It is such a pleasure to have you amount our HocTok friends.
What is the earliest memory you have of playing the violin and dreaming of a life in music?
Photo: Musuk Nolte
I remember first playing the flute at 2 years old. Then I chose the violin as my instrument at the age of 5.
That’s pretty early!
Well, here in New York almost everybody starts very early. I remember the first time I held a violin. I was hooked.
As a child, I wanted to be a musician. But then when I was a teenager I became interested in journalism so that’s why I studied journalism as an undergrad. A little later, I went back to playing again. I got a little optimistic and that’s how I decided to do my master’s degree in electronic music at Mills College in California. I went there in 2012 and graduated in 2014.
Are any of your relatives or family members connected with music or is it only you?
My mom is. She just loves art. She used to play the piano, classical piano. My childhood memories of music are connected with my mother. Why is your multicultural upbringing essential to the artistic choices you have made so far? Culture and the surrounding environment always have a natural effect on people. In my case, I was born and raised in Peru. My mother was born and raised in Japan. She arrived in Peru when she was 19. My father was born and raised in Peru, but his parents came to Peru in the early 20th century. One line is very Japanese. However, in Peru I did not grow up in a Japanese community. I grew up studying in a German school. So, my background reflects many different influences. Afterwards, at about 24, I started visiting the US a lot taking classes and studying violin with different professors. My influences are very diverse. Also, here in NY I studied klezmer violin. In California, I studied Indian music and electronic music. It’s a big mixture. That’s for sure. And all of it helps me and inspires me in everything I do. You have composed music for various disciplines such as film, video, dance, theatre, site-specific projects, etc... Where do you feel most at home with? I love film. But in film, the script, the director’s job, the editing are the most part of the job. I can do film music. I have done it. I love it but it’s not my format to explore my flow of creativity. Performance is my format of choice. It’s where I am able to explore the power of my own work. I can be very specific. I can choose the concert, the structure, instrumentation. I have total freedom in live performance and that’s me. I want to know every detail. I want to be in charge of how everything will come together. But I don’t work alone. I have gathered a group of artists from Lima. I work with my sister Naomi. She does the video work with 2 other friends. We are a team of five people. I make the music and I direct, I write the script, kind of, and my team is in charge of the visual aspect and the staging. You just came from Brazil where you went for an artist residency through the Goethe Institute. What can you tell us about this experience? Yes. It was amazing. I am so sad (smiling). It was supposed to last 2 months, but I had to leave earlier. So, I spent 6 weeks in Salvador da Bahia. We were four artists at this residency: one creator from Greece, a visual artist from Venezuela, a visual artist from New York, another from Germany, and I, from Peru. It was so beautiful. The special thing about it was that it’s not like they gave us space to work and that’s it. They really put a lot of effort in making things happen. We worked side by side with a producer, each of us had their own producer. We interacted with so many artists from the city, with students, with the symphony. We played concerts. We talked in classrooms. It was really very productive. It is a very beautiful city. Nature is very special, there. Of course, there are social differences, but culturally it is so rich. This area in Brazil that is more in tandem with African culture because of early African migration. You can tell because of the music that’s played everywhere all the time in all kinds of styles. It was really good. This was my very first time in Brazil and cannot wait to go back. The residence is called Vila Sul of Goethe Institute Brazil. Goethe Institute has 3 residences in the world, one in Japan, one in Turkey and one in Bahia, Brazil. Did I say that I had an experience at Vila Sul at the Goethe Institute in Bahia?! (laughing)
Philip Glass selected you for The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. How would you describe the evolution of your music making style under the guidance of one of America’s most influential composers?
I don’t know aesthetically how it impacted my music because I’m inside the process. But I can tell you about the extra musical influences like seeing him work, his discipline, his interactions with other artists, he has a lot of collaborations. His attitude towards music making is what really inspired me a lot. I guess something I am really struck by after this experience is seeing first-hand the life of a super productive artist.
You cannot sleep, I mean you should sleep, but time is treasure. It’s up to you how you use your time.
Also, I have learned that Philip Glass is very good in overseeing all aspects of the music making process. He is focused not just on the writing part. He understands every step it takes to deliver an unforgettable musical experience to an audience, that’s why Philip Glass works in so many formats, like film music with the Kronos Quarter for the Dracula movie, or his symphonies, or his operas. He is a composer who has a very wide range of formats.
Your “speaker dress,” a wearable sound sculpture created from 96 speakers, is an incredible invention. How did you come up with that idea and what is the most fascinating moment you’ve experienced because of it? (Pauchi’s “speaker dress” is something that you don’t see anywhere else. It is unique. It sounds great. It is visually wonderful, even though the speakers look very futuristic)
Yes, the sound is perfect and the dress is very iconic. The speakers look futuristic, but they also bring to mind the 80’s. What happened is that I started as an acoustic violinist, but then I became interested in electronics. I processed sound on my computer. One day I had to do a concert in a temple in Lima. I brought all my equipment and my computer. When I arrived, there was no electricity, of course. I had to perform acoustic, in that instance. But that made me think about a system that can help me be independent. I wanted to make my own sound in any kind of situation, so I didn’t have to rely on anybody or anything. It can be just me and my luggage and the music is on.
