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END OF A BLOG

March 30, 2012
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New Year – New Space – New Website – New Blog!

 

From now on, all Roulette interviews will be posted on our website at www.roulette.org/blog

Check it out!

Interview with Amy X Neuburg & Cory Smythe

December 7, 2011
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On December 13th, beloved Bay Area techno-songstress Amy X Neuburg returns to Roulette, this time in collaboration with NYC pianist/improviser Cory Smythe (of ICE), The evening will consist of new compositions for voice, piano and live electronics, improvisational duets, and solos from Amy and Cory — including Amy’s spirited ‘avant-cabaret’ songs for voice and drum-controlled looping, and works from Cory’s recent release “Pluripotent” for piano with live processing.

ROULETTE: Tell us as about the work you’ll be doing at Roulette.
AMY X NEUBURG:
Cory and I met in Milwaukee earlier this year, where he played my compositions as part of a concert with Present Music Ensemble, and I so enjoyed working with him that I invited him to join me at this Roulette gig. We’ll be performing composed and semi-improvised voice/piano/electronics songs, including the pieces we did in Milwaukee plus some brand-spanking-fresh new ones, as well as solo works.

To me this collaboration with Cory represents some new directions in which I find myself heading, not with any great plan or intention but just because it feels natural. For one, I am becoming more fascinated by the improvisational process. Composing and recording, once you get past the idea phase into the construction phase, are so overwhelmingly oriented towards precision, second-guessing, editing, re-editing, way-zoomed-in meticulousness and often loss of the big picture. Improvising, in contrast, is immediate, cannot be edited, and keeps you in a constant state of on-your-toes creativity. Its riskiness is invigorating. Improvising with an inspiring musician such as Cory opens up whole new worlds of musical possibilities for me. Not to mention this is a way of exploring music that I have not performed a million times for the same audience; I always like to do something new when I come to New York, and as most of my composing recently has been for ensembles (thus not much in the way of solo work), this was one way of addressing that issue.

In addition, I am recently finding myself drawn to the talents of many younger musicians who are getting into experimental and classical crossover music. In this time of everyone freaking out about jobs and the economy, it’s gratifying to see a whole new influx of folks making cutting edge art just because it is important to them, and embracing the attitude of exploration that I grew up with. That gives me hope for the cultural evolution of this country, and I find it personally energizing as well.

CORY SMYTHE: Amy X Neuburg was kind enough to invite me to share the evening with her, and I’m sort of doing my best to be a considerate guest. While we’ll each be doing some solo performances, I’m trying to curate/create music for the evening that responds in some way to her work. At the most basic level, this means I’ll be doing some things with electronics — live processing and live looping.   We’re also collaborating with and writing for one another, a process I’ve found totally fascinating. She’s such a unique, multifaceted musician; working with her is like working with a large ensemble.

R: Are there working artists today with whose work you identify, or rather, who do you consider to be your peers?
CS: I wonder if there will come a time when the idea of listing other artists as my peers won’t seem to me like an insult to those other artists… Meanwhile, I’ve had the privilege of working a little, recently, with Steve Lehman and Peter Evans, and they both come to mind immediately as artists with whose work I identify — and who would be justifiably mortified to find themselves counted among my peers.

R: What are some defining characteristics of the musical scene you
would fit yourself into? What elements of your scene differentiate it 
from what has come before, or what is happening now?

  
AXN: I call what I do “avant-cabaret.” Though I fit more into the new music spectrum than any other genre (thanks to the open-ended definition of “new music”), you might just as well put me in the modern vaudeville, singer/songwriter, spoken word, classical or art-rock scenes. It’s the use of electronics and my post-modern disregard for genre, plus much vocal exploration, that make me avant-garde. And I feel I am most successful in a sort of cabaret setting, in which I have permission to use humor, banter with the audience and achieve a bit of intimacy, keep things on the informal side, and create a sort of variety-show atmosphere. I think of the Weimar cabaret as a place where folks came to escape the horrors of their circumstances, and I can relate to that bittersweet mix of tragedy and comedy.
In a way I feel more akin to what is happening now than I did, say, 10-15 years ago, when the music biz was more stymied by anything original. I feel blessed at this point to have been noted FOR having a very individual style. Also there are now many more musicians experimenting with voice or chamber instruments plus electronics (technological developments have made this much easier), and the new way that media is distributed has created a more anything-goes attitude where genre is not as important.

