Sounddesigner, composer and theatrical producer
“I want people to be aware of the surroundings,” says Danish vocalist, sound designer, and composer Morten Mosgaard. Though for work he’s head of a theatre company, for years Mosgaard has captured and tinkered with found sounds culled from a constant, attentive practice of listening to his backdrops, splicing them into soundscapes or collages that celebrate the joy of motion and life. “In this world, we’re so focused on what’s next,” he explains, “what’s our next career move. But as an artist, it’s important to be in the present. I have to remind myself that, and that’s why it’s intriguing to make collages.”
A trained vocalist, Mosgaard pinpoints his education as being most formative experience, though these days he’s most inspired by location, working with site-specific recordings, installations, and performances. Most central to his work is a patient understanding of these sites, getting to know his environment, considering those who inhabited the location before – those who left behind traces in slight but meaningful ways. “In a new place,” Mosgaard explains, “the people and their stories inspire new things – to go somewhere different, to try something else.”
Mosgaard’s compositions exemplify an interest in communication, relationships, and spatiality. Take the sound designer’s installation “The Sound of Vinderup,” for instance – an installation in which the composer asked children to tell and reflect upon short stories of being a bird. Mosgaard then recorded their stories, cut them, and spliced them to tell another story – something wholly independent of its contributions. The recordings feature excited voices coming from all sides, dynamically capturing the joy and wonder in a child’s interpretation of the world while showcasing the composer’s precise observational talent.
Not all of Mosgaard’s music lacks the trappings of conventional music. Some compositions feature acoustic or electronic instrumentation, such as those in “The Dancer Revisiting,” in which saxophone, guitar, bass, drums, and vocals interweave to create an evocative, melodic tapestry, one that borrows from free jazz, rock, ambient, and electro-acoustic traditions. For pieces like these, Mosgaard exercises composer duty as well as producer duty, conducting the instrumentation while also returning to the box for mixing duty.
Mosgaard is curious and meticulous, able to work in numerous forms while also staying true to his artistic vision. His ability to tap into nearby environs makes for rich work that crosses many realms and stories. Like the cut up bird tales, Mosgaard channels what happens around him, but the result is distinctly his.