Meet Johanna Bramli

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Johanna is a musician, sound artist, composer, performer and lecturer. Her work envelopes her audience through textured sounds, manipulation of vocals and captivating visuals.Johanna is also one half of electronic pop band Fröst, founder of all-female improv choir The Larsens and co-founder of MAMI – Mamas Across Music Initiative.She lives in Brighton with her musician husband and her two young children.

Do you have a defining moment which lead you to music? 

I’ve been playing an instrument ever since I can remember but definitely didn’t consider myself a musician. I was really into contemporary dance in my teens and it’s through this that I fell in love with music when I first was introduced to Ambient, Minimalism, Trip Hop and the world of experimental electronic sounds.
If you hadn’t been a musician, what path would you have taken?I’d like to say dance but in all honesty I don’t think I was ever good enough! In my dreams though…

Your solo work has a different sound and vibration to your band Fröst. Does one feed off the other in terms of inspiration or are they considered two separate expression of how you perform? 

It’s kind of a yin-yang situation. I’ve often felt they were two completely different entities but the more I worked on both the more I realised they are just different facets of me as a musician and very much linked. I like to think of my solo work as bringing melodic and more accessible elements to the world of noise and soundscapes whereas in Fröst I bring elements of noise and the experimental into pop.
I’ve seen you play live a few times and you seem so at home on stage. Does this come naturally? 
Like a lot of performers I know, I have a love hate relationship with performance! I cannot imagine ever not performing but equally I often ask myself why on earth i put myself through it! The before and after can sometimes be excruciating! Once the music or soundscape starts, I completely lose myself.

What instruments do you have hiding up your talented sleeve that you play? 

I’m no virtuoso on any instrument! I’m a vocalist by training and have played the piano and xylophone as a kid. These days I’m just interested in exploring all instruments and noise making devices as sound sources but cannot claim to play them technically well. I’m much more interested in the sonic exploration of the musical and non-musical world around me. A bit like an sound archeologist of my environment.

How important is it to you to incorporate current political atmosphere in your work? 

My work isn’t overtly political, it’s always been much more abstracted but the political zeitgeist is always present. I just tend to tackle it on a much more intuitive level and often reflect on how I might have incorporated certain themes half way or after having created something.

What’s a typical day for Johanna Bramli? 

I have two amazing children 2 and 7 so it’s morning time with them before school and nursery drop off. I work at the University of Brighton, as course leader for the Digital Music & Sound Arts course so I’m there in the day working with fabulous staff and students. I spend late afternoon / early evening with my children and husband and once the little ones are in bed, my husband (who’s also a musician) and I take turn to work in our home studio until midnight or so..unless there’s a gig or an event…! Quite relentless but feels like I can have a balance between family life, teaching work and creative output.

Have you noticed more acceptable behaviour regarding misogyny in the aftermath of the #metoo movement in the music industry?

Things are better than they used to be that’s for sure. Young women are just not taking shit anymore and are bringing a whole movement with them. I’ve loved seeing this shift but of course it’s no done deal either, there are still some deeply rooted issues but I’m hopeful for the future.
What is your advice to all those struggling, talented, left of field musicians out there? 
Be yourself. If you want to have a sustainable career as a creative, you need to find your own voice and push it to its limits. Be kind and surround yourself with nice people. And don’t be nasty. Behaviour in the music industry eventually rises to the surface. Good or bad.

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