Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I have had phases of routine but my life is too unpredictable and unstable at this point to have a fixed schedule. Plus, my work schedule is different everyday. I do teach children music and lead a very physically engaged class - like I am usually dripping in sweat after those classes with the kids. It is sound and movement. So, in that sense, maybe there is a connection, I am leading those little kiddos through some kind of ecstatic ritual haha.
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?
Ok. I will take the track “Teaching Lodge of the Arrows” off my new release “Respires.”
In “Teaching Lodge” I start with a raw, unaffected flute line that has this frenetic energy, kind of squirreling around a few notes that eventually turns into a backwards loop. A repetitive vocal cluster then comes in and dances around it. Once the loop sets in, I punctuate it with a low double sub throb that attempts to find a rhythm even within the frenzy. Once the bass throb comes in I add an operatic vocal on top. “Freedom, you’re outside my door. Freedom, you’re across the shore. See her ask for more…” This is to further illustrate the idea of the wavering metaphorical arrow trying to find its direction and place. It climaxes with a keyboard line coming and matching the frenetic energy of the flute creating a divine tangle with each other. It reaches such a point that a singe note stays and remains on the keyboard unloosening the tangle and ushering in a seven-minute drone of sine waves meshing with each other, layering and creating depth, steadfastness, resolve, stillness, clarity, direction. Metaphorically, the arrow is now on its way to the target. Part of the way into the drone some hints of the frenzied flute line come back in as well as some of the early vocal chants hinting at the cyclical nature of this process.
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?
The ideal state is to be present, completely present. To block the outside world out, at least when coming up with the raw starters. Refinement can come later. It is about having your own space; it is about getting into a meditative space. It is about ALLOWING yourself the space at all!
It is also about giving yourself the time- time to fail, time to succeed. In that sense, I do believe in routine, like going into the studio or practice space regularly even when you do not feel like it. Like sometimes when I feel stuck I actually make myself play more to try and transcend it or work past it. Find another little groove that I had not seen before and try to go deeper into it. It doesn’t always work but it often does.
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?
Most of the material I take into the studio are pieces or concepts I have developed through playing live. Not always, but mostly. Live experience is arguably the most important, it is where the real blood and guts are. The record is something of a souvenir of the experience, but a beloved one. I take advantage of the record as a place to go over and beyond the rawness and more into a place of refinement of the raw energy.
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?
The relationship between “sound” and “composition” are so integrally connected/enmeshed/juxtaposed in my practice that I can’t differentiate.
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?
Yes, I see my music as a full body experience, so all the senses are actively communicating with each other. Of course, hearing and seeing is a huge one, the relationship with light and sound. I used to perform with sound reactive color washes mastered by my partner multimedia artist Camilla Padgitt-Coles. It would create a mysterious liminal state. Besides light, my movement creates lots of relationships in the live setting. My two-microphone technique where I hold a dynamic super cardioid microphone in each hand and have each panned hard left/right and swing them rapidly in front of my face. The visual aspect to this very simple technique of sound spatialization makes it more accessible and obviously visual. Also,the relationship of touch and sound-- my live performances have become very tactile, including rubbing sandpaper, scraping plastic bags over microphones etc.
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?
Well I can say that in times of crisis it is important to not succumb to the fear and panic that is infused in so much of the political rhetoric, dividing people in so many ways along class, race, culture, religious, gender, sexual orientation lines, etc. I believe art is a place of convergence- a discussion, a confrontation, a question, a reverence, a celebration, a purge. It is freedom of expression and that in itself is insanely political. It is one that can liberate others on a personal or collective level through its very act. It is a powerful way to communicate, build communities, strengthen resolve and identity beyond the divisions/labels placed and defined from the outside. It is tribal mindedness at its best. And the result can be a stillness (John Cage’s answer “the purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind”), a catharsis (Henri Lefebvre’s take on it, especially concerning his analysis in “Rhythanalysis” “rhythm does not only sublimate the aesthetic and a rule of art: it has an ethical function. In its relation to the body, to time, to the work, it illustrates real (everyday) life. It purifies it in the acceptance of catharsis…it brings compensation for the miseries of everydayness, for its deficiencies and failures. Music integrates the functions, the values of Rhythm), an invitation to action, an invitation to a question, a mirror to the grotesque and hidden, and countless other things.”
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?
Well true, but I think there are certain things that stay the same- like the need to connect, to commune, to understand, to praise, to question. Art/ and music are still doing that and will continue to do that into the future even if the “tools” or the way it sounds changes. As it already has…