MIA ZABELKA – Solo in London, Le Havre, Vienna and Tønsberg

Mia Zabelka is an Austrian contemporary violinist, improviser, and composer of Czech, Jewish and French familiar background. Comprehensively educated in classical music from early age on she opened up the traditional understanding of the violin as solo and ensemble instrument towards improvisation, experimental music, and sound art (*).

Mia just released her solo album ‘Myasmo’ with four long improvised pieces, recorded in four different cities. Each piece is titled after the city it was recorded in. It’s a pure solo recording with only Mia’s violin and (wordless) vocals.

Fifty minutes of solo "out of the box" violin is not the kind of album you play at a candlelight dinner! That being said, 'Myismo' is nevertheless fascinating stuff by a creative artist that turns abstract improvisations into intriguing auditive stories with passages that swing from the poetic to the bizarre, from sweetness to harshness, from thoughtfulness to ecstasy. But it never gets chaotic in a directionless way. There’s always a purpose, always a lead that fits everything together. It’s the kind of record that becomes more and more like “easy to listen to” with every spin. Music to really get into and to go along with the journey. (Geert Ryssen)

I had a nice Q & A with Mia about her art and new album 'Myasmo':

Can you tell something about the idea behind ‘Myasmo’? And what does the title stand for?

'It is a play on words ... it stands for 'my or Mia’s cosmos', ‘MYASMO’ –so to speak- is the name of my planet or my personal musical universe.'

Is this music a 100% instant composing or do you start with a kind of basic composition?

'It is definitely not 100% instant composing, there is always a raster behind the music, which I also like to dissolve spontaneously at concerts and move in completely different directions.'

Listening to your music, I wonder what goes on in your head while you are performing this. Can you tell something about that?

'On the one hand I am always thinking of musical structures while I am performing, on the other hand I am developing intensive vigilance and concentration, thus a kind of automatism begins on the basis of - so to speak - expanded states of consciousness. That's why I call my music "automatic playing" - as if my fingers, hands and arms would move by themselves. These are always very exciting processes that are very different at every concert.'

Do you have special connection to the cities you played in for this record?

'Vienna is my hometown and the other cities London, Le Havre and Tønsberg (near Oslo) have very exciting improvised music scenes that I really appreciate. When I am on the road, I like to discover the local cultural differences between the respective cities. These discoveries certainly have a spontaneous impact on my playing.'

These days I get a lot of “solo records”, what’s the drive for an artist to do this kind of recordings, as it may only appeal to a limited audience.

'I can't speak for the other artists, but for me the challenge is to be responsible for the music totally by my own. I have something to express and can best do it alone. I am a musician composer. But that doesn't mean that I don't like to play with other musicians. This is different, it concerns the moment of interaction, the dialogue, the exchange of ideas. For me, quality is more important than quantity. I appreciate it when the audience really listens to me. At live concerts, I enter into an intensive communication exchange with my listeners. It works better with fewer people in a smaller, more intimate setting.'

How does it feel to stand on a stage just on your own, having all the pressure on yourself?

'I don't feel the pressure at all. I present an extract of my work, which I practice almost daily in my studio at home. The music is part of me, part of my everyday life - whether I'm at home or traveling.'

You have already released an impressive number of records. Do you have an idea what kind of audience you have?

'It is of course not the mass audience, but a small, constantly growing community that consists of honest music lovers and connoisseurs. I am very happy that my records, which I released 10 years ago, are still - or even more - recognized and listened to. It's a really good sign!'

How would you describe your music?

'I am very interested in the interdisciplinarity between music and science. The term “scientific music” best applies to my work. It is music beyond melodies, harmonies and rhythm. Scientific music is concerned with making automatic processes audible. It is noise, movement, automation, division, symbiosis, dissonance and resonance. There is still so much to discover ...'

‘Myasmo’ is released on the Setola Di Maiale label in Italy


Find Mia Zabelka on Facebook, Youtube and Wikipedia (*)