Category: Blogcast

Mixology Festival: Michele Mercure / 51717

Friday, February 22, 2019
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: Michele Mercure, champion of kosmiche minimalist synth sampling and trance, returns to the stage after 30 years as part of Roulette’s annual Mixology Festival.
When: Friday, February 22, 2019
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/mixology-festival-2019-michele-mercure/

Brooklyn, NY – Roulette, with RVNG Intl. and Freedom To Spend, is proud to present minimal synthesist and experimental composer Michele Mercure‘s long-overdue New York City debut. Following the 2017 reissue of her 1986 album, Eye Chant, Mercure celebrates the release of Beside Herself, a collection of her self-produced and distributed cassettes from 1983 and 1990 now reissued on Freedom to Spend. The album charts Mercure’s early experiments with sampling and synthesis, drawing influences from kosmiche and experimental German musician Conrad Schnitzler, and restores the canon of the composer’s arresting dream-music by revisiting her breakthrough material. For the first time in 30 years, Mercure will perform live.

Mercure will share the evening with Shadowlust co-founder Lili Schulder, celebrating the release of her debut album under the alias 51717.

Mixology Festival 2019: Signaling – highlighting artists whose work in sound and media contains embedded truths, both heartening and startling. Active for over 25 years, Roulette’s Mixology Festival celebrates new and unusual uses of technology in music and the media arts. Primarily a snapshot of current activity, the festival strives to reflect both the history and trends of innovation that impact the Zeitgeist. Curated by David Weinstein.

Michele Mercure’s artistic path never ran through creative meccas New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles. Raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, and then moving to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in her twenties, Mercure was already an adept musician when she encountered a local and lively theater scene and was asked to score an unorthodox performance of Waiting for Godot. The experience was pivotal in marrying music and image for Mercure, and so she began making music for film, television, dance, and theater. It wasn’t until a long sojourn in Eindhoven, however, that she became transfixed by electronic music (ala Conrad Schnitzler, whom she would correspond with for years) that would inform her music to come. Through her self-released cassettes, Mercure established her music among like-minded artists abroad. Circulated through tape-trading networks assisted by insightful reviews in Eurock, a seminal music magazine covering progressive rock and electronic music scenes, these album-length releases included Rogue and Mint (1983), A Cast of Shadows (1984), Dreams Without Dreamers (1985), and Dreamplay (1990). Though unvarnished in fidelity (and now scarcely seen), these tapes showcased Mercure’s transportive aptitude within and beyond the limited sound recording medium.

Mixology Festival: Jon Satrom: Prepared Desktop / Ali Santana: Boombaye

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: In a bombastic double-bill, glitch aficionado Jon Satrom pushes of his limits in Prepared Desktop, while multi-media artist Ali Santana explores rhythm, identity, community, nature, abstraction, and displacement through hard-knocking beats and synchronized projections in Boombayé.
When: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/mixology-festival-2019-prepared-desktop/

Brooklyn, NY – As part of Mixology Festival 2019: Signaling, Jon Satrom, kludge artist, a glitch aficionado, and creative problem creator presents Prepared Desktop, a work that leverages the digital defaults and mundane functions of the computer in which scripts, presets, and glitches collide. With work that problematizes technological structures, interfaces, and conventions, Satrom performs in  real-time audio/video noise and new-media (often with XTAL FSCK, I ♥ PRESETS, and Magic Missile), develops artware (in partnership with Pox), and brings people together in meatspace by co-programming critical, educational, and experimental situations with dirty new-media and glitch comrades (including D.R.E.A.M., Netizen, GLI.TC/H, and r4wb1t5!).

Ali Santana’s Boombayé delivers the heat with hard-knocking beats and synchronized projections in his debut solo performance. The Brooklyn native rhythmically collages original images and found footage with glitchy loops and abstract hip hop instrumentals to create a gritty and compelling experience that he dubs Boom Bap Cinema.

Ali Santana is a multimedia artist and filmmaker based in Brooklyn. He creates moving images and audio compositions that explore rhythm, identity, community, nature, abstraction, and displacement. Ali works as a director, editor and motion designer and has collaborated with organizations including MTV, HBO and the Museum of Modern Art. He is a member of the media performance collective BKLYN!ZULU.

