Making Sounds with Suzanne Ciani


The Guardian’s Kate Hutchinson has done a great interview with Suzanne Ciani called “Making sounds with Suzanne Ciani, America’s first female synth hero”. It is also a great introduction to Suzanne’s versatile career.

“It might not seem so much of a stretch any more, but imagine spending your entire life in a tempestuous relationship with a machine. Not a sleek smartphone or tablet – we’ve seen how that can escalate in Spike Jonze’s Her. Instead picture a tapestry of tangled multicoloured wires, knobs and buttons, a bulky modular synthesizer otherwise known as the Buchla. Suzanne Ciani has spent much of her career testing the limits of one of these cumbersome instruments. So dedicated to its oscillating drones, burbles and bleeps did she become that has jokingly referred to the Buchla as “her boyfriend”. At times that affair was “traumatic”, she says now, down the phone from her studio in the Californian coastal enclave of Bolinas, sounding like both Marilyn Monroe and a Woodstock hippie. “Technology’s always very risky – you never know when it might break.” Alright everyone, chill: why ambient is one of the sounds of the summer

Ciani is one of electronic music’s earliest but lesser known pioneers, dubbed variously as the “diva of the diode” and “‘America’s first female synth hero”. This weekend she’ll be one of the recipients of the Moog Innovation Award at Moogfest, the synth brand’s celebration of electronic music and technology, alongside Devo and Brian Eno. Ciani, however, has been quietly innovating in various fields of music and sound design for nearly half a century. She was one of the few women on the frontline of electronic innovation in the 1970s, a five-time Grammy-nominated recording artist, a pioneer of the new age genre and the first solo female composer to soundtrack a Hollywood film. Brilliantly, she also invented Coca-Cola’s infamous “pop and pour” sound effect.”

Read the fascinating interview in The Guardian.