Interview with Electronic Musician Christian Fennesz

Christian Fennesz, Austrian electronic producer and musician, teamed up with Lillevan, German video artist and performer to celebrate the work of fellow Austrian Gustav Mahler. This weekend the duo transformed Mahler’s music with unique electronic compositions at the Howard Assembly Room, Opera North, Leeds. The beautiful and evocative piece used Mahler’s symphonies as its starting point, giving it new life as contemporary performance. Fennesz speaks to Aesthetica about his work with Lillevan and the process of producing this arresting new piece of music.

A: You have joined forces with German video artist and performer Lillevan to celebrate the work of fellow Austrian Gustav Mahler. Why did you want to work with Lillevan?
Lillevan and I have been working on and off for about a decade now. I really adore his work and his approach to video is similar to what I am doing with music. Plus, he is a very nice guy.

A: How would you describe this performance?
It is quite a powerful audio visual performance. It is always slightly different as some parts are based on improvisation. Although, there are composed parts as well.

A: When producing this work, how did you incorporate Gustav Mahler’s own significant work and influence into the piece?
It was a challenge – one cannot top Mahler’s incredible work. So, I went through all the symphonies, picked parts here and there and tried to combine them with my own music.

A: Why did you want to involve film in this performance too?
In this case film definitely enhances music. It’s different from what I usually do. In the music there are quiet parts and lots of dynamic changes, but the film kind of glues everything together.

A: What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?
I have just finished a collaborative album with a London based dub ensemble, which was a great experience. I am also potentially writing a piece for the Vienna radio symphony orchestra. I recently did some recordings with Jim O’Rourke in Tokyo and with film music composer Paul Haslinger. There will be some other work this year too…

Find out more about the performance, which ran 21 March at Opera North, at

1. Image courtesy of Rafal Kotyla.