With more and more musicians creating than ever and more, what does this mean for you as an artist in terms of originality? What are some of the areas where you currently see the greatest potential for originality and who are some of the artists and communities that you find inspiring in this regard?
There's probably really no such thing as "originality", but there is such a thing as truth. And creative truth is an individual experience and can almost not be pinpointed exactly. So I can't really talk about where I see originality coming from because I don't believe it exists. But I have great hope for creative truth.
What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion and what’s your approach to performing on stage?
Clear connection to the witness participants.
How do an improvisation and the recording of this improvisation compare?
They don't. Live art always trumps in my humble opinion :)
Listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?
Listening is an incredibly important community skill and I definitely have the listener in mind, but not too much at the start. The experience has to come from my heart and soul first before I can feel it appropriate to share in the fellowship of listening, so it's a process.
How do you see the relationship between music and other forms of art – painting, video art and cinema most importantly - and in how far, do you feel, does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?
I'm deeply interested in the mixing of mediums because to me it really represents what life is like. A true mix of sounds, sensations, sights ... those seen/heard and unseen/unheard
Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies change the way music is perceived by the public?
That's a hard question as we are at a time in history where artists have way more leverage in the placement of their work than ever before, but because of the digital components, it can turn into a psychotic head trip and practice in narcissistic ego mongering. In a sense I feel it might be negatively affecting creative process for some of us ... and some artists are feeling undue pressure from it. I know it's kept me awake at night at least once.
At the same time when I first moved to NYC I took really strong grip on to DIY promo tools because I felt it was my only shot at getting my work out there, being heard, building opportunity, surviving. And it has helped. But there's a limit. I've tried to find some help with this sort of thing and I've actually been turned down by some PR people because my category is not classifiable enough, or I just won't accept a classification, or my work is too political, which that kind of stings a little because it feels like some odd form of oppression ... But I'm not complaining because I'm being who I want to be, doing (almost) exactly what I want to do and feeling good about my future. And though I've definitely had some hard times, I've not yet been given a challenge I could not handle with some sense of true grit/grace. And that way to be I definitely learned from my mother and grandmothers.
Do you have a musical vision that you haven't been able to realise for technical or financial reasons – or an idea of what music itself could be beyond its current form?
Yes. A few things. I really believe in the power of public art and I really would like to do some very large scale celebratory public sound art works like Bob Bieliecki, Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, Marcus Schmickler, Terry Adkins, Ryoji Akeda, Lamonte Young, except my works would focus on the public sound art possibility of collage strategy since this is a big part of my aesthetic. I also still have visions for plays and at least one opera. I've also always wanted to write books, though this last thing will probably be pretty easy to pull off in comparison to the other things. I like to tell narrative driven stories in many different types of abstract mediums, whether on the page or off ...
Stay up to date on Matana Roberts by visiting her website.