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Meet Nicole L’Huillier of Breaking Forms

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole L’Huillier.

Nicole, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always loved sound and music. I started playing drums when I was 9, just jamming with my brothers and trying to make sense out of rhythms and breaks. Then, as a teenager I moved into digital production, electronic music, and started DJing, all this was just learning by doing things with friends and trying to explore. All this showed me the importance of collaboration and community at an early age.

Later, I went to architecture school. While studying architecture I always tied my projects to musical/sonic topics, concepts, and fundaments. Architecture is a very time-consuming thing, so I didn’t produce much music those years. But when I graduated, the first thing that I did was to get myself a drum kit and start a band with friends. Later I started my own architecture studio and became somewhat architect by day and drummer by night. At one point I realize that I was becoming some sort of fragmented person, and it felt weird in terms of identity and in the way I related to myself.

So I decided to try to mix everything and allow myself to be the hybrid person that I am. It sounds very simple, but it was actually very hard to decide to take this step and build up my creative career as artist/musician/researcher/architect/sonic human/technologist etc. I started to find ways to mix my passion for sound and architecture and started creating sonic installations, experimental ways to relate to spaces through sound, or to sound through spaces. I became very interest in technology and science and how to combine these with architecture, art and music.

I was looking to build up a professional career out of this, so I decided to study a Master in Media Arts & Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where I found a place to do research, experiment, and learn with all the multiplicity of perspectives and drives I was looking for. I found a space at the Opera of the Future group, where I was invited to mix all of my interests and questions, and to challenge myself as much as I could. I am still working as a researcher there and also studying for a Ph.D. in Media Arts & Sciences.

I am originally from Santiago, Chile, and moving to Boston was a big change. It meant a very big step into personal and professional growth, but it also meant a standby for my dear band Cóndor Jet (where I was the drummer) and the creative community of friends and collaborators I had back in Chile. Once I moved to Boston, with my husband Juan Necochea (also a musician) we started making music together and created our current band Breaking Forms.

Our band is pretty much like a reflection of us, some sort of diary where we talk about our daily lives, our interests, fears, happiness, and space where we can scream and also fall in love. We started performing in place around Boston and New York. The best part of this was to start connecting with other musicians and artists and becoming part of a community. I consider myself very lucky and I am very grateful for having found a place in this city.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As I mentioned before, the biggest challenge was to be able to develop myself as a combination of many things and not just one. This has been a very important thing in my life and I think it has to do with overcoming (or at least to try to overcome) a lot of things at the same time, from social constructs of expectations and norms related to gender and identity to personal biases given by my already rigid adult mind.

I think the key for me is to allow myself to take risks and to jump. I try to be as flexible as I can, it is hard sometimes, but I try to be plastic and capable to adapt, to be able to change and morph and grow into many ways of being. I think it is about not being scared, or better said, not being scared of being scared, and just be ready to fail and accept it, and learn from that, and then to try again, and again, and again.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Breaking Forms – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I work in the intersection of sound, art, music, science, architecture, and technology. I have a research-based artistic practice, which basically means that everything that I do is directly related to and informed by my research, and vice versa.

That way, everything is connected and things influence one another, the different type of work I do (installations, compositions, sculptures, spaces, songs, texts, devices, performances) are all part of a research-based process. My work as a Ph.D. student is related to understand sound as a construction material. Understanding it as a construction material not only for experiences, spaces or architecture but also for identity and agency.

I also work with sound as a bridge between the material and immaterial world. So I work a lot on understanding and defying models of perception and create new ways to relate with our environments and others on them. I also work on exploring the possibilities of rhizomatic ecologies, the power of human and non-human dialogues, sometimes I do work on creating channels of communication with other non-human agents, models of co-existence and communism.

I am interested in opening questions about possible futures, fostering alternative narratives and devices that can affect the way we relate with our presents, sometimes even thinking about the potentials of creating musical instruments for microgravity environments, or of creating art for outer space; critically thinking about what are the social, cultural and political implications of that.

At the end of the day, my work aims to explore the many shapes of sound and how its transductions can open new streams of interactions, relationships, and narratives, between humans and everything else in the universe.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
With Breaking Forms we are soon to release a new EP, which is very exciting and has been keeping us busy these days. We are also exploring ways to intersect our work to other scenarios – not only concert venues – we love to perform in museums, galleries, and the public space. As well as exploring different scales of what our music can be, shifting from more pop to more experimental. We are always looking to collaborate with more people and see what can come out of that.

For example, we are preparing a special performance now that includes a public score so the audience can perform with us and a series of environmental data sensors to make music along with other agents, microorganisms and matter around us. We are also working on a space album with sounds from outer space gathered by the ALMA Observatory in the Atacama Desert in Chile, as well as sounds from stars from the Kepler Mission from NASA.

Other than that, many other things are happening, but I am mostly looking forward to connecting more with the creative communities in Boston. I consider myself very lucky to have a place in this city among a very inspiring and supportive group of friends, I am also sure there are tons of amazing people and places around here I still need to discover. Hopefully, there are more unknown experimental possibilities to explore. 🙂

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ally Schmaling, Miles Kramer, Wilda Farias, Joao Costa, Yasushi Sakai, Festival En Orbita

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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