It was a very long process to figure out the technical aspects, because wearing electronics is pretty dangerous. My ‘speaker dress’ now has 100 speakers, and ‘speaker dress Nr.2’ has 150 speakers. It is a lot of power. Every single speaker has a big magnet and it’s a lot of energy being transferred. So, I had to figure out a safe way to make it work. It took a while, 3 months of research. The moment that I knew for certain that it was working was like 6 months after I created it. It was in an electronic festival in Peru. By that time, I had used my “speaker dress” during 4 or 5 other performances. But I performed without thinking about technicalities. It’s something that happens a lot with electronic music and computer music, musicians have to be aware of every detail and make every go like ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta. That was the first time that I felt as easily as playing my violin.
Why do you have such an affinity for film music knowing that you have composed music for over 30 films?
I love to understand situations and emotions. Maybe that comes from my background in journalism. I love stories. I need to understand why, like why this person did, what’s the psychology behind it. In that sense, music gives a lot of information in a movie. Things that are not spoken are communicated through the music, especially the internal world of the characters. So that’s something I really enjoy to understand from a script is the psychology of the characters, and what needs to be said through music that is not in the script.
There was a thriller, a Peruvian movie, about a sniper who killed a lot of people, Perro Guardian. It is inspired by some true events of a paramilitary group in Peru in the 90s. This character never speaks, never moves, doesn’t have facial expression, so all that internal world has to be told through music. Music, in addition to the imagery and the story line, creates all levels, very poetic, of another space. And all of that is like magic. It’s like cooking, you put something together and a new flavor comes to life. Now you know that I love cooking, too.
Any new film projects that you may want to share with us?
In October, we had a premier of a documentary titled, “Pacificum”. It is a documentary about the ocean, the Peruvian ocean. In the coming year, I have three projects. The one I’m already working on is ‘Song Without a Name’ and actually it is directed by my friend Melina Leon, who studied at Columbia University. It’s her first full length film about a powerful story, the systematic robbery of babies in the 80s in Peru during those years of endless terror. It’s tragic, and everything is shot in black and white. That’s my current project.
You have performed in South America, Europe, Japan and throughout the US. Where are some of the best cities and venues you love returning to?
I mostly like every place I go because people who receive the artist are really nice people and every place is so special. That said, I have enjoyed performing at the Tokyo Instrumental Festival in Shibuya. I enjoyed performing at The Kitchen last year. I enjoy performing in the theaters of Peru. Also, I love all platforms, small, medium to large. I’m not like I like only it has to be a big platform or small. I really love being flexible and performing in every space I have the chance to. I already mentioned how much I loved Salvador (Brazil)and the people I collaborated with there.
In addition to music, and cooking, you also like traveling, a lot…
Look I broke my leg (smile). I travel with my music equipment that is double my weight and I do it all by myself. I take care of myself and try to be safe. I have no fear. I love it all.
Do you ever feel under too much pressure as a result of the number of projects you are involved in or the level of intensity required finalizing each and every one of them?
I love every project I am part of, but I do one thing at a time. I cannot avoid going all in with everything I do. When I go deep in one project, it’s difficult to go as deep in another one. So, I try to organize my calendar. I know what I have to do this month and I focus completely on that. If you make decisions lightly the end result will be light weight. I don’t want that. I want to go all in. I want to fully concentrate on every aspect of every project and every performance. As I said, I work with my sister Naomi and we divide responsibilities. We are constantly working together on e-mails and every aspect of production for every single concert. Naomi does the production side and I do the full production. That how we’re managing our projects.
Does your sister travel with you for concerts?
Yes, she was with me in Brazil as well. She is coming to New York and all the team is traveling to Berlin next February for the Rolex Closing ceremony.
How do you define happiness and where do you seek it?
(smile) Happiness is inside of us, but of course a good place makes a difference. Happiness, I think, is something very much related to peace. It has to be a place that allows you to be in peace. You need go through a lot of emotions in order to find your peace. It doesn’t need to be forma. A good place could be New York, or another big city. If find peace in silence, you have to go to a very quiet place. For me, it is a mix. I have to switch, between a hectic place and sometimes a calm surrounding. Like music, if you don’t have contrast it gets very boring. You have to find the rhythm.
What events or dates are you looking forward to and why?
This Friday, December 8th at Carnegie Hall in NYC. (smile) and then, February 4th in Berlin, because is the closing ceremony of the mentorship year by Rolex and all the other protégés will show their work, too.
It will be a very nice gathering and also, I will be able to travel with all my artistic team from Peru for a very special occasion. The performers, are traveling from New York such as the violinist Jennifer Curtis and others. It’s going to be a big team.
Another event is taking place on March 11th at National Sawdust in the contest of PanAsia Festival from Da Jeong, the composer. She invited me to perform with her. A busy schedule ahead next year (smile).
I cannot go without mentioning another important event, the holidays. I spend this special time of year with my family. Usually, I spend Christmas with my father in Lima and my mother and her husband in the Andes. My mom harvests her own food. She’s vegan. She really loves her life style. For New Year’s we go to the mountains. It’s beautiful. It’s magical.