Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
Slipping Control was the first project for me where I began working from a conceptual proposition and then realized iterations of this proposal across a number of mediums. Watching the mutability of the original idea - of the starting content - inform formal considerations and reveal interesting methodologies for each different version of the piece was really exciting. That work has been presented in galleries, music festivals, black box theaters, video screenings - it has been distributed as both an LP and a book -it has gone through a bunch of changes. As I lived with the piece it kept teaching me things. For instance when it morphed from a video project to a live performance it’s compositional logic got totally inverted as did it’s collaborative nature. I had to reconsider the order of control in terms of how the audio content, text and performers related to one another. This was the first time I really considered how working with collaborators in a very deliberate way could help disrupt my subjective decision making process. It was collaborator as interrupter or illuminator or ???
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Staying off the Internet and keeping away from checking the news too often is a good start.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
All of these things are connected but I can’t say they are all integrated. I spent years developing a practice where improvisation was central and then I just sort of stopped and wanted to only compose. Now I find that, though they exist as different threads in my work, I am happy to have improvising and composing run parallel to one another. That said, right now through the work that I am doing with vocal ensembles I am beginning to find a meeting point between composition and directed group improvisation. These vocal pieces can run up to four hours long and we sometimes have over a dozen vocalists. Something really amazing starts to happen in regard to the groups relationship to one another improvising within this sort of durational composition - it brings out a lot of shared emotion and empathy. The studio is the studio and for me and the tempo and focus that is available there is unique to that setting. That said, there is a kind of interaction I have with a synthesizer when I am improvising live that I would love to be able to access in the studio. For whatever reason I haven’t been able to quite do this - it’s something I am still figuring out.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
I feel like it is all one and the same for me at this point. Specifically with the drone based compositions. With certain kinds of sound materials I can’t really differentiate between sound and composition - they are too braided into one another to want to pull apart.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
Playing around with trying to reorder the hierarchy of the senses is one reason why I was interested in working in mediums besides music. There is so much room for getting weird when you begin to try to disrupt this hierarchy. I mean, sight is just so pushy - but it doesn’t have to be. So often when I present a piece for electronics people will describe their experience in relationship to images. In terms of sound at its outermost borders, I’m not sure I have experienced this but it seems like something I would like.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I don’t think I really have a developed approach to being an artist besides that it figures into how I live my life day to day. I mean, every choice I make socially or politically is made through the reality of a lifetime of working as an artist.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I think if you listen across cultures, across centuries (as much as we are able to) musics of the world have more in common with one another than differences. There must be some pretty hard wiring at play to account for these commonalities. I certainly wouldn’t claim to have a vision for what new forms music might take but I do think it is great to try to find new questions to ask. We have seen quite a shift in how music is distributed and experienced. I would guess that this could be a place where basic concepts of form could start to be chipped away at.