WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Mike Breen 12.15.2014 6 days ago
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Festivals at 10:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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MusicNOW Announces 2015 Lineup

Annual new music fest founded by The National’s Bryce Dessner announces details for March concerts

The annual MusicNOW festival, founded by Cincinnati native and guitarist for Indie Rock superstars The National, returns to various venues in Over-the-Rhine this March for a celebration of the festival’s 10 successful years. The event will utilize Music Hall and Memorial Hall (past MusicNOW venues), as well as the new Woodward Theater (the Contemporary Arts Center will also host a related music/art installation March 11-20). Heavy on collaborations again this year, the shows will run March 11-15. Highlights from MusicNOW 2015 include a collaborative performance featuring The National and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The CSO will also perform “Songs from the Planetarium” with MusicNOW vets Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly and Dessner. Here is the full lineup announced this morning: Wednesday, March 11thWoodward Theater - 1404 Main St, Cincinnati, OHWill Butler Thursday, March 12thWoodward Theater - 1404 Main St, Cincinnati, OHconcert:nova with Jeffrey Zeigler Friday, March 13thCincinnati Music Hall - 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OHCincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The National with the CSO and new commission by Caroline Shaw Saturday, March 14thCincinnati Music Hall - 1241 Elm St, Cincinnati, OHCincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Songs from Planetarium featuring Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly & Bryce Dessner with the CSO, new commission by Daníel Bjarnasonand So Percussion Sunday, March 15thMemorial Hall - 1225 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OHPerfume Genius, The Lone Bellow, Mina Tindle March 11th-20thContemporary Arts Center- 404 E. 6th St, Cincinnati, OHA Lot Of Sorrow - by Ragnar Kjartansson featuring The NationalAn ongoing Installation (see video below)"Many of my most significant memories as a musician have taken place in Cincinnati during the MusicNOW Festival over the last 10 years," founder Bryce Dessner says in the press release. "When we started, we were driven to create an intimate music festival that was as much a creative refuge for the artists as it is for the audience to partake in intimate and rare performances. We have celebrated works in progress and new commissions, new collaborations, and detailed music of all kinds regardless of genre or popularity."Click here for ticket and further info.
 
 
by Jason Gargano 03.21.2014
Posted In: Live Music, Music News, Interview, Festivals at 09:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Louis Langrée Talks MusicNOW

