Leila Bordreuil

Leila Bordreuil is a Brooklyn-based cellist, composer and sound-artist born in New York City and raised in France. She accesses concepts as diverse as Noise, contemporary classical, free jazz, and experimental traditions but adheres to none of them. Her music mixes deep melancholia with harsh noise-walls at ear-bleeding levels, and was described by the New York Times as “steadily scathing music, favoring long and corrosive atonalities”.

Driven by a fierce interest in pure sound and inherent texture, Leila challenges conventional cello practice through extreme extended techniques and unorthodox amplification methods, to the extent she sometimes seems to be playing the P.A system rather than the cello. Her compositions frequently incorporate sound-spatialization by way of site-specific pieces and multichannel installations, and focus on neurological perception and our physiological relationship to sound and space.

Bordreuil is part of the DARA String Festival at Werkhalle Wiesenburg, this Saturday, 28.8.2021.


1. Sound is space

2. Rhythm is life

3. Growth is contingent on exchange


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?

I find aesthetic inspiration in urban soundscapes. But I am motivated by bringing joy and healing via noise catharsis.

2. How and when did you get into making music?

I discovered Pierre Schaeffer at the public library in high school, and the rest is noise.

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?

Really tough one, but off the top of my head: Zoltan Kodaly’s cello sonata played by Janos Starker, Eliane Radigue “Trilogie de la Mort”, Pharoah Sanders “Tauhid”, Robert Hood “Minimal Nation” and Bill Nace and Samara Lubelski “self titled”.

4. What do you associate with Berlin?

I love the diversity of architecture in Berlin. I’m especially fond of Karl Marx Straße and Soviet era architecture in general.

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?

The block I live on in Brooklyn. We are a tight-knit community and have each other’s backs. It’s a really special place and I feel lucky to call it home.

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?

I would make films.

7. What was the last record/music you bought?
“The Oracle” by Angel Bat Dawid.

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?

David Lynch

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?

I saw “Angel Bat Dawid and Jaimie Branch + friends” in Brooklyn last month. That show reminded me of why I stay alive and gave me faith in humanity. The players in the band included Viktor Le Givens, Anaiet, Luke Stewart, Chris Williams, Tcheser Holmes, Miriam Parker, and Zekkereya El-magharbel.

10. How important is technology to your creative process?

I play improvised music and love collaboration. So when I found myself playing cello alone during lockdowns in 2020, I started using a lot more electronics to add multiplicity in my sound. But I’d be fulfilled playing acoustic cello if the power went out.

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?

I have a sister although we are not blood related. She supports my music a lot, and I support her work too (she runs a modern dance company). We are proud of each other.

Photo © Dawid Laskowski