CS: I play a lot as a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble, which is a big enough collection of players that maybe it constitutes a ‘scene’ in and of itself? If you’re curious about the hyperactive assortment of projects they’re undertaking, check out iceorg.org.

R: What was the last music you listened to?

  
AXN: “The Crunge” by Led Zeppelin.

CS: I was out of town and in a rental car this last week and couldn’t figure out how to hook it up to my ipod.  I found a Four Tops best-of bargain CD and the new Kate Bush at the closest big box (no record stores left where I was…) and really enjoyed both! Prior to that, I’d been listening jealously to Kris Davis’s “Aeriol Piano” and excitedly studying up on Amy X’s “The Secret Language of Subways” in advance of our work together.  (And right this minute — a fascinating chorus and ensemble piece called “Inondation” by a young composer named Marielle Groven.)

R: What is music?

  
AXN: Music is sound that is organized (or at least “framed”) for the purpose of sharing with others or oneself, though if something disorganized or unintentional makes its way into that, it can become part of the music if it is perceived as such.

CS: Just the other day someone told me that if you hold an orange in front of a zen master and ask her “what is this?”, she will reply by simply eating the orange. I’m about the furthest thing from a zen master, but I thought I’d give it a try: and so I’ve responded to this question by eating the complete Beethoven string quartets.

R: Do you consider yourself more a composer or a performer?


AXN: No.
But you know what? Performing feels totally natural to me. Composing feels like pulling teeth. So though I spend far more time and probably get more recognition as a composer, I suppose deep down it all springs from my desire to just sing you a strange little song.

CS: Depends on which I’m doing at the time. If it’s composing, I consider myself more a performer… and vice versa.

R: Is there an event or experience that led you to start in experimental media?

  
AXN: No single event, no. The way I approach music feels like an organic evolution of all the styles I have worked in over the years coming together, blended with my interest in language (one of my undergrad degrees is in Linguistics), plus I have an unusually wide vocal range and it seems a waste not to use all of it. So vocal exploration came naturally to me, and a fascination with sound, innovation and working with my hands led to voice/electronics exploration. Certainly I’m also influenced by years of modern dance in my youth and a progressive hippie-dippie education. I think my experimentalism began solidifying at Oberlin where the other voice students were obsessed with opera and I was far more interested in what the composition students were doing, becoming their sort of “house” vocalist. It seemed more vital to bring new music into the world than to recreate old music, and I loved being able to bring my own sound to a brand new project without expectations of what I was “supposed” to sound like; eventually this led to me creating music specifically for my own voice. I also loved my classical training, though, and still draw heavily from classical technique and structure.

R: Who do you see as instrumental in your development as an artist?

  
AXN: Oh gosh… so many people, from my wonderfully supportive parents to encouraging teachers. I give a lot of credit to my voice teacher at Oberlin — Daune Mahy — who did not dissuade me from singing all the weird stuff (while the other voice faculty would have found this horrifying). And earlier, my fabulous modern dance teacher Arlene Horowitz established in me the idea of combining rigorous technique with wild creativity. Singing in Robert Ashley’s operas while still quite young had a profound effect, as did working with so many collaborators over the years — especially Herb Heinz with whom I spent over 20 years making music and developing technology. In the ‘80s I was obsessed with XTC, who combined a great, gutsy sound with really playful use of language. But I always feel uncomfortable narrowing it down because things keep changing; I learn something from every single piece of music, dance, theater, art, book, conversation and real-life event that I experience. Much of what I do simply comes from listening to the patterns of language.

R: What is interesting to you about your own work?

