On Dec 19-22nd So Percussion will combine the wonderfully unique voices of Ain Gordon, Greg Mcmurray, Martin Schmidt, and Emily Johnson with an alternating artistic “performer” each night to creatively explore the idea of a home onstage in Where (we) Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Artists will include, Paula Greif (ceramics), Marsha Trattner (blacksmith), Ricardo Vecchio (painter), Victoria Valencia (woodworker.) These performances are part of BAM’s 30th Next Wave Festival.
PREVIEW INTERVIEW FROM SO PERCUSSION
By Nell Whittaker
The 22: You have already experimented with industrial sounds in your music and now this project is very much to do with the connection between art/creation and music. What is it about the two which makes them agree with each other so well?
Jason Treuting: I think we think of process very much when we think of this piece. The long process we went through to put it together and the fact that every time it is on stage it looks a bit different because some of the process of creation is real time and different each time are both really important to the core of the piece. It is about making things with people and that interaction is what makes up a community, a home, etc. A different artist will be on stage each night making something new with us or by us or around us and our collaborator Emily Johnson sits on stage each evening and draws different things out of the piece each night by giving us notes to follow. It is a wild experience where much of the creative process is given up to collaborators and guests in the moment. I guess I actually feel like this piece is more about something poetic and less married to the exploration of sound or maybe the exploration of sound is meant to serve a more poetic purpose. In the past, explorations of sound, industrial or otherwise, have been what the whole process was about.
22: How does the city affect your creative process generally?
JT: I definitely have a love hate relationship with this city. t brings energy. It makes me want to work and explore my art. It keeps me moving forward creatively. But…it brings a crazy energy. It makes me work crazy hard and it keeps me moving forward very quickly. Two sides of the same coin, but it is a serious balancing act. In the end, I can’t imagine making art anywhere else right now and I think So owes a lot of its creative energy to the community we are directly and indirectly connected to and this project has been about expanding that community, both to different artists/mediums but also to different geographic communities as well.
22:What selection process did you use to work with the artists involved with the show? What were you looking for?
JT: The process was really organic. We have spent longer creating this project than any of the other evening length projects that we’ve created, like Music for Trains or Imaginary City. The beginning seed was expanding the types of artists we were bringing in to the creative process in hopes that we would be pushed to new places. This meant very informally asking some friends or artists we respected to send video or ideas to contribute.
With Grey Mcmurray, we had played with him lots before. He recorded on Amid the Noise and had sat in on many projects and some of the more improvised forms we started with were easy to bring him in to. But we developed a new relationship with him as a songwriter and that came really slowly. By the end, there are four songs on the record that were co-written in ways that were new for all of us.
With Martin Schmidt, we had collaborated with his duo, Matmos, over a long period of time and are using his video work from that context. He started by sending us videos of him performing in different rooms of his house. These videos were great to write music to and slowly made there way out of the project in favor of shorter art video clips from material gathered in each of our homes. In the end, we found a way to work them in and much of the music transformed through that process as well.
With Emily Johnson, she sent two videos early on that we wrote music to. One was dance in a slightly more traditional sense with two female dancers in a space. The second was from a series she has been working on of face dances—close-ups that deal with facial expressions and instructions to the performers on why/how to make an expression. The idea of the instructions became key and her role evolved into an on stage director of sorts that can give us instructions to inform movement or space or something psychological/emotional.
All of these three collaborators are folks whose work we had respected and loved, but hadn’t worked with them in that way before. And we relied on a new collaborator, Ain Gordon, to kinda pull it all together as a director of this incredibly abstract script.
22: How have you approached this project in comparison to how you’ve approached those in the past which have been solely about the music? What have you had to do differently?
JT: I feel like we have been thinking of things in a larger way for a while now. We always try to think of ways to make the experience about more than just sound, whether that means adding video to moments, getting the audience involved in the performance or just presenting the music on stage in a way that is interesting in a visual way as well. That said, this does feel like the biggest step we have taken to explore all of these elements. Text/words have made their way into the show as a core element along with video and movement and the idea of putting the creative process on display in some way. I think what we did differently was give ourselves time to explore and the freedom to fail—which we did often—and then pushed ourselves through the dead ends to new places. We are proud of what we arrived at. It feels like a collective work that is about all of us and that feels real good.