The Lappetites: the union makes the inspiration

The Factory 07.10.2022

The electro and experimental planet knows them for their solo career and as a collective: Kaffee Matthews, AGF and Ryoko Akama form The Lappetites, a musical collective open to fellow travelers. Three improvising artists committed to aural and autobiographical exploration with a pronounced taste for risk-taking and what they like to call sonic "poaching".

"Friendship, openness, fluidity, listening." They cheated. Kaffee Matthews and Antye Greie, aka Agee or, on stage, AGF, were asked to give three words, off the top of their heads, that they felt defined the spirit of Lappetites and the quintessence of this singular approach. They choose four, from the word go. So be it! Their accomplice, Ryoko Akama, could not be present for this interview between Paris, Berlin and Northern Finland. No doubt she would have approved the choice of her stage partners.

The three Lappetites
AGF - Kaffee Matthews - Ryoko Akama

Create a space for musical exchange and exploration

Already, this name, which titillates the ear: The Lappetites. " It's the contraction of laptop and appetite", says Kaffee. The laptop, for a long time the fetish creation instrument of the musicians and performers who are part of this collective born in 2002, and the appetite for exploration, improvisation, the stage. The appetite to work together. Twenty years already. The Lappetites were born in New-York, on Kaffee's initiative: "In the middle of a festival that had only programmed men except me, I organized an evening that brought together women artists to play together: Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, Marina Rosenfeld... legends! We had never done that before. It was phenomenal. I wanted to create this place to explore musical ideas together. Les Lappetites is more of a communal space than a music group in the strict sense." The idea had already made its way into Kaffee's mind: "A few weeks earlier, I was invited to an electro improvisation festival in Berlin. And I was the only woman. I then went through my address book to contact the female electro and improv musicians I knew, many of them American. What can women do when they have a space to work together? That's what I was dying to know!"

Eliane Radigue, fellow traveler

After this performance, it remains to really build the project, to make a date. " The project or rather the concept", corrects Agee. A concept and an international network of female musicians of various aesthetics, all linked by the electronic fiber. A free forum of feminine cosmopolitanism, feminist. And from the collaboration is born the emulation, the unexpected. It shakes up the habits, "We go out of our comfort zone and it's so cool", Agee smiles. In 2005, Kaffee, Agee and Ryoko signed Before the Libretto, their first recording together, alongside one of the darlings of experimental composition in France, Eliane Radigue. The Lappetites thus formed a quartet for a while. " Working with Eliane taught us a totally different approach to sound and playing," Agee recalls. Kaffee, Ryoko and her are now the heart of the Lappetites, sometimes joined by other female artists, and the list is long.

Connection, experimentation, introspection

Musically, the three have their own style, their own tropisms. "Our approaches are not at all the same, one is more versed in the work on the spatialization of sound, the other on a quasi-spectral approach with digital and vocal mixes, Ryoko works a lot with synthesizers... ". In 2009, the Lappetites sign an explosive opera, it is Fathers, abundant picture of sound and visual research, in nine scenes for which the three musicians carry out, upstream, research on the life of their respective fathers. Result: an OPNI. Unidentified operatic object ? Digital composition and live performance, audiovisual (three screens on stage), wink to classical opera (with a choir in the final scene)... " It was a colossal project and a real challenge for us. It was a colossal project and an opportunity to dig into the notion of identity, the reminiscences of childhood, says Agee. Today, to summon one's life in electronic music is more usual: at the time not at all, it was techno, it was necessary to be cool, relatively detached from the intimate. We were going against the grain.

Trailer " Fathers" - The Lappetites- from Blanca Regina & unpredictable on Vimeo.

Valuable risk-taking

The work, in music, on identity and its limits continues in 2014, a residency at EMS Stockholm leads to another audiovisual performance: Borderless. An obvious title! Here again, the performance exceeds the music: drawing, audiovisual ... " We work like this," explains Agee. We work like this, explains Agee: we are invited for a residency or a concert, and there we start the process of working together. We rarely work together outside of these specific events. And what exactly do they like about working together? " We take risks, all the time," says Agee. Before the Libretto, our only recording so far, is totally crazy. Among the album's highlights is the delightful Avoiding Shopping, with its deep, rubbery bass contrasting with the sonic drones, close to saturation. Or the hard-hitting Heimat (homeland, in German) and Agee's haunting, almost frightening psalmody. "Fathers" was again a big risk-taker, Agee continues. I love that because in electronic music, we're quick to talk about experimentation when it's often just repeating formulas that already work and appeal." The trio's last performance took place in Berlin at the Heroines of Sound festival in 2019.

2022 : appointment in Albi

The reunion and the performances of the Lappetites are thus rare moments. The trio is thus on the bill of the festival riverrunon October 8, piloted by the GMEA of Albi. What do they concoct for this reunion with the French public? Surprise! "I'll probably propose some of my poems, maybe a piece by Eliane [Radigue]... I think we agree that we haven't decided anything yet, " smiles Agee. "We're going to bring our instruments, our energy and all our ideas... and we're going to play!" concludes Kaffee. Once again with the Lappetites, the field (and song) of possibilities is wide open...

The Lappetites, riverrun festival, 2022

Suzanne Gervais

Festival riverrun, concert on October 8 at 8:30 pm at the Athanor, Albi

Photo © Michel Balague


buy twitter accounts