  
AXN: Because I have not pigeonholed my genre, and I am not hung up about everything I do having to be lucrative, I have the creative freedom to make any sort of music I feel like making.

Whenever I am offered an interesting opportunity to do something new, I’ll generally go for it. This make me feel like I’m perpetually in school — developing new skills, learning from all manner of collaborators, traveling to new places…. Just last year I wrote my first string quartet and my first large-scale chorus piece. This year I got to play in Poland, and now I get to improvise with Cory Smythe.

I enjoy the sense that I am using all parts of my brain in the work I do, from the imagination part (conceiving ideas, composing, exploring words and sounds and metaphors) to the exacting part (scoring, programming technology, putting together a show, and solving the puzzle of fitting the perfect word into the structure of a song).

I dig the physicality of my work — one of the things that attracted me to electronics in the first place. I like hitting things, plugging things into things, and schlepping stuff around.

I am still, after all these years, amazed by the creative process — the way an idea eventually becomes a work of art, spontaneously or laboriously, intentionally or accidentally, sometimes with a clear meaning and sometimes with a meaning that only shows itself years later. This is just so… I don’t know… neat.

R: Do you do other things aside from music?
AXN:
There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of time for much else. And sadly, far more of my time is spent doing music-related administrative things than actually creating or performing. My modest goal in life is to change that.
But I make time to exercise every single day, especially urban walking, which helps ideas flow. And I love to cook, eat, be a foodie, and throw fabulous parties. I’ve begun an “Avant-Cake” house concert series. Right now I’m studying Italian. I like to talk/read/think about brains and bodies and medicine and language and animals and politics. I have a funky old house in Oakland that I am forever fixing up.

CS: Yes — mostly, in fact.

Inverview with Elliott Sharp

December 4, 2011
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Elliott Sharp is an American composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and curator central to the experimental music scene in New York City for over thirty years. He leads the projects Carbon and Orchestra Carbon, Tectonics, and Terraplane and has pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetic metaphors to musical composition and interaction.  On December 8th at Roulette, Sharp presents two aspects of Carbon: the quartet and the orchestra. The smaller group functions like a rock band with the spontaneous freedom of a chamber ensemble or jazz group. The larger ensemble presents long form, structured pieces and algorithmic compositions such as SyndaKit, Quarks Swim Free, and Flexagons: self-organizing systems in which a simple set of rules and composed fragments yield ever-changing results.

Featuring: Shelley Burgon – electric harp, Marc Sloan – electric bass, Joseph Trump – drums. percussion, Elliott sharp – 8-string guitarbass, soprano saxophone, electronics and the orchestra will feature additional musicians Jenny Lin – piano, Russ flynn – electric bass and Danny Tunick – percussion, vibraphone.

ROULETTE: Tell us as about the work you¹ll be doing at Roulette.
ELLIOTT SHARP: This concert is a rare NYC performance by my band Carbon.  Carbon was formed in 1983 and went through many incarnations until I put the project on hiatus in 1996 to concentrate on the large-ensemble Orchestra Carbon.  A detailed history of Carbon may be found here:
http://www.intaktrec.ch/sharp163-a.htm

With the 2009 release on Intakt of Void Coordinates, Carbon entered into a new active performance phase with extensive touring in Europe.  In 2010, Shelley Burgon on electric harp joined Joseph Trump, Marc Sloan, and myself  for more concerts and festivals in Europe.

For our second set at Roulette, the quartet will be augmented with the pianist Jenny Lin, percussionist Danny Tunick, and bassist Russ Flynn for the performance of Quarks Swim Free,  a set of core structures that are interpreted by the players under my conduction.

Some videos of Carbon may be found here:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=elliott+sharp+carbon&oq=elliott+sharp+carbon&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=1320l4534l0l5240l20l18l0l10l10l0l273l1282l1.5.2l8l0

R: What are some defining characteristics of the musical scene you would fit yourself into? What elements of your scene differentiate it from what has come before, or what is happening now?
ES: NYC has changed greatly from the late 1970’s/early 80’s when our “scene” germinated. There are still many great musicians but I don’t feel that there is the matrix to give an overall identity to our efforts: neither geographically nor esthetically.  Manhattan is now “occupied territory”: a place for selling trinkets, not developing ideas.  The interesting venues have all moved to Brooklyn, rough for us Manhattanites, though great for the overall manifestation of work.

