Australian Audio Guide

Working With Sound: Amy Hanley

Amy Hanley is a Melbourne based radio-maker whose work explores the cavernous capacity of sound – and the ways it is consistently expanding. She told us about some of the leftfield approaches and inspirations behind her work.

Photo of Amy Hanley 2017

What piece of audio has had the most profound effect on you – as a listener, as an audio maker or both?

I’m constantly discovering new work which has a profound effect on me. But looking back, my first listening of ‘What’s Rangoon to You is Grafton to Me’ acted as a kind of platform from which I began to consider the implications of structure, the capacities of arrangement and the unconventional possibilities of audio storytelling.

Where did the idea for your recent project, ‘Milk.’, come from?

The idea for my latest project developed from array of different sources and an intersection of ideas. Primarily, I wanted to explore the relationship between the properties of sound and space. The core ideas developed from a desire to create a project which had the feeling of multi-dimensional space.

I took a similar approach to the narration within the piece – which became an exploration of the meanings of words, in their construction and sonic diffusion. This aspect was informed by Diana Deutsch’s work, Phantom Words, and Other Curiosities.

What was your favourite part of making the piece?

Learning. After I designed the framework for the sound, I had to figure out how I was going to produce it. I set out to create a project which required me to explore so many new techniques. Hearing the some of the ideas come together was rewarding; hearing some fall apart taught me a lot.

What was the hardest part?

Although I set out to produce something that was evocative, this became the most challenging aspect – spending a lot of time engaged with the content of that character.

What’s the best thing about working with sound?

The best thing about working with sound is exploring the endless shapes and attributes of the medium; discovering new possibilities for expression and the capacities of sound to communicate stories.

What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve received about working with audio?

Don’t squish it!

What has been your biggest lesson as a producer so far?

Time and space. Everything takes time. Create space where you can.

The best thing about working with sound is exploring the endless shapes and attributes of the medium; discovering new possibilities for expression and the capacities of sound to communicate stories.

Do you interact with your audience, or receive feedback or criticism about your work?

Yes, that is one of the primary reasons for producing work – to put it out there into the world and discover how people respond.

If you could go out to dinner with any audio maker, who would it be – and what would you talk about?

Kaye Mortley. I feel her stories would be as rich in person as they are in production. We would talk about form, structure, field recordings, her life, her work, her practice. Hopefully, she would give me a pearl or two.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Élaine Radigue – Trilogie de la Mort.

What’s your favourite Australian podcast, and why?

Since the death of Soundproof, I like to flirt with them all. Recently, I have been listening to Not By Accident.

What do you think is unique about Australian audio?

Diversity. It’s not dominated by any one style or approach.

What’s next for you as a producer?

At the moment I’m studying spatial sound composition and diffusion, so for my next project I’ll be moving in that direction.