Interview: Stefanie Egedy – “Bodies And Subwoofers”

CTM Festival is an annual music and art festival that takes place in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in 1999 and has become a highly admired and internationally celebrated event attracting visitors from all corners of the world.

The festival takes place over ten days in late January or early February and features diverse music and art performances across multiple venues in Berlin, including Berghain, Silent Green, and more. The festival’s programming focuses on experimental and boundary-pushing genres such as electronic, noise, and avant-garde music. 

In addition to musical performances, the CTM Festival also includes a variety of art installations, workshops, panels and discussions. These events are designed to explore the intersection of music and technology and to challenge traditional notions of what comprises music and sound.

The CTM Festival is known for its commitment to inclusivity and diversity and focuses on promoting underrepresented voices, music and artists.

Overall, the CTM Festival is a unique and exciting event that offers a glimpse into the cutting-edge of contemporary music and art. If you have an interest in experimental music or are looking for a festival experience that goes beyond the usual lineup of bands and DJs, the CTM Festival is definitely worth checking out!

Stefanie Egedy, a supported artist of SHAPE+, is a young and passionate music enthusiast deeply fascinated by the power of sub-bass frequencies. She spends most of her time studying and exploring the science of sub-bass, the textures created through low-frequency vibrations, and using her findings to shape and transform musical compositions. 

For the CTM Festival, Stefanie presented Sub-Bass Dose, a live performance exploring the potential of sound waves, focusing on low-end emanations from high-powered subwoofers to reverberate bodies and nervous systems into more relaxed states. The pulsating sub-bass creates a physical and emotional connection to the sound that many find both exhilarating and transformative. The concert was part of Egedy’s ongoing investigation of low-frequency sound waves, subwoofer arrangements, and their impact on the body, which she has titled BODIES AND SUBWOOFERS (B.A.S.)

Following her live performance at Berghain, we sat down with Stefanie Egedy to delve deeper into her work, inspirations, background, and research on sub-bass waves and frequencies. By exploring this often-overlooked aspect of music, she is pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of sound and opening up new avenues of creative expression for artists and music enthusiasts alike. 

Tell us about your background before you got into music professionally.

I studied public administration and philosophy in São Paulo (Brazil). I got into public administration because I wanted to save the world by reducing social inequality. I often asked myself, how can I most effectively change the world? I wanted to accomplish social projects but work in something other than governmental institutions. While studying for a bachelor’s in public administration, I had a crisis in the middle of it and started to get drawn towards philosophy. And, so, I was doing two bachelor studies at once and DJing at night.

You had been working with bass frequencies already while living in São Paulo; how did you get inspired into researching such a niche field?

When I was 16, I lived in Australia, where I was deeply exposed to the warehouse rave scene. While there, I connected with music and sound in a very compelling way. I got obsessed with the kick drum, and from then on, it was all about the kick drum; I could not stop thinking about it. Whenever I went clubbing, I often found myself in front of subs. 

Later, after I moved back to São Paulo and started DJing, I realised I would not be able to create what I wished to if I only DJed; I wanted to work with sound, not just DJ. So, I got Ableton and some gear and started composing. Since I am terrible with copying, I started experimenting with kick and bass. At one point, I wanted to relieve myself of the kick drum and took it out of my productions, which suddenly became experimental music. But, the bass was always the leading tone in the mix, always the principal tone in everything I did.

What was the turning point in your life when you realised this was it, ‘I want to be a full-time artist/musician’?

I was never conscious about becoming a full-time musician; it is just how life happened. In 2017, I did a residency at Red Bull Station in São Paulo, and this was a turning point. I spent 53 days studying a subwoofer and wanting to build a subwoofer. During my residency, I was introduced to Rafael Lins, a subwoofer expert based in Rio (Brazil), which led me to spend three days working with him and learn more about how the subwoofers work, how to position them in space, basic engineering and know-how of sub-bass frequencies because he was already working on and researching subwoofers and their soundwaves for decades. Also, while at the artist residency, I met with Camille Laurent (multimedia artist and lighting designer) and together we started to explore the concepts around suspending reality with our light and sound installations.

