sam leeds - that spiraling place

sam leeds

That Spiraling Place was produced by Sam Leeds and features the voice of Annie Lindsey. It was edited by Michelle Macklem.

It features folk singer Otto Bardarson’s unaccompanied vocals, recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Carmel, California in 1939. Special thanks to the Free Music Archive and the Library of Congress.


Sam writes:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the intersection of escape and bearing witness. And I keep coming back to that saying, “wherever you go, there you are.” This piece began because I wanted to document my trip to Iceland with one of my close friends. We booked it on whim after a breakup. We spent 10 days driving the country during a wintery March in 2018. It was an escape and a chance to exist outside the routines of home.

In working with the tape, though, the piece became more and more about witnessing my friend working through her mental health and all the ways that depression and anxiety don’t really look how you think they might.
The piece mimics the ebbs and flows of mental health and its nonlinear nature.

Sound design is very new to me. This is the first non-narrated piece I’ve produced. So, this piece is also an exploration of world-building through sound. The archival tape and music throughout the piece are both other musicians’ interpretations of Iceland. I feel very fortunate to have access to past and present pieces of art made in response to traveling through the country.

I am so thankful that Michelle and Jess created this platform and for their patience and guidance throughout the many iterations and stages of this piece. I also want to share my gratitude to my friend Annie, whose voice is woven throughout this piece. She drove us around Iceland for most of the ten days and was and is so open to sharing her journey with her mental health.


Inspiring Sam in the world of sound:

Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton’s Here Be Monsters, Phoebe Wang, Kaitlin Prest, Nicole Kelly, Phoebe Unter, Avery Trufelman, Chelsea Beck.

I also get nostalgic about sound. I’m moving soon and I’m already missing the whine of the bus passing the stop outside my window.

And beyond:

Andrea Long Chu, Ijeoma Oluo, Natalie Wynn, Jenna Wortham, Sudan Archives, Big Thief.


Sam Leeds is an independent audio producer and storyteller. She is a former UnionDocs and Transom traveling workshop student, and a future Salt student. You can find her on Twitter @samjleeds.

aidan mcmahon - i/a recording

aidan mcmahon

I/a recording was written and produced by Aidan McMahon.


Aidan writes:

This piece is about the tension between experience and the impulse to record it. The two, I believe, are incompatible. What happens when the experience you want to record is another person? How does this interrupt the relationship, or improve it?

When I first started this piece, I used a text to speech voice because it was convenient. The voice, named Justine, was eerily passable. After a time, I began to appreciate the voice itself. It was a pure recording. The phrases it recited were entirely new, never having been spoken before.

90% of the sounds in this piece come from my home recordings. Mixed with Justine's cold, chop and paste voice, the tension between these two worlds reflect the odd divisiveness of inscribing living moments into cold media.


Inspiring Aidan in the world of sound and beyond:

I listened to a lot of Nicholas Jaar, the Chilean/ American electronic music composer, while making this piece. I tried to mimic with my narrative what he does in his music. He blends texture to make very visual, fluid and sensual scenes. Mary Wigman's "Witch Dance," Dreamcrusher, Yorgos Lanthimos, J.M Coetzee, Alice Munro, Artaud's "Theatre and the Plague," "Frog and Toad," the spring, "Queer Voices" by Freya Jarman-Invens, mouth sounds.


Aidan McMahon is an audio producer and editor currently based in Halifax, NS. His docs and radio drama have featured on CKDU, CJLO, and Radiophrenia. Aidan is currently working on a doc about the Collin's Bay Prison bee-keeping program. Find more of Aidan’s work here.

james t green - emdr


EMDR was produced by James T. Green and features C’ne Rohlsen. It airs for the first time here on Constellations.


James says:

Whenever I was alone, I always heard this internal monologue that was trying to take over. It almost was like my conscious trying to break out. With this piece, I was trying to get down to the bottom of why I felt anxious in a world where it felt like I was losing control, either literally or conceptually.


Inspiring James in the world of sound and beyond:

Sharon Mashihi, Kaitlin Prest, Travis Scott, SoundCloud rappers, Four Tet, Rignam Wangkhang, Some Rap Songs by Earl Sweatshirt, Adrian Piper’s visual artwork, William Forsythe’s movement work, the writing and visual projects of Jenny Odell.


Constellations Says by Amita Kirpalani:

In a medium where the unfurling of an idea is often synthesised and made neatly linear, James T. Green’s piece offers a welcome unending. In perfect tense, “I’ve always felt this need for control”, is a musical refrain with a psychoanalytic spike. The ‘cut ins’ of conversation between James and another person who, from his explainer we learn is his partner, are positioned above a muffled or partially muted version of the motif.  These intimate exchanges are the pleasureable and painful working-it-through of togetherness, the reaching for mutual understanding while doing the mundane stuff of sharing a life, like the dishes.

Is to be in control not to speak of control? And so, is to speak of control to talk it away? Perhaps like liquid, control is temporarily holdable but not graspable and so James’ repetition is an attempt and reattempt to hang on.

American novelist and essayist Leslie Jamison describes crafting the first person of her work as a ‘throwing her voice across vast distances’ to bridge that gap between writing what you know and writing the story.  James T. Green’s ‘throw’ is taut and economical. Here is perhaps a questioning of whether ‘to know thyself’ is to remove oneself, to push that feeling-self into the background. Which, I guess is another type of journey.


James T. Green is an audio documentarian by trade and an artist by practice. By day he works at Gimlet Creative as a producer. Previously, he was the Director of Audio at the Outline, producer at MTV News, and Graduate Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. James also has an ongoing audio art podcast, u+1f60c. You can also subscribe to his writing project newsletter here. Find James on Twitter @_jamestgreen