World citizen and now Toronto-based musician Lydia Ainsworth produces haunting, ephemeral, dreamy music that chimes with twinkling bells, swoons with orchestration, and then gleefully throws in beats to craft driving pieces. She first learned to play cello at age 10 and has a background composing music for both film and multimedia projects. Her EP Right from Real Part I was released on June 10 by Arbutus records is already garnering praise from critics. She’s performing at Montreal’s Slut Island Festival as well as putting in an appearance at NXNE. She let us in a little bit of her process and performance.
Rachel Levine (RL): I’ve read you previously composed for art installations, dance, and film. What made you want to switch to releasing your own album? Has your music fundamentally changed from your earlier works to the present release?
Lydia Ainsworth (LA): I really hope my music is always evolving, I hope it always will. It wasn’t so much a switch to releasing my own album, it was a gradual progression of using my voice more and more in those multimedia type projects that led me to write songs of my own.
RL: When writing songs, what is your process? Were you influenced by your academic degree in composition? Where do you start from when you use so many samples and mix them so freely with orchestration and beats?
LA: When I sit down to write I try my best not to think too much about any kind of academic lesson I’ve ever had and just let my intuition guide me. It’s kind of the opposite of what I was taught in school. The process usually begins with a walk along a bridge; this always helps me to receive and internalize melodies. The Bloor Street Viaduct in Toronto or the Williamsburg Bridge are very good! There is no set process for my use of samples / orchestration. Sometimes it’s trial and error and sometimes I have a very clear sound I am chasing.
RL: You spent time recording this album in Toronto and New York. Can you elaborate on your relationship between the two cities? Have the two cities played a role in creating your music and if so, how?
RL: Toronto is where I sketched out the songs and New York is where I finished them. I think it really helped to workshop the songs in Brooklyn. I would play at venues that had maybe five or fewer people in the audience, just to test them out and work out their forms/vibes.
RL: When it comes to touring and performing, what kind of set up do you have? Is it just you, or do you have other musicians performing with you?
LA: I have been playing out with a cellist and violinist. We are sometimes joined by a couple forest nymphs wearing plaid shirts.
Lydia Ainsworth is appearing with Jef Barbara, Light Fires, the Wayo, Tops, and DJ Like the Wolf at the Slut Island Festival in Montreal on June 12 at the Rialto Theatre (5723 Du Parc). 8 p.m. $10.