Was your residency at Red Bull Station the basis of your BODIES AND SUBWOOFERS (B.A.S.) research?

In these 53 days of working with the subwoofers, I realised different frequencies trigger different areas of the body differently. So I started to acquire more knowledge about what I was doing. And after that residency, I got commissioned to do conceptual works with low-frequency sounds, and that’s when everything started. While showcasing my work on low frequencies, I often questioned how people received my work. It was natural to ask, as nothing like this had been done before, I had no references and had to explain to people who had never experienced it.

How has moving to Berlin influenced you and your career?

I always wanted to move to Berlin! I came to Berlin in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the city. Being able to go to Berghain and getting a heavy amount of sub-bass on my skin every weekend was mind-blowing. 

After graduating in São Paulo and then moving to Berlin, I realised I wanted something more than an artist’s lifestyle; I didn’t want to spend all my days in a studio and then have a show of my work, then go back to the studio; I wanted a job with a fixed monthly salary, a solid job. I like working with people, organising, creating structures, and coordinating a team; I’m good at those things. So while in Berlin, I applied for a job at Monom (Berlin’s Center for Spatial Sound, home to the world’s most advanced spatial sound instrument – built by 4DSOUND), where I started as an intern and then worked up as an operations executive, overseeing projects and finances and leading all productions.

I was there for your performance at Berghain, it was something special. Can you tell us about your arrangement for the live show; how did you prepare yourself?

I always prepare myself for the room I am working in by listening to the sound I’d like to play in that room and how my body feels; it is all I study. A month before my performance at Berghain, I was given a day for my soundcheck, during which I studied the room with my ears and my body. When I left the soundcheck after hours of playing with the bass frequencies, I was with Frank, the sound technician; both of us were on the edge; we didn’t know what to do next because we had so much constant exposure to the sub-bass. 

After returning to my studio, I wrote a unique composition piece for my 30 minute performance. I wanted to create a story, a journey of sub-bass frequencies and so I divided my composition into sections. Also, what was intense about my performance was it was all live, live synthesis, there was no room for error.

Your live set-up seemed very simple but effective at Berghain; I could not see what it exactly was, but it did not look very bulky; what was it, and how do you explore your sounds?

My setup has been the same for almost ten years. For my equipment, I use Ableton, Vermona Performer (a German analogue synthesiser from the DDR times), and an Elektron Octatrack and Analog Rytm. For Berghain, it was the Perfourmer and the Octatrack only.

I like to study my gear thoroughly as each device has infinite possibilities. Despite using it for so long, I am still learning my gear. The more I study and perform, the more possibilities come about experimenting with sound; there’s much to explore with low frequencies. But also, considering the technical skills I have acquired over the years, I apply them whenever possible and discover something new. 

What is the one thing you have learnt over the years after working with sub-bass frequencies?

This is a tough one – I have learnt to trust my body and ears when it comes to low frequencies and not necessarily what the books say. But because so much still needs to be analysed, researched and not found in the books, this is what I’m doing. People often tell me, ‘you don’t do this or that on subwoofers’, but I go with what I am feeling through my ears and body; whatever sounds right, I go with it. I know how a subwoofer works: they are cardioid or omnidirectional. So I know what can be done, and I explore the context.

What’s coming next for you?

For now, I’m working on my sound laboratory, a low-frequency sound clinic where people can receive low-frequency sound therapy for headaches or anxiety, they can get a healthy dose, and this is also how I explore my performance theme, BODIES AND SUBWOOFERS (B.A.S.). I want people to see and feel how therapeutic sub-bass waves can be, and I want to start with a more medical approach with my clinic.

Additionally, I am working on launching my three-day event where people can experience sub-bass waves, breathing exercises, yoga, and everything possible with low frequencies. I am writing a soundtrack for a dance performance and working on a subwoofer installation in Italy (TBA).


Photo © Polina-Georgescu

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