Kristoffer Lislegaard

City Dwellers #8

It was a lot of fun to be asked to compose music for this web based installation by the fantastic Tale Næss!

Tale Næss was originally going to make a physical installation for the festival Vårscenefest. This is an international performance art festival located in Tromsø. Because of the pandemic situation the physical festival was cancelled, and they instead decided to go for a digital variant that they called Vårskjermfest. So then Tale had to make something digital instead and this is when she contacted me to be part of the project.

In the middle of Covid 19 lockdown it was very inspiring to be able to be able to again be part of a collaborative project and compose music for something and someone. Lately I have been struggling to get motivated to write music just for myself. It feels like playing to an empty room, don’t get me wrong when I do start something I can get totally lost in the process of flow and disappear into the music, but it isn’t that tempting to start. Much like going on stage if the room is empty.

When I have something to compose FOR all of this totally changes. And when that something is super inspiring text matched up with dreamy videos it all of a sudden becomes very easy to get inspired!

The job was to compose music and sound for 16 videos. Most of them had spoken word, some were instrumental, and some were only sound design.

The final result was presented in a custom web interface where you could play multiple videos at the same time. So all the music was made in the same musical key and relative tempo so that it would work together. It was also very interesting to experiment with processing the spoken recordings, the sound from the videos and doing some sound design.

All the music was based on improvisations that I recorded with a multitrack recorder, and then used that material as a basis for the compositions. I edited the recordings, looped parts, processed audio, did overdubs and transformed the improvisations into finished pieces.

If you use a computer you can play multiple videos by yourself, if you are with friends each smartphone can play one video at a time, so use multiple phones.

It premiered 02.05.2020 and the full installation can be seen here. Not sure how long it is going to stay up so catch it while you can (not available anymore but a few individual clips can be seen below).

About the installation:

As the city itself, this installation consists of a myriad of individual voices. The city is what brings them together.

City Dwellers # 8 forms part of a series of city portraits created by Tale Næss. The portraits consist of a myriad of comments, outcries and confessions. Together they create a web of events, or, like the city itself, a feedback loop of voices. An enclosing room of sound.

In the eighth edition of City Dwellers, the project has gotten a digital format. Here, Tale Næss turns back to the starting point of the project, a trip to Detroit in 2017. The audience will get access to visit and explore 16 video clips from the city, accompanied by a specially composed sound image and a series of read texts.

City Dwellers #8 is a part of Tale Næss’ PHD at Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO).

Composer and sound design:

Words read by:


Here are 3 of the 16 clips from the installation. Hint: Try combining them, mix the volume up and down on the different layers, and invite your friends over and play the different videos on your different devices

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