On the Couch with Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe

Stephanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe - photo by Trent GriffithsWho is Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe?
A Rwandan-British a multidisciplinary artist; Third-Culture Kid; synaesthete; and formally trained music composer. My research-based arts practice focuses on how culture is composed and archived. The ongoing findings are then transcribed into graphic music scores and textiles, narrative and performance ceremonies, and public cross-generational conversations to provide cultural context. Culture is a continuum, we’re all living and reshaping it every day: my aim as an artist is to create resources for future generations.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Nothing! Being born with synaesthesia, there’s always music in my ears, colours in view and textured thoughts. It’s not easy navigating the world with this condition, but it makes life as an artist natural and meaningful.

Who inspires you and why?
Those who are passionate, think independently, speak directly, treat others with compassion, and find ways to contribute to and connect with the community and world around them.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
By being the global reflectors, questioners and documentors of culture in all its forms, artists make a difference! When I perform and exhibit publicly, if it resonates with, challenges, or teaches even just one person, then that’s where making a difference starts for me.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Holiday? Artists don’t get holidays! Instead I tend to have mini-breaks, and go anywhere that has water and bushland. I need to get away from the concrete jungle semi-regularly to recharge and give my body and mind a rest from the constant stimuli of the city.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I live near Merri Yaluk (Creek), and love to pack a picnic to share after a walk along the Merri with friends. Living in Melbourne, regardless of the season we’re lucky to have a continually packed calendar of interesting art exhibitions and music gigs to experience as well.

What are you currently reading?
The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke.

What are you currently listening to?
Can’t get enough of République Amazone! It’s the first album by a new African supergroup of women called Les Amazones d’Afrique. The group features so many of my favourite african powerhouse singers: Kandia Kouyaté, Angélique Kidjo, Mamani Keita, Rokia Koné, Mariam Doumbia (of Amadou & Mariam), Nneka, Mariam Koné, Massan Coulibaly, Madina N’Diaye, Madiaré Dramé, Mouneissa Tandina and Pamela Badjogo.

Happiness is?
Cuddles from my nephew, seeing the success and achievements of my friends and family, post-exercise endorphins, shaking my bones on the dancefloor, sharing great belly laughs and soul food, and of course, connecting with people through art.

What does the future hold for you?
At a certain level in research-based arts practice, connecting with academia, conferences, and large-scale organisations becomes a way of being able to share your work more broadly and collaborate globally. PhD studies are a way of doing that, so it’s what I’m working towards at present.

Stéphanie will present Sonic Hieroglyphs at Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall on Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 July 2017. For more information, visit: www.artshouse.com.au for details.

Image: Ste?phanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe – photo by Trent Griffiths