I8U is an electronica artist from Montreal (Canada). Like David Kristian, she experiments mostly with analog synthesizers. Her main objective is to create physical sound environments in which the music triggers reactions from the listeners' bodies. Her work is akin to Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai (although both work with digital tools), but also to Pauline Oliveros' electronic music of the 1960s and -- to some extent -- Francisco López and John Hudak. She has collaborated on-stage and in the studio with Kristian, Martin Tétreault, Goem, and video artist Gigimatique.
I8U (born France Jobin) displayed an early interest in music and got classical training on the piano. She performed professionally for a short time and later switched to the blues. Her career as a blueswoman took her around Montreal accompanying local figures and included an appearance at the Montreal Jazz Festival.
By the late '90s, after a few years of professional work, the blues keyboardist was beginning to feel restless. An encounter with Montreal's electronic wizard David Kristian served as a catalyst and had the impact of an epiphany. Kristian taught her how to create her own sounds, a completely new area for the woman who used her keyboard piano and organ factory presets. A whole world opened up in front of her. After fulfilling her last professional engagements, she left the "traditional" music business altogether, turned on the experimental switch, and adopted her surprisingly antagonistic moniker.
Unlearning her classical and blues training, I8U started anew, exploring the power of drones and the richness of field recordings. Her first self-titled album came out in 2000. With Kristian's help, she quickly made her way into the Montreal and Toronto underground, appearing at electronica festivals (Mutek in 2001), participating in Internet jams, and collaborating with video artists. She met experimental turntablist Martin Tétreault in October 2000 when both were performing solo in the User's Silophone project. They have occasionally played as a duo since then and released the CD I8U Vs. Martin Tétreault in May 2001. I8U's second solo CD, titled B, was released a few months later by the Netherlander label Bake.
In May, she appeared at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in a mixed media performance involving video artist Gigimatique (AE Lab's Gisèle Trudel). The Toronto label Piehead released Grasshopper Morphine, her strongest album to date. ~ François Couture