Over the past few years, there’s been an omnipresent spirit floating through the Atlanta music scene, turning up in an array of scattered and sampled sounds and challenging listeners with eccentric and colorful electronica. Despite their ability to take on a multitude of projects at once, Alessandra Hoshor’s impact on the Atlanta music and art scene has been anything but ephemeral. Since moving here in 2013, Hoshor has dabbled in everything from music video direction to performance art. In both the ecstatic sounds of BIG DED and as the more introspective Pamela_ and her sons, Hoshor has maintained a unique sense of self while remaining open to the freedom of collaboration.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, the next stage in Hoshor’s evolution will take place in Philadelphia. Although they’re quick to point out that their time here has been inspiring and productive (and that they’ll be coming back to play shows regularly), Hoshor is excited to embrace the opportunities the East Coast affords. I sat down with them before they hit the road to discuss their time in Atlanta, their upcoming projects in 2018, and their interest in experimental recording processes.
When did you start writing music?
I first played around with guitar when I was growing up in Savannah, working out covers of SOAD and the Strokes and the Vines using tabs online. Then I started playing around with cassette tapes; I had a lot of friends who made cassette tapes music at the time. I was collaging samples from YouTube to tape. I didn’t start playing music as Pamela_ and her sons until I moved to Atlanta.
Did moving to Atlanta change your creative process or songwriting?
Shortly after I moved to Atlanta, I was introduced to my now good friend Chanel Kim, who was curating an exhibition at MINT called “Steal This Bike.” I put together an installation and a performance piece for that show. I decided that I wanted a score for the performance, something that felt like commercial hold-line music, so I started to compose music digitally. The character in the performance piece was “Pamela.” Pamela is the person on a poster for an airline, a commercial symbol. The person on the poster is not actually a real person in a sense, but a simulation. I started dressing up as this character and then playing music that felt cold, but absurd. This project eventually evolved into Pamela_and her sons.
Can you talk a little about your recent work with CGI Records?
Hurt Plaza was my first album, the outcome of two years of writing. The music tied in to a series of paintings that I was working on at the same time. Both the paintings and the music were an attempt to channel very isolated moments into a collage—intersections of emotion and place. I recorded the album with Matt Weiner in early 2016, and the album was released in April 2017. It was really an amazing process. For the cover art, I chose a painting that I had made at the time the music was composed.
What are some of the pros and cons of being an artist in Atlanta right now?
In a lot of ways it’s been incredibly supportive, but the challenges are primarily that there’s not really the financial support, the structural support, to prioritize the arts on a holistic level. I think Atlanta, like a lot of cities, has ongoing structural challenges. Housing, transportation, healthcare and job accessibility are precarious for a lot of people right now. Atlanta can be underappreciated sometimes, because it really is probably the best music scene I’ve participated in. There are amazing people here making critical work and a lot of them have to go other places receive recognition, which is unfortunate because it takes away from the energy and resources here.
Do you plan on just pursuing music in Philly, or will you still focus on visual art?
I’m going to do both. I’m going to try to work out of my room. Valentina Tapia and I just recorded a lot of new music for a new BIG DED album at my friend Jordan Romero’s studio in Baltimore.
So you’ll still be playing in BIG DED when you’re living in Philadelphia?
Yes, we plan on it! We’ll actually be putting out two albums soon. One with Nicey and one with Embalming Lately. Nicey is based out of LA and Embalming Lately is in Philly/NYC.
So what’s next for Pamela_ and her sons?
I’m planning to go on a small tour in April. I’ll be coming down for a special unannounced show in March and then will be playing WREKfest in April. I’ve been taking my time making music solo. I’m changing the way I’m writing music right now. Trying to get more into writing music organically through recording and messing around more with experimental recording and other compositional styles to make things a little more chaotic.
What do you mean by experimental recording?
I guess my music’s always been experimental, but it’s always been computer written with a lot of sequencing. And I’m interested in doing more recording with live sounds and then remixing. I do a lot with live sounds that I sample, but I’m more interested in recording tracks that are improvised and then editing and restructuring them.