Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Mara. Tell us about the meaning behind the name IOKOI?
Thank you! The meaning behind the name IOKOI and how it came to life is due to a mix of my fascination for different aspects of asian culture, as well as for the term â€œreflectionâ€ in a broader sense. I remember reading a Chinese legend of the Koi carp, that swam up a waterfall and transformed into a dragon through its endurance and perseverance.
To shape the name I took the aspect of endurance and perseverance symbolised by the word â€œkoiâ€ and mirrored it to the other side. For me, this is a playful way to combine the meaning of â€œkoiâ€ with my belief of life as a moving wheel fuelled by a constant and precious exchange between the self and the other, in order to grow.
Which artists have inspired the course of artistic direction you have taken in life? Who left the most indelible impression growing up?
I’ve been inspired by many artists, for various reasons. But if I have to name some key moments in my life and artists connected to it, important names for sure are BjÃ¶rk, Erykah Badu, John Cage, Anna Homler and David Bowie. The last indelible impression was left quite recently – while still growing up – by Peter Greenaway and his movie â€œThe Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Loverâ€.
Tales of Another Felt Sense of Self is your latest release for your label â€“OUS. What is it that makes you feel most comfortable releasing there?
As co-founder of the label -OUS it feels like releasing as part of a family, this goes for the artists but also for the people in the background involved. The feeling of having a home-base, where different forms of projects can have a home is something really beautiful.
Which of the five senses is most important in your work? What do you seek to translate to people in your music?
Since music is my primary output, I’d say hearing is the most important. But besides that, while composing every other sense somehow shapes the final outcome of a piece. When I am in that process, different patterns can be revived through a particular way of impulses given by other senses within that very moment, that trigger something that I later translate into music. As mentioned before, the aspect of exchange between the self and the other and the involvement of different senses within a specific environment can alter the shape of a work. I seek to translate a very personal experience or sensation within my music.Â
Talk us through how you created one of the tracks from the EP and some of the software / hardware you use? Do you start with a single idea or do you get inspired by something you may have seen or heard outside of the studio environment?
The composing process of this EP was beautiful and took place in a constant exchange with Michele Foti, who shot the video triptych to â€œTales of Another Felt Sense of Selfâ€. For me, it was a new method of composing, tested out previously in other (commissioned) works Michele and I did together. After having sent him the first tracks that later were to become part of this EP, I realised that I felt the need to reshape the songs structure to match the narrative of the videos.
To answer the more technical aspect of your question, I mostly worked with the piano, voice, field recordings and samples on TOAFSOS. The recording software I use is Logic – but that said, I’m not such a tech-nerd and am working on getting better in the technical aspects of production. I’m very intuitive in the way I work and record, and so especially what happens outside of the studio environment mostly triggers what later becomes a piece of music.
Accompanying the release is work from Michele Foti, olfactory artist Klara Ravat and graphic designer Sarah Parsons. Can you tell us about your involvement with those artists and how you see their reflection of your music?
Especially during times of social distancing, I felt the need to create a product that could somewhat stimulate different senses on different levels. The people I chose to collaborate with are persons I value as human beings and artists.
With Michele I developed a whole new way of de-/recomposing my works, as mentioned above. I knew immediately that his documentarist and raw approach to video and recording, as well as the use of tape could underline the music with the unfiltered touch I was looking for.
Klara and I have known each other for a long time and have collaborated before on a commissioned installation. The way she translated my emotional mood boards into a scent, which evolves throughout the whole duration of the EP, is still unbelievable to me.
Sarah Parsons brought a whole other level to the release through a book of 208 pages, in which she makes the very essence of the work visible by merging patterns of stills from Michele’s videos with text fragments.
I feel that the long processing time was needed and worth it, so that the various personal reflections of the music could match one another and turn into what in the end became one multi-sensory release.
How would you describe the importance of the human voice in music? Are songs as relevant as they once were?
Every form of sound has an important existence, whether in a song-form or with the involvement of the human voice, according to the very personal perception of the listener.
What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?
Right now, my favourite instrument is the Korg Microsampler. It is the most recent piece of equipment that I’ve bought. The possibility of creating an instrument out of whatever sample, including voice, really enables me to compose new material in a way I didn’t know before and had been looking for.
And finally what are your thoughts post Covid-19 and how the world will function in terms of music. Are you hoping for any changes?
A very difficult questionâ€¦ In music, I like what the band Senyawa did: for their last album, they decided to welcome multiple independent labels around the world to co-release it jointly. I think this was a beautiful sign of creative thinking on topics like borders, openness, and trust.
Generally speaking, I really don’t know how the world will function post Covid-19, but I hope that this moment of stillness can somehow lead to new forms of exchange and creativity and a stronger sense of community.