Having fun with noise | Craig Schuftan & Lani Bagley

The Berlin-based musical duo Ducks! – made up of Craig Schuftan and Lani Bagley and currently enjoying a residency at Blitz, Valletta – speak to Teodor Reljic about their experience of Malta so far, and what we can expect from their June 2 concert at The British Legion in Valletta

Craig Schuftan and Lani Bagley are Ducks! (well, not literally, but...)
Craig Schuftan and Lani Bagley are Ducks! (well, not literally, but...)

Ducks! are the second incoming residents of the 2017 Blitz Residency Programme, which gives selected artists the opportunity to live and work in the Blitz building at St Lucy Street, Valletta for one month, to develop a project and engage local audiences. Lani Bagley and Craig Schuftan are Ducks! They make electronic music for dancing and dreaming, influenced by Disney and disco, combining synthesiser and vocal loops with found sounds and field recordings. Ducks! Do It Again is a recording project, in which Bagley and Schuftan investigate the role played by repetition in music enjoyed by humans. 

The project is the focal point of their residency, and will encompass talks, workshops and a concert performed at the British Legion in Valletta on June 2. 

Having formed in 2014, Ducks was a response to Bagely and Schuftan’s desire to combine their experience of dance music in Berlin (where the duo are based) with an abiding interest in the creative potential of loops and repetition in sound. 

“We worked on a couple of little projects where we got to explore that a bit, including a performance of Gertrude Stein’s very circular children’s book ‘The World is Round’ at Berlin’s Entretempo Kitchen Gallery, and a collaboration with curator and art writer An Paenhuysen on a soundtrack to her book, ‘The Shape in the Air’, about her friendship with a famous German conceptual artist. There’s a line in that that we particularly like, where she’s talking about the artist and his habit of repeating himself: “repetition, if interesting, makes a good listener absorb deeper the given information.” We think that’s really true, and it’s something Gertrude Stein would also agree with, repetition is understanding in depth,” Bagley says. 

Lani Bagley collaborates with dancer Francesca Zammit at Blitz, Valletta
Lani Bagley collaborates with dancer Francesca Zammit at Blitz, Valletta

Schuftan adds that the Blitz residency period gives this – necessarily experimental – act some breathing space to develop their ideas further without having to compromise on their time due to other more pressing and practical commitments. Lani adds that the workshops have been revealing and satisfying, describing the participants as “receptive and curious”. Their stay has also yielded a direct collaboration with a trio of dancers – Eszter Joo, Julia Camilleri and Francesca Zammit – whom they met at the SOMNA event at the Malta Postal Museum last week, and who will now form part of the British Legion concert. 

“They came around to Blitz and recorded all these rhythmic loops, sounds of feet on the floor, tapping and clicking, brushing hands over clothes, and we’re turning it into a song which they’ll then in turn choreograph some dancing to. We can’t wait to see what they come up with!” Schuftan says, while Bagley succinctly caps things off with, “Surprises for everyone!”

Ducks will be performing at The British Legion, Melita Street, Valletta on June 2 at 20:00.

Other upcoming workshops related to their residency will be taking place at Blitz, and include ‘Here’s the thing: turning noise into music and music into noise’  (June 1 at 18:00) and ‘The world is round – Gertrude Stein and the age of mechanical reproduction’ (June 9 at 15:00). 

All events are open to the public, but the workshops require prior booking, which can be made by emailing [email protected]  

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