Audium Listens: Danishta Rivero S3E3

Danishta: [00:00:00] I’m Danishta Rivero. There’s a lot of different tendrils to my art practice. I feel like I, I do feel a little bit more like a creature with tendrils or tentacles or something like that, that are just like reaching out and, and kind of like feeling with sound and other things, different spaces and different threads. I think that there are very, like, specific and very special things about improvisation that branch out or just, you know, are, like, entangled with other things. Communicating, communing with [00:01:00] other folks in this way that’s non verbal. I feel very honored to be a part of this particular Audium cohort. It’s a very special group of people to be working with. 

Oliver: Welcome to season three of Audium Listens. I’m Oliver Mills, coming to you from inside Audium Theater, on lands stewarded by the Ramaytush Ohlone people, otherwise known as San Francisco, California.

This season, I’m inviting resident artists of the third Audium New Voices show to share about the process of creating pieces specifically for this one-of-a-kind, immersive sound space. 

Today, I’ll be speaking with Danishta [00:02:00] Rivero, whose sounds you’ll hear throughout the episode.

Danishta: The piece is called Heretical Voicings. There is material from a lot of different places and different sources. Because that word – heretical – has like a big, big bag of things, a baggage. I want to tap into something that is inside and bring it out and kind of look at it and maybe throw it out or maybe put it back in, or that kind of thing. 

Not only am I using the voice in ways that are unorthodox, you know? I am bringing spaces into the space. So there’s, these impulse response files that I’m using, but I’m also, like, singing through drums, or singing through, sounds of piano. So it’s just kind of like thinking about space in different ways and bringing all these different spaces into this particular space.

What, what is this? It’s it’s the voice, you know? It’s the voice. It’s, like. Just, it’s in your chest, it’s in your throat, it’s in your head, it’s in your thoughts, you know. And for better or worse, it’s in your thoughts.

Even though I do stuff that is more abstract sounding, it’s very, it’s very, of the body and of my gut and it feels that it’s coming from somewhere that’s very like vulnerable, but also very *big exhale

Oliver: It’s very much so burbling. It’s very much so like, like, part, it’s very fleshy. It’s very, yeah, embodied, obviously. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so right. So [00:04:00] it’s not like a soft underbelly. It’s like, this is my entire self – here you go. Yeah. 

Danishta: Yeah, yeah.

Oliver: I’ve noticed that you are working with a slightly different palette of sound to our other two resident artists.

Danishta: Mhm.

Oliver: And I’m wondering what draws you to play in the subtleties of the sound – the little, the little sounds?

Danishta: Mm. So there’s like this thread, right, like one of these tendrils. I am particularly interested, I am, like, even, like, to the point of excitement in putting acoustic sounds together with, like, amplified sounds at the same time. Or acoustic sounds with processed sounds, you know, and, making that turn into a new sound that is a combination of resonances that come from different sources, but are coming together.

I think that we experience sound differently when we [00:05:00] can hear it in like different, acoustical spaces, right? Even though it’s like: this is the one acoustical space. But like, if it’s coming out of a speaker, it’s different than if it’s coming out of my voice.

I really, from the beginning, wanted to play with that. Like, how do we hear this? How do you hear my voice if it’s only slightly amplified? Like, you know, barely. So, like, so lightly that you can’t tell that it’s amplified, you know? And, but also, like, if I take that away, now you can tell that it was amplified, you know, and like.

But also, like, there’s, like, some weird sound coming out of that other speaker that’s processing the sound that I’m saying right now, but it’s just so, disconnected and connected at the same time, but it’s all the same thing, you know?

And so I really wanted to build this bigger voice. A bigger [00:06:00] instrument, you know? Like like a multi-dimensional thing, you know? 

There’s a generated voice, like a skin, a clone of my voice saying some of this generated text. And there is, there’s also this bit and this is like toward the end from a Guarani creation story, and the last bit of it is that we are standing on this earth. You know, like, humans, right, are answering, like, responding to God. We’re standing on this earth, we’re standing on this resplendescent, is that a word?

Oliver: It can be today. 

Danishta: Okay, let’s make it, yeah, yeah. Because I don’t know, it’s resplendesciente. It is, I, I do say it in Spanish. I don’t say it in Guarani. But because I’m quoting the Eduardo Galeano’s interpretation of it. We live in this time and [00:07:00] on this earth and I, I feel like humans are weird and we are weird and we’ve made a weird and like painful and stupid world for ourselves but at the same time I do think that that like, we are of this earth, and that we can still make, the world the way that is resplendent, right, for all of us.

Oliver: Yay! 


Oliver: So I want to talk about how, how you interpolate that when, when it’s you and the Max Patch. When it’s you and the technological interface that you’re working with for this piece in particular can you describe the quality of your relationship to and with that?  

Danishta: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That, I feel, is [00:09:00] definitely a work in progress.

The practice of improvisation and, specifically vocal improvisation with analog electronics, it’s something that I have practiced for some time. This particular relationship where I’m like singing into, or vocalizing into the Max Patch, is fairly new. It’s like a new, yeah, it’s like a new tendril. 

And I have had this big cyclical thing with, like, computer music in general. It forces you into an attitude that’s just, it doesn’t really work for me. And so I, and I, I went into like more analog, or just like modular stuff. And and that has been a way for me to allow my body to, to do the thing it does, and, and, and like, and I can perform electronics in a more, like, gestural way. Something that feels more [00:10:00] embodied. And and now I’m trying to do this, and I, I, It’s been actually quite exciting, but that has been a thing that I am trying to work through, you know? I’m trying to stay with the, the, this thread that I have been building up with my modular. 

