Calgary-raised trumpeter aims to emotionally immerse listeners with scratch and sniff
Steph Richards says they worked hard to create scents unlike 'anything you could put your finger on'
What does loss smell like, while listening to music? What about joy?
A trumpeter and composer raised in Calgary in her formative years — but now recording and performing stateside with artists like Yoko Ono, The Pixies and Kanye West — wants to answer that question.
Steph Richards now splits her time between New York and San Diego but shares her thoughts on this unique scratch and sniff project and more with The Homestretch.
Q: Describe the unusual technique you use, where you play a duet with yourself?
A: You take one of the pipes out of the trumpet, so when you play certain notes the sound comes out of the side of my horn, and when I play other notes the sound is coming out of the front of my bell.
It sounds like a small bird singing on one side and a trumpet sound on the other side.
Q: How did you discover this technique?
A: One part was just messing around on a horn and then another part. A similar technique was used on an obscure classical solo trumpet piece that I had picked up many years ago.
Later on, one day when I was composing, I remembered this idea. What if I take apart my horn? What kinds of sounds and animals can come out of my horn?
Q: Is that consistent with the genre of jazz, always trying to move it forward and experiment?
A: I believe in my heart that my No. 1 goal is to move music forward.
A mentor of mine once said, "It is only through the arts and the sciences that humanity can evolve," and I really believe that.
Q: Talk about what you are doing with your upcoming album that is innovative around smells?
A: It's called scratch and sniff. Alongside the compositional structures I wrote, I imposed scent structures.
So using smell as a way to influence the musicians in the studio. All of the things in our environment really influence how we play music, so I wanted to explore that in this record and I also wanted the audience to have an extra dimension to work with the music.
When they hear the record, they can also smell the smells with scratch and sniff stickers.
Q: What is an example of that?
A: We worked really hard to create scents that didn't smell like anything you could put your finger on.
It might be more of a texture or a feeling.
You might have the smell of loss or the smell of joy. How could that influence how we perceive music?
You can find more details of Steph Richards' new album, Take The Neon Lights, right here.
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