by Jase Falk
Alison releases dark synth compositions under the moniker Mirror Frame, which blends dance beats with ethereal soundscapes. Stylus caught up with Alison to talk about her latest EP, intersectionality in music, and future projects.
Stylus: What was the conceptual drive behind your recent Mirror Frame self-titled EP?
Alison Burdeny: It was a really long and intense process. I was living in Vancouver from 2014-2016 and at that point in time I was in a band with my roommate called Rage Altar. I was making a lot of music on my laptop which I didn’t find very inspiring, so I bought my first synthesizer that you could write basic songs on.
I would sit alone in my room in the dark isolation of the west coast and use that synth to deal with feeling really disconnected from everything and not knowing what I wanted in life. I would get so much joy out of using that synth. I wrote three out of the five instrumentals for what would become the Mirror Frame EP at this point.
After a year the synth broke which made me realize just how much it had meant to me. At that point I hadn’t written any lyrics, but looping the patterns over and over again felt really amazing and helped make it feel like it was worth it to wake up in the morning. Once I was able to get new equipment, I was able to turn those little patterns into something that could communicate my experiences and shift the focus from coping with intersecting oppressions into something more social; I could have the instruments play everything and then sing overtop of it allowing the little parts to grow into fuller songs.
For the Ep that I put out my primary influences were Crystal Castles, TR/ST and Perturbator. The Crystal Castles inspiration came from loving their music growing up and covering their songs on that first synth that I got. Once the vocalist of Crystal Castles went public about her band mate’s abuse, I couldn’t listen to that band anymore, so I though ‘I have to do this myself now’.
S: Your performance at Temporal Contours this fall brought together intersections of disability and gender identity in really interesting ways. How do you use music to approach topics like these?
AB: That performance was informed by a process of grieving. I had recently quit work because of a worsening chronic injury and was coming to terms with being disabled and having to completely change my relationship to my body. This included an experience of grieving in public which I invited other people into where I was able to say: ‘I’m owning this part of who I am now. This is a core of my art practice. It’s not apolitical. This is an important thing to reflect on and if other people resonate with this, or share any of these experiences, there can be a connection and some kind of emotional movement and healing.
The relationship my music has with my body has always been at the centre of my artistic practice. It’s part of my emotional coping. Music gets me into my body, especially performing; I can feel the bass hit me, I know where I am and what I am doing, I know other people are feeling it and I know that there is a lot of power in that.
S: What kind of projects are on the horizon for you?
AB: There are so many exciting things happening. The EP I released was the cumulative effort of years of learning and exploration that taught me how important music is to me. Since then, I’ve applied to music school. My audition is in four weeks. On March 2nd I’ll be performing at Cluster Fest on the bill with Beastnest. I’m currently writing the core of what I hope will be an LP which I hope to release before I go to school in the fall.
Check out Mirror Frame’s self-titled EP which you can support the artist by purchasing at https://mirrorframe.bandcamp.com/album/mirror-frame.