Aimée Portioli is a Berlin-based Dutch-Italian composer and sound designer who records and performs as Grand River.
Portioli makes experimental electronic music with rich emotional colours. Her work, influenced by minimalism and ambient music, is atmospheric yet rhythmically complex, incorporating a wide range of contemporary compositional and production techniques.
The name Grand River evokes nature, scale, and movement, all key forces in Portioli’s work. Her first release as Grand River was 2017’s Crescente EP, which was named by XLR8R as one of the best releases of the year. She followed this with her debut album Pineapple (Spazio Disponibile, 2018), which garnered praise from The Quietus among others, while its follow-up Blink A Few Times To Clear Your Eyes (Editions Mego, 2020) was positively received by Resident Advisor and The Verge, and was elected among best albums of 2020 by Inverted Audio. Her work has separately appeared on compilations by Ghostly International, Tresor, and Longform Editions.
“All of us who make music should cultivate this intrinsic delight in the process. The applause of an audience (and all the other perks) are great, but is that really why we embarked on this vocation in the first place?” (Ted Gioia)
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
There is no particular inspiration as many diverse things inspire me, constantly and often also subconsciously. I would not be able to say which one is predominant as it depends on what I am surrounded by in a specific period and by how much I am being mindful while absorbing life. Everything happening around me and influencing me emotionally for a certain period of time could be potentially translated and poured into the music I create.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
When I was five years old I started singing in a children’s choir and in that same years I started playing with toy keyboards, drums and guitars. I started studying music with a teacher when I was eleven years old.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
This question is impossible to answer for me and I really don’t want to pick five absolute favourites.
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Berlin is home to me. Every time I travel back to Berlin, from the moment the plane lands or the train arrives at the central station, I feel a sense of home that I am not feeling anywhere else anymore.
When I moved here eight years ago I immediately liked the city. I was living in Milan for ten years before moving to Berlin and here I perceive a sense of calmness, space and freedom.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
My favorite place is without any doubt my apartment. I love being at home and in my little bubble that I created for myself.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Maybe I would be a doctor, I have always very much been interested in medicine and the human body. Or maybe I would be an architect, I have a great passion for space and environments, I am always highly affected by my surroundings.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
I bought five records at the same time last week: Astrid Sonne – Outside Of Your Lifetime, Dylan Henner – You Will Always Be, Giulio Aldinucci – Real, Noémi Büchi – Matter and Yair Elazar Glotman – Speculative Memories.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
A choir or an orchestra.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
There are many gigs I played that I loved and that are particularly dear to me, sometimes because of the audience, in other cases because of the venue or the organization. Every concert is different for many reasons and that’s the beauty of it. The same goes when I am on the other side as a spectator.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Technology is very important and it is a constant in my creative process. It is at the same time a source I like to experiment with and a tool that allows me to put ideas into practice.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I don’t have siblings. I sometimes wonder how my life would be if I would not be an only child.