to all the subtle sounds coming from the yard, supported by a grounding silence.

The desire to explore voice, breath and the body-mind connection has been my ongoing motivation in everything I do nowadays. I’m fascinated by how touching a voice can be if it’s coming from the depths of a soul on waves of breath, how healing it is to feel your body in space absorbing and reacting to what surrounds it.

The more I explore all these aspects of life, the more sensitive I become and the honesty of an emotion expressed makes me cry.

Interview by: Lucia Udvardyova

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