CSO's new music director talks collaboration with nine-year-old MusicNOW fest

Louis Langrée is well aware of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's rich history. The CSO's freshly minted music director also knows part of that history includes the nurturing of contemporary composers and their often unconventional works.  Enter MusicNOW, Bryce Dessner's 9-year-old festival of adventurous sounds. (Read our conversation with Dessner here.) This year's sonic extravaganza includes the CSO's take on new pieces by such esteemed composers as Nico Muhly and David Lang, as well as the title work from Dessner's new Classical album, St. Carolyn by the Sea. CityBeat recently connected with the genial Langrée — who spoke in self-described "primitive" English by phone from Paris — to discuss the CSO's collaboration with MusicNOW.    CityBeat: Before we get into MusicNOW, I'm curious about your initial impressions of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Why were you interested in coming on as music director? Louis Langrée: The fame the orchestra is really big. Everybody knows it's a major orchestra. But then making music with them was a completely different experience because, yes, they have the qualities of all major American orchestras — precision, clarity of the attack of the situation. But they have also from their heritage, in their DNA, this German conception of sound, that you build the sound from the base of the harmony. That means the density of the sound is something absolutely remarkable, and that's rare in the United States. I think it has to do with the tradition, the roots, of this orchestra and also, of course, about the quality and the spirit of the musicians, which is really wonderful.  CB: Why were you interested in collaborating with MusicNOW and taking on a festival of contemporary music? LL: One of the strengths of the orchestra is to have supported and commissioned and performed contemporary music from their very early age. Having given the American premiere Mahler Third, Mahler Fifth, Stravinsky coming to Cincinnati before he was considered a giant, having premiered (Aaron Copland's ) "Lincoln Portrait," having commissioned (Copland's) "Fanfare for a Common Man" and many other pieces and many more recent pieces. That's why I wanted to open my tenure as music director with eighth blackbird and Jennifer Higdon concerto piece. It shows that we should support, play, commission and perform contemporary music — and, of course, contemporary American music.  CB: What was it like collaborating with Bryce? LL: Meeting Bryce was a wonderful. His French is perfect. Especially compared to my primitive English. (Laughs). I like his attitude in making music and experimentation. And any strong institution should be also a place of experimentation. Music is not something you put in a museum. It's alive. And then we should perform contemporary music like Classical music and perform Beethoven music, not forgetting that he only composed contemporary music. All the composers — Mozart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bartok — composed contemporary music, so we have to continue it. He's very focused and concentrated, but on the other hand the spectrum was quite bright. I think we have arrived on wonderful programs — very challenging, but very exciting.  CB: What makes him unique as a composer? LL: He knows how to make an orchestra sound. It's a very clear and precise writing but at the same time there is so much flexibility in the variations of colors written and the flow of the music. It's always quite exciting to study a piece and hear it. Having the privilege of working with the composer is something wonderful because there are so many questions I would like to ask of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and of course it's impossible. So being able to ask the composer and to hear his answers is just wonderful.  Bryce is someone who has great harmonic taste, and I think for the orchestra it's wonderful because you can express yourself much easier. I think he's very much like his music — a very welcoming man, a very open, very luminous person. I see that in his music, which is not always the case with composers. With him, I get the feeling he's one with his music.  CB: How has the orchestra responded to playing these new, sometimes challenging pieces? LL: Any new piece you don't know what to expect. What I've found is that these musicians are very open-minded, they are very generous and positive in their attitude and are eager to try any new experience. It's a privilege to perform these two concerts of new music, but it's also very challenging, so you have to be very practical.  CB: And what's the experience been like for you? LL: It's a great responsibility when you conduct a piece, but it's also a great privilege that today's major American composers are willing to write for us. To be sharing this experiment and experience in concert, to be a part of MusicNOW, is really something beautiful. MusicNOW's 2014 festival begins tonight and continues tomorrow. Visit musicnowfestival.org for tickets and full programming details.
 
 

Now and Then

Bryce Dessner collaborates with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for this year’s MusicNOW fest

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 18, 2014
On the eve of its ninth festival, MusicNOW founder and The National guitarist Bryce Dessner says after next year he’ll re-evaluate continuing the fest in its current state.  

Washington Park's Success Spurs a MusicNOW 'Portrait'

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The recent $46 million restoration/reinvention of Over-the-Rhine’s Washington Park is already reaping artistic dividends — it’s responsible for a new musical tribute to the transformative powers of landscape architecture.  
by Mike Breen 04.12.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Festivals, Music News at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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MusicNOW 2013: A Primer

An overview and sampling of the adventurous sounds you'll hear at this weekend's MusicNOW festival

