sound artist, electroacoustic composer, practice-based researcher

"With a fine balance between augmented field recording and machine noise Soddell perfectly controls this exhilarating journey into her unconscious—or is it our own?"
Gail Priest, RealTime Arts
Thembi Soddell (b. Australia 1980) is a sound and installation artist, electroacoustic composer, and practice-based researcher with an interest in psychology, perception, extreme emotion, and the subjectivity of experience. They work with the sampler, generating sounds from field recordings, instrument textures, played found objects, and synthesis to form surreal and ambiguous realisations of place and experience. These volatile, filmic sound worlds often exploit the dynamic extremes, toying with a listener's sense of expectation and disquiet.
 
Thembi made their debut performance in 2001 at the Liquid Architecture Sound Art Festival in Melbourne. Their live performances typically place the audience in complete darkness, as they perform from the back of the room. Through this, they aim to heigten the emotional and visceral intensity of sound, and its relationship to individual perceptions. Their first solo CD, Intimacy, was released in 2004 through cajid media, and their second, Instance in 2005 also on cajid media. Their work can be found on a number of compilations, including Document 03: Diffuse released on Dorobo records in 2000, which they co-curated with Bruce Mowson, Andie Reynolds, and Darrin Verhagen. Thembi continues to compose for recording, performance, installation, and multi-speaker concert presentation.
 
Thembi has a longstanding collaboration with cellist, Anthea Caddy, with whom they have released two CDs and twice toured Europe. Their work together is focused on the interplay between physical environment and perception, and its effect on psychological experience. Their first album, Iland, was released on cajid media in 2006; their second, Host, on Room 40 in 2012. They first toured Europe in 2006, with 18 performances across 8 countries, at venues and festivals including the Hörkunstfestival Erlangen, WORM Rotterdam, Instants Chavirès Paris, and WIM Zürich. They returned to Europe in 2009 performing 15 shows across Estonia, Poland, Spain, France, Denmark, Finland, and Germany.
 
In 2011 Thembi began working with choreographer, Tim Darbyshire, as both sound designer and dramaturg. Their projects together include More or Less Concrete and Tainted Title. Thembi has also collaborated with media and performance artist Vanessa Godden on the sound for her short film The Lament. Godden also produced a series of short films to promote the release of Thembi's most recent album, Love Songs. 
 
Thembi has a BA in Media Arts (2002) and a first-class honours in sound art (2005) from RMIT University’s School of Art, where they have now just completed a practice-based PhD. Titled "A Dense Mass of Indecipherable Fear: The Experiential (Non)Narration of Trauma and Madness through Acousmatic Sound", their research has investigated the use of acousmatic sound in representing and understanding lived experience of mental illness and trauma from a patient perspective, including critique of the mental health system. From 2004-2009 they assisted in curating the Australian experimental music label, cajid media, and in 2013 was guest curator for the National Gallery of Victoria's Melbourne Now: Now Hear This exhibition, for which they overviewed electroacoustic composition practice in Melbourne, Australia. 

In 2018 they released their third solo album, Love Songs, through ROOM40, which the label describes as "one of the most fierce sonic expressions to be delivered from an Australian artist in recent years". 
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Thembi uses the pronouns they/them/theirs. They are second generation Polish migrant on their father's side and of English/Irish colonial-settler descent on their mother's side. Thembi lives in the rural Victorian town of so-called Clunes on Dja Dja Wurrung land. They acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung as the Traditional Owners of this land and pay their respects to their Elders past and present. They would like to express gratitude to the Jaara for sharing their land, anger and sorrow for the personal, spiritual, and cultural cost of that sharing. and to acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded. 

“Soddell’s work with dynamics is extremely accomplished, alternately forcing close attention and then rewarding it with shocking explosions of activity that bring any absent-minded trains of thought right back into a brutal present. This strategy is analogous to the remembering of a dream, the recombining of dreamed events into a comprehensible sequence. The work suggests all the uncertainty of a nightmare recounted, with all its gaps and discontinuities of narrative. The virtue of this for the listener is that it will keep you on edge throughout.”
Michael Day, Diffusion, Sonic Arts Network
 
A complete archive of Thembi's activities and reviews prior to 2016 can be found at thembisoddell.tumblr.com