Artist Profiles: Jem Savage

Jem Savage is a musician, producer and sound engineer based in Victoria. His performances effortlessly blend live processing, looping and interactive visuals with his highly developed instrumental and vocal techniques. These performances utilise proprietary software and hardware devices including iPSi, the Isomorphic Pitch-Shifting Interface.

As an audio engineer for contemporary and experimental music, Jem combines keen musical literacy with wide-ranging experience and practical know-how to fulfil the needs of the most technically demanding projects – including recordings of Alvin Lucier works “Swing Bridge” and “Sizzles” for the Australian Art Orchestra, and their critically acclaimed commission “Sometimes Home Can Grow Stranger Than Space”, touring with the ensemble to London Jazz Festival and Jazztopad Poland.
Jem has performed or collaborated with a unique cross-section of improvisers, experimental musicians and composers including Peter Knight (Artistic Director – AAO), Andrea Keller, and Barney McAll (GRAFT).
Jem is currently Associate Producer with the Australian Art Orchestra, and Sound Supervisor for the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music.

CHYA was lucky to be the home of some of Jem’s NEAL (New and Experimental Arts Laboratory) gigs, an intiative lead by himself and Vicki Hallett. 

Q: You’re a fresh voice in the Geelong music scene, what is it about this place that gets you excited to work within or around?

J: NEAL (The New and Experimental Arts Lab) was devised as a means of unearthing, connecting and expanding the network of musicians, composers and artists in Geelong who are interested in exploring new musical territory, working at the intersection of music and technology, promoting the performance of rarely-heard music works and collaborating to create artistic outcomes that are much larger than the sum of their parts. We have a rich vein of raw talent here, and it seems a shame that people often have to “head up the highway” to experience non-mainstream performances, workshops and showings of new works – NEAL seeks to rectify that in part, and ultimately provide fresh opportunities for local artists of all kinds.

Q: What inspires your projects? Is it an intuitive process?

J: In our own practice, Vicki Hallett and I (Jem Savage) often find inspiration in the simple question of “what if?” – “what if the topography of the You Yangs could be mapped in a way that created a spontaneous site-specific composition?” “what you took cassettes, LPs, turntables and dictaphones and manipulated them in all the ways you were always told you shouldn’t?” This idea also maps into the workshop and performance outcomes at NEAL, and as co-curators and organisers we are proud to enable other artists to explore their own “what ifs”.

Q: What’s next? What can we expect?

J: We are always meeting new people and we try our best to be reactive to performance proposals (such as Kym Dillon’s recent hit premiere of his piano sonata at NEAL in August) – in the near future we will host a performance by drummer who uses virtual reality to extend his instrumental practice, and our exciting Winter-Spring performance series (featuring Buck, Brown, Mayas trio [Berlin, Melbourne], Marc Hannaford Trio [NYC], Spirograph Studies [Melbourne] and Origami [Melbourne]) will draw to a close with the October 10th performance of Wu-Xing – The Five Elements. This dazzling performance features Adam Simmons, Howard Cairns and Hugh Harvey or Origami with musical guests Wang Zheng-Ting and Pete Lawler, and also video artist Jean Poole who is known for his astounding live visuals.