Tonight marks the kick-off of MusicNOW, an adventurous weekend of music that was started in 2006 by Cincinnati native and guitarist for successful Indie Rock band The National, Bryce Dessner. The festival's mission is "to present the best in contemporary music; to offer artists' an opportunity to take risks; to commission new work." That's a fair but lacking description of the festival, but only because the programming isn't bounded by much other than the desire to explore. MusicNOW has showcased numerous flavors of World music, often new avant Chamber/Classical works, a "who's who" of the top names in "Indie" music (Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, The National, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, Grizzly Bear), a few legends (Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet) and newer and/or more obscure artists, meshing together to offer Cincinnati music fans (and the many who come in from out of town) a truly unique musical experience. Sold out audiences have seen one-off performances and collaborations, including commissioned works and world premieres. Below is a sampling of some of the artists featured this weekend — though with MusicNOW's encouragement of experimentalism, take it as merely a surface introduction. The artists will more likely go beyond any pigeonhole you can come up with, which is the best thing about MusicNOW. • Tonight's kick-off is headlined by Anti- recording artists Tinariwen, a Malian ensemble whose creative North African sounds resulted in a Grammy in 2012 for its fifth album, Tassili. Read CityBeat's interview with Tinariwen founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (via translated email exchange) here. Here's the official video for Tassili track "Iswegh Attay" (with translation!): • Arcade Fire member Richard Reed Parry has been a part of several MusicNOW festivals, composing commissioned works and playing with bands like Little Scream and Bell Orchestre. This year, Reed Parry will perform the songs of his Indie Folk project, Quiet River of Dust. The project made it's live debut at the National-curated All Tomorrow's Parties fest in the U.K. late last year (where Reed Parry performed three very different sets) and a recording is presently in the works. A review from the music blog Let's Get Cynical described it as "a quirky and engaging performance – the first song I hear is about a boy who gets lost at sea and turns into a fish, if you want some sort of indication of what we’re working with. The fact that this is the trio’s first ever show also highlights ATP as the kind of festival where you get to see things you don’t get anywhere else." Kinda like MusicNOW. • Rounding out tonight's opener is Buse and Gase, the Brooklyn duo of Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez, who make trippy avant grade music on various handmade instruments. The group name actually comes from two of those instruments — the "buke" is described as a "six-string baritone ukulele" and the "gase" is a guitar/bass guitar combo.  Here's Buse and Gase's official clip for the tune "General Dome." • Saturday's headliner is MusicNOW 2013's most known performer, Glen Hansard. The Irish singer/songwriter began catching attention as a member of the group The Frames, then broke out on his own and won an Academy Award for "Best Original Song" in 2008 for "Falling Slowly" from the film Once, in which he also starred. Hansard's first solo album, Rhythm and Repose, was released last summer on the Anti- label (album bonus track "Come Away to the Water" was, oddly enough, covered by Maroon 5 and Rozzi Crane on the soundtrack to the blockbuster film The Hunger Games). Here's the video for "High Hope" off of Hansard's solo debut.  • Saturday will also feature the performance of new works composed by Dessner, Reed Parry and Serbian composer Aleksanda Vreblov. The new pieces will be performed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, which has collaborated with everyone from the New York Philharmonic and Cincinnati native (and Jazz piano master) Fred Hersch to Lou Reed, Barbara Streisand and Talib Kweli. The organization works often with composers on new pieces.  Here's a clip of Dessner working with the Chorus on the piece "Tell the Way" in 2011.  The Chorus will be joined by young string ensemble The Ariel Quartet, which formed in Israel and moved to the States in 2004. Last year, the group was named "quartet-in-residence" at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. The quartet has won numerous international awards for its work and has performed all over the world. Also lending a hand with the new works is Shara Worden of MusicNOW vets My Brightest Diamond.  Below is a clip of the Ariel Quartet performing Mozart. • Last year, music now featured pioneering composer Philip Glass. This year, Steve Reich plays the role of "legend" on the bill. The Guardian's Andrew Clements once wrote that "There's just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history. Steve Reich is one of them," while many others consider Reich one of the world's greatest living composers. Reich's experiments have been fearless and creatively fruitful and influential, be it his early work with tape loops or his interactive "Clapping Music," a 1972 piece performed entirely with handclaps. Reich will join Sō Percussion for a performance of that piece and more, including a new commission from Daníel Bjarnason (the annual Esme Kenney Commission, named for a young student from School for Creative and Performing Arts student who was murdered in 2009). The Brooklyn-based modern percussion group (featuring Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting) formed about a decade ago around the collective influence of pioneering NeoClassical experimentalists like Reich, John Cage, Kronos Quartet and others. Sō has commissioned works from numerous composers and has also been acclaimed for its own compositions. Outside of the modern Classical world, the ensemble has collaborated with artists like Medeski, Martin and Wood, Matmos and Dan Deacon.  Here's a cool mini-documentary from PitchforkTV about Reich and featuring Sō Percussion.   The three days of music are held at Memorial Hall, next to Music Hall, but this year there will also be an art exhibition at another great, vintage Over-the-Rhine venue, The Emery Theatre. An exhibit of works by Nathlie Provosty and Jessie Henson will be up at the Theatre Friday, 4-7 p.m., Saturday, 12-4 p.m. and Sunday, 1-7 p.m. Bryce Dessner will perform at a "gallery party" on Sunday 4-6 p.m. The Emery happenings are free and open to the public.  Click here for ticketing and further info.  
 
