BIOGRAPHY

“​​​​With a fine balance between augmented field recording and machine noise Soddell perfectly controls this exhilarating journey into her unconscious – or is it our own?”
– Gail Priest, Real Time Arts
 
The work of Australian sound artist Thembi Soddell resides in a zone of unrelenting darkness and the physicality of affect. Working on the nexus of musique concrète, raw emotion, and sound design they create dense and abyss-like sound worlds. Known for their powerful acousmatic performances in darkness, their compositions exploit the dynamic extremes, toying with a listener’s sense of expectation and unease. These reflect their longstanding interests in psychology, perception, subjectivity, and emotion in relation to intense encounters with sound.
 
Their most recent CD and book release, Love Songs, is the clearest articulation of their methods. A work of extreme dynamics and intensities, this record is a fierce and uncompromising sonic expression. Reflecting their attention to detail and flare for the extremes, “the results are striking and unexpected: the silence increases the perceived aggression or pathos of the noise, while the noise attenuates the blankness of the silence, filling it with its own void” (Fluid Radio 2018). The launch of this album at The SUBSTATION won the 2019 Green Room Award for Contemporary Sound Performance.
 
Soddell’s most recent sound installation, Held Down, Expanding, premiered at MONA FOMA in January 2018. Prior to this, their work has shown in national and international galleries, including the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (2016), Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2016), National Gallery of Victoria (2014), Wellington City Gallery (2013), National Gallery of Australia (2003), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2002). They have performed at many Australian experimental festivals, including Totally Huge New Music Festival, Liquid Architecture, and What is Music? They have released five albums (Intimacy 2004, Instance 2006, Iland 2006, Host 2012, and Love Songs 2018) and twice toured Europe, performing 33 shows across 12 countries, including venues and festivals such as Instants Chavirés (Paris), Cave 12 (Switzerland), and Hoerkunst Festival (Germany). Soddell also works as sound designer and dramaturg for choreographer Tim Darbyshire, and theatre director Rebecca H. Russell. 
 
Soddell is a practice-based PhD candidate at RMIT University, where they are researching the use of acousmatic sound in representing and understanding the lived experiences of so-called mental illness and trauma. In 2016, they presented at two interdisciplinary conferences in Budapest, one on Trauma, the other on Storytelling, Illness and Medicine. Here they used sound to facilitate cross discipline discussions on patient perspectives in health care. Soddell also has a BA in Media Arts from RMIT University with a first-class honours in Sound Art.
 
Soddell’s work has been described as, “extremely accomplished” (Diffusion 2005) and inducing of, "psychological terror" (Real Time Arts 2011), and they have been referred to as, “a high priestess of the digital realm” (Resonate Magazine 2014). They have been discussed in two books, Experimental Music: Audio Explorations in Australia and Women of Note: The Rise of Australian Women Composers. Soddell is a European descendent living on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung land.

CURRICULM VITAE (abridged)

Exhibitions​

2018: Held Down, Expanding, Red Door Gallery, Booktown Festival, Clunes

2018: Held Down, Expanding, Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne
2018: Held Down, Expanding, Mona Foma, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart
2016: The Absence of Inclination, Gertrude Street Projection Festival, Seventh Gallery, Melbourne

2013-14: Electroacoustic Composition (curator), Melbourne Now: Now Hear This, National Gallery of Victoria, Australia
2013: Window, Sound Full, Wellington City Gallery, New Zealand
2012: Window, Sound Full, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand 
2011: A Shut in Place (collaboration with Anthea Caddy), Parisonic Festival, Paris
2009: Artefact, Totally Huge New Music Festival, Perth
2009: Vacuum #1, Liquid Architecture, Melbourne
2008: Window, Next Wave Festival, Melbourne
2005: Pelt070905, Pelt Gallery, Sydney
2005: Flicker, Rest, and Repulsion, National Gallery of Australia Online
2003: Intimacy, Liquid Architecture, Melbourne
2002: Variable Resistance, SFMOMA, San Francisco
2000: The Sound of Your Name is a Song, Melbourne Fringe Festival
2000: Extraction:Reduction:Inversion, First Site Gallery, Melbourne
 
