Signal Path Podcast: Gazelle Twin
Listen to the latest SIGNAL PATH podcast with ELIZABETH BERNHOLZ, an English producer, composer and visual artist who creates uncompromising electronic music and striking imagery under the moniker GAZELLE TWIN.
Hear the stories behind the sounds. Join Zakia Sewell as she meets world-renowned sonic innovators to explore those defining moments that influenced how they think about sound.
Episode 056: Gazelle Twin
For the latest episode of Signal Path, Zakia speaks with Elizabeth Bernholz, aka Gazelle Twin, a musical virtuoso, whose deftly weaves unsettling electronics, ethereal vocals, folk horror and social commentary into a potent audiovisual package.
Zakia Sewell: Let's start at the beginning. Perhaps you can tell me a little bit about your upbringing, and when you first came to music?
Elizabeth Bernholz: I was very lucky in my childhood to grow up in a really nurturing creative household with both parents, sort of trained artists, and really musical and music lovers. And siblings who were equally creative. And when I say music, it was mostly classical music that my mum and dad played and jazz. So they had quite a good stack of cassettes and records that I remember them playing when I was baby. So yeah, we had a piano, we had everything that you could want, really. So I was able to experience music and make music from an early age. I went to a primary school that had an incredible setup, they had a whole orchestra, they had a whole choir, they had instruments that you could learn to play for free. All kinds of amazing things that, you know, I don't even think a lot of primary schools today would have. Just thinking back over my childhood, I had a really privileged upbringing in terms of having access to this stuff, and being able to just try stuff out and express myself through music and, and art from a really young age. So it's always kind of been there, really, for me.
Do you want to tell me about that first moment that you remember as foundational in your journey in music?
When I was thinking about this first moment, there were a couple that I could have chosen from, but in terms of where I began as a performer, and sort of starting to take music as my kind of power in life and my kind of sense of myself, it was at my primary school, and at the time, all through school. Beginning at primary school, I struggled a lot in terms of my confidence and my sense of self. And basically, I found myself feeling very awkward and very at odds with, you know, the world and, and my peers, and I think through music, I discovered something that couldn't be taken from me. And it was the sheer kind of enthusiasm and dedication that I had from teachers at the time, who, two of whom in my school, were trained musicians, which is quite also quite a rare thing. And they saw me, they just saw me, they knew my shyness, but they knew my creativity and they knew my ability with music, so they encouraged me and when I was sort of doing my flute lessons, we got a chance to do quite a few school concerts and a few gigs. At one of my first gigs, I think I did a solo along with some, you know, like ensemble performances with my friends, but I just remember standing on that stage I can remember in full technicolor and just having that piano intro and then starting, knowing that my parents were there. It was a full assembly hall full of parents and just feeling that buzz. I actually still have a video that was made in 93 and filmed on a really old video camera so it's on a really wobbly, fuzzy VHS tape. Then at the end getting a really great applause, having a lot of praise from other parents that I'd never met and from teachers and feeling like that kind of glow of “wow, I've done something and I've moved people and I did that, you know, just by myself just with my flute,” I think you get addicted to that.
When did you decide that you are going to pursue music? When did you decide that you wanted to become a musician and performer and started to make your own music?
I think in my head I was going to become a flautist, a professional flautist, performing orchestras with a golden flute, wearing beautiful dresses and stuff in the Royal Albert Hall. That's what I thought was gonna happen. You know, I never it never really went away. I think when I started my secondary school, the flute dropped away, it was no longer…. It wasn’t a very cool instrument. And I think I had a teacher I didn't like. I just kind of became a teenager and wanted to do other things for a bit. But I never stopped making music, I had a little synth in my room that I used to make stuff on. And through my teens, when things got pretty rough for me at secondary school. Following on from the stuff that happened in primary school, it just kind of went on for a long time. I just retreated to my room, and I retreated to music. And it got darker and darker through those teenage years. And as I was listening to Portishead and Rage Against the Machine, and Radiohead, all that kind of really dark, gloomy stuff. But I was kind of making my own version of it. And I didn't perform any of it to anyone, I just played it on my headphones to a few friends and stuff. But it was lingering, but I didn't really have the confidence. I didn't really find myself until my late teens.
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Host: Zakia Sewell, Producer: Alannah Chance, Creative Producer: Joshua Thomas, Creative Lead: Ty Stanton-Jones, Music: Yip Wong, Agency: Commune Photo credit: Teri Varhol