 

Hot To Mali

North African group Tinariwen opens MusicNOW with true World music

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The backstory of Tinariwen founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib is so cinematic in scope that it should be the basis for an epic independent film.   

The Cliftones Celebrate New Single Release

Plus, The National, Grey Host and Gabriel's Hounds prep new releases

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Reggae crew The Cliftones release new single, "Hold Steady," while Indie Rock stars The National announce new LP details and Grey Host and Gabriel's Hounds show the many faces of Cincy Metal on new releases.   
by mbreen 04.02.2012
Posted In: Live Music, Music Video at 03:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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MusicNOW 2102: Friday Night Video

Footage from MusicNOW's finale featuring Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly

If you were unable to attend Friday night's grand finale of the MusicNOW festival, featuring a "workshop" presentation of a new song cycle by The National's Bryce Desnner (also MusicNOW's proud papa), Nico Muhly and Indie superstar Sufjan Stevens, Pitchfork unearthed some footage of the concert on YouTube. The composition being performed in the first clip below is reportedly called "Venus." The others pieces in the clips below have (possibly working) titles that are also planets. Stevens' label Asthmatic Kitty wrote on its website that the piece is a "song-cycle loosely based on the planets." Here's more from the label on the composition and the rare performance dates of the piece all over the world. The trio will be performing their work in just a few select venues, accompanied by a trombone choir, string quartet, and drums/percussion/drum machine (played by the indefatigable James McAlister). Selections from the song-cycle will be “live workshopped” at Music Now festival in Cincinnati on March 30. Official performances are scheduled in Eindhoven, Amsterdam, London, and Sydney. More details here. Performances in Europe will be preceded by short string quartet works by each collaborator, including two selections from Sufjan’s Run Rabbit Run project. No other performances for this project have been scheduled and all dates are sold out except Amsterdam, April 8th. Last chance to see cosmic history happen here.Cincinnati, as it turns out, was very lucky to get an early look at this unique collaboration. Check out a few of the raw clips below.Maybe they should throw in a cover of this gem:
 
 

NOW … and Forever?

Bryce Dessner doubles down on his dedication to 7-year-old festival

0 Comments · Tuesday, March 27, 2012
MusicNOW is aptly named. Founded and still nurtured by local native Bryce Dessner, the festival has consistently delivered an eclectic mix of “contemporary music” since springing to life in 2006.  
by Jason Gargano 03.28.2012
Posted In: Classical music at 04:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Sandro Perri Q&A

