“Kara-Lis Coverdale is one of the most exciting young composers in North America.”
–Ben Beaumont-Thomas, The Guardian
Driven by a patient devotion to sonic afterlife, memory, and material curiosity, Kara-Lis Coverdale’s dynamic work occupies new planes built upon a borderless understanding of electronic music with roots in several interlocking musical systems and languages. Coverdale’s work has been met with consistent critical acclaim. Her most recent recorded release, Grafts (Boomkat, 2017), is a set of three pieces in long form that highlight the composer’s distinct approach to digital-based ratio tuning. It has been described as an “arresting” “masterful work” of “uncompromisingly distinct,” “indescribable beauty.” Coverdale’s recordings are incredibly considered and often understated, but her live shows can evoke the unpredictable, chaotic, eerie, dynamic, and confrontational; all for which she has earned a steady reputation as a festival favourite (The Guardian, The New York Times, RA, The Fader) as a highly dynamic and explorative artist, resistant to categorization and stasis.
Previous releases are Aftertouches (2015, Sacred Phrases), a series of narrative-rich experimental miniatures that focus on the composer’s distinct penchant for holographic timbres, was named a top album of the year by The Wire, NPR, and others. A 480 (2014, Constellation Tatsu), is a set of studies accompanied by .nfo scores sourced entirely from the data rendered voice to explore the sonic impermanence of identity signatures. Coverdale has collaborated with David Sutton (LXV) on their collaborative album Sirens (2015, Umor Rex), which further explores disembodiment and fantasy in the digital age, Tim Hecker (Love Streams, Virgins, Konoyo), and her production credits include Marilyn Manson, How To Dress Well, Lee Bannon, and others. She has also written music with the artist and writer Kara Crabb on several projects, including the writing of the score for Royal Jelly and The Reproductive Life Cycle of a Flower. In 2017, Coverdale performed over forty shows across Europe, North America, and Australia. Among these she presented new large scale works Marjamaa Laulud, a unique commission for an interdisciplinary work for opera, theatre, and dance (in collaboration with choreographer Ruslan Stepanov) by the renowned Estonian Vanemuine Theatre as part of ESTO 100, UNIXS for Avarus Ensemble (EST), and presented VoxU, a commission for Mutek Montreal (CALQ) that is centred around the unique sonics of the Vox Humana, the first record and instrument of vocal ‘synthesis’ dating back to the 15th century.
Kara-Lis is currently finishing her next studio album, and working on new commissions for Hampus Lindwald and Cory Arcangel, Vicky Chow, Anne Bourne, Chamber Choir Kwintessens (NE), and Metahaven.
Kara-Lis was born in Burlington, Canada, and began studying piano with the Royal Conservatory of Music from age 5. Her grandparents from her mother’s side were immigrants from Estonia, and her father’s side were Quarter Horse breeders. Kara-Lis has held positions as organist and music director at several churches across Canada since age 13, where she has also served as choir conductor. She later went on to complete with degrees in musicology and composition, for which she wrote a Masters thesis on the construction of timbral realism in mediated and recorded musics. She studied composition and media with David Myska, Omar Daniel, and Jay Hodgson, and piano with Ken Gee and Gwen Beamish. She is recipient of a “promising young artist” award by Canadian new music composer Ann Southam, has held residencies with GRM Paris, EMS Stockholm, FUGA Zaragoza and others, and presents original performances, commissions, collaborations, talks, and installations all over the world including The Barbican, Theatre du Chatelet, AGO, MAC Montreal, Teatro Circo, Kraftwerk, and Elbphilharmonie. She currently resides in Montreal.
2015: the guardian the wire
2016: the quietus
2019: resident advisor