It’s very voice-based but it is still very process-oriented. There are some little bits of the patch that generate something randomly. And so that makes it feel a little bit more alive, and something that I can feel with and, you know, and, like, perform with in the moment, you know, in the space. Because some of these speakers, they have different qualities to them, and so I feel like having those sounds move in ways that I have no control [00:11:00] over? That feels something that I can engage with in a way that’s real. 

Oliver: Oh yes, mhm. I’m so excited to come or multiple nights to experience the different randomnesses, right? I love this space as incubator for we don’t know what.

Danishta: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. 


Danishta: I love what we’re doing, you know? Like, it’s, it’s, it’s the thing that I love, you know? Like it nourishes me. In total earnest, like, nerdy, whatever, corny, everything, you know, just like, this is something that is, that I feel is the best. And so I feel like it’s always just this, like, process of co-creation that’s happening with everybody, and that’s, like, [00:12:00] that’s the thing, like, that’s That’s, that’s the thing.

And it is to come together with people and, like, and do this thing where it’s not just art. It’s not like art. Art is such a weird word. It’s such a weird word, you know? It’s like, it is communing. It’s like something beautiful. It’s creating and also, like, asking, like questioning and answering and like making this, yeah, together. It’s very big. 

Oliver: It’s so big. It’s so big. And yet it can be contained in places like this. Yeah, it, it, this is a place where we are sitting right now and speaking is a bounded entity, right?

But it is a little universe unto itself

Danishta: Yeah. 

Oliver: Right. It’s a container for these little infinities of reaction and interaction between listener, audience, instrument, space, all of [00:13:00] it, right? So as much as we can explore these sort of extremes, it’s still somewhere safe. Yeah. Right? 

And I do wonder for you, to what extent Audium is an essential element in your piece. Is it an instrument that you’re working with? Is it something else, a collaborator?

Danishta: Absolutely a collaborator, it feels, yeah. Yeah, I don’t think that this, if I plugged this patch into some other space that’s like multi-channel, it just would not be the same thing.

Like at times thinking of it as like this like augmentation, you know, like this augmentation of my voice or something You know, it’s like just like this instrument that is, that I’m wearing You know, so it’s like a little bit like me but bigger.

Oliver: That’s so good! Okay, we’re getting okay we’re getting [00:14:00] you but not quite, in terms of the vocal clone, and then we’re getting, we’re getting you but bigger, like the expanded Danishta right now.

Oh my gosh, I love this. 

Danishta: Yeah. Okay. So, yes. But, also then. And, but also. And, but also. 

It just fits into this evening of pieces where you have, like, I love how Makana’s work is, like, I’ve been describing it as, as, like, this fabric that gets woven with, the connections of people.

And then you have Roco’s piece which is making this bigger connection. And ultimately, you know, we are standing on this earth, and the earth is, what gives us life, and so, it’s like, like, a way to refocus and also reassert, or recommit, or something like that. 

Oliver: No big deal. No big deal. 

Danishta: No big deal. Yeah. 

Oliver: You did mention collaboration with the other artists a little bit. Sort of cross pollination, so, so [00:15:00] each of you three are using the human voice in different ways. I’m wondering, if you’ve experienced the pieces as being united by different sinews in some way?

Danishta: I do. There’s like a…in my mind, there’s an arc.

I mean, it is, it is a show that is about the voice, kind of. It’s not really about the voice, but it’s yeah, it’s, it’s using the voice pretty extensively. And so I feel that like, for me is, maybe it’s like, I am, I am what, like spinning.

I am spinning some yarn. And then we’re gonna, you know, yeah, like weave it into a fabric. And then Roco’s piece is like, [00:16:00] like stretching that fabric. You know, like over the world. And, so, to me it has that arc in some way. You know, that, that is. Like, like, I cannot unsee it. It’s very much like that. Even though the pieces are very different.

Oliver: Even without necessarily setting out with that as a goal. 

Danishta: Absolutely. Yeah. 

Oliver: You’ve become braided more or less. No, I couldn’t have asked for a witchier metaphor, I think, in terms of, like, being at the spinning wheel all day.

Danishta: Yeah. Yeah. Yes. 

Oliver: And we’re weaving, and we’re stretched, and we’re shrouding the space in whatever, right? I’m excited for the, the spells that you will cast over us collectively and how we will emerge different.

Oh, I have so many other thoughts and so many threads I want to follow, and so many tendrils, but folks will just have to come and [00:17:00] listen. 

Danishta: Yeah. 

Oliver: Is there anything that you’d like for folks to know before we close out?

Danishta: I am pretty ecstatic about collaborating with Roco. So that’s like a big thing that’s coming that we both will be working on. Yeah. And so, yes. But I’ve already said too much. 

Oliver: This is an Audium Listens exclusive, everyone. You can catch two of our resident artists in collaboration in the future. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my conversation with Danishta Rivero. Her composition is available to hear exclusively at Audium through March 30th, 2024. Transcripts for this episode as well as more information about Danishta and Audium can be found in the show notes. Thank you so much for tuning in, and if you haven’t yet, please tell a loved one about our show.

Until next time, listen deeply, listen widely, and listen with love. 

Okay, I’m buzzing with [00:18:00] this. Audium as launching pad, Audium as incubator, centrifuge, all the things. I’m just like looking around at all the red chairs and I’m like “Oh, these are all the little red and white blood cells just whooshing around.”

And you too can be a part of this. 

Danishta: Yes! 

Oliver: Be a cell. Be a cell. Come be a cell with us!

Danishta: Yes!