Multitalented Toronto-based musician plays MusicNOW Thursday

An avalanche of adjectives comes to mind when listening to the music that has spilled from the boundless mind of Sandro Perri over the last dozen years. The multitalented Toronto native has immersed himself in everything from Jazz guitar to ambient-driven Electronic Dance music (under the moniker Polmo Polpo), has worked on film scores, collaborated with like-mindedly adventurous sonic sculptors on a multitude of one-off projects and done a plethora of production work. In 2007 Perri released a Folk-inflected album called Tiny Mirrors, which for the first time was presented under his own name. While the shift found him dabbling in more conventional singer/songwriter waters, it still left room for his more experimental leanings. His latest “solo” album, the addictive Impossible Spaces, expands upon Tiny Mirrors, employing a variety of sounds, instruments and textures — Arto Lindsay’s Brazilian-tinged post-DNA solo records pop to mind — all anchored by Perri’s understated yet oddly affecting vocals and guitar work. The peeps at Pitchfork named Impossible Spaces one of the 40 best albums of 2011, and Bryce Dessner gushed when asked why he was compelled to have Perri play at this year’s MusicNOW: “It’s one of the best records I’ve heard in a long time. It’s interesting because it’s not the type of music I tend to be drawn to. It has a bit of a Jazz-inflected kind of range to it, and I tend to be turned off by kind of Jazzy songs, but his music is so incredibly well made, the melodies are so infectious and the playing so inventive.” CityBeat recently phoned Perri to talk about his creative process, his move from Electronic music to (relatively) more conventional songwriting and his hometown of Toronto. CityBeat: How are you, Sandro? Sandro Perri: I’m well. And you? CB: Not bad. A little hungover. SP: (Laughs) I’ll be gentle. CB: Were you familiar with MusicNOW before agreeing to play this year? SP: I had heard about it, yeah, but I had never been to it and wasn’t that familiar with it. I think I heard about it through Owen Pallett, who lives in Toronto and played there a couple of years ago. CB: Right. Given your initial Dance-based Electronic recordings, I thought it interesting that you studied Jazz guitar in college for a time. SP: Yes. Part of my training is studying guitar through Jazz theory. It’s the kind of thing where you learn some of the techniques and the theory behind it, but it takes a lot more than that to really be a Jazz guitar player, to really embrace the whole genre fully in spirit and everything. I didn’t quite have it in me to follow one specific sort of genre, so I just kind of studied the music and some of the theory. I’m a big fan of a lot of Jazz, but it’s not by any means a foundational thing for me. CB: How do you think it impacted what you’re doing now? SP: I got interested in Jazz mostly through the stuff that was considered outside (the genre) at some point — like mid-to-late ’60s Miles Davis and Eric Dolphy and Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman, stuff like that. It’s interesting for me because of the harmonic richness you hear in a lot of Jazz. There are also some challenging rhythmic things that you hear in Jazz that were appealing to me as a kid, and just the sense of freedom that you hear within a lot of Jazz. That’s what has impacted me the most. It took a lot of studying to scratch the surface to how musicians start to approach that kind of style of playing. CB: How then did you get interested in Electronic music? It seems like a complete 180 in many ways. SP: Yeah. Partially it was a reaction to being in Jazz school, but more than that it was just being seduced by how good Electronic music really plays with timbre and texture and the idea of morphing sounds together and creating new sounds and having music which can end up sounding more liquid, I suppose, than a lot of performed music or acoustically made music. That’s appealing for someone who thinks just in terms of pure sound. Once I had been in school and sort of started to get over the idea of music having to be performed by live musicians, then it opened up this whole world of the seduction of working in a studio and creating music which is more like creating a painting or creating a film where you’re doing it in real time but you’re creating something in a medium that will be experienced outside of a performance. That kind of opens you up to this whole world of possibilities that doesn’t really exist in performing music. I think Electronic music kind of embodies that idea, and that’s very appealing. CB: Creatively you can do almost anything when you’re not limited by your own technical skill as a player and musician. SP: Yes. The studio allows for all kinds of things to happen that might not happen in real time and don’t necessarily need to happen in real time. I think the idea of music as a performing art is only one way of looking at it. CB: Well, interestingly, the new album has a lot going on sonically, a lot of interesting textures. I’m curious how you go about presenting the songs in a live setting. Do you try to re-create them as they sound on the record, or is it a little bit of different take on the songs? SP: By necessity it ends up being a different take on the songs because the kind of process that went into making the