Waterflower is the experimental project of multi-faceted eco-futurist artist, Sabīne Moore.
Using plants and mushrooms as instruments, the Riga, Latvia-based artist explores the world of the avant-garde and its borderless terrains, taking electronic music to interesting dark places both in sound and subject.
While there remains a subtle pop thread that weaves through the canvas on Waterflower’s new album, All Art Is Ecological, there is also a meditative spirit that underpins these recordings. With skewed synths, elusive drones and tape loops seemingly inspired by a diet of Björk and Julianna Barwick, All Art Is Ecological is a record that slowly creeps into your orbit. It’s not immediate, even harnessing a deep-listening aura where the greatest rewards are found with time.
Inspired by Timothy Morton’s essay, thematically All Art Is Ecological challenges us to reconsider the role of art in shaping our ecological future. Moore calls for action through a sonic rush that often leads to the dance floor (Gashes (Remix for SeeThe8), but the pure essence of All Art Is Ecological is found within the 17 minute epic, Calligraphy. Evoking images of a healthy environment, the drone acts as an agent of impending dread, mirroring the current concerns for urgent action.
In the lead-up to Friday’s release of All Art Is Ecological, we had the opportunity to ask Moore several questions about the album, the Latvian music scene, and more.
Sun 13: When did you start making music, and who were your influences?
Sabīne Moore: “I started tinkering with computer music in 2006, publishing a track online in the first week of January 2007. It gained a bit of attention from the Latvian underground – later I guess I understood it was because I was the only young woman doing that back then, maybe the first in Latvia. I’ve explored different genres and styles since then, though the creative process is still the same: to record samples, then cut, paste and produce them.
“My influences are diverse, ranging from electronic artists like Björk and FKA twigs to experimental musicians such as Arca and SOPHIE. I also draw inspiration from nature, literature, and personal experiences.”
S13: How did the alliance with Cruel Nature Records come about?
SM: “I’ve been eyeing Cruel Nature for a while, especially because of the aesthetic of the music released on the label. They recognised the thematic and sonic qualities of my music, and we decided to collaborate on releasing All Art Is Ecological together.”
S13: Can you tell us about the process of All Art Is Ecological?
SM: “The tracks on this album were made between 2020 and 2023. Several of them (A Memory Draws You In, Aquifer, Calligraphy, The Paint Brush) were created for Gabriel Otero’s black-and-white surreal feature film, The 7 Vices. The remix for Gashes was made for my music video release party early 2020, for the performers, who pretended to be dancing marble statues (they danced both in the release party, and in the music video for Gashes) – I think I made the remix in one night. The track Narcissist was also recorded early 2020, just before the pandemic, while I was on tour in the UK.
“The remaining tracks on this album represent my experiments with mushroom-music, something I only started doing in the last three years (except for plant-generated-music, I’ve been experimenting with that since 2015). The Laetiporus sulphureus mushroom experiment was recorded in 2022 on tour in Poland – I found the mushroom on a tree in Warsaw, I tore it from the tree and it came with me for the whole tour. The plant (orchid) and violin duet on this album was a recorded rehearsal before a short tour in 2021.
“Lastly, An Afterlife Again was the amalgamation of a couple of vocal experiments, of which a few made it on a track with Evannier later on. The song An Afterlife Again references a track called An Afterlife I wrote almost 10 years ago, with a similar vocal style. It felt like the start of a new beginning. While I was processing the vocals, I realised the experimental takes work really well together, as a piece of its own. This new song is a song about transformation, growth, change, healing. It symbolises a therapeutic introspection that has lead to becoming whole again. For me, it is a marking of admitting the fluidity of my gender, of my feminine experience gradually peeling away. How could I have not changed?”
S13: What was the main thing you wanted to achieve with the album?
SM: “The main goal of the album was to raise awareness about the ecological crisis and inspire listeners to think critically about their relationship with the environment. I wanted to convey a sense of urgency and encourage people to take action for a sustainable future.”
S13: You designed the album artwork alongside Kirill Sazahin. I like the juxtaposition to it. It’s not what I expected from a recording sounding like yours. Was that the intention?
SM: “The intention behind the artwork was to challenge expectations and provoke thought. I like collaborating with other artists as much as I can, and in that I encourage artists to free[ly] express their own style. The juxtaposition between the artwork and the sound was deliberate, aiming to spark curiosity and engage the audience in exploring the deeper layers of the music.”
S13: Art influences everyday life, and with your record it’s clear that you take on environmental and political roles. In Latvia are people tuned into to the issues at hand, or is it like here where it’s a constant struggle to be heard?
SM: “Art and environmental issues are gaining more attention in Latvia, but it is still a constant struggle to be heard. We are the largest supplier of wood in Europe (sometimes I joke about people buying Latvian wood in their IKEA furniture), but it is leading to monoculture forests, which is disastrous for the environment. This means that many animals, plant, fungi, are having their environment completely replaced by a monoculture of trees that doesn’t provide adequate shade, diversity and material for the soil, to have these plants and mushrooms even grow. It’s important for artists to use their platform to raise awareness and inspire collective action.”
S13: Again, with environment being a big influence within your music – but what about Latvia and your surroundings as a whole? Do they play a big role in your creative endeavours?
SM: “Latvia and its surroundings play a significant role in my creative endeavors. There is a lot of nature here, and it changes a lot in the seasons, too. The country’s natural landscapes inspire me and shape my artistic expression. I draw inspiration from the beauty of nature and the challenges faced by my surroundings, incorporating those elements into my music.”
S13: How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
SM: “My sense of identity strongly influences my creativity. I place myself somewhere between the UK and Latvia, because I grew up in the UK, but had all my first adult experiences in Latvia, so in a way I am neither here nor there – I am my own mix. Acknowledging feeling different allows me to explore other aspects of myself and express my experiences authentically. Embracing my fluid gender identity and personal growth enhances the depth and authenticity of my artistic expression.”
S13: Latvia seems to have thriving experimental scene. Along with Lunt who recently appeared on our radar, who are the other artists we should be looking out for?
SM: “Along with Lunt, there are several other artists in Latvia’s thriving experimental scene worth looking out for. Artists like Vultura, Sign Libra, Les Attitudes Spectrales, and Tesa create unique and boundary-pushing music that deserves attention.”
S13: I get the feeling that your an artist who is constantly creating. What is next for the Waterflower project?
SM: “I’m planning to tour as much as I can… as far as I can. I got a taste of touring in Asia earlier this year and I can’t wait to expand. Plus I got some music videos coming out this year, and I’m working for a release around my track, Honesty.”
All Art Is Ecological is out via Cruel Nature. Purchase from Bandcamp.