My Digital Music Collection is exactly what it says on the box: a list read out in a single take by New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based sound artist and podcaster Allanah Stewart “of all the albums I have on my computer at the moment.”
In this piece Allanah’s voice, self-recorded simply in a domestic room in front of the computer screen, turns the data of titles into a kind of wonky conceptual sound poetry, in which the names of obscure, fetishistic experimental music albums from New Zealand’s underground history bump up against more commercial releases, in a surprisingly intimate self-portrait.
Making a gently humorous case for the continued role of the DJ as loving listener, nerd, selector and collector in an age where automated-playlist bots increasingly program our listening spaces, and celebrating the role of the peer-to-peer file share in independent radio, My Digital Music Collection re-humanises the algorithm, returning lists of data back to a resolutely analogue, lo-fi, and radiophonic voice.
“I have loads more digital music files in my life than I do physical releases. Unfortunately I don’t have enough of an income to keep up with the speed that I find new music and I don’t think I ever will. There’s so much good stuff out there to explore. I remember when I first started downloading music, when I was 11. My username on Napster was “Hellokittyfanman” and people would tease me on the chat rooms because they thought that I was a “man” who enjoyed hello kitty. But I was just kid that happened to be a hello kitty fan, man. These days I spend a bit of time roaming through Soulseek. I like digging through peoples files and just downloading stuff cause the name sounds cool. I suppose that trading files online has become my version of a record fair. I can find super rare rips of stuff without having to pay someone hundreds of dollars for a damaged tape that was originally sold for 3 bucks or something. It definitely removes the exclusivity of the whole process, though some might say it also removes some of the romance.” – Allanah Stewart
Allanah Stewart is an artist from Aotearoa/NZ, currently living in Melbourne, Australia. As well as her work in various experimental music projects, she is the presenter of a monthly podcast radio programme called Enquiring Minds, hosted by Noods radio, which explores experimental music and its many crossovers. She recently finished a Master of Arts Therapy, and believes in the power of the arts. Dissecting drums, recording silly things, making music and eating chocolate keeps her going.