Martin’s Sewing Machine Orchestra

photo by Annie Zielinski

The second Martin’s sewing machine performance video ended I wanted to write him, ask him a million of questions and say how cool the stuff he’s doing is. And I did. And he replied! So here’s a very exclusive (sic!) mini-interview with the awesome Martin Messier.

Me: Who is Martin and what does he do?:)

Martin: I am a composer, and in the last few years I have been focusing on performing on stage by manipulating objects (old alarm clocks, pencils, machines, sewing machines, appliances).

Appliances, really?

I worked on a project with Jacques Poulin-Denis, we were making music with 18 appliances (Refrigerators, washing machines, dryers…). I was a huge Orchestra!!!

photo by Alexis Bellavance

Tell me about the sewing machine performance?

The machines are all connected to a microcontroller and then to a computer. The machines are controlled with the computer but I also use wheels as controller. Wheels are relied to optical encoders to manipulate sounds, effects or sequences. Lights are all synchronized with sounds and it really guides you all along the performance, telling you which machine is creating sound.

How did it all start?

I studied Acousmatic music where the composer present a musical piece in the dark, without nothing to see. I really loved to listen to acousmatic music but I also loved to perform on stage (I played drums). Creating performance like Sewing Machine Orchestra has resolved the will I had to present electronic music on stage, without computer.

So there’s no computer in the Sewing Machine Orchestra?

Yes, I use a computer but you don’t see it, he is backstage. For this performance, there is no added value to put the computer on the stage.

How did you decide to finally do it?

I decided before doing it!I didn’t know it can make music and I begin this project without knowing. I thought I would used sounds of the machines a bit with the sound of my hands manipulating the machines. At last, by controlling the machines motors, I was amazed to discover there was a lot to do by using just the machines sound.

Sewing Machine Orchestra from Martin Messier on Vimeo.

Why sewing machines?

I am really attracted by these old objects, by their aesthetical quality. It’s a logical suite. In past, I worked and made music with old alarm clocks, with pencils, with old machines and now I am building a whole new show with century automated machines. I really like memories and the history that comes with these objects.

photo by Alexis Bellavance

Do you sew? 🙂

Not at all!!! But I will I am sure!!!!