Sonae | Sonia Güttler
Sonae is producer, live performer and DJ for experimental electronic music, part of label collective monika werkstatt. her debut album was released 2015 with berlin based label monika enterprise. afterwards artist in residence at klingklang studio / düsseldorf, women in computer music scholarship at CCRMA of stanford university / cal, USA, master degree in popular music at folkwang university of arts / essen. 2018 release of her second album »I Started Wearing Black« (»a striking album« Fluid Radio UK) followed by »Music For People Who Shave Their Heads« 2019 with london based bit-phalanx music. DJ mixes for the wire, self-titled, vice, dublab.
Sonae plays live solo and with monika werkstatt at places like institut für zukunft / leipzig, meakusma festival / eupen, ausland / berlin, pop kultur festival / berlin, uh-fest / budapest, cafe oto / london, 23rpm festival / london, the cube / bristol and more on the same bill with squarepusher / warp, kyoka / raster-noton, plaid / warp. Sonae lives and works in cologne.
»Learn her name now« - a closer listen
When hearing Sonia Güttler talk about her project Sonae, there’s no denying her German origins. The Cologne-based artist uses the word inventory, for example, to refer to her profound questioning of the factors influencing her mode of music production and the aspects of external perception. While this may seem bureaucratic it represents at its core the highly emotionalized and actively pursued artistic ambition not to repeat herself - as stagnation tends to be the enemy of all musicians.
But rest assured: it’s enough to listen to how much has happened for Sonia Güttlers project Sonae between her 2015 debut album »Far Away Is Right Around The Corner« and the second album »I Started Wearing Black«, released three years later, to grasp the level of artistic self-torture that Sonia Güttler imposes on herself in the studio.
The albums, both of which were released on Berlin label Monika Werkstatt, run by Gudrun Gut (Malaria!, Mania D, …) and hence part of a feminist-actionist community, bear witness to Güttler’s genesis. On »Far Away Is Right Around The Corner« she primarily interpreted ambient music as a comfortable sound carpet to take a seat on. With »I Started Wearing Black« she ventures into sound-aesthetical regions that are rather painful, demanding much more from the listener and herself. At some point between the two albums a desire for long club nights was awakened in her (reflected in her mixes for radio stations such as NTS Radio London or Dublab ever since). The listener can sense this desire in the album’s nuances, just as the traces of the delicate collaborations that have shaped and influenced her, such as the one with Danielle de Piciotto (with whom she recorded the album »Leise Fäden« in 2017) and various remix jobs (among others for AGF, Blint and Natalie TBA Beridze; most recently gathered on the compilation »Music For People Who Shave Their Heads«).
However, Sonia Güttler’s self-image as an artist does not end with her own productions and career ambitions. Born in Hamburg, she is a prime example of a socially committed artist. For several years now, for example, she has been a regular contributor to the Cologne On - Neue Musik e.V., an association dedicated to new music. It is a particularly important concern of hers to address the role of women in electronic music, partly in an act of enlightenment via lectures and concerts, partly as direct inspiration via workshops and personal contact.
The knowledge that Sonia Güttler knows how to contribute here is the result of her own artistic vita and shaped by a number of different influences: self-empowerment in the spirit of the do-it-yourself attitude; her studies at the Institute for Pop Music at the Folkwang University of the Arts, where she was taught by Hans Nieswandt, Gregor Schwellenbach and Tanja Godlewsky, among others; and through her involvement in the above mentioned community around her label Monika Enterprises, through which artistic exchange processes came about: with musicians such as AGF, Beate Bartel, Lucrecia Dalt, Danielle De Picciotto, Islaja, Barbara Morgenstern Nathalie Beridze and Pilocka Krach, the collective explored new sound paths together.
When questioned about the most important piece of advice she would give to young female musicians, she answers with a striking distillate of these strands:
»Art must always be the priority! Don’t let yourself be distracted by your daily routine too much to make music!«
In this sense, one can be very curious to see what Sonia Güttler will surprise herself and us with next.
Thomas Venker, September 2020