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Contact - Interview with Kiah Gossner

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by Tema (subscribe)
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Sourced from Adelaide Festival Centre

Multi-award winning musician, producer and composer Kiah Gossner has worked hard to shape together his celebrated career in the music industry, which makes him one of the most innovative and sought-after creators and collaborators today. Hailing from South Australia, Gossner, who has been mentored by Grammy Award-winning composer and producer Sam Dixon, is now bringing to Adelaide his multi-art performance piece Contact, which will involve a complementary mix of audio, visual and structural elements to delve deeper into the exploration and expression of human emotions and its projection in the situation of domestic violence.

CONTACT is a project that will bring together the involvement of a number of key individuals, including graphic designer Julie Thornberg-Thorsøe, lighting, design, and film-making for projections by Tash McCammon, poetry by Dom Symes, and set design by Jill Halliday. Additionally, there will also be the band with Kyrie, Django Rowe, Adam Page, Julian Ferraretto, Mat Morison and our String Section.

In anticipation of his upcoming performance piece CONTACT, I was fortunate enough to have an interview with Kiah about his show - have a read of our exchange below:

Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Kiah: I'm Kiah (k-eye-ah), a composer/producer/session musician, I grew up in beautiful Woodside up in the hills. I trained in jazz bass at the Adelaide conservatory and since then, I have been touring and working in various studios developing skills as a music writer and producer. I've recently moved to Sydney to work as a producer for Studios 301, which is a dream come true.

Tema: What about music spoke to you in a sense that you decided to pursue a career in the industry?
Kiah: I grew up in a pretty creative household - my parents both worked in theatre and had a great love of music. I guess I've always loved the transportation of music, the way it can carry you emotionally to completely different places. I love music as a tool for storytelling and that's probably the reason my personal works are so strongly rooted in themes of such a specific nature. I get inspired by the way music, in place of constant conversation, can find ways into the hard to reach places. It gets past our guard and opens us up to shared experience. I also get pretty into the technical side of it, I love to nerd out over a great piece of gear or an inspired solo. I guess everything was pointing me towards making music my life.

Tema: Can you tell us about your upcoming show Contact at the Adelaide Festival Centre.
Kiah: The official definition goes something like: 'CONTACT' combines audio, visual and structural elements to explore the contrary forces of human emotions, journeying into a culture of domestic violence that is cyclical and ignored. Its seven movements of music accompanied with poetry, set design, film and lighting that seeks to explore the emotions that exist around this topic.

Tema: What inspired you to create this show?
Kiah: I guess we are culturally only at the beginning of understanding the silence that has reigned around this reality and I really wanted to explore what a life impacted by a domestic violence experience sounds like musically. I'd love for it to become a pathway to open up conversation and was curious as to how it would be received by those who have lived closely and further from it.

Tema: How does it feel to be returning home to South Australia for your show?
Kiah: It's always brilliant to come home to Adelaide. Although I've recently moved to Sydney, I've been travelling back and forth semi-regularly to continue working with Adelaide artists, so at the moment it's a bit like limbo zone! It's really exciting to be opening a show in such an exciting setting with capacity to share it with so many people. And that's made all the lovelier by it being in a 'home' setting.

Tema: Who is the target audience for your show?
Kiah: I'm not looking at a particular demographic…I think the theme of domestic violence is something we are breaking open as a whole society, and the more that conversation can take place inter-generationally, the more we can learn. The show isn't obvious about its content and has been written to be accessible to a wide audience.

Tema: What are you hoping for your audience to experience by attending your show?
Kiah: I think all art should leave you feeling somewhat changed or different, otherwise why have the art in the first place? I have no expectations for what people will take away from the show. We had a private 'in development' viewing and the reactions were very different - some people left crying and others uplifted.

Tema: How would you describe your style of music to someone who may be new to your work?
Kiah: My work is varied and that is reflected in CONTACT. The show has its roots in Contemporary Jazz/Classical but also draws on electronic soundscapes to place it into a world. It sits somewhere between Phillip Glass, Bon Iver, and Avashai Cohen.

Tema: Can you tell us a bit about your career highlights so far?
Kiah: I've been very fortune with my music, regularly touring nationally / internationally as a bass player, particularly throughout Europe and North America. I also produce and compose for artists, theatre, film and commercially and work out of two of Australia's most renowned studios Mixmasters here in Adelaide and Studios 301 in Sydney. I'm really lucky to be doing what I do.

Tema: What does a day in the life of Kiah look like, when you're not working?
Kiah: Good question! Creative life is pretty unpredictable - in fact I've lived in six different houses since January - there's not a whole lot of routine. In saying that, I have been starting to implement a pretty strict one in the moments when I am in one place, otherwise it can be easy to feel pretty ineffective. I try to get up and out of the house early and do some exercise (there's a lot of sitting at a computer in production!) and then I get pretty excited about breakfast (I won't bore you with that passion.) At the moment, I'm deconstructing a song a day for an hour, looking at the intricacies of the production and just learning by listening. A bit of bass practice to keep me fresh and then it's down to whatever project is going on at the time.

CONTACT by Kiah Gossner will be presented at the Space Theatre in the Adelaide Festival Centre (AFC) on November 29 and 30, 2019, as part of the AFC's inSPACE program (a unique opportunity for contemporary and experimental theatre, dance and hybrid performance artists to access venues and services.) Book your tix here.

Photo supplied by Adelaide Festival Centre

With thanks to the Adelaide Festival Centre for the interview opportunity.
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Why? Combining multiple forms of media, CONTACT by Kiah Gossner will tackle the important topics of human emotions and domestic violence through his multi-artform performance piece.
When: Nov 29, Nov 30 (2019)
Where: Adelaide Festival Centre
Cost: $20 - $35
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