R: Do you consider yourself more a composer or a performer?
ES: Definitely more a composer though some of the music that i compose can only be perfomed by myself or by my ensembles

R: What is interesting to you about your own work?
ES: My work continues to lead me into unknown realms: I thrive on doing things that I have not done before.  My main obsession now is opera.  I wrote, composed, and directed a science-fiction opera, About Us, for all-teenage performers in 2010 for the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.  I’m now working on an opera, Substance, about Baruch Spinoza, and another, Port Bou, about the last day in the life of Walter Benjamin.

R: Do you do other things aside from music?
ES: Writing; visual work; research in mathematics, philosophy, and history; not to mention being a parent!

R: Other thoughts?
ES: A comprehensive interview was published by BOMB MAgazine in 2003 and may be found here:
http://bombsite.com/issues/84/articles/2582

Interview with G Lucas Crane

December 2, 2011
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G Lucas Crane is a sound artist and sound performer working within the mediums of the manipulated analogue cassette, live collage, noise, environment/life recording and pure frenzy. Many years recording and playing his sonic diary, put to tape and hacked to pieces live, have yielded collaborations such as the psychedelic rock band Woods, Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice and Time Life, theater work at Ps122, Here Theater and Ontological-Hysteric, and sweaty basement conflagrations around the world with his solo project, Nonhorse. He is a founding member of the art collective and performance space Silent Barn, in NYC.  On December 5th at Roulette, Crane the release of the NOVA CRIMES limited edition cassette out on Green Age Records. 

ROULETTE: Tell us as about the work you’ll be doing at Roulette.
G LUCAS CRANE:
My performance at roulette is a great opportunity to present a project I’ve been working on since august, the NOVA project. NOVA is an image borrowed from the work of William Burroughs, and I’d been looking for a way to explore themes of “agency”, control and identity in the modern world. In Burroughs NOVA trilogy, his most famous use of ‘cut-up’ techniques, the NOVA is a criminal organization bent on total subjugation of human kind, parasitically feeding of the minds of men physically, sexually, psychically, economically, and so forth. So this project came out of wanting to do something with some of my favorite weird novels, but once I started the themes never stop bending back upon each other. Burroughs used the ‘cut-up’ methods to ‘break reality’ and release himself from the ontological prison of words and language itself, which in the novels is used by the NOVA criminals as the ultimate addiction and psychic weapon. But since I have always made cut-up sound artwork, once I started rereading the books, it was like I was immediately inside them, in some twisted modern version of them. The novels also have sort of NOVA detectives, heroes, that literally use the same techniques I use to make art to destroy control and fight psychic aliens. So the stuff gets in your head. Burroughs was very ahead of his time in his conception of how modern advertising, and propaganda work on the mind, as well as how modern terrorism and social networking works, that is leaderless agency, with different ‘cells’ working of the same ideological ‘program’. In my project, NOVA is a catch-all category for the inner turmoil of modern identity, with our rapidly developing communication technology and new emerging sense of self. Its either a pulpy concept story of artist-agents detectives receiving strange orders and messages and finding the always suspect truth, or its all true and the audience with witness my own attempt at modern self-deprogramming. I feel Its fundamentally strange to make something called “media-art” now, I think, because depending on your personal stress level you are either just simply making work, or fighting a never ending battle against the media itself, which demands all of your time, attention, and mental space. I want to play with images, themes and sounds and make a piece that evokes indirectly these massive ideas, because I feel crushed by the weight of the distinct seriousness and frivolousness of all incoming suspect information. I’m not really making this music, i’m trying to encounter something, find something.

