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Karen Skog's Handmade Orchestra

21 November 2009

Karen Skog creates layered soundscapes from hand-made and found instruments - a cello, an organ, a violin and a theremin. Holding an MA in Fine Art from Bergen National Academy of the Arts, Karen will bring her musical artifacts (along with her own ‘orchestra’) to play improvised concerts at the NEU NOW festival.

Will you be performing with your orchestra at the festival?

Yes, my instruments will be presented in an exhibition and some times every day during the festival the three musicians will enter and play their small concerts. 

Did you create all of the instruments for ‘She was talking about this Orchestra’? What kind of training enabled you to both create and play these instruments?

I created three of them, not the organ which I found in an old second-hand store. I started with one cello by just looking at pictures on internet, trying to get the proportions almost correct. There were some problems to solve, but it was possible to make sound [with the instruments], so I was optimistic and started to plan the orchestra. So I was learning by doing.

When it comes to the playing of these instruments, I was trained in violin as a child, though many years ago, it is not the first time I am holding the instrument. Playing the theremin is very difficult if you want to play specific tunes, but in this orchestra we are looking more for different sounds.

What kind of enrichment do you think inclusion at the festival will bring you? Do you feel that you are representing your country, or your school or yourself as an independent artist?

I am very much looking forward to participate in Vilnius, to meet people, see their work and also for the response to my own project. I feel that I am representing my school, but also myself as an independent. My school is helping organising this participation for me, which I am very happy to be a part of. 

Are there any other artists in Europe or your home country with whom you identify yourself?

Not actually identify but there are some with whom I admire such as Pierre Bastien and Espen Sommer Eide to mention two. 

How does sound-art and sonic performance usually go down with exhibition visitors?

Mostly positive responses. I see that most people have some thoughts about music. And the fact that I have built these instruments myself opens for conversation. I had a lot of them with different persons such as from my grandmother to people working with new sound.

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