Discography

2018: Love Songs, Room 40
2012: Host (duo with Anthea Caddy), Room 40
2006: Iland (duo with Anthea Caddy), cajid media
2006: Absence and Presence (with Philip Samartzis, Anthea Caddy, Dave Brown, Michael Vorfeld, and Sean Baxter), microsonics
2005: Instance, cajid media
2004: Intimacy, cajid media

Performance & Concert Presentations

2018: 'Love Songs' @ The Substation, Melbourne

2018: 'Love Songs' @ Mengi, Reykjavik, Iceland
2017: 'Love Songs' @ Biegungen im Ausland, Berlin
2016: Listening at the Edge of a Knife, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane

2016: Avantwhatever Festival, RRR Performance Space, Melbourne
2016: Sound as Consequence, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne
2015: Room 40: Openframe @ Audiorama, Stockholm, Sweden
2014: Listening Visions, Bourges, France (concert program curated by Gail Priest)
2014: ‘Your Sickness is Felt in my Body,’ After Julia: Decibel New Music (performance of commissioned work by Decibel Ensemble)
2012: Now Now Festival, Sydney
2011: Punctum Presents Undue Noise, Castlemaine
2011: High Reflections Festival, Sydney 
2009: European Tour (duo with Anthea Caddy)
2009: Australian ‘Artefact’ Field Recording Tour
2009: Liquid Architecture Australian Tour (duo with Anthea Caddy)
2008: Melbourne International Biennale of Exploratory Music (quartet with Jerome Noetinger, Max Kohane, Xavier Nichols)
2008: Live Soundtrack to Moulin Rouge, Brisbane Cinematheque (duo with Camilla Hannan)
2007: Melbourne Women’s International Jazz Festival (duo with Joe Talia)
2007: The Now Now Festival, Sydney (duo with Tony Buck)
2006: European Tour (duo with Anthea Caddy)
2006: Liquid Architecture NZ
2005: Cajid Media Australian Tour
2005: What is Music? Festival Melbourne
2004: Immersion Festival Melbourne 
2004: Small Black Box series Brisbane
2001: Liquid Architecture Melbourne

 
Sound Design & Dramaturge
 
2017: Tainted Title (creative development), Tim Darbyshire
2017: Triggered (creative development), directed by Rebecca Russell
2016: The Lament, video by Vanessa Godden
2014: Entitled Title, Kier Choreographic Award, Tim Darbyshire
2012: More or Less Concrete, Tim Darbyshire
2011: Hot August Night, Tim Darbyshire

 
Awards, Grants & Commissions

2019: Green Room Award for Contemporary Sound Performance

2017: Australia Council Grant for Love Songs CD release
2016: VicArts Grant for Held Down, Expanding
2015: Commission for Room 40 @ Audiorama, Stockholm
2014: Commission for Decibel New Music Ensemble, After Julia concert
2010: Australian Postgraduate Award
2009: Victoria Rocks International Touring & CD recording Grants 
2009: Sound Travellers Grant
2008: Commissioned by curator, Ben Byrne, for a Sound Installation for Next Wave
2005: Australia Council Run_way Grant
2005: DCITA Contemporary Music Touring Grant
2004: Arts Victoria CD Recording Grant
2000: Melbourne Fringe Festival Visual Arts Award


Conferences & Symposia

2018: Gender Diversity and Music Making Conference, Monash University, Melbourne
2016: Sound as Consequence, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne
2016: 6th Global Conference on Trauma, Interdisciplinary.net, Budapest, Hungary
2016: Storytelling, Illness and Medicine, Interdisciplinary.net, Budapest, Hungary

Residencies


2019: Chamber Made's Orange House by the Sea residency with Onyx B. Carmine
2018: Cove Park, Scotland, thanks to Cryptic and The SUBSTATION
2017: Tanzhaus Zürich with Tim Darbyshire
2016: Creative development residency at Newport Substation for a solo multispeaker sound installation

2009: Punctum Seedpod at ICU Castlemaine with Anthea Caddy

Education

2010-continuing: PhD Candidate, "A Dense Mass of Indecipherable Fear: The Experiential (Non)Narration of Trauma and Madness ​through Acousmatic Sound", RMIT University
2005: Sound Art, Honours, RMIT University
2002: Bachelor of Arts (Media Arts), RMIT University

 
 
A full archive of Thembi's activities prior to 2016 can be found at thembisoddell.tumblr.com