This is a special week in the tech world. New Orleans is the place, not only for its festive atmosphere but also for the 2018 edition of The Collision Conference.
How to start this special week with Beatie Wolfe? She is a very special singer-songwriter that is not afraid to be curious. She is an innovator and sound creator. The perfect musical scientist in my book!
I couldn’t be there in person for this year conference, but Beatie and I managed to squeeze in a really fun interview.
Let’s enjoy the ride.
SD: What are you looking for this year at the Collision 2018 Conference?
BW: Meaningful connections and conversations with like-minded people who wish to inspire and uplift.
SD: Every time I listened to your album, Raw Space, I feel like I’m in a bubble. It’s a very pleasant sound environment.
Can you explain to us how you created this special atmosphere?
BW: That’s very kind. I honestly don’t know. I think that I give an intense amount of focus to the songwriting, arranging and production process and I really do believe that God is in the detail.
I was also aware that the stage for the album would be the Bell Labs Anechoic Chamber (the ultimate raw space!), which absolutely makes you feel like you’re in a bubble, so I think that influenced the recording/producing process too.
SD: You are the co-founder of a research project that is looking at the influence of music on people that are living with dementia. What inspired you to take part in this amazing project?
BW: I was inspired by neurologist Oliver Sacks and his incredible work looking at the power of music to heal and move us, even when nothing else can.
While reading Musicophilia, I felt that there was no greater application of music than that: pulling people back from the most extreme neurological states, and when I heard that some of my family members had developed dementia, I felt compelled to start applying what I had been reading about.
The amazing thing about the ‘Power of Music & Dementia’ study is that it was the first study to prove the power of music, outside of memory, (new music) for people living with dementia and this was something that Sacks had theorised but not yet tested, stating that “…music does not have to be familiar to exert its emotional pull…” and “…music is a necessity for those with dementia.”
SD: As a very proud Montrealer, I can see some of Leonard Cohen’s inspiration in your lyrics. Other journalists and bloggers can see it too. Are Leonard Cohen’s poetic lyrics what inspired you to be a songwriter?
BW: It is a funny story because Cohen did become a big influence on me, but only after I had played a number of shows and people in the audience would come up and say: “Are you a Leonard Cohen fan? Your music reminds me so much of his.” And back then I had no idea who he was (this was when I was about 16/17).
Then, one guy from a show in Portugal gave me a CD mix of his favorite Cohen songs and from the first time I listened, I was hooked!
I realized that there was someone else who cared as much about the words as I did, someone who was so true to the story, that the music had to serve it.
Cohen was such an incredible wordsmith, poet, and writer in his own right, that I ended up doing my dissertation on him for my English Literature degree, even though the University advised against it, thinking he could not be classed as a writer.
Writing that paper, even against the advice of my professors, was what ended up opening a dialogue with Cohen and his team and at one point, just before he passed away, there was a conversation about him adopting one of my musical formats (the intelligent deck of cards) for “I Want It Darker.”
SD: When you see the words “Musical Innovator”, what kind of emotion does that bring to you?
BW: I think it’s definitely something different to just being a musician or singer-songwriter. For me, the music is always at the core, it is the reason I do everything.
But I love creating worlds for each of my albums and allowing people to feel some of the old school magic that I felt for records at a kid, by creating new formats that combine the best of the old and the best of the new.
So in that way, I am happy to be a musical innovator!
SD: Can we expect a show in the near future in Montreal?
BW: Yes… 110%!! It is a place I have been meaning to visit and play in for so long.
Leonard Cohen’s city welcomes you, Beatie, with open arms!
Written by Sabine Démosthènes
Photography credited to Beatie Wolfe
Thank you Collision 2018