record and mixing it is not really possible in a live setting because there are so many factors that are unknown. It’s a bit of a rabbit hole to try and control the live situation as much as you can control a recording. You end up working against the essence of performing live, which is to communicate in real time and to try and reach a place where you’re needing more broad strokes to express what is at the heart of a song or a piece of music. A lot of details can’t really be adhered to. As much as I’d like to — I’m tempted often to try and do that — it’s just not really feasible. I think it would end up coming off as being hyper-controlling to try and do that in a live setting. Hopefully the essence of the music remains when a slightly different approach is taken live. CB: Well, specifically, in the song “Love & Light” there is this rhythmic, kind of breathy, panting at the beginning that works so well on the recorded version. Do you try to re-create something like that live? SP: We do usually, yeah. There are a couple of different ways that we approach it. We’re sort of working out some of the details. We do things and we try different approaches and we’re always sort of experimenting with different ways to play things live. I can’t make any guarantees about any part at this point, but, yeah, we usually try and do stuff like that if we can. CB: In recent years you’ve come to a more conventional singer/songwriter approach. Why were you interested in moving in that direction? SP: It’s a new challenge. I like words. I like the idea of putting words to music. After a while I got stuck in a place where I was repeating myself a lot with the Electronic music. The stuff I was doing had a very similar tone all the way through. I found it to be a little bit of a safe place once you find your thing. It can feel comfortable, but it can also get kind of boring. I get restless, and I think that writing words and music was just an extension of what I was doing. I was doing that when I was a kid, too, but it was not something that I chose for whatever reason to have be part of my output. I initially started putting out the Electronic records because maybe it seemed more feasible at the time. Ultimately I think it just comes down to wanting more challenges and being excited about those challenges and deciding to try it regardless of whether you think you can do it or not, just stretching out and putting yourself in a place where there is an unknown factor. CB: Can you tell me about your songwriting process? Do you come up with the sounds and the music and then write the lyrics based on that? Or is it more of a combination? SP: It can be more of a combination, and it can be sometimes lyrics first, sometimes music first, sometimes just a melody first. It can be a very slow, laborious process with endless revisions and experimentation with instruments and with length of the songs and tempo and arrangements and the key. Often the things that end up on my records have been through so many revisions and re-workings that there might be 10 or 15 different versions of a song somewhere in my sketchbook or on my hard drive. That’s the joy of it, too — all of the possibilities that you can go through with a piece. But all of that just goes to the essence of what it is, and sometimes it takes a while to learn what a song actually is before it’s ready to be finalized. The process can involve a lot of different approaches depending on the song and depending on how it came about. I’ve found that for me there hasn’t been any standard way yet that I’ve hit upon to write. CB: Do you basically create the songs on your own? You don’t really have a full-time band, right? SP: Most of it is on my own because my band tends to change from time to time. Different members will come and go depending on the music, depending on schedules and all kinds of things. For the most part the process is one that I do on my own. I often play things for friends and ask them what they think, but for the most part it’s a solitary thing because sometimes too many options can come in the more people you involve. It can be easy to lose focus sometimes if there is something really specific that you’re trying to get at. But it’s nice to have other people involved later on, once you’ve worked on a bunch of ideas. It can help to re-energize when I start to introduce the music to other people and we start to work at putting it together in the final stages. CB: I’m not that familiar with the Toronto music scene, but I go up every year for the film festival. It’s a really fascinating city, much more multicultural than I envisioned before going there. I’m curious how Toronto and the arts scene there have impacted you as a musician. SP: Well, like you said, it’s very multicultural, it’s very broad and it’s very non-competitive, which is maybe more specifically a Canadian thing and a Toronto thing. There are a lot of opportunities to play regularly, and, coming back to a national thing, there is pretty good arts support in Canada federally, provincially and even locally within cities. If you get to a certain level of seriousness as an artist you’re eligible for funding for making records and for touring and stuff. I’ve been lucky with some of that — I’ve been turned down plenty of times as well — so it can be nice to make music in Canada for that reason. Or to make any