Over the past few years, Toronto electroacoustic harpist and film composer Grace Scheele has emerged as a distinct voice within the Canadian landscape, interweaving an eclectic mix of cassette sampling and electronic effects with a thinly-veiled irreverence towards the pedal harp’s traditional sound.
The landings EP was originally conceived as a live performance for the Aga Khan Museum’s Moon Landing Festival in July 2019, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.
The second track on her seven-song EP, “pomposity,” is an invitation to be curious, to wonder. To reflect on our spaceward ambitions and explorative nature as humans. Within the context of the Space Age, the moon landing was presented as a final frontier for innovation and exploration. “pomposity” taps into the American cultural narrative of the pioneering nature of manifest destiny as expressed in 1962 with President John F. Kennedy’s speech “Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort,” sampled halfway through the track.
I’m Grace! I’m an electroacoustic harpist originally from Chicago but currently based in Toronto.
I mix harp, synthesizers, effects pedals, and cassette samples, delving into ethereal, minimalistic-esque experimental electronica. I’ve been told my music’s like the Backrooms, but if they were a nice place. Slightly unnerving or melancholic, yet comforting.
landings is my debut space-y harp EP, and I’m really chuffed to finally be sharing! If you enjoy cinematic ambient/noise soundscapes, you should definitely check it out.
It’s my brain’s version of a music documentary of the Apollo 11 mission, both real and imagined. It’s very cinematic and spatial in that sense, with samples pulling both from NASA mission logs to presidential speeches from the Space Age.
“pomposity,” the EP’s single, really leans into the harp’s more unexpected soundscapes, thanks to effects pedals that transform each pluck into a looping, whirling starscape interwoven with bowed motifs.
Just as much as narrative, especially historical/cultural, is central to the music I create, so is emotional or lived experience. It’s funny. Each thing I create always tends to circle around a concept or thought I’m fiddling with. It’s selfish in that regard, but what isn’t in that sense?
I definitely lean into improvisation while writing, building improvised structures rather than locking motifs and accompaniment patterns in place. It makes each performance different and a bit trickier in that sense. Ultimately, I like to think each time I sit down at the harp and play. It’s hopefully a very present experience for anyone listening because this piece will only be played in this way once, and it lives and dies in that moment.
This Friday, February 25th, I’ll be performing works by award-winning Oglála Lakȟóta performance artist and composer Kite, aka Suzanne Kite, and composer Trevor Van De Velde with Nathan Petitpa in Toronto. You can find details on my website (www.gracescheele.com).
I also livestream improvised ambient harp music weekly on Twitch (twitch.tv/graceharpsit)!
To be intentional in my pursuits and practice, especially time. I think life can sometimes be a furnace that refines, so I look forward to the ups and downs of the journey ahead and the friends who share the road.
Music-wise, I’m knee-deep in writing my debut album and am releasing monthly sample packs of harp shenanigans on Bandcamp. I’ve also been really lucky to add my harp vibes to a couple of albums that are coming out in spring, so I’m excited to see where those projects go. Lastly, I’m hoping to put down more musical roots in Toronto, and hopefully explore making music and writing with others more in 2023. So if you’re local, and want to jam, would love to connect. 🙂
Connect with Grace Scheele:
I’m Jenna, the founder and editor of Canadian Beats. I have had a strong love for Canadian music, which started many years ago. I have a passion for promoting these talented Canadian bands and artists, and that’s how Canadian Beats came to be.
Canadian Beats has grown to become more than media, and what a journey it’s been.
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