Abigail Toll of Ionian Death Robes
Ionian Death Robes takes its cue from atmospheric, doom-inspired soundscapes. The live shows often assume various solo and collaborative formats that draw on the dialogue between confessional chanting and the discordant distressing of violin and flute. Ionian Death Robes’ first EP titled ‘Old World | New Ruins‘ was released late January 2019.
1: “The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation.”
2: “The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling.”
3: “We have been warned against it all our lives by the male world, which valuesthis depth of feeling enough to keep women around in order to exercise it in the service of men.”
– Audre Lorde: /Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power/ (Sister Outsider)
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The music is, in a way, a sonic representation of personal and political narratives that unfold over generations. The new EP Old World | New Ruins was shaped by Audre Lorde’s essay ‘The Erotic As Power’. It was like a self-help guide to processing these unconscious and indecipherable feelings of anger, despair, longing, determination, hope and vulnerability. The EP was developed during this growing atmosphere of fear and toxic masculinity on many tiers in the media, and informed by personal experiences related to this. The songs offer a sense of catharsis and are a means to purge the damaging effects that are associated with nuanced systems of oppression.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
When I moved to Berlin, I met Laury Achten and we started to experiment with rudimentary sounds on a loop station, grasping at anything around us to experiment with for percussion along with our violin and flute. We then started to record on Logic Pro in my bedroom, using the storage cupboard as a recording studio, and had to therefore embrace the room’s natural reverberations.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Alice Coltrane – Transcendence
Laura Cannell – Beneath Swooping Talons
Puce Mary – The Spiral
Bohren und der Club of Gore – Dolores
Solange – A Seat At The Table
Also Maria w Horn’s ‘Kontrapoetik’ is a new favourite.
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
It’s a city of extremes: ascension, exploitation; freedom, isolation; unity, hostility.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
Stadtbad Neukölln. The architecture, warmth and sense of local community is a reassuring balm, especially during dark winters.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Sarah Davachi – All My Circles Run
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Puce Mary and Laura Cannell. They both represent two distinct characters of Ionian Death Robes, respectively. One draws on East Anglia’s strange, remote landscape; the other embodies a carnal ferocity.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Diamanda Galas at Funkhaus in 2017 was extremely powerful and fulfilled a dream to see her play live. As a performer, playing on the same lineup as Caterina Barbieri for the first Ionian Death Robes at ACUD MACHT NEU was a special experience.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
It’s becoming more important, especially with the live performances. Electronic aspects are now feeding into the process and can provide a spatial elevation to acoustic instruments that provides a totally different dimension to the sound.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
Yes, they’re supportive. One of them is a ward sister, the other works in a cultural centre, so it’s an entirely different, unstable path compared with theirs.
Catch Ionian Death Robes supporting Fabian Altstötter’s Jungstötter project on Tuesday, 5th March 2019 at Volksbühne’s Roter Salon!
Photo © Pierluigi Muscolino