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Luke Jaaniste enters a trance at APAM

Get ready to experience a jolt-like collision of extreme sport, classical music, and spiritual immersion when sonic artist Luke Jaaniste debuts TRANCE PIANO at APAM this week. Since graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium in 1999, the Brisbane-based artist has worked with sound, sculpture, digital media, installation, text, video, and the human body to create performances and installations that aim to take people on a transformative and hypnotic ride. We caught up with the former Fresh Ground resident to find out more about his creative process, and what kinds of reactions his shows have had on audiences.



Describe the space where you do most of your creative work.

I have two main studios. One is the DJ-style bench in my lounge room, where my audio gear lives, and where I play, record, jam with collaborators, test out ideas, sing long into the night, and crank up the volume to full. I live next to a train station, so even though we have neighbours, the noise I make is never an issue! The other studio ‘space’ is all the nooks and crannies of public and community spaces, indoors and outside, where I play and muck about. It's where I get off the beaten track and into some new relationship, with the ambience all around us.

What kind of media do you use, and are there any other media that you’d like to experiment with?

I work with the palpable vibrational qualities of sound, experienced through immersive whole-body listening, in surround-sound settings. To do this, I work with a range of musical forms, squeezing out as much vibrational juice as I can, including: the hyper-resonance of the grand piano (TRANCE PIANO, featured at APAM), the thunderousness of electric bass feedback (SUB TERROR), the hypnotic ecstasy of many vintage keyboards playing auto-arpeggios (PORTAL), the angelic gorgeousness of many voices (FLOOR CHOIR), the chills and thrills of trance-like electronica (HHAARRPP), and the primal response of moving, dancing bodies subject to throbbing sounds (THEATRE OF THUNDER).

There is still so much to explore within the realm of immersive sound that I will probably swim in this place for years to come — and I hope to take each of these projects and expand them in scale and size. Not just one trance piano, but imagine a forest of them!


Trance Paino by Luke Jaaniste. Photograph by Morgan Roberts


What do you doodle when you are daydreaming?

I do a lot of active metaphoric day-dreaming with an expressive therapist, a yoga-butoh teacher, and a whole-body focuser. It’s often embodied rather than drawn, and often what emerges is a host of animals, sometimes plants, oceans, dark crystals… basically a jungle of activity that is within and around me. Maybe you too?

 Do you consider yourself a lone artist or feel that you're working in a community of peers?

Sometimes I work on solo projects, such as TRANCE PIANO, but in the last several years I’ve begun a range of collaborations, mostly with fellow artists in Brisbane, which is very rewarding and energising, such as: THEATRE OF THUNDER which is a sound/butoh fusion, SUPER CRITICAL MASS, a sound-based participatory project for public spaces, HHAARRPP my electro-acoustic trance band, and FLOOR CHOIR which is for vocalists and audiences all lying down. 

What do you do when you reach an impasse with a work?

I have multiple projects and collaborations on the go, and it’s such a pleasure to proceed at the pace and place that each of them needs. The creative work of art is all about opening up to the vibrational flows of expansive ambient play. And art is only worth sharing when things open up. If there is an impasse, we pause… we get playful… invite others to do the same… then it’s on!

What’s the most surprising reaction to your work that you've received?

On several occasions people have told me their bodies have undergone such a transformation that what was painful or tense completely subsided. I would not claim it myself, but at least four people have used the phrase ‘physically healing’ after one of my immersive sound events. It does not surprise me that the body changes and re-aligns itself, when it becomes open to all of itself, set in active motion/vibration.

 What are you most looking forward to at APAM 2016? 

Playing two kick-arse sets of TRANCE PIANO. Seeing some other great work. Meeting people from around the world.  


Introducing TRANCE PIANO from Luke Jaaniste on Vimeo.


TRANCE PIANO is presented by Luke Jaaniste and Mesmerism. 
Experience TRANCE PIANO at APAM on Friday 26 February at either 10:00am – 11.30am or 12.30pm – 2:00pm (90 mins) at Expressions Dance Studio, Judith Wright Centre. 
Join the conversation via #APAM2016. 

You can read about Luke's Fresh Ground residency, where he developed the Mesmerism music series, here. Connect with Luke via Vimeo or Facebook, or visit Luke's website

Check out our other Q&A Profiles with the Queensland artists/companies showcasing at APAM in 2016: Kate McDonaldLiesel Zink, Circa, The Farm.