BY SARAH BERMAN, OPENFILE
You might think it takes a lot of equipment to record and edit vocals, instrumental tracks, field recordings and music videos for half a dozen different bands. But for one Vancouver performance artist with a penchant for singing on her bike, all it takes is an iPhone.
Prophecy Sun is a singer, dancer and creator whose curiosity keeps her moving. “For me it comes down to accessibility,” she says of her pocket-sized piece of gear. “First and foremost, it’s so immediate. I don’t have to worry about getting someone else involved, I can just press record and start doing it.”
Sun’s upcoming solo record is almost entirely recorded and edited on her phone—an achievement that required overcoming a few challenges. “The iPhone I find can’t handle low bass sounds very well, but generally it sounds pretty good,” she says. “It’s also a style of performance where I don’t mind if there’s a lawn mower in the background.”
When she’s not performing in bands like Spell, The Adulthood or Tyranahorse, Sun creates short video pieces that she says express emotion through movement. From orchestrating giant games of hopscotch to crawling into cupboards, digital phone recording lends itself to Sun’s on-the-go approach to art.
“I carry a tiny tripod with me, which fits into a little makeup bag,” she says. “That way I can just pull it out on the street. As an improviser, I will forget what I’m doing unless I record something right away.”
Sun’s creative presence is both restless and determined. Whether in transit or on stage, she’s constantly pushing herself to explore and compose in uncharted contexts. “When I’m biking around I record myself singing,” she says. “I’ll work on melodies and use those in tracks.”
From playing the theremin on her front lawn to commanding the reverberating force of an effects pedal, Sun’s solo work stands apart as raw sound and experience. “A lot of people really spend years working on an album, and that is really confusing to me sometimes,” she says. “For me it’s more about the process and just doing it.”
In her collaborative projects, Sun adds a fresh improvisational element to others’ more structured creative processes. “In Spell I’m working with a sound artist who is incredibly gifted using electronics.” With Kristen Roos behind the beats, Spell is also set to release a sophomore EP on the label Panospria in May 2012. “He does things at a different rate than I do—very methodic and gentle in his process,” Sun says. “I might record some vocals in the span of half an hour, and then just let it be.”
An app called Film Director helps Sun edit video pieces, while Voice Memo aids her field recordings. “I don’t want to give away all my secrets,” she laughs, adding that she’s learned to avoid large files which can crash her editing software.
Although her phone is constantly brimming with digital media, Sun says she can’t afford to buy new hardware. “There’s definitely a financial constraint there,” she says. “Most days I get by on the five buck in my pocket.”
While the technology isn’t perfect, Sun welcomes chance and imperfection into her creative process. “I would love it if I had a full set-up in my place that sounds immaculate and professional, but that’s not going to help when I’m out riding my bike.”
prOphecy sun plays a show with Chris-a-riffic at the Rickshaw Theatre tonight.
Originally published April 4, 2012.