Mixology Festival 2019: Signaling – highlighting artists whose work in sound and media contains embedded truths, both heartening and startling. Active for over 25 years, Roulette’s Mixology Festival celebrates new and unusual uses of technology in music and the media arts. Primarily a snapshot of current activity, the festival strives to reflect both the history and trends of innovation that impact the Zeitgeist. Curated by David Weinstein.

Mixology Festival: Shelley Hirsch & The Mercurius Wagon // Crystal Penalosa: Sources of Power

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: Roulette’s annual Mixology Festival kicks off with an evening featuring Shelley Hirsch reviving Host Rickels’s curiously magical instrument The Mercurius Wagon, and ascending performer Crystal Penalosa‘s new piece Sources of Power for electronics, voice, and movement.
When: Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/mixology-festival-2019-sources-of-power/

Brooklyn, NY – Presented as part of Mixology Festival 2019: Signaling, the singularly exceptional composer/singer/storyteller Shelley Hirsch performs with Horst Rickels’s curiously magical instrument constructed from cannibalized organ pipes, toilet plungers, and bicycle pumps, alongside some new and surprising creations. The Mercurius Wagon, built for Hirsch 30 years ago and restored especially for this event, is one of Rickels’s signature works, alongside a lifetime of sound installations, acoustic architecture, and music for film. Witness two unpredictable and uncompromising artists that always inspire through joy, tears, and wonder.

Sources of Power explores the authenticity in developing a new voice. Utilizing electronics, voice, and movement, Crystal Penalosa‘s new piece examines the vulnerability, power, and potential for safety that voice-work can lend to people who are transgender. The performance blends traditional voice—expanding the conduits of vocal training, breath work, and speech therapy—with non-traditional technological methods such as pitch shifting, frequency shifting, and wavetable synthesis.

Mixology Festival 2019: Signaling – highlighting artists whose work in sound and media contains embedded truths, both heartening and startling. Active for over 25 years, Roulette’s Mixology Festival celebrates new and unusual uses of technology in music and the media arts. Primarily a snapshot of current activity, the festival strives to reflect both the history and trends of innovation that impact the Zeitgeist. Curated by David Weinstein.

Shelley Hirsch is an award-winning, critically acclaimed vocalist, composer, and storyteller whose mostly solo compositions, staged multimedia works, improvisations, radio plays, installations and collaborations have been produced and presented in concert halls, clubs, festivals, theaters, museums, galleries and on radio, film, and television on five continents. She has been called a fountain of sonic mercury and has a virtuosic command of extended vocal techniques and vocal styles, imparting an enormous versatility to her music. She is the 2017 recipient of a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts fellowship and remains both internationally renowned and an essential figure of New York’s avant-garde downtown scene.

Crystal Penalosa (she/they) is an American artist and interdisciplinary designer based in New York. Their work focuses on queer identity, utilizing modular electronics, and voice. Her solo work makes public their search for authenticity and how it intersects with trans visibility. She uses electronics, voice, and light in a performance exploring how voice is a source of power and safety. The structure is meditative and is centered on voice affirmations written during voice self-therapy. Penalosa has performed collaboratively and solo at Issue Project Room, Roulette, Sediment Gallery, MoMA PS1, Experimental Intermedia, Spektrum in Berlin, and the Golden Pudel Club in Hamburg. They currently work with the veteran underground record label Generations Unlimited.

Spotlight on Anaïs Maviel by Gelsey Bell

For her first Van Lier Fellowship concert at Roulette, vocalist and composer Anaïs Maviel premieres who is this ritual for and from? featuring collaborations with pianist and composer Sam Yulsman and choreographer Daria Faïn on February 5th.

The first time I heard Anaïs Maviel sing still echoes in my memory, infused with a June breeze, her drum beat, and sunshine spilling into a Brooklyn backyard. We were playing on a bill together for one of Mara Mayer’s Home Audio concerts (along with another Roulette favorite Gabrielle Herbst) that Mara had smilingly named Three Sirens. This was back in 2013 before Anaïs moved to New York from France, and her music wrapped into me like a fishing line, a siren song that continues to delight and inspire me. Now after five years in New York City, Anaïs has become an integral part of music and interdisciplinary art-making in the city.

— Gelsey Bell

Anaïs Maviel: who is this ritual for and from?


Tell us about what you’re planning for your shows in the spring at Roulette.

