We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Tibbitts and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I attribute much of my success from the knowlege and skills I gained through the risks I have taken. When I look back on what guided me through my early-career, I recognize the challenges I refused to shy away from, the unconventional decisions that became the fondation of my work. I have more “skin in the game” when taking risks. I invest more of myself into my projects and endeavors, and in turn, the outcomes are far more rewarding.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a bionic harpist. In 2012, I was in a pretty awful car accident, and today I’m sporting titanium in half of my body. This idea of being ‘bionic’ is my superpower, my everyday reminder that anything I set my mind to is possible. My approach to the harp has always been avant-garde, and while I embraced my classical studies during school — from learning my orchestral excerpts to solo repertoire— I always had a project on the side that was a bit more “off-the beaten path”. When I moved to Montréal in 2014, I wanted to immerse myself in a francophone culture & go deeper in electro-acoustic studies. Six years later, I am a bilingual freelance musician and researcher in expanded musical practices. I’ve co-designed interfaces that augment the concert harp and have recently premiered my solo project The Bionic Harpist at MUTEK, September 2020. I want the bionic harp to stake its claim in the electronic scene; so, no one will be surprised to find me playing in an underground rave or a popular music festival next.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would say, “Finally, I’ve been waiting to show around!” I love Montréal because of how the city interweaves nature within its diverse cosmopolitain urban-scape. We will definitely take a hike on the “mountain”, Mont-Royal, where we’ll have stunning views of the centre-ville. As it’s fall now here, the autumn colors decorate the town in red, orange, yellow and gold. We’ll visit different quartiers like Le Plateau, le Mile-end, les quartier des spectacles — during the summer months, the downtown is bustling with music, comedy, and circus festivals that bring crowds from all over the world to celebrate. Montreal is an island in the middle of the St-Lawrence River — I love taking bike rides through the canals and along the river when I need a break from the city. At the very least, this is a good work out to build up an appetite for our famous poutine, smoked meat or a Fairmount Bagel.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have many ideas for taking the harp into the digital era, and so far, none of my ambitious endeavors would have been possible without the help from my research colleague, digital luthier John Sullivan. Furthermore, our research received an enormous amount of support from CIRMMT (Center for Research in Music Media & Technology). At CIRMMT, John and I have been able to conduct studies in motion-capture, as well as prototyping my latest “bionic” controllers. So here’s a big shoutout to them and our research that demonstrates how cool S.T.E.A.M collaboration is!
Other: https://vimeo.com/456190261 https://www.24heures.ca/2020/09/02/la-harpiste-bionique-comme-dans-un-film-de-science-fiction https://ilea.bandcamp.com/
1 , 3 – Aydin Matlabi | 2. David J Romero | 4. non | 5. Jean-Baptiste Demouy | 6. Amélie Fortin