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Katya Richardson Interview – “Failure is a necessary part of success and growth”

Musician, composer, choreographer and artist Katya Richardson gives her advice on persevering in an uncertain musical future, her love of Jóhann Jóhannsson, and what we can expect from her latest recordings.

Any new projects going ahead for 2020?

I recently released my debut electrojazz EP, Left From Write! Almost a year in the making, I produced, mixed, and recorded everything, so it’s probably my most significant project to date. Apart from that and a few short documentaries set for this year, I am excited to share an experimental dance film about plastic pollution that I scored, set to release on World Oceans Day.

Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?

Film-music wise, I love anything lush and orchestral, like Alexandre Desplat or Nicholas Britell. One of my favourite scores is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. In terms of recent influences though, I am particularly excited by Son Lux and Isobel Waller-Bridge – they are both film composers that combine electronics into their scores in crazy ways! Son Lux often works with woodwinds and sax recordings and manipulates them into loops and distorted textures, combined with beats and heavy synth and vocal elements. I was recently inspired by his work, using similar vocal loops and sax in my most recent EP.

Favourite albums?

One of my favourites is Orphée by the late film composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson. What I love about his music is the simplicity of layers and themes, yet immense intimacy and complexity in both depth and reception. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a visceral connection with cinematic music as I did with this album. It’s also special to me because I was lucky to see Jóhannsson on tour with his album a few months before he passed away. It was a live, two hour set without intermission – I remember moments where I was staring into the ceiling of the concert hall, completely transformed.

Have there been any major changes to the music scene in the time your band has been performing?

The biggest changes have been from COVID-19, as there is no live music scene and the film industry has been severely impacted in LA. For the first few months, all my projects and performances were on half and it was unclear what the summer would look like. Luckily now I’ve started working on film projects from home again, and recording musicians remotely, rather than at my studio. But the future of the music industry is still uncertain, especially the effects longterm – my heart goes out to the musicians that have lost jobs or won’t be able to pursue music full-time after this.

Advice for new musicians looking to survive?

Music is a demanding field, and I think it’s vital to develop a strong sense of motivation and passion for what you do. Failure is a necessary part of success and growth, and I’ve found that half of the job is showing up and persevering even when you don’t want to. As long as you’re genuine to yourself, and determined to do the work, listeners will find you.

Anybody you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Most of my work as a composer is multi-disciplinary, and collaboration is really central to what I do. I primarily score films, but regularly work with choreographers, dancers, and designers, and routinely record with live musicians. Some of my most experimental and meaningful collaborations have been through dance, so I’d love to explore more of that.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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