I’ve been thinking about a way I could take the February 5th show as a passage ritual for my solo practice, wrapping together my inside and outside, earthly and cosmic, past and future processes—an occasion for me to assess how my language and ability to relate have developed hand in hand, and to share cohesively intimate and common finds, blurring lines between self and other. What has come up so far is a fluid spiritual and bodily relation with acoustic and vibratory phenomenons I’ve come to approach as healing, as oneness. Some ways to access “otherness,” digging inward, seem to reveal collective stakes in performance, and its function in society. I’m interested in the witnessing experience being performative and the performing experience being meditative. I’m exploring gaps between meditative and cathartic practices, and the mediation of articulate language between these realms, in order to transform shared reality with continued intent through vibration. I’ll try to touch on some of this, as well as the collaborative processes that nurtured these inquiries: With choreographer Daria Faïn—who, alongside Robert Kocik (the Prosodic Body), has helped me realize every sounding body is already moving, that every moving sound contains language—and with pianist and composer Sam Yulsman, whose understanding of the symbolic undercurrents of my music has helped me unfold a compositional language.

The piece I’m performing at Roulette in Summer 2019 will be a continuation of my recent collaboration with Swedish visual artist, activist, and instrument-maker Jonatan Malm, with whom I’ve explored the resonances between ancient (trans-generational, diasporic wisdom) and future (immediate, urban cyborg) spaces of sound and their politics. Between music that comes from Northern forest lakes entities and Southern mangrove spirits, there are many conversations to have to address our current globalized ideological crises. We’re looking at this critical human dependency on the environment, and the sacredness of the realm of so-called nature, informing every step of human emancipation and collapse. From there, I dreamed a piece involving several synthesizers and wooden percussion instruments, played by vocalists and multi-instrumentalists—mediators between ancient and future relations to sound in space. This will be a toe-dip into some kind of an opera pointing at different layers of current reality and including my recent work around subconscious song-writing, micro-tonal and multi-modal harmonic systems.

We’re also doing a show together! Joined by Amirtha Kidambi and Megan Schubert, we will have a night where each vocalist-composer makes a piece for vocal quartet. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re planning for that and what you get out of collaborating with other vocalist-composers?

It is very exciting for me to get to write for such powerhouses. I’ve been feeling strongly about writing for voice, and I am absolutely thrilled to be involved in such an endeavor. Being part of each of your process as an interpret, at the same time as I write for each of you – what a dream way to be creative with other voices! I feel like it opens up possibilities, in terms of texture, range, and language. I hope I can honor each specific talent of yours and hopefully contribute to a collective expansion.

My piece starts from formlessness, soundscapes that fill our ears as we live our lives, that give flavor to each moment we experience, the light buzz and the cat’s walk, the blowing wind and the plane growl. Time shifts that move a sound shape to another, the extraordinary alignment of poly-rhythms between street work, breeze, pedestrian paths, crickets and bird jams, and their amazing harmony. Sometimes these epiphanies happen in long cycles, sometimes they are immediate, and they all speak to me as a language of interdependency between realms. Although some sounds have a certain opacity to my ear because I don’t understand their function, they still have a certain transparency as they intertwine with my reality and impact my way to be present to it. And ultimately, my body forms around these sounds to create language.

As far as content, I’m invoking the symbolics of a divine feminine shifting paradigm, the intuitive and practical Pallas-Athena—as other than the old-school sassy Venus. I experience womanhood as a critical point of view on current societal shifts. While these transformations impact society and human evolution as a whole at different paces, I experience their correspondences with interest. Like rivers whose streams are slow and take years to reach the ocean, while other streams are almost ubiquitous. I’m wondering about the role of femininity in this transformation, as I am concerned by the state of our species, our relation to each other across genre, age and culture, and to all forms of life in a strange race to destruction.

Your music often involves a mix of singing and drumming. How do those two activities interact in your work and compositional / improvisational process? Do they feed each other?

To sing and drum is at the root of my experience as a musician. I believe music, as a form of communication prior to articulate language, is fundamental to human experience. Pre-language in music is really interesting to me, a lot of my research focuses on the gestation process of expression, the alignment of pre-language with post-language music somehow. Music interests me to the extent that it carries the potential to (re)-organize our brains, as a prelude to the way we imprint our imagination onto reality.

