Meet: Kimia Koochakzadeh-Yazdi

Meet SCA alumnus and busy composer and musician Kimia Koochakzadeh-Yazdi. We've asked her a number of questions about her practice and her upcoming event, Interweave, which is also the first event by Fashion x Electronics (FXE), the creative collaboration between Kimia and her sister Kayla Yazdi.

Read on ~

Please introduce yourself.

I’m a composer of acoustic and electronic music, I perform and build instruments, and a lot of times, I combine these components together. Working with various disciplines is also an important part of my practice. I studied piano performance at Tehran Music School before moving to Vancouver to study composition at Simon Fraser University, graduating from the SCA in 2020. I am currently a doctoral student in music composition at Stanford University, where I spend most of my time.

Any outstanding memories from your time at the SCA?

There are many! I am truly grateful to have gotten to study there. The SCA, and particularly Sabrina Schroeder and Mauricio Pauly, played a huge role in me deciding to become a composer. The amount of opportunities and support I received during my studies from everyone has helped my career significantly.

One of the memories that I always carry with me is the residency we had with Mark Takeshi McGregor and Liam Hockley. I think it was one of the first times I was working with performers as a composer capacity — it was quite fruitful and I still carry things I learnt from those sessions with me.

Tell us about your current studies.

I’m in the third year of the DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) program at Stanford University. I do the majority of my work at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). I’m currently trying to learn and to experiment as much as possible! The amount of resources and ideas that I have been exposed to during the last couple of years has been quite significant and wonderful. I have been taking courses in subjects that I never thought I would study, from classes in the computer science and the mechanical engineering departments, to ones in education and theatre. I’m grateful to have been given a supportive platform to truly experiment and to learn.

As for my compositions, they are more melodic than before, and that currently makes me happy. I have started to perform more again (piano and electronics), and it makes me question: why did I ever stop…?

How would you describe your compositional practice?

Quite frankly, after this summer, I have come to realize that my musical aesthetic values in pieces that I compose and those that I enjoy listening to have changed. I’m currently trying to find what I sonically find pleasing and what I enjoy writing. That being said, unstable textures, unpredicted moments, extremes, and contrasting auditory spaces have always been present within my compositions. Currently, I enjoy experimenting with various musical thresholds to find out what the possibilities are when extremes come quite close together. The agency of the performer matters to my pieces and I enjoy that every time a work of mine is played, it can be different, depending on who is playing it and where. All these notions apply to both my acoustic and electroacoustic compositions.

Please tell us about your most recent work.

My most recent piece was a new work written for Ensemble Adapter, which for this project consisted of harp, harpsichord, bass clarinet, and percussion. This was my first attempt at making a piece with lots of melodies and having those melodies be based on an Iranian mode. Among other current projects, I’m particularly excited about an EP that I’m creating in which I am working with performers from Iran, most of whom are quite dear to me – we went to Tehran Music School together. All of the pieces will be based on different Iranian modes, and I’m planning to combine them with electronics. My goal is to release it in Summer 2024.

Left to right: Kimia Koochakzadeh-Yazdi and Kayla Yazdi.

Outside of your compositional practice, what other projects are you working on?

Fashion x Electronics is one of the most thrilling projects that I have been working on with my sister, Kayla Yazdi. This is a collective that Kayla and I launched in 2023 with the mission of combining our industries. Kayla is an amazing visual artist and a fashion designer, and we have always wanted to find a way to collaborate together. Our goal is to bridge fashion, technology, and music/sound together in such a way that they all have an equal stance. For our very first event, Interweave, we have made garments that act as wearable instruments. They have sensors that control various musical parameters. These have taken a lot of prototyping and experimenting with for them to work. The garments will be worn and played through movement and touch by our wonderful choreographers/dancers, Anya Saugstad and Daria Mikhailiuk.

Our plan is to make annual FXE events where we rotate the third discipline – fashion, technology, and music/sound – that we’d collaborate on each time. We really do hope that we can create a space where people from different disciplines can come together and be a part of a larger creative community.

What advice do you have for music students?

Do more. Fail more. Experiment. Show up. Reach out. Reply to emails. Be reliable. Be punctual.

About Interweave

Interweave runs March 21, 2024, at 8:00 PM (doors at 7:30 PM), at the Kent Gallery (534 Cambie St., Vancouver). The event is free, but an RSVP is required. Note: You must be 19+ years of age to attend (ID will be checked at door). 

More HERE ~

February 27, 2024