R: Are there working artists today with whose work you identify, or rather, who do you consider to be your peers?
GLC:
I admire anyone who makes what they would call music that is terribly personal. Music as a category is extremely balkanized and orthodox. Even experimental music is a genre instead of a literal experiment. I feel screwed by the rush to categorization, so I like it when people are working things out and fearless about looking rough and crazy in the application of their sound. There are a few artists working with tape that I identify with because the medium tends to require personal, dairy style dedication to sound in physical space. A cassette is a stubbornly physical medium. Aki Onda from New York City has a tape style that is focused on memory and deep listening that I really respect and aspire to. Rinus Van Alebeek from Berlin deals with the medium like a true artist/spy, his location specific tape compilations or ‘runs’ ensure that each cassette is imbued with as much gravity as possible. I’m truly inspired by Scott Spears or ‘Id M theft able’ from Maine as a performer, an example of very experimental music that is still gripping and amazing to watch, and is at once very hard to categorize. Tomutonttu out of Finland is amazing music very personally realized.

R: What are some defining characteristics of the musical scene you would fit yourself into? What elements of your scene differentiate it from what has come before, or what is happening now?
GLC:
That’s a tough one. I kind of do everything. I’ve been making collage based weird music in Brooklyn for about 10 years so you tend to meet a lot of people, cross-genre. Sometimes I’m a noise musician, sometimes I do “sound design” sometimes I play psychedelic rock. I jam. I jam out, whatever that means. I’m kind of like a traveling sound plumber. I feel like when I have a bad show im a noise musician, but when I play a good show I play a totally new kind of mind destroying shit, stuff for the insects to enjoy. I feel like if you are into out-there sounds or are a sonic seeker or experimenter, then you are not in a genre or scene per se, but instead you have a use and a sensitivity that is useful in many contemporary contexts. Some people play the guitar or violin, ancient instruments that are whole worlds of history and sociality into themselves. And these things have an expressive use to people in describing their world and experiences. If you experiment with sound then you actually play “an experiment’ as an instrument, and that can be aesthetically very useful right now, as our usual sensory experience as modern humans is now packed with all kinds of throw away noise and data with a questionable pedigree. I think if you are an experimental musician now a days its important to collaborate as much as possible and get out of your comfort zone. I identify with self taught musicians, people just starting out, people who just decide to play with nothing but passion and an idea. That probably sounds weird because it seems like everyone wants to make art these days, but art is a personal spiritual thing that I think makes you a better person, so the more the merrier.

R: What was the last music you listened to?
GLC:
I’ve been listening to a lot of Lori Anderson actually, but only because I found a tape in an old mix tape stuck in a player at a thrift store. I’ve been listening to a lot of Twankle and Glisten mixtapes and DJ Screw stuff. I’ve been listening to a lot of this songwriter ‘Stanly Brinks’ from Berlin. Lots of R Kelly as usual. Sublime Frequencies stuff. C Cat Trance. Random Turkish music tapes. Lots of Turkish music always. This band CoolHaven from Rotterdam. I listen to just the audio from horrible action movies for fun. its like drinking a bitter aperitif.

R: What is music?
GLC:
Music is a time binding personal expression and art form utilizing permeating waves and vibrations. There is a scale or spectrum of sound and everyone puts the threshold of what is music and what is not at a different place.

R: Do you consider yourself more a composer or a performer?
GLC:
A performer defiantly, because I do everything in a frenzy. Its just my nature. but composition and the codification of my personal inner hieroglyphic process is a goal of mine. Its going to take the rest of my life.

R: Is there an event or experience that led you to start in experimental media?
GLC:
Yeah. I set up a confession booth in my closet when I was in college. It was just a tape deck and a chair. People would just stop by and close the closet door and talk randomly into the tape deck. And for some reason, I didn’t listen to it until the end of the year. The shear breath of the intimacy and span of the time and the emotions fused onto a single cassette propelled me forward into using them as a cheap quick sampler dairy. I used to want to write, but I realized at a young age that most art forms and mediums require a lot of alone time in their actual application. Except music. Sound and performance are the art forms that are out of the house and boiled in the soup of public discourse. That’s the thing for me. If you collage you need things to collage, you need input.