Voice and drum offer direct access to the intuitive perception of vibration, as a laboratory for sonic alchemy. As a teen, I was lucky to be involved with sacred Shona music (from Zimbabwe); Realizing then that the entrancing function of rhythm in relationship to singing was key for transcendental experiences really hooked me on music for good. In Shona music, when you’ve sung for hours and the air is thick with woven vibrations, the magic of overtones takes hold, and the durational interaction of metallic buzzes and whirling calabash seeds sound like divine voices. Trance is key to bliss, accessing various states of consciousness, and collective transformation—voice and rhythm being its prime triggers. These principles are found in most traditional music which I find fascinating because it comes down to human coexistence transcending cultural differences, through the shared experience of hearing and sonic interaction.

Since connecting these dots, I’ve been obsessed with dimensional shifts, when repetition becomes a canvas for more harmonics and polyrhythms to reveal themselves, the ones that are already present on our surroundings and that, as musicians, we excavate or allow to appear—depending on the method. Also, percussion instruments, as well as voices, challenge dominant ideas of pitch. I love the whole percussive tonal world, how it refines the ear to over and undertones and how it impacts the way I sing. One would think a percussion instrument has only a couple notes, but the surdo, singing bowls, bells, and gongs have been for me infinite wells multiplying melodic paths I can explore vocally. Tuning my ear to percussion-impulsed shifting and bending intervals has impacted my harmonic perception, and how I approach rhythm and harmony together. As a composer, I’ve been exploring minimal, cyclical possibilities of drumming as a trigger to multi-modal, polyrhythmic explorations and odd textures combining voice and percussion. Personality splits have also been interesting finds, as the drum has this very conversational quality to it. I experience language shifts when I express myself with drums, or voice, or when both communicate under their own physical terms. All these are related to shamanism, which is inherent to such practice.

In what way do you see the place of politics in your work?

It is core and shell, although I want to be very careful about my work proving any point. Politics are ethics and aesthetics combined. I believe that as an artist, my function is to catalyze new political thoughts. As a utopian, I mean to open up possibilities for realities ahead. As a love warrior, I intend to deconstruct ideologies and to liberate hearts, minds, and bodies.


CONTRIBUTOR: Gelsey Bell

Gelsey Bell is a New York City-based critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, and scholar. She has released multiple albums, including most recently This is Not a Land of Kings, and Ciphony with John King. She received a 2017 Music/Sound Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, has had work included in PS1’s Greater New York exhibit, and has had both a residency and a commission from Roulette. She is a core member of thingNY, Varispeed, and the Chutneys. Performance highlights include Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 (on Broadway) and Ghost Quartet, Robert Ashley’s Crash, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s River of Fundament, John King’s Micro-Operas, Yasuko Yokoshi’s BELL, Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens, and Gregory Whitehead’s On the Shore Dimly Seen.

Chris Ferris & Dancers: Unquantifiable

Sunday, February 17, 2019
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: Chris Ferris & Dancers premiere Unquantifiable with composer Loren Dempster – a new work for ten performers with live musical accompaniment examining the multifaceted self.
When: Sunday, February 17, 2019
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/chris-ferris-dancers-unquantifiable/

Brooklyn, NY – Veteran choreographer Chris Ferris and composer Loren Dempster craft a work that celebrates uniqueness coexisting in harmony.  Unquantifiable asks: when is unison confining and when is it fulfilling? When does being alone make one feel safe or conversely vulnerable? When does a complex group eliminate the inclusion of others or even audience? How do the performers invite the audience in with proximity and focus? When trying to survive (or enjoy) a crowd, when does one yield or need to stand for their own space? Ten dancers will hide in plain sight, take an unswerving strong path, crisscross in confusion, and meld in amoeba form. Musicians will move throughout the space using wireless pickups to play an electroacoustic-based score. Performers claiming their own space or yielding to others will reflect the many possibilities of individuality and interconnectivity by using movement and sound. The audience will leave with a heightened awareness of their fellow humans that make up their environment.

Choreography: Chris Ferris
Music Director/Composer: Loren Kiyoshi Dempster (cello, computer)

Musicians: Jon Hanrahan (Piano, Melodica), Gabriel Peterson (saxophone), and
Kyle Stalsberg (Viola, Electric Violin)

Dancers: Meghan Connolly, Anastasia Ellis, Victoria Ellis, Vanessa Ferranti,
Bethany Logan, and Diane Skerbec.

