Sharon Subbarao, also known as Ariadne’s Labyrinth, presents a 4-track solo EP of overwhelming musicality. A unique blend of live instrumentation, classical roots, melodic wonder, and rave-inspired madness.
Featuring influences from Warp and Aphex Twin such as Nonclassical and Phillip Glass, the pieces exhibit a freedom of expression and fascination for emotive composition that has evolved from Ariadne’s Labyrinth’s commitment to innovate through experimentation with strings and machines, aggression and beauty.
Supported by artists such as Plaid and Detroit Underground, Ariadne’s Labyrinth’s production is supported by the Arts Council England, with public funding from the National Lottery.
We have had the pleasure of interviewing you and this has been the result.
Hey, how did your day start?
Hi! I’m good thanks! Enjoying the Christmas holiday period, which for me means time off work and time to work on my music! In answer to how my day started, it started with my going to the gym 🙂
What is about the rave culture and aesthetic that interests you?
I think it’s the freedom that goes with it- the freedom to be yourself and for self expression, and I think the music embodies that. I first got into electronic music by going to squat parties and being around sound systems. And I love the free party aesthetic that anyone is welcome- you don’t have to look or be a certain way, anything goes. And that really gelled with me when I discovered it, because I had always felt like an outsider in many ways…and now I’d found a place where I felt accepted and where I could be myself. And I’d like to think I encapsulate these ideas in my music, which is if you like an amalgamation of different worlds, experiences and influences.
How much have artists like Aphex Twin or Philipp Glass despite being so different influenced you in your musical work?
The very first track of Aphex Twin that I actually heard was ‘Girl Boy Song’. What I found so inspiring in that tune was how he’d mixed these really gnarly, aggressive, up front and in-your-face very challenging beats with a string arrangement that was so intricate and cleverly composed, that was synced perfectly with the drums…and I was like ‘I want to make music LIKE THAT!!!’ And generally, I’ve always loved that sense of incongruity in his music- the way he gets aggression and beauty to sit side by side with each other in the same piece. And also the way that he just doesn’t give a fuck!
I suppose there’s a part of me that wants to shock people in a way, break down stereotypes, rules and boundaries- I still feel that electronic music isn’t considered ‘cultured’ as are genres such as classical and jazz for example, and in some small way I feel I’m addressing that. Music can be beautiful, aggressive and complex all at the same time. I think it’s all summed up nicely by this quote by Cesar A Cruz, which was told to me by a friend years ago.
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
With regards to Phillip Glass, it’s his album ‘Glassworks’ which I found really inspiring when I first heard it. What I really latched onto, I think, was how this body of purely instrumental music with no percussion, had all those elements of groove and enough repetition for the ear to be able to latch onto whilst keeping it evolving and changing at the same time. It was kind of the way that it had-to me at least- all the elements of electronic music that I loved, and the way some of the pieces seemed to really aspire to that electronic music aesthetic.
How are your influences condensed on Ridiom EP?
Well there’s the classical elements in the string writing and particularly in the title track my love for lots of polyphonic melodic layers. In the beat writing my Warp and Rephlex influences really come together and the rave tendencies really bare out in the other three tracks in different ways. I have to say at this point that none of this is really a conscious thing when I write- I just stumble upon a mix of sounds or styles that sounds good to my ears and I run with it. All of the tracks display my love of melody and the cinematic feel that goes hand in hand with string writing, really. And with ‘Zombi Bunni’ there’s that tongue in cheek element, an incongruity and a four-to-the- floor beat that just isn’t four-to-the-floor at all!
What was your production criteria?
Well I work with a producer on the production, sound design, sound engineering and final mixes. I realize this is quite unusual for an electronic artist, but I must reiterate here that I compose, programme and record the music myself. Generally, I wanted the beats to sound clear and crisp and for the strings to sound nice and warm. There’s a lot going on in my music and it’s important to me that all the detail comes out and that it’s all balanced.
What can you tell us about each track?
‘Ridiom’ is at an unusual tempo. Again, this wasn’t conscious, it just sounded good at that speed. I think it’s got the most melodic layers out of all the tracks and I like the way how they weave in and out of each other. The original version of the tune (which I’ve lost) I didn’t like, so I remixed it- and this is what came out! ‘Clever Zebra’ has an unusual time signature thing going on in the first part- four bars of four followed by four bars of 7. It’s got three main string layers that are very cinematic and there’s a huge drop halfway through leading to a nice bit of unexpected hardcore- of course superimposed with beautiful strings! ‘Zombi Bunni’ is the one track which features my Roland SH-101. I hope when people listen to this it makes them laugh, or if not at least puts a knowing smile on their face- we can’t take ourselves or life too seriously after all. ‘Quantumplation’ is in seven ) i.e the time signature is 7/4). Again, I actually had a few versions of this track before settling on the finished one. Most of the melodic elements are in the strings (a bit like with ‘Clever Zebra’). Again, there are two clear sections and the track just builds throughout.
How is your work presented in the year 2022?
Well I’m halfway through writing my second album and I’ve got some EPs in the pipeline. I’m working on demos for all of these so any interested labels should get in touch!
What makes you happy?
That’s a deep question and I could go on for ages haha…but if I hone in on what genuinely makes me happy, it’s making or playing music and also seeing and hearing people’s feedback on it, and how much joy they’re getting from listening to it. Ultimately, that’s why we make music, and until the music reaches the listener, the cycle isn’t complete. And to hear that the music is finally doing what it was intended to- it’s deeply satisfying.
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Again this could be a really long thing but I’ll keep it short. I don’t know who said this but it’s a motto I try to live by:
»Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused’’