That Spiraling Place

Sam Leeds

May 24, 2019

That Spiraling Place was produced by Sam Leeds and features the voice of Annie Lindsey. It was edited by Michelle Macklem.

It features folk singer Otto Bardarson’s unaccompanied vocals, recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Carmel, California in 1939. Special thanks to the Free Music Archive and the Library of Congress.

Sam writes:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the intersection of escape and bearing witness. And I keep coming back to that saying, “wherever you go, there you are.” This piece began because I wanted to document my trip to Iceland with one of my close friends. We booked it on whim after a breakup. We spent 10 days driving the country during a wintery March in 2018. It was an escape and a chance to exist outside the routines of home.

In working with the tape, though, the piece became more and more about witnessing my friend working through her mental health and all the ways that depression and anxiety don’t really look how you think they might.

The piece mimics the ebbs and flows of mental health and its nonlinear nature.

Sound design is very new to me. This is the first non-narrated piece I’ve produced. So, this piece is also an exploration of world-building through sound. The archival tape and music throughout the piece are both other musicians’ interpretations of Iceland. I feel very fortunate to have access to past and present pieces of art made in response to traveling through the country.

I am so thankful that Michelle and Jess created this platform and for their patience and guidance throughout the many iterations and stages of this piece. I also want to share my gratitude to my friend Annie, whose voice is woven throughout this piece. She drove us around Iceland for most of the ten days and was and is so open to sharing her journey with her mental health.

Inspiring Sam in the world of sound:

Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton’s Here Be Monsters, Phoebe Wang, Kaitlin Prest, Nicole Kelly, Phoebe Unter, Avery Trufelman, Chelsea Beck.

I also get nostalgic about sound. I’m moving soon and I’m already missing the whine of the bus passing the stop outside my window.

And beyond:

Andrea Long Chu, Ijeoma Oluo, Natalie Wynn, Jenna Wortham, Sudan Archives, Big Thief.

Sam is a independent producer and sound artist living in Seattle. You can hear their work on NPR Music’s Louder Than A Riot, Life Kit, KNKX’s Sound Effect, and more. Sam is a graduate of the Salt Institute. You can find them online at @samjleeds.

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