A Q&A with Composer Gina Biver

  1. Congratulations, Gina, on all your hard work and success. Your latest updates and news include your announcement on becoming a fellow at the VA Center for the Creative Arts, for a retreat in June. What are you most excited about, being part of it? And how are you planning to utilize this opportunity creatively?

    Thank you so much, Ghiya! I’m very grateful and excited to have the opportunity to think and create in such a beautiful environment. I’ve been several times over the years to the VCCA, and have composed numerous works there. An incredible bonus to having hours, days or weeks of uninterrupted time to focus in a quiet, natural setting, is how many visual artists, writers, poets, filmmakers (I think around 25 at a time) are there with you, sharing meals. I’ve met some of my major collaborators and made lifelong friends as well. How could anything be better? To live in community with a diversity of artists is a fertile territory for ideas, and such a pleasure to be a part of to have that opportunity to think and create in such a beautiful environment.

  2. Tell us more about the documentary that you recently scored, “Live Free. Skate Hard”, which tells the story of women’s roller derby teams in Maryland. What was your experience working on a production that is mostly female cast and crew? And what was your music vision and sound palette for those women’s inspiring story?

    LFSH was a wild ride. I got to be in the company of the teams as they were practicing and competing. The camaraderie and inclusiveness were inspiring. Women’s roller derby is an extremely rich and animated culture that I hadn’t experienced before. The crew was great and were very tuned-into the highly rule-based strategy of the competitions, the athleticism of the skaters, their group ethos and individual personalities as well. The vision I had for the music was to be badass, powerful and driving. Besides the original score I was doing, the director sent me Reason/Define’s song and suggested finding all female bands for the other titles and well, I didn’t have to look far.

  3. You have been named “best female guitarist in rock today” by Rock Scene magazine. How does your background in electric guitar influence your sound? And is that how your interest and talent in composing electroacoustic music started?

    I started composing while at Berklee, then in my mid 20s, as the lead guitarist and songwriter in the all-girl hard rock band Pantara, I became comfortable with electronics, and with working with technology in the studio and on stage. Electric guitar has found its way into some of my work, but certainly not all. In grad school I dug deeper into scoring for acoustic instruments (strings, winds, percussion, piano) so then I had two broad palettes from which to work, and I loved how they sounded together.

  4. You work on several multimedia projects, including working with painters, poets, and visual artists, in addition to performing music on the biggest stages. Where do you find yourself the most in all those genres and outlets? And how has your experience working in all diverse fields shaped your music and your attitude in general?

    Each concept I create or am invited to work inside, whether it’s for a film, a modern dance piece or a multi-projection media piece with live musicians, the essence (and where I find myself) is right there. As a woman, a human, an artist, a mother and a rebel, I am complex, so how could I (and why would one want to) distill down my interests in music and the things that turn me on? I see life as rich and full of possibilities. It will always be fun to rock out on a stage, but I find myself in my desire to create. I need to write music and have it be heard, and I love to connect with other artists to create performances that forge new links that tie together art forms. Collaborating with so many artists in other disciplines has taught me a great deal about my own work. Those that come to mind are my long-time collaborator, media artist and filmmaker Edgar Endress who inspired me to deepen my process of conceptualization and make connections on multiple levels; from poet Colette Inez I gathered the use of auditory texture and sensuality as expression; painter Jackie Tileston reminded me that from a multiplicity of sources, a piece of art can create its own logic – its elements going beyond just coexistence and into creating wholeness; and choreographer Jane Franklin showed me how my music could move within a landscape.

  5. What is your dream project?

    I would love to compose an electroacoustic score for a full-length art house film where the music could have its own narrative; one that walks alongside the visuals while suggesting a whole other universe of possibilities.


    Interview by Ghiya Rushidat

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