art for that matter if you’re serious about it. Even if you’re not a full-time professional artist there is still encouragement to explore things and to try things even if you’re just semi-professional or a hobbyist. There is a lot of exchange that can happen amongst musicians, in particular, in this city. Over the last 10 or 15 years I’ve made a lot of inspiring connections with musicians and artists here in the city. It’s hard to say or pinpoint exactly how that impacts your work, but I think overall just having people around you who support and who do similar things creates a feeling that you’re not doing it in a vacuum. That gives you the confidence to keep working and to keep pushing yourself into new territories, but without it being a competitive thing. I find there is a distinct lack of competitiveness amongst the people I know in Toronto making music… CB: What do you mean when you say “competitiveness”? Do you mean in terms of getting attention? SP: I think just the general feeling between people. The feeling is very supportive and people help each other out and play on each other’s recordings. There is just a general willingness to help other people out and to be involved in what other people are doing without there being a feeling of threat to your professional aspirations. It’s maybe not a matter of survival like it is for some people in other countries. I’m really not sure. Maybe it’s the way the social system is set up here in Canada where it’s hard to feel like you need to cut the person beside you in order to survive. I’m not sure what it is, but there is just a general feeling of support and friendliness between artists here that I think has had a pretty positive long-term effect both in your ability and your willingness to try different artistic mediums and try things and feel safe and entitled to do so. I might not be the right person to comment on this, because it’s probably a lot more complex than that, but that’s just my general feeling on making music in Toronto and Canada. As a result there may be people here in Toronto who are phenomenal talents but who just don’t reach the outside world because they don’t really care to or they don’t try to. It’s just about what they’re doing and less about who they’re reaching. CB: I looked at your bio on your website the other day and it was interesting that the very first sentence describes you as “a songwriter and a producer of new music.” I thought that was a curious way to describe what you do. What does the term “new music” mean to you? Is it that you’re creating new music all the time, or is it that you’re trying to do something new with the music? SP: Maybe a little of both. It’s maybe one of those things that just has a nice ring to it. You also have to be careful what you read into bios, because it ultimately can be sort of a meaningless thing. But to me the idea of making “new music” means not worrying too much about what genre you’re doing or what someone will call it and just think about following your gut and your instinct. That to me is “new music.” Anything else is when you say to yourself, “Oh, I make Hip Hop or whatever.” When you decide and tell yourself, “I am this and this is what I do,” then it informs in a lot of the choices that you make and what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do, what you are afraid of and what you’re not afraid of. There is a lot of music that just goes for it and doesn’t try and define itself or whatever. To me that’s “new” music. I think it’s a pretty broad term, but it’s optimistic to me to call something new but without the trap of something having to be new to be relevant. That’s maybe a dangerous way to read into it; that it’s only good or relevant if it came out this week. New music can be found new maybe long after it’s been made, long after it’s been released into the world. The reason for that is that it comes from a place of just genuine curiosity and adventure, and that lasts through time. You can sort of smell that in music, you can sense it. So, yeah, a longwinded answer, and perhaps meaningless, but that’s kind of how I feel about it (laughs). CB: I hear a lot of different influences on the new album, including, maybe surprisingly, a kind of 1970s and ’80s Pop radio singer/songwriter thing. Did you listen to Pop radio growing up? SP: Oh yes, I definitely heard all that stuff when I was growing up. I probably listened to a lot of Pop radio that was playing older music, like even for the ’80s. I would hear a lot of Motown. I definitely wasn’t in a vacuum growing up. I didn’t latch onto a lot of popular music in the ’80s, but I certainly heard it. Though sometimes it took me 10 or 20 years to get into music from my childhood, to really get into it in a new way. As much as I love listening to and exploring different and more “difficult” music, Pop music has always appealed to me if it’s done well. If it speaks to me then I don’t discriminate against Pop music at all; I definitely love it. So I suppose there is probably a lot of that in the new album. Trying to write melodies will often end up sounding pretty Pop (laughs).Sandro Perri will perform as part of MusicNOW at Memorial Hall (1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine) Thursday. More info: www.musicnowfestival.org and www.sandroperri.com.
 
 

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