Marja Ahti (b. 1981) is a Swedish-Finnish musician and sound artist basedin Turku, Finland. She’s performing and recording under the moniker Tsembla as well as her own name.
Ahti works with field recordings and other acoustic sound material combined with synthesizers and electronic feedback in order to find the borderland where these sounds start to mimic each other or communicate. She makes music that rides on waves of slowly warping harmonies and mutating textures – rough edged compositions, rich in detail. She also makes music and sound for dance and performances.
Ahti has presented her music in many different contexts around Europe, in Japan and the United States. She’s also a member of the Himera work group, organizing experimental music events and workshops, one half of the duo Ahti & Ahti with her partner Niko-Matti Ahti and collaborator of Kemialliset Ystävät
Marja Ahti performs on saturday, August 4.
1. To kick-off with this typical but still relevant question – how does the world of music dwells in Turku?Also could You describe the current situation in a few words. Is it more likely that there is a creative stagnation, or is it possible to predict something new and special?
Turku is a relatively small university town, but considering this there is a good music and art scene. Besides playing, I’m also involved in organizing music events with the Himera work group – much of getting to hear live music I like is about making it happen yourself, inviting artists and collaborating with local venues, galleries and artist run spaces. As I see it, this collaborative spirit between different art forms is developing nicely at the moment and making space for new things to happen.
2. Now, for a quick detour in the past – is the imaginary soundsculpture You constantly modulate and refine (assumably to infinite and beyond) differ magnitudes compared to ideals You began this journey with?
Yes, I think my aesthetic has always been changing along with living and learning, but especially so during the last few years. I had a shift in bothworking methods and in my approach to sound that came out of a sort of crisis a few years ago. It resulted in a change both in my music making and listening habits – slowing down and zooming in on sound. Lately I’ve been more excited about seeing musical eventsunfold like waves than in a rhythmic fashion. The rhythm in my musichas always been loose, sometimes almost on the verge of fallingapart, so it is refreshing not even trying to keep it together. I’vealso grown more interested in timbre and tunings. I like to make slowand intense music that I want to spend time inside of, not so muchsounds that pushes you onward.
3. The world today is known to be overwhelmed by different music – what is it that makes your work unique or to stand out in this frenzy of sound?
That is not for me to say, I’d leave that to the listener. I’m trying not to compare what I do too much to what is going on around me, better not to get lost in the mirror world.
4. If your music where to magically morph into edible, then what kind?
Something fermented with a complex flavor and full of microbes that linger in your body after you digest it – maybe sauerkraut?
5. F as in finish – when you hear the word “Kukemuru”, what is the first topic that bubbles from the subconcious? (To make things more interesting, the answer can’t be Kukemuru Ambient :)
Well, the sound of it reminds me of the way japanese words are constructed, but it also sounds like an abbreviation of four different words merged into one, like “kuka kehtaa mutista runoja” or something.