Kelly Moran’s debut for Warp Records, Ultraviolet, received nearly universal praise upon its release in last year. Now as she touches down in the UK for string of tour dates up and down the country, we gained an exclusive insight into 24 hours of her previous stop off in one of Europe’s electronic music Capitals, Berlin.
Composer and pianist Kelly Moran remembers her eureka moment like it was yesterday. It was a balmy afternoon last summer, down in the woods near her childhood home on Long Island. “I was squatted down in the forest, listening to the sounds of the wind and the wildlife, and all the echoes surrounding me,” Moran recalls. “I asked myself: How can I make music that feels like this: natural, connected, and effortless?” At the time of her epiphany, Moran had spent the better part of her career immersed in the painstaking, pedagogical praxis modern composition: a journey that, however personally and creatively rewarding, had come to an impasse. Her only way forward was to bottle up her stream of consciousness and boldly sail beyond her own boundaries. Such are the origins of Ultraviolet, Moran’s Warp Records debut.
One of the standout pieces on Kelly’s debut LP was ‘Water Music’. Speaking on the song, she said
“On the day I made the music that eventually became this record, I went swimming in the ocean and for the first time went far past my comfort zone in the water.” Says Moran. “I’m usually too skittish to go deeper than my ankles, but I felt completely uninhibited that day and actually let myself swim and feel the weight of my body disappear in the water. With this newly achieved sense of freedom and looseness, I attempted to bring that feeling back to my studio when I played piano later that day.”
As she touches down in the UK for string of tour dates up and down the country, we got an exclusive insight into 24 hours of her previous stop off in one of Europe’s electronic music Capitals, Berlin.
1. Here’s my very first photo from tour – I was lucky to start off tour on an especially lovely note catching up with a friend in Berlin before all my real work started. I took this from his apartment in Prenzlauer Berg overlooking Ernst-Thalmann Park.
2. I was pretty shocked to see that this was what my hotel here looked like – I definitely was not expecting it to be so tropical and colourful – complete with palm trees, a greenhouse, and a ceramic alligator to welcome me in.
4. The great Russian figure skater (and my personal idol) Evgenia Medvedeva started a trend last year when she posted a photo of herself holding up an apple in Nagano and asked her fans to show her their apples. The result was thousands of people joining the #Medvedapple hashtag using the same pose to share their fruit from different locations around the world. Here’s my Berlin apple for Evgenia.
6. Preparing the piano! This usually takes me anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on how tight the piano strings are. Here you can see I’m holding a chopstick, which I use to push the strings out of the way so I can gently place the screws in between them without damaging the piano.
8. Here’s a before/after shot of what the inside of the piano looks like with and without my preparations. I use different sized screws and bolts for different ranges of the piano – as the strings get shorter and tighter, the screws get smaller.
9. I had to document the result of my one diva request from this performance, which was asking the promoters to acquire a larger projector from my visuals. Here they are taking it from another room for my performance. Kiezsalon used to be a brewery (and also has underground bunkers) so it has quite a number of unexpected architectural delights like this cavernous room above.
12. This sign is in one of the bunkers of Kiezsalon, and it’s the logo for the Palace of the Republic, which was a building in Berlin that served as the sat of the parliament of the German Democratic Republic (East German) from 1976-1990.