Chris Ferris is the artistic director of Chris Ferris & Dancers. Her work is based on an exploration of movement from a sculptural, dynamic, and emotional point of view. Her work has appeared throughout New York City, including at Roulette’s Greene Street and Brooklyn locations. Recent notable performances include The REAL Suite at Fast Forward, Dixon Place September 2018. Selections from The REAL Suite and the Rampaging Light suite were presented at Roulette in February 2018 and at Second Sundays, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House March 2018. Rampaging Light was presented in 2017 as part of The Waxing Crescent – an evening of dance and music curated by Ferris at NY City Center Studios and at Take Root, Green Space Studio in 2016. Perfect Tension was presented at the Martha Graham Studio Theater in 2014 after premiering at FLICfest in January 2014. Urban Pastoral, an outdoor improvisation with ten sculptural lights, ten dancers, and live music was presented in June 2015 at Socrates Sculpture Park, Battery Park City NYC, and Carl Schurz Park. In its Spring 2014, Ferris & Dancers performed at Central Park NYC and Squibb Park/Bridge and in the fall of 2013 at the Tobacco Warehouse, Brooklyn Bridge Park. Her work has also been presented at the High Line, CPR, the Joyce, WAXworks at Triskelion Arts, Green Space Blooms, Sans Limites Dance Festival, and Movement Research at Judson Church.

Robert Dick with Rinde Eckert: Robert: Seriously Amused

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: Acclaimed flutist Robert Dick and alchemical performer Rinde Eckert present the cross-disciplinary performance Robert: Seriously Amused.
When: Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/rinde-eckert-robert-dick-seriously-amused/

Brooklyn, NY – Robert: Seriously Amused will be acclaimed flutist and composer Robert Dick’s first foray into the world of performance art. Developed with the alchemical performer Rinde Eckert, Seriously Amused is part biography, part philosophy, and more than a bit strange and weird. Along with his famous flute playing, Dick will be singing, moving, thinking, monologuing, and giving his inner-voices free play.

World renowned as a leader in contemporary music for flute, Robert Dick embodies the ideal of the Renaissance artist. With equally deep roots in classical music, free improvisation, and new jazz, he has established himself as an artist who has not only mastered but redefined the instrument. Since he began composing and improvising in the 1970s, he has pursued the core idea that acoustic instruments are capable of sonic vocabularies and musical expression extending far beyond their traditional musical roles. Robert’s music carries this vision of continuous transformation into his aesthetics and style. He draws from the jazz tradition, world musics—especially Indian and African—electronic music and natural sounds. Hallmarks of his work are clarity of structure and vivid timbre. His compositions, striking in the intensity and originality of their emotion, have been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Composers Fellowships and many grants and commissions. In 2014, the National Flute Association honored Robert Dick with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rinde Eckert is a writer, composer, librettist, musician, performer, and director. His Opera / New Music Theatre productions have toured throughout America and to major theater festivals in Europe and Asia. With a virtuosic command of gesture, language, and song, this total theatre artist moves beyond the boundaries of what a ‘play,’ a ‘dance piece,’ an ‘opera’ or ‘musical’ might be, in the service of grappling with complex issues. Eckert describes many of his characters as “little men with big ideas whose consequences of their hubris are often disastrous.” Sometimes tragic and austere, sometimes broadly comedic, entirely grounded in presence, his work is alchemical – moving from rumination and distillation to hard-won illumination, or its lack.

Nick Dunston in Conversation with Darius Jones

On January 30 2019, in his first Van Lier Fellow performance, composer/bassist Nick Dunston presents his quintet, Atlantic Extraction, completed by Louna Dekker-Vargas on flutes, Ledah Finck on violin, Tal Yahalom on guitar, and Stephen Boegehold on drums, along with the world premiere of The Floor is Lava!—a work written for five double basses featuring the diverse talents of Kanoa Mendenhall, Almog Sharvit, Eva Lawitts, and Lisa Hoppe.

Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction/The Floor is Lava!


Darius Jones: Who is the Brooklyn-based composer, bassist, and scholar named Nick Dunston?

