Lisa MacKinney


guitarist / sound artist

Lisa MacKinney is a leading sound artist and historian, who has been playing guitar and organ in various musical ensembles for over twenty years. She learnt classical piano for ten years before switching to guitar in the late 1980s, and cites playing with New York Downtown minimalist Rhys Chatham in two performances of An Angel Moves Too Fast to See as a life-changing musical experience. This 70-minute work, scored for bass, drums and 100 electric guitars, was performed at the 1993 Brisbane Biennial Arts Festival in Australia, and it gave MacKinney a deep appreciation of the harmonic subtleties of drones, layering, non-standard tunings and overtones, and especially their application to electric guitars and rock.

MacKinney’s current projects include Taipan Tiger Girls with acclaimed composer and musician Ollie Olsen (Whirlywirld/Max Q/Third Eye/NO) and drummer Mat Watson (Other Places), and Hospital Pass with guitarist Bonnie Mercer (Grey Daturas/Dumb Numbers/Little Desert). Her solo project, Mystic Eyes, explores the textural and musical possibilities of drone, stasis and feedback using guitar and organ. MacKinney is also a historian, whose doctoral thesis is the first ever scholarly study of New York pop group the Shangri-Las. She also works as a freelance music writer, occasionally for UK magazine Uncut, and regularly for Australian classical music magazine Limelight. She lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.  

As a historian, Lisa wrote a PhD on the Shangri-Las. Her academic background is situated in late medieval history, and has focused on the relationship between devotional art, religious practice, and mysticism in England and Western Europe from 1300 to 1500.