Q&A: Nick Luscombe Explains Musicity and Hints at What’s in Store

2 August 2019 | Wonderfruit

One of the highlights of Wonderfruit 2019 is sure to be a live concert of musical creations inspired by iconic destinations in Bangkok. In a Q&A with Musicity founder, Nick Luscombe, we explore the project to give you a feel for what to expect.


WONDERPOST: What was your inspiration to start Musicity in the first place?


NICK: There were many reasons why the project startedand how it has developed. 


I have long been fascinated by the design of our cities, how each individual place makes us feel and why we take certain routes and pathways as we journey from A to B. I was curious about the idea of embedded music at locations as a way to influence those decisions. 


I also wondered how musicians would respond to architecture as a brief and if it was possible to create a new platform that would shine a light on new music and architecture. 


How do music and architecture go hand in hand to create an experience?


Both are very immediate artforms and hugely influential in the way we live our day-to-day lives. They both have so much emotional resonance.  


I feel that it’s quite an untapped subject, but our work over the last eight years is expanding into so many different areas now…we are only in the early stages of learning how we can work with sound and space to create new experiences.  


You work with musicians, producers and even poets and scientists for the project; how do you choose them? 


It’s important to get the right artists/poets for each set of locations. We try to make sure a lot of the artists have strong connections to the area of focus. We work independently in London and develop ideas with local producers internationally. The science angle is new and we are partnering with the University of Tokyo and other organisations including ARUP. 


When it comes to the destination, what qualifies a site or setting for the Musicity treatment, and how do you match it with the artist?


Every place has its own unique characteristics, thanks to the interaction of various circumstances from the layout of the area and the shape of buildings, roadways and parks, to the people, animals, birds and insects that inhabit these spaces. This collision of events creates a perfect ecosystem of possibilities that inspires and informs our practice and enables us to work in all manner of places, from huge cities like Tokyo and Shanghai, to smaller towns and countryside areas. 


We then aim to match artists with each place, working with a combination of local musicians and visiting musicians who research areas that are new to them.


What are some of your personal favorite Musicity experiences, projects or tracks so far? What makes them extra special for you?


It’s hard to pick a favourite! All tracks are unique and 100 percent dedicated to the space of inspiration. Each track becomes special when I go to the location and hear it in situ for the first time. For me there are now so many parts of the world that have become new memories thanks to the music associated with them


We’ve been fortunate to work on large scale projects in China, Japan and Korea…and also smaller one-off pieces for gallery exhibitions. The body of work is of such high quality from all of our artists. It’s super humbling!  


What’s the greatest challenge in creating music for a destination?


I think for the artists it’s about the fact that each piece will be associated with the space forever. That’s quite a heavy commitment, I feel. 


For Musicity at Wonderfruit you’ve selected artists from Erased Tapes Records, what’s the story behind the collaboration?


I’ve long been a fan of the Erased Tapes label and the many artists they work with. Although the releases are sonically quite varied, the label does have a sound world that I felt would match the aims of Musicity, 


After a conversation with label boss Robert (an ex architect) and several of the Erased Tapes artists, it was clear that we could make this happen. 


It’s quite a challenge to write tracks in a very short time about a place that’s far away, but I sense it’s going to result in some very special work.


How are the locations selected for the Bangkok edition?


The list of locations has been developed with the Wonderfruit team and the visiting artists. This is another critical part of our work: developing the Musicity programme through local knowledge to ensure it has wide-ranging appeal to people that live in the city as a primary endeavour.


How do you imagine soundtracks of Bangkok?


I have never been to Thailand but I can imagine there is so much hidden sonic richness in Bangkok to unearth, which will fully represent what I sense is an incredibly dynamic city.


What are you personally looking forward to at Wonderfruit?


The line-up is incredible and I’m looking forward to checking out as much music as possible surrounded by the combination of the stunning natural landscape and the architectural interactions from Ab Rogers. I really can’t wait! 


What’s in store for Musicity next?


We have big plans for several cities around the world – including films, more VR experiences and live events.


Enormous thanks to Nick for taking the time to talk us through his global project. We can’t wait to experience it at Theatre Stage in December. Find out more here.