Peter: How did it come to Futurecore?
Gloria: The idea for the piece was triggered by the comeback of hardcore techno in club culture and the topics that are part of this kind of music which is quite dark and full of apocalyptic themes. I was interested in the question why this form of dystopic futurism from the nineties that was born out of a particular historic situation — the world rearranged after the Cold War, the World Wide Web going online in 1991 and the economic globalisation and the liberalisation of markets rapidly increasing) — was coming back right now. My previous production already touched upon my interest in electronic dance music and spaces where people dance that are not part of theatres and [institutional] stages but rather have their roots in subcultures and more popular cultures.
Peter: In light of this comeback, how has hardcore techno and the culture around it changed according to you?
Gloria: There is a change but it is hard to talk about THE hardcore or gabba scene as there were a lot of different scenes in different countries. In general, hardcore techno I think became much more hybrid and diverse, f.e. there are a lot more female acts who play and produce this kind of music now. My interest in Futurecore 2000 was not so much in a specific scene but rather in elements that are embodied by the music itself; for example the very hard beat that completely affects your whole body, the brutalist, distorted sounds that try to disrupt all listening habits, the almost superhuman accelleration and the replacement of utopia for the moment. I am also interested in the question which utopian projections exist in those moments of euphoric exhaustion that are celebrated by the music, in bodies that just exhaust all their energy and don’t save it for the future or for efficiency (#neversleep).
Peter: In electronic music and specifically club music, it is often about anonymous bodies dancing next to each other; exhausting yourself but also experiencing collective joy and becoming part of a mass, something that probably relates to utopian/dystopian fantasies — sharing those projections, even if you dance alone. How did you approach this in the piece?
Gloria: I did’t want to go in the direction of restaging a club event with this piece. I really wanted to put forward the music as “sonic fiction” (a term borrowed from Kodwo Eshun), as a physical happening that can change your perception; and as something that can be analysed or re-invented by choreography; what happens to the bodies if there is a continuous stream of music, an ongoing rhythm that is external to those bodies? How do they incorporate the rhythm, the beat or other musical elements? How can they detach from it and co-create movement between themselves? How can bodies encounter themselves and other bodies through music? And how can music and movement become co-creators of the same event or moment?
Peter: If the choreography does not want to show one way of dancing, what did you base the choreography on? G: We developed it in direct response to the music but of course we were influenced by experiences of being in the club or our different movement backgrounds. So you might see movements that refer to movements that you have already seen.
Gloria: And also to add to the previous question, something I was also working with is how bodies can stay sensitive and not only re-act to complete acceleration and exhaustion. How can there be softness and hardness in the body?
Peter: What do you mean with hard and soft here?
Gloria: Well, it is called hardcore (laughs). What I mean is that we didn’t search for movement qualities that are as “hard” as possible but also translated the music into different qualities so that the body can be immersed in hard music without becoming super tense or violent but rather the opposite of that, soft and fluid. So how can a body translate machinic, hard music into sensitivity? Can we find sensitivity, subtility in that? Become a listening body? But we also worked with other aspects, like the idea of being deformed and disfigured by the music, to discover something alien inside of the self through it, to never be only human.
Peter: Under the title TENDER SQUADS, this year’s edition is topically focused on the necessity of alliances and constellations for the sound and the culture around it to speak of alternative worlds. For the premiere of the piece in 2019, we see the performance in a particular space and I think a kind of space that almost automatically speaks of how you would imagine a space for this music. In how far did that play a role for you?
Gloria: The space was super important — the location is an almost 2000 m² sized boiler room in a former power plant in Hamburg — not for it to take place in a theatre but occupy a disused space. I came in contact with a group of people (Hallo: Verein zur Förderung raumöffnender Kultur e.V.) who are trying to open these kinds of spaces up to be used for cultural events, for people to come together. Here I see an analogy to rave culture, making spaces accessible for people to come together there. Futurecore 2000 refers to the experience of sound when you’re together in a space with other bodies. I think this can be an overwhelming and profound experience. This can bring about a bodily and transcendental experience that is different than your ordinary life. That is so important for us, as individuals and as a society. Now in times of Corona, I feel that I really miss it to dance with people in a space and experience the physicality of the sound. This, the bodily experience of sound, is what I wanted to bring into this space. Concerning alliances, I think the alliances that were important for this piece are the relationships that develop from bodies sharing the experience of the space. One of the most important alliances is the one with your own body, I think. The music, the sound and the spatial experience are part of that experience. A dancing body that experiences itself in connection to music also enters into a very strong alliance with the non-human entity that sound is. Especially sound that is produced with machines and not a human body itself. I think there is still utopian potential in the alliances that happen when bodies attend to dancing to music and everything they experience when they do that.
Peter: How did you then started working with Zoe [McPherson] ? How did you work together?
Gloria: We started to work together in the dancing studio, listening to music, talking about it and improvising. There was a direct dialogue between the music and movement. The music Zoe produced for the very last scene in the second space happened quite late when we started to work in the powerplant. There we put bass shakers on the huge ceiling ventilators in that space, transforming them into speakers. Zoë was playing with their own resonant frequencies and the acoustic qualities of the space. The rest was trying out in the studio, making tracks, trying to dance to it, change someting, etc. Some tracks already existed, other tracks are completely produced by her and some tracks are remixes made by her.
Peter: A club, as much as festivals, are hosting spaces. How do you relate to this potential of openness? Does the performance change in relation to how the audience reacts to it?
Gloria: The audience experiencing the piece completes the performance. And a changing audience will influence the experience of the performance every time. During the premiere, people were really crazy, they took the place and started to fake the stamps for the entrance. People became part of the scenes, of the stages we created, which I found super interesting. The crowd was loaded with energy. On another day we had the same amount of people but everyone was super polite and respectful. But in general, my experience was, if the audience can walk around, they become a protagonist in the piece. Apart from that, talking about openness and hosting or giving space, I would like to talk about this in terms of artistic productions. In Futurecore, all my collaborators are artists and I invited them and their artistic viewpoint into a common process I would say. Of course it was not a complete open process but they didn’t work for a performance that was already written in my mind. With Felix and Marc, who for example did the set design, I started to talk and think months before the actual rehearsal process started. I don’t know if everybody from the team sees it like that but I have the feeling we discovered the piece together. We developed a common understanding of what we wanted.
Gloria: I also have a question: is there any particular reason for the Balance Festival to feature many acts that are clearly inspired by hardcore techno culture?
Peter: Even if we speak of the comeback of hardcore and gabba as a global phenomenon and much more pluralist phenomenon than, let’s say, the nineties version of it – it is also easy to forget this is a very particular global scene and network and it is necessary to give a platform to artists that are underrepresented locally as well as being a platform for forms of discourse and artistic production outside of the spaces they would usually take place in, so that all these things that float around club culture are brought into dialogue with each other.
Gloria: Nice! And what a pitty that we all can not come together!