R: What is interesting to you about your own work?
GLC:
It seems to go on forever. I like being able to just interface with lots of different kinds of artistic and social situations, despite playing a very specific weird thing. I like to recycle my environment and my work allows me to be very free with what I put on each tape, but at the same time be very focused about how and when I play each tape. In a collage there’s what material you choose to collage and then there’s how you put it together. That’s the divide.

R: Do you do other things aside from music?
GLC:
I’m a working artist. It’s all the same to me.

R: Other thoughts?
GLC:
I’m starting to suspect that due to how humans are asked to live now, with their splintering digital identities and lightning fast social communication requirements, that the dominant form of expression is now a collage, and all art forms are becoming more and more like a collage, or require those strategies and skills. I suspect a collage most closely mirrors our internal sensory experience of the world, but I’m probably very biased in that regard!

Interview with Chris Forsyth

December 1, 2011
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Guitarist Chris Forsyth’s hypnotic compositions assimilate minimalism and psychedelia with art rock, folk, and blues influences. He has toured throughout Europe and the US with such like-minded artists as Träd Gräs och Stenar, Steve Gunn, Tetuzi Akiyama, and Ignatz, and as a member of gothic junk folk expressionists Peeesseye, the group he founded in 2002 with Jaime Fennelly andFritz Welch. He also plays in the elusive experimental project Phantom Limb & Bison and has collaborated with Koen Holtkamp, Meg Baird, Nate Wooley, Shawn Edward Hansen, and choreographers Miguel Gutierrez and RoseAnne Spradlin, among others.  On December 5th at Roulette, Chris Forsyth will be performing with Koen Holtkamp (electronics) to celebrate the release of their first album – “Early Astral” – and their first performance in NYC as a duo. 

ROULETTE: Tell us as about the work you’ll be doing at Roulette.
CHRIS FORSYTH: Koen and I met in Brooklyn probably about 6 or 7 years ago, just through mutual friends, going to shows, and going to each other’s shows – the typical Brooklyn sort of connections.  I moved to Philadelphia in 2009 and Koen lived there for a year in 2010, which is when we started playing together.  Over the course of that year, we developed the piece that became “Early Astral,” which will be released in December on the UK label Blackest Rainbow.  I think working together opens up some new spaces for each of us – my playing is a little more rhythmic and explicitly guitar-istic than much of Koen’s other work (even though he has used the guitar quite often as a sound source), and I love the activity, texture, and sense of space in his synth playing.  I think of  “Early Astral” as my Dead gone Krautrock fantasy come true.

R: Are there working artists today with whose work you identify, or rather, who do you consider to be your peers?
CF: Sure, I’ve been fortunate to tour and play with some great people from whom I’ve learned a lot – Steve Gunn, Bill Orcutt, Ignatz, Tetuzi Akiyama, Shawn Edward Hansen, Mike Pride, and my Peeesseye bandmate Jaime Fennelly’s Mind over Mirrors project spring to mind.

R: What are some defining characteristics of the musical scene you would fit yourself into? What elements of your scene differentiate it from what has come before, or what is happening now?
CF: The term I use to define what I’m doing these days is Cosmic Americana.  This is sort of a bastardization of Gram Parson’s term “Cosmic American Music,” but I think encompasses a lot of what I and people I know are interested in – roots in folk and blues and jazz and rock n’ roll, but with the knowledge of all sorts of experimental, psychedelic, electronic, international, improvised, composed, personal musics prodding those original influences into different territories.  It’s an impure omnivorous thing.

R: What was the last music you listened to?
CF: An Alex Chilton bootleg.

R: What is music?
CF: Some combination of rhythm, melody, harmony or sound – anything you want it to be, basically.

R: Do you consider yourself more a composer or a performer?
CF: Both.  They are integrally linked.  I also consider myself a recording artist – I think that’s another medium in itself.

