Voices are personal and an extension of who they are as people, as artists, as creators. Some say that the violin or the cello are the closest instrument to the human voice, the cello has a range closest to the human voice. Even physically, the cello is most similar to a singer's with his or her voice; the cello becomes part of one's body, as one hugs it close and coaxes mellow sounds from it. Few composers have combined the voice and the cello in major works.
In their recent collaboration SELI, LA-based violinist, composer and producer Häana and Berlin-based cellist, composer, and vocalist Bison Rouge explore their affinity for strings, vocals as textures, and electronic synthscapes. Their Berlin- LA exchange is growing from creating for the music exchange EXP_ platform and into planning a release of their compositions.
Ashia and Häana first met in 2010 as string performers while in different bands in New York. This meeting led to self-organized tours and collaborations in 2011 (East Coast, NY) and in 2014 (Berlin and Germany). Häana was already producing beats and synthesized sounds (after an intensive 6-month Logic producers program at Dubspot in New York City and Ashia was developing an ‘electro-acoustic’ live concept with sampling and looping her cello and voice. In their double bill concert they presented their solo projects and supported each other with their violin/cello playing.
Things began to change when Häana came to Berlin in 2018 to perform at Tech Open Air. Häana’s favorite place to visit is Berlin - and she spent a year living/studying in Bonn (her undergraduate degree is in German and Spanish Studies). Ashia became more inspired to work with more electronic music and brought a ‘Loopstation Laboratory Workshop’ to Tech Open Air Berlin ‘Music and Arts’ organized by Your Mom’s Agency in 2019 . She also won the TOA19 ‘Battle of Sounds’ and went home with a MK3 Maschine from Native Instruments and began to learn electronic music production and composition. Häana is an Ableton and Native Instruments artist, and has forged friendships with amazing people from both the Ableton LA and Berlin teams. She had fun being part of the field research projects with the Berlin folks who were gathering real-time artist feedback prior to the release of Ableton 10.
By the time they went into collaborating and creating for their current EXP_ submission single Seli, both artists had been developing and exploring their sound on their acoustic instruments as they had been building their knowledge of electronic music production.
Also, it’s worth noting that during Häana and Ashia’s first tour together, Ashia was a super encouraging influence for Häana to add her voice to her solo live electronic project. Having studied Classical and Contemporary singing styles, Ashia supported Häana with some exercises and techniques. After an intense spiritual journey in upstate New York, as well as exploring various vocal coaches and finally landing on one who would help find her true voice, Häana started adding her voice as a texture and singing in various languages on her project. In 2020 during the pandemic, Ashia lost her voice and learned to sing again with a meditative speech therapy technique - listening to the full spectrum of resonant frequencies in her voice. These techniques and way of singing, she recorded for Seli. In a way it’s like they came full circle with their voices, as well as with the music technology, inspiring each other along the way.
Voices are personal and an extension of who they are as people, as artists, as creators. Both from Eastern European descent, Ashia and Häana have found creative ways to use their voices to express beauty and deep emotions. Some say that the violin or the cello are the closest instrument to the human voice, the cello has a range closest to the human voice. Even physically, the cello is most similar to a singer's with his or her voice; the cello seems to become part of one's body, as one hugs it close and coaxes mellow sounds from it. Few composers have combined the voice and the cello in major works. Without even realizing this, both artists have set out to change this-composing more works integrating cello + voice, or violin + voice, as well as innovative electronics and technology to take their compositions to another level on stage or in the studio.
Häana and Ashia are planning to create two more songs for an EP to release (aiming for Erased Tapes Records), going for a haunting, otherworldly string-rich feel in the music. Nature and digital analog sounds will be the main focal point of each track (as they already did with Seli), transporting the listener through a portal into a universe, a land of their choosing. Timeless and weightless.
"We will probably accomplish this work from our respective homes. However, we are long overdue for a catch-up and as well as duo bill performances of our solo projects and EP pieces in Berlin, festivals, and a LA/West Coast concert."
Bison Rouge takes listeners onto journeys of pulsating, intimate, multi-layered orchestral pieces, with her use of AI-generated beats and lush strings scored around her captivating voice and cello playing. A Wrocław (Poland) born, raised in Seattle (USA) and now Berlin (Germany) based artist also known as Ashia Grzesik. She has won numerous awards, including Tech Open Air 'Battle of Sounds' (2019), and along with her team, the c/o Pop Festival 'DIANA AI Song Contest' (2020). She is endorsed by the virtual instrument company Orchestral Tools and has also performed with Cirque du Soleil’s production of “O” in Las Vegas. She has connected with LA audiences at Performing Art Centers and at The Edison club while touring with the ensemble Vagabond Opera.
LA-based Häana is a one-woman orchestra, combining music + tech + art with Nordic / Icelandic influences set to a broken beat. Her original productions are like a dynamic film score, featuring electronica influences, synthetic sonority, and vocal textures. Equally versed in live performance as well as production, Häana has performed at numerous international music festivals (Coachella, OZORA, Boom, Tech Open Air in Berlin, Shambhala, Envision), as well as performed as a live electronic sound artist for brands Intel, Ferrari, Apple, and Nike and a guest artist at Berklee in Valencia, Spain. She’s also a film score composer and has scored a 90-min feature documentary This Cold Life (produced by Time, INC), music for Heavy Water (produced by Red Bull), and the full score for Art on Fire (produced by Gerald Fox). Häana spent this summer in the desert fueled by open skies, stars, nature, and celebrating the full moon, to compose music for a new album.