Vatican Vibes

January 21, 2014

Musician Fatima Al Qadiri discusses digital artist Tabor Robak’s video for her track “Vatican Vibes,” which creates a visual analogy between the Vatican’s “centuries-old mechanisms of control over people” and video gamers’ “godlike power over populations.”

As a teenager, I loved listening to a CD of Gregorian chants recorded in a French monastery. The Catholic Mass, together with other devotional music, was an early sonic inspiration. While producing this track for my 2011 EP Genre-Specific Xperience, I was thinking about how each genre has its own world and lifestyle, a distinct combination of physical space, bpm (beats per minute), clothing and design. “Vatican Vibes” was an interpretive homage to the religious music that inspired me, as well as to Enigma and Gregorian trance of the early ‘90s.

The religious-futurist sound and concept of “Vatican Vibes” led my collaborator Tabor Robak and me to think about how sprawling religious institutions like the Vatican maintain centuries-old mechanisms of control over people. This authority is in fact quite similar to the player’s godlike power over populations in video games. For “Vatican Vibes,” Tabor constructed an imaginary architecture for a Catholic video game, adapting many of the religion’s signifiers and symbols for the digital realm.