adriene lilly - migraines & tsunamis

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Migraines & Tsunamis was composed and produced by Adriene Lilly.

It remixes original recordings with found sounds, found stories and archival audio and is part of a series of work detailing invisible and reoccurring pain experiences.

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Adriene writes: 

This piece is definitely the most obviously personal piece I’ve made. I’m also very interested in finding a balance between audio documentary, storytelling and sound art - so it’s part of my constant struggle to do that.

The comparison between migraine and tsunamis comes from how I think about my own experiences. Migraines are different for everyone, but in my case there are a couple of warning signs that I tend to get in the hours or days before an attack. They are things like horrible dry mouth, I can’t stop yawning and become very depressive. I think about them as the ocean drawback that can happen before a tsunami. There no pain at that point, but I always know that soon the wave will come in and my entire body will be temporarily destroyed (extreme pain, vomiting, diarrhea). I think anyone who experiences some kind of internal, invisible but frequently, reoccurring pain ends up using some kind of external imagery or analogy in order to both explain to others, but also to yourself, what exactly the pain is. I think it’s also a way to identify it as something real, because it’s so easy to start thinking that you’re just making the whole thing up... and that’s a particularly scary thought process.

I make a lot of work using found sound. I think about it like sampling for documentary. Not a new technique, but definitely one I think leaves a lot of room to get into new aesthetics, rhythms, etc. On some level I’m drawn to it because I like finding my own ideas, words, thoughts, whatever, in the words of other people.

For this piece in particular (and the other pieces in my series on invisible pain) it’s also a way of surveying these deeply personal experiences that are shared - in isolation - by lots of people in a lot of different situations.

On what inspires her to make audio:

I'm inspired by strange, unexpected mixes, and variety. I like a good story but I don't always need one. To be more specific, I really appreciate shows like Vicki Bennett's Do or DIY (on WFUM) and archives like Ubuweb sound as a way of finding new audio.

On inspiration outside of audio: 

Music of course, music is important. If you want me to be really specific the most recent thing to really grab my attention is Fullmoon on Ryuichi Sakamoto’s recent album "async", maybe because I’ve been trying to embrace this idea of sounds allowing your attention to wander.

It isn’t really apparent in my work, but I’m really inspired by comedy. Especially when it uses editing and repetition to make a joke (I’m thinking specifically of Vic Berger when I say editing). 

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Constellations says:

We came across Adriene's work through an excited recommendation by the great Julie Shapiro. Adriene mixes scraps of archival audio with personal fragments to sculpt musical and striking compositions that continue to reverberate long after the sound has stopped playing. This piece is - coincidentally, sadly - rather topical this week. But beyond this, it's a creative and sensitive exploration of the invisible tides of pain that push and pull bodies and bodies of land.

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Adriene Lilly is a sound artist and audio producer whose work often plays archival and found audio against original interviews and recordings. She has lived in cities around the world from Chicago to Beijing but is currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Upcoming projects include an experimental audio series about expressing invisible, physical pain.

You can find more of her work online at www.adriene.net and bandcamp or follow her on Twitter @iamalilly