Lili Occhuito has been involved with New Age Noise for a while now, they make music under the name “Okuesha” and are a part of the art collective, XXXL. Most importantly, they’re playing New Age Noise: Saturn Return, this week!
So you’re an artist, musician, and bonafide weirdo. Why is collaboration so important to you across all three?
As an artist, who has always felt like somewhat of an outsider, I feel the need to ensure that pieces that I create encourage a sense of collaboration and cooperation. That is why I typically tend to invite other artists to share my space when I have a chance to express myself within an artistic setting.
As the next generation of artistic voices, it is our chance to shift the way that careers in this sector are established. It is our chance to eradicate tall poppy syndrome and to create beautiful art that is removed from ego and is centred on output for the sake of itself.
Do you find similarities between the music and art you make?
To be honest, it depends on the project, but as a whole, I find that the themes explored when crafting my sounds and visuals are fairly consistent. However, when it comes to breaking down the creative process, I find that my methods for creating can vary a fair bit. Sound and music creation come to me a tad more naturally, so my means of creation can be a bit more spontaneous when compared to my crafting of visuals.
When making music, what guides your artistic process? Is it purely experimentation, are pieces based off a feeling or an object, or something like that?
Again, my creative process is one that tends to vary regarding the context in which I am creating. However, when creating passion projects, I tend to have intense creative bursts that propel me into action. This strong desire to create tends to be derived from moments of emotional intensity and profound significance in my life. What can I say? I guess I’m a romantic allows the tide of her emotions to sway her to profound points of inspiration.
In saying that though, when I am creating collaborative pieces, I tend to be a lot less indulgent. A lot more research, writing and discussions are had to formulate ideas that are true to the artistic intentions of all people involved.
Has this year been big? What have you learned?
In so many ways. The year of 2019 has been one that has pushed, challenged and changed me in every way imaginable. Main thing I learned off the back of everything I have experienced is that I operate best when working towards points of passion and that everything has value – everyone has a voice deserving of a platform. Even if we disagree with the message, true discussion is important – it’s the only way forward!
From an artistic standpoint, it’s been huge. This year I found myself partaking in so many additional projects that resulted in me being exhibited in two PACT salons, two NANC events, as part of XXXL I’ve had the chance to exhibit and perform at Casula Powerhouse and now, in collaboration with Wendy Yu and Isabella Sanasi I have a performative work ready for Carriageworks.
I’ve also gotten to make soundtracks for theatre shows such as ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ (shown at the Opera House) and ‘A Game For Flies’ (Shown at PYT) which was Brianna McCarthy’s debut work.
From a community perspective, I’ve deepened my involvement with spaces such as I.C.E. via projects with the New Age Noise Collective, Powerhouse Youth Theatre in Fairfield and I was also a part of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Youth Collective. I also delivered a clumsy but necessary rant, on behalf of the New Age Noise Collective, at the SAMAG event hosted at the MCA alongside the incredibly eloquent Jessica Paraha which was an amazing experience.
And from a personal standpoint, many, many, many, many, big things have happened. This year I kind of dismantled virtually all the toxic structures in my life and I guess I’m rebuilding my universe based on learnings uncovered throughout this monster of a year. I would go on about it here, but there is far too much to delve into.
What part has New Age Noise played in your life? What do you think of the line-up for Saturn Return?
Honestly, my time with NANC has given me the courage to create music as a solo and collaborative artist. With incredible mentorship from stunning teachers and facilitators such as Del Lumanta, Nicola Morton and Morgan Graham I feel as though I’ve been able to develop personally and creatively off their back of their invaluable advice and overall brilliance.
Being a part of NANC since the founding days of All Girl Electronic, I also wanted to make the point to acknowledge the positive influence of amazing people such as Victoria Harbutt and Julia Mendel who were also vital people in my creative journey. All in all, NANC and I.C.E., will always have a place in my heart and will always be seen as a grounding point for me. This space is one that I will always want to see develop and grow. Also, the line-up looks amazing. I cannot wait to perform alongside such a strong group of performers!
And lastly, who do you recommend we should check out?
One of my favourite musicians at this point in time has to be Esperanza Spalding. Her album ’12 Little Spells’ is an incredible piece of music that blends genres and transcends hollow displays of virtuosity by creating a rich, evocative body of work that celebrates the body through loaded imagery. This decadent piece of work inspires me as it serves as a reminder that successful music doesn’t have to be confined to set structures and conventions. The stand out track on this album is, without question, ‘Lest We Forget (Blood)’.