R: Is there an event or experience that led you to start in experimental media?
CF: I was playing in rock bands in the early 90s and became frustrated with what I viewed as the lack of curiosity among the musicians around me (this is partly circumstance and partly my own fault), so I started exploring areas where musical curiosity and discovery seemed to be more of a value.

R: Who do you see as instrumental in your development as an artist?
CF: Conviction.  Being able to trust my desires for the music.

R: What is interesting to you about your own work?
CF: On the most basic level, I think I’m still searching for the same sound and feeling that I sensed when I first started playing guitar at age 13.  I get the same tingles when I bend a note and the same rush if what I’m doing gets even close to what I’m hearing in my head.

Stream the duo’s new album here:

http://blackestrainbowrecords.bandcamp.com/album/early-astral

THREE NIGHTS: HENRY THREADGILL’S ZOOID

November 29, 2011
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Roulette is thrilled to present 3 nights (Nov 30th, Dec 1st, Dec 2nd ) of Henry Threadgill’s ground breaking group ZOOID, showcasing a collection of new work in preparation for their next studio recording. Threadgill, hailed by Nate Chinen of The New York Times as “one of the most thrillingly elusive composers in and around the jazz idiom:” is one of the great musical masterminds of the past quarter century – a composer, arranger, and innovator who transcends genres in contemporary music.

Featuring Liberty Ellman (acoustic guitar), Jose Davila (trombone and tuba), Stomu Takeishi (acoustic bass guitar) and Elliot Humberto Kavee (drums), and Henry Threadgill (sax).

Interview with Ben Stapp

November 28, 2011
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On November 28th at Roulette, composer Ben Stapp leads his ensemble, the Zozimos Collective in the premier of Eight Houses – a large multi movement work based on the 8 core hexagrams of the I-Ching and written for a brass quintet, two guitars/pedals and percussion & piano with electronics.  Sonically, Ben Stapp’s work is based on his harmonic theory – micro-functional tonality. 

ROULETTE: Tell us as about the work you’ll be doing at Roulette.
BEN STAPP: I can say I’ve been looking for a way to apply the I – Ching to  music for almost a year now.  The reason it was difficult for me was because I did not want to apply a mathematical formula or systematic  conversion of the Hexagrams to music.  Also, I did not want to use it’s aspect of chance and it’s power of divination to write the music.

For me music is about different qualities of energies.  A melody has a certain energy to it and so does a rhythm or a harmony.    The I – Ching was an obvious destination for my musical investigations as a composer because it deals with energies in their purity and how they relate to each other.  It breaks down Yin and Yang into 8 complimentary  opposites but of different qualities.

R: Are there working artists today with whose work you identify, or rather, who do you consider to be your peers?
BS: My mostly try to work with those that influence me and those that I identify
with.

R: What are some defining characteristics of the musical scene you would fit yourself into? What elements of your scene differentiate it from what has come before, or what is happening now?
BS: Somewhere between spectralism, minimalism, the avante-garde, post-romantic and folk music.  I seek to encompass these styles, and any new ones that catch my ear into my own sound.

R: What was the last music you listened to?
BS: When I saw this question I went to listen to something better then what I had already last listened to.  So I last listened to Thomas Ades – Asyla.

R: What is music?
BS: A perfect union between the mind and heart.  A myriad of energies who’s sympathetic vibrations are human emotions and thought.   A visceral application of math.  A way to taste and smell numbers.

R: Do you consider yourself more a composer or a performer?
BS: Both.

R: Is there an event or experience that led you to start in experimental media?
BS: Meeting Alipio Neto in Portugal and then living there for two years hanging around the Clean Feed circle.

R: Who do you see as instrumental in your development as an artist?
BS: My family and my community of musician/artist friends.

R: What is interesting to you about your own work?
BS: Although there are written sections that express the trigrams as I see it, I am most interested in how the musicians interpret those sections, especially when they have an open solo.

R: Do you do other things aside from music?
BS: I do a little graphic design.

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