German experimental musician Christoph Heemann has been confirmed for the 13th edition of Riga’s Skaņu Mežs festival for adventurous music and related art. He will play on October 9th – the second concert evening of the festival.
Christoph Heemann was born into a musical family in 1964 in Aachen, Germany. Though his parents and four siblings all received formal musical training, at an early age Heemann rejected this as he felt the need to find his own way of learning and creating. At the age of 13, he did receive some formal training in music theory thanks primarily to an enthusiastic music teacher.
During studies in Art History, Philosophy & English literature at the Technical University of Aachen in 1983, he began experimenting with electronic instruments and home recording equipment along with a companion, Achim Flaam. The following year Heemann, along with Flaam and his brother Andreas Martin, started the seminal experimental music project Hirsche Nicht Aufs Sofa (HNAS) and created their own label Dom to release some cassettes of their first pieces of surrealistic collage music that included elements of musique concrete, electronics, folklore and humor. HNAS continued to release records until the groups demise in 1993, such as the album “Melchior”, co-produced by Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound, as well as several other LPs and CDs on Dom and other labels worldwide.
In 1989, Heemann began a long-standing relationship with American musician/composer Jim O’Rourke, and together with Edward Ka-spel and Andreas Martin recorded three albums as the group Mimir. His first solo album was released the following year, and the same year he completed a long standing collaboration with the Japanese noise artist Masami Akita (aka Merzbow). As Heemann’s fascination with film grew, an interest in exploring the visually suggestive powers of sound produced three more solo albums for labels such as Extreme and Barooni.
In 1993 launched his own label, Streamline, which is still active and is releasing records through an arrangement with the influential US-based independent label Drag City. A period of intense work began in 1998 with the formation of Mirror, a project with English sound artist Andrew Chalk, which focused on graphics as well as music, drawing on the beautiful artworks of both Chalk and Heemann. By 2005, Mirror had released over 20 albums that included musical contributions from Andreas Martin and Jim O’Rourke and appeared in concerts in Europe, America and Japan. A rare solo appearance at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London as part of the Ether festival drew rave reviews.
Currently Heemann composes, performs, and produces and records albums by sound artists/composers such as Limpe Fuchs, Keiji Haino, Charlemagne Palestine, and many others. His ongoing musical collaborations include work with Jim O’Rourke, William Basinski, Lee Ranaldo, and with Timo van Luyck on the In Camera project.
Christoph Heemann’s performance at Skaņu Mežs festival is a part of the project “Experimental Music Lighthouses”. The project will take place between November 1 2014 – October 31 2015 and will be available to the greater public in October 2015 during the Skaņu Mežs festival in Latvia, as well as at the Insomnia festival in Norway shortly thereafter. The aim of the project is to promote a four part cooperation between Skaņu Mežs and Insomnia. This includes, amongst other things: the production of a Latvian/Norwegian composition; an exchange of Latvian and Norwegian musicians between the programs of the festival; creating a mutual festival program; the exchange of new compositions between Riga and Tromsø with the help of artists’ residencies. The unique soundscapes of both cities and their symbiosis is the emphasis of each of the exchange.
The project is co-financed by the European Economic Area’s (EEA) Financial Mechanism programme “Conservation and Revitalisation of Cultural and Natural Heritage.” The grant is made up of 84.236,74 EUR from the EEA (consisting of money from Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), an allocation of 14.865,31 EUR from the Latvian national budget and 15.625,95 EUR of Skaņu Mežs’s, own means.
Skaņu Mežs’2014 is supported by EU programme “Creative Europe”, Riga City Council, Latvian State Endowment for Arts (VKKF) and others. Skaņu Mežs is a member of ECAS – European Cities for Advanced Music association for experimental music festivals as well as the SHAPE platform for innovative music and audiovisual art.