This weekend I will be performing original songs orchestrated for viola with effects, electric guitar, and drumset. The music ranges from ambient textural contemplations to jaggedly interrupted folk tunes, with some surprising (even to me) stops in between.
I will be playing viola, at times filtered through a palette of twisted loops and effects, and singing, and I'm honored to be joined on stage by the very sensitive and brave interpreters Ron Shalom on guitar and Jacob Shandling on drums.
In preparing these performances I've been thinking a lot about the reasons for putting in the time and effort it takes to do a good job and realize an aesthetic vision. And the truth is... I don't have a real good answer I can put into words. But do I know that to do the act is to ask this question in good faith, and I would love to have there to see what we discover together.
I'm not alone in this! On Saturday 4/28, at Pete's Candy Store in Williamsburg, my 5pm set will be preceded at 4pm by Ron Shalom's solo project, Minivan. It's pop, it's performance art, it's drag, it's profound, it's entertaining, it's AMAZING. I can't recommend seeing Minivan highly enough, and you guys know I'm damn picky. Don't miss it.
On Sunday evening, 4/29, at 7pm at H0l0 in Ridgewood, I've curated a bill of wide ranging string inventors, including:
Jessica Pavone - solo viola / voice
Sarah Bernstein's UNEARTHISH - violin, poetry, percussion
Darian Thomas - violin
Here it is! A new version of my 2017 solo album for viola + voice, totally remixed! Includes tracks by: Isaac Schankler, Tomas Tello, Ron Shalom, ACCÜ, Alex Pasternak, Ben Babbitt, Jascha Ephraim, and Jonathan Zorn. Available for download at https://minuszero.bandcamp.com/
including recording seriously good music with seriously good people.
Tour Diary, May-June 2016
Departure. Flight attendants allowed upright bass on board, with the condition that the bass player take over in-flight beverage service while they do coke in the lavatory. In other words, no surprises.
Arrival in picturesque Swiss town. Entire per-diem spent on travel-size tissue packet and a bottle of water.
Pretty cool festival, got to see Boredoms finally!!! But morale weakened due to lack of free stuff being distributed to musicians. We were pretty sure we were entitled to some free stuff. Though we are not sure why.
Thursday, I think:
Arrival in Spain, ¡finalmente my first time there! Spanish roadside rest areas were everything I imagined. Forgot to spend pocket full of Swiss change worth like $50. Drove over a tall bridge.
We got to see Radiohead! A big thank you to H&M, Heineken and Ray Ban, it's so awesome how they still subsidize the arts over in Europe. I've heard Barcelona is really cool, which I can now neither confirm nor deny.
8 AM soundcheck for a 1 AM set is sort of like calculus... I know I was prepared for this task once, but wayyyy too much time has passed.
What the f happened to Sunday?
All roads through central France blocked due to flooding. Attempts to ask for alternative routes were foiled by the profound unpronounceability of the word "Rouen" by Americans. All good, tour manager built emergency suspension bridge out of drum hardware and gaff tape.
Wednesday. (Wait, again, already really?):
We saw an epic cathedral, the one painted by Impressionists, through car window for at least 2.5 seconds. Luckily we had good enough phone service to pull up the Wikipedia entry. Laundry tho!
...to be continued...
It's funny, who'd have thought this group of individuals would reconvene in NYC in 2016? I probably started playing music with Aaron Novik in 2004... (anyone know the date?) And Karina soon after? Getting together in this part of town makes it feel connected to even more ancient activities, like interning at the Knitting Factory in 1997-1998 or going to see heroes at Tonic... standing outside during the John Fahey tribute concert 'cause we couldn't get in... I wish I could go to a Tony Conrad tribute there. But forward we go... maybe the best Tonic is the one we make ourselves.
Some folks have started asking about how I run my viola through my laptop onstage, especially when I play with Julia Holter or in my solo set.
The basic ingredients in my setup are: Ableton Live 8, a David Gage realist pickup and a DPA clip-on condenser mic; an Apollo Twin Duo interface, and a Keith McMillen Softstep 2.
In the future I'd like to get into more detail about problems I've encountered and how I've solved them. In the mean time, please feel free to shoot over any questions about string gear or anything else... and I'll answer here!