sound

Commissioned by Mother Tongues collective

I’ve been thinking about translation for a very long time. Most obviously, I am a migrant who primarily speaks a language that is not native to me. I also studied Tibetan language as my undergraduate degree and I am a literary translator working from Lithuanian into English. 

As a non-binary trans person, I also think of translation as a mode of living that anyone who is not aligned with the hegemony of the time, are constantly doing. How do we as queer people navigate language when it has been tampered with to exclude and erase us? 

I often think about the sense of grief and melancholy that lots of queer people live with. While a linguistic angle is certainly not THE explanation for queer grief, I believe that  so much of our sense of loss is rooted in the fact that we had and still have to learn an inadequate  cisheteronormative language; and that, if we are lucky enough, we can begin to see its inadequacy and begin to unlearn it. 

The moment we realise we do not speak our language and our own bodies are a foreign land is the moment that marks the beginning of rewriting, and all the joy and playfulness, and invention, and discovery rooted in the process. 

I made this piece as a mostly non-linear network of fragments. I included speeches, readings, traditional Lithuanian music, as well my own song and essay fragments. It felt like this was the most authentic way to try to represent what thinking about translation evokes for me. 

Samples, sounds and texts used: 

Ursula Le Guin reads her own translation of Tao Te Ching
Traditional Lithuanian orphan song
Judith Butler on Grief
Ursula Le Guin reads her own translation of Tao Te Ching
Sasha Wilde song fragment
Karen van Dyck on Migration, Translingualism and Translation
Introduction to Ludwig Wittgenstein
Teju Cole On Carrying and Being Carried
Sasha Wilde essay fragment
Lithuanian pagan song for the god of thunder Perkūnas by Kūlgrinda
Sasha Wilde singing a fragment of an essay as liturgy 

“A love letter to my friends” originally composed for Lydia Garnett’s short film “Finn”.

“Essential Balm mixtape: the sounds that you heard in your astral travel”
cover art by June Lam
music, teachings, sounds and words by:
00:00 KMRU – “Opaque”
01:04 Angelic voice sample
01:04 Laurie Spiegel – “Drums” overlaid with “432Hz binaural beat music (Destroy unconscious blockages and fear”
11:38 Sasha Wilde singing
13:50 Klein – “Marks of Worship” overlaid with David Hykes & the Harmonic Choir “Current circulation”
14:32 Lama Rod Owens “When Happiness Hurts” excerpt
16:36 Jatinder Singh Durhailay & Suren Seneviratne – “Mornings”
19:40 beat by Sasha Wilde
20:36 Lama Tashi “Medicine Buddha mantra”
21:04 Eliane Radigue “Kyema (Intermediate states”
26:02 Laraaji “Universe”
35:34 Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche “The value of silence” excerpt
37:46 Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s Keyboard fantasies, The Lake Sutra docu excerpt

KERAI means ‘charm, spell and glamour’ in Lithuanian. Catchy beats merge with dark ethereal sounds and powerful, haunting, pitch-manipulated vocals. “Show Me a Future Where I Can Live” is a testament to both resilience and vulnerability – from Sasha Wilde’s post-Soviet childhood, growing up queer in a hostile environment, through to surviving an actual witch-hunt. Sasha Wilde and Julian Wharton weave together a tapestry made up of sounds influenced by moody Russian New Wave, Scandinavian electronica, and Lithuanian folk – all punctuated with deep and punchy bass and kick. Ursula K Le Guin and H. G. Welles’ voices appear, evoking longing for a future on planet Earth. The songs tear down everything to allow for different possibilities, previously unimagined. “Show Me a Future Where I Can Live” is brimming with references to alien worlds, (transphobic) monsters, otherworldly creatures and ghosts, but also addresses more down to earth concerns, such as relationship and mental health struggles, and cruising. Prepare yourself for some serious shapeshifting.

Time and space warps in the year 2020. This is my sonic uncanny valley for the occasion.

Trouble Wanted “Lonely Cowgirl”. Music production, mixing, back vocals by Sasha Wilde