Interview: Jennifer Allum



Have you been to Supernormal before? How did you come to know about the festival? 

No. I came to know about Supernormal through Kevin Nickells, who I met at ‘Cordyceps Is Your Friend’ earlier this year. Kevin is one of the organisers of Bang the Bore, which I understand has programmed part of the music happening at Supernormal.

Are you looking forward to it?


For how long have you been playing violin? What’s the story behind you and your instrument up until now?

I started playing the violin around the age of five or six, and it was a fairly on/off relationship until my teenage years. I’ve been using the same violin and bow for the last 11 or 12 years, although I have recently been experimenting with other instruments.

Much of your playing style seems to run against what may be considered “proper” in much of conventional classical music. How have you developed an interest in pursuing this sound?

I’m not really conscious of deliberately trying to play “unproperly” when I improvise. As long as I’m not doing something that would irreparably damage my instrument I don’t consider anything to be off limits. It’s all part of the process of investigation. 

What role has Eddie Prevost’s weekly workshop played in your musical development?

The workshop continues to be an important part of my musical life. I started attending in late 2005, and it’s an environment that encourages trying (and failing). Its weekly frequency is important; even if I’m not there I know it’s happening and will be thinking about it. 

Do you have any particular preference as to the type of venue in which you play?

If I’m improvising then no, not really. A venue and it’s acoustics is just one more variable to be responding to at the time of playing – even if the acoustics are really bad.

Many of your performances seem to take place at various improvised music nights around London. What are your opinions on London as a place for developing an interest (both from musicians and listeners) in improvised music?

It’s great. Everybody that I want to hear seems to either live in London or come through fairly regularly. The problem more often than not is which concert to go to. London’s a relatively expensive place to live though, and I think this sometimes scuppers projects and possibilities too. 

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Recently I’ve been listening to Fields have ears, a release of Michael Pisaro’s music on Another Timbre, and enjoying a sneak preview of the next release from Fataka called Exta, which is John Tilbury, John Butcher and Thomas Lehn. I’ve also been listening to a forthcoming duo recording of Ute Kanngiesser and myself, before it goes off to be pressed. It should be out on Matchless Recordings soon. 

Other than Supernormal, what’s next for you?

I’m looking forward to playing at Festival Nuit d’Hiver in Marseille at the end of the year with Eddie Prevost, with more UK based concerts before then. I don’t really think too much about the next concert and instead try to make sure that I’m playing lots, and regularly, with a few people all the time. That feels like where the most progress is made.


Jennifer Allum’s website – 

Supernormal Festival website –