Noveller, the musical alias of Sarah Lipstate, has made some of the most vital ambient/drone work in recent memory. This set from the Issue Project Room gives a good sense of the breadth of Lipstate’s work, which can veer from challenging instrumental soundscapes to precise evocations of bliss in an instant. 2010 saw the release of two the CD Desert Fires (to be released on LP next month by Weird Forest) and Bleached Valentine, a split LP with unFact; both are highly recommended. As Lipstate is also a filmmaker, much of this conversation focused on areas where art forms blur, where text, music, and images are drawn together to magnificent effect.
Your work encompasses both music and film. Have you ever had any interest in incorporating text, either sung or spoken?
I experimented with using my voice on some of the very early Noveller recordings. My first release, a 3” CD-r titled Vasovagal, has several tracks that incorporate spoken text. Most of these lines are buried in the mix and very difficult to decipher. On the Vasovagal track “Resin,” I’m not even sure if I remember exactly what I’m saying! I yell “Shock! Shock!” a lot on the Vasovagal track, “Shok”. I’ve never been very comfortable with the idea of incorporating text in my music, mainly because the sound of my own voice doesn’t excite me very much. Also, I’ve always thought of vocals/lyrics as an expected element in music, especially music made by female musicians, and I kind of enjoy bypassing that expectation by using the electric guitar as the sole instrumentation.
Have any books had an influence on the music or films that you’ve made?
Most of my music and film work tends to be inspired by real-life experiences.
What have you been reading lately?
I’ve been very ADD with my reading lately. I tend to not carry books with me around the city, so I’ll pick up something new when I’m not at my house and start reading that. Over Christmas, I was reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, but didn’t finish either. Currently, I’ve been reading Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, and The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy in the American Voice by Greil Marcus. The last book that I actually read cover-to-cover was My Idea of Fun by Will Self.
What are some of the books that have stayed with you — either longtime favorites or work you’ve found to be inspiring?
I read Hunger by Knut Hamsun for the first time last year and thought that it was brilliant and strangely inspiring. The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood and White Noise by Don DeLillo definitely make my longtime favorite fiction list. Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs, Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus, and Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad were pretty influential to me as a teenager when I was first picking up the electric guitar.
(photo credit: Chris Habib)