This week’s guest mix comes from experimental flautist and instrument maker Katie English, aka Isnaj Dui. From her home in Yorkshire, Katie uses a flute, self-constructed dulcimers, loop pedals and other secrets to create minimal, enchanting music. Her mix is a great collection of inspirational songs, some of which have perhaps fed into the excellent Isnaj Dui album Euplexia, which has been shortlisted for the Dead Albatross Music Prize this year. We caught up with Katie to chat about DIY instrument building, life in Yorkshire and the timelessness of her music…
Kit Records: Hi, how are you?
Isnaj Dui: Hello. I’m very well thanks.
KR: What inspired you to make your first musical instrument?
ID: It was born from necessity really. I’d recorded a track that I wanted to play live but had used a guitar to make some weirdy plinky sounds on the recording. I didn’t want to carry a guitar around just for that so made a dulcimer type thing that gave me some nice plinky guitar-like sounds, without the weight and space! It started life as a single string stretched across my effects unit until I decided I wanted more strings so attached some machine heads to a bit of old shelf and hey presto…!
KR: Has relocating from London to Yorkshire affected your music at all?
ID: I think so, yes. I’ve got a lot more time for recording and have started a few new projects since moving which have all affected my solo work in one way or another. I’ve been going to loads more gigs than I could ever have afforded to in London which has had an impact too, and through that have met new people, exchanged ideas and all that. In my never-ending contrariness I seem to write harsher stuff when I’m relaxed and happy so everything’s got a bit of an edge to it at the moment!
KR: Your music seems to draw on the very old and the very new. Is there a certain era in music you find particularly inspiring?
ID: There’s not one in particular but it’s interesting that you pick up on that. I love the polyphony and harmonies of Renaissance and Baroque music but also the sparseness of Plainchant and, much later, Sacred Minimalism. I love drawing on non-Western music too and have studied different tuning systems, I used to play in a London based Gamelan group and love the close harmonies in East European folk.
KR: What next for Isnaj Dui?
ID: I’m currently working on a new album which I’m hoping to have finished by early next year and have a couple of gigs lined up in November where I’ll be trying out some of the new work.
KR: Can you tell us a little about your selections?
Gang Gang Dance – Nicoman
I saw Gang Gang Dance at The Luminaire years back and they were just amazing. Absolutely nutty as wotsits but amazing musicianship. It’s so rare to see a band just having fun but producing such amazing music and this EP still sounds so ahead of its time even several years later.
These New Puritans – Hologram
Whenever I get the chance I’ll bang on about how great Hidden is so I’ll carry on. It’s just such an amazing album, start to finish. The way the band and orchestra work together, it just sounds like a single entity, none of that band featuring an orchestra work that sounds fine but is very much a band doing their thing with an orchestra doing theirs, never quite merging.
Hybernation – Harmonic (Ed Rome)
Stu’s been a good friend of mine since we played dodgy electronica nights about 10 years ago and is one of few people who manages to use field recordings and found sounds in a truly musical way. His Metal Studies album is a great example of this as all the tunes are made up of samples taken from a single metal object.
Beastie Boys – Flute Loop
The title says it all…
Memory Drawings – There Is No Perfect Place
I’ve had the pleasure of playing with this band a couple of times and I love their work, it’s pastoral and reflective but never twee or cloying. We’re also label mates through two lovely labels, Second Language and Hibernate!
Squarepusher – Iambic 5 Poetry
Old news but Squarepusher’s great and this tune is pretty much perfect really.
Namphueng Boribun – Nak Kamphra (Orphan Monk)
I just love that repetitive high-pitched squeal and that melodic loop that run throughout, combined with the rhythmic vocal.
Hymie’s Basement – Ghost Dream
The too short-lived project from Yoni Wolf and Andrew Broder, absolutely fantastic work.
Emanuelle Parrenin – Topaze
I only came across Parrenin’s work recently, while Keiron (Phelan, the other half of littlebow) and I were putting together a mix for Second Language Records. This track just blows me away. If it was made now it would be impressive but the fact it was made nearly 40 years ago is just amazing. The rest of the album (Maison Rose) varies wildly, some of it is quite twee folk, some jazzy, with this monster lurking in its depths!
Buy Euplexia here. Do it now.