Nick Dunston: Well, I grew up in New York City—I was born in DC and moved here when I was four. I started off as a cellist. I guess my start in music wasn’t really for any “good reason;” my mom made me play cello, and the first time I switched to electric bass was because I just wanted to be cool. That’s really what it came down to. It took me a while to develop a sense of discipline in working hard at anything, really. My parents stressed the importance of at least working hard in school from an early age. My mom is Puerto Rican, and my dad is African-American, so they really stressed the importance of making sure you represent yourself in the best way possible—fighting the social odds against you. Even still, in music, I wasn’t super disciplined at first, and I had to develop that as I got into high school. As I spent more time actually practicing, motivating myself, and forcing myself to see things that was hard to do when I was younger—that’s really what contributed to my love for music: working harder and seeing that work actually pay off. So yeah, that’s how I got started with the actual discipline of it. I spent a lot of time as a kid not really hanging out with a lot of other kids my age. I really just daydreamed all day. I didn’t do much; I kind of would play ridiculous, fantastical scenarios in my head.

DJ:  Like what?

ND: I was into superheroes. I would spend time imagining superheroes or fantasy worlds—nerdy stuff like that. I played some video games, but I really just liked imagining creatures or people. And it’s not like I had a bleak childhood, I mean I was living in Brooklyn—it was all cool. But yeah, whenever I was walking around or doing anything, my mind was going-on with ridiculous, otherworldly thoughts and images and scenarios. I think that’s what allowed me to constantly churn out new music as a composer: there’s really no shortage of ideas and stuff that I see as valid. I’m so used to always re-imagining and re-imagining things and going back to things that I imagined years ago and developing those in my head. When I realized that I could be a composer, that mindset manifested into music.

DJ: When did you become aware that you could be a composer?

ND: It started in the beginning of high school. I played in a rock band before that in middle school. The band wrote songs together, and I would make up my own bass lines. I don’t know why, but at the time, I never thought of that as composition; I thought of it as just playing the bass. I think I realized it when I went to high school—I went to an art school. I would be sitting in the library and because I’m constantly playing stuff in my head, I would transcribe it onto manuscript paper. I don’t think of it this way now, but back then I was thinking, “oh, because I’m writing this down, that makes me a composer,” in a traditional sense. So since then, I’ve been working to deconstruct that idea because I was still pretty ingrained with a mainstream, eurocentric idea of what it meant to be a composer at that time.

DJ: So what is your compositional and instrumental process? How do you feel your process as a composer and instrumentalist leak?

ND: So, as a composer, it can start a number of ways, but typically I’ll solidify a really basic idea, whether it’s something as vague as a rhythm or a series of pitches or even just a really general sound. I’ll take between one and three of those and solidify them either by recording it into my iPhone or singing it or writing it on paper—or writing the idea of it. Then I try to work with as few materials as I can  to try to see how much I expand each one. Once I’ve sort of developed or brainstormed on a certain idea, I’ll try to make up a large-scale form. I’ve spent a long time doing that and really working out the form and basic order of events. At that point, it’s kind of just filling in blanks and seeing what makes sense. When I’m actually sitting down and composing, I try to take advantage of the one thing that I don’t usually do when I’m improvising and set up a goal and destination. That way I can pace myself and work my way towards those. That’s what I’d say my general process is as a composer.

As an instrumentalist, I used to start by warming up on the bass, making sure that the physicality of it is already there, but I’m starting to drift away from that. I’m finding it’s better for me if I start on the bass with a more musical approach, then blend it with the physicality of warming up. I think that the first thing I do on the instrument needs to be something more than just a physical approach. The physical approach is super demanding and super taxing. There are new things I’m doing like yoga to help me with that. But I think when I actually have the instrument, I need to start with an artistic kind of statement. Oftentimes, I’ll improvise for a stream of five to twenty minutes.

DJ: What are you trying to communicate with your ensemble Atlantic Extraction?

ND: Atlantic Extraction is the first band I’m leading as the sole leader. At first I was thinking about what kind of band I wanted in a general sense—a large or small group—before eventually settling on a quintet. It forced me to be really inventive with the way I compose for improvisers because not everyone in the group comes from the same idiom of improvising. Half the band members are classical musicians who have different ways of approaching improvisation. At first, we didn’t really know each other that well, so it has been about developing a personal relationship, as much as a musical one. That was something I did on purpose—I wanted to grow a band instead of finding one. It’s easy to find a band in our community, but I really wanted to build something from the ground up. We’re never going to escape our models or influences—and I’m not trying to reinvent anything, necessarily—but I find that by growing this band from the ground up, I don’t have a full vision of what we will be, but I’m realizing that it’s becoming clearer to me as we progress. There are things that are really surprising me about this band—there are definitely more curveballs than I had originally thought. I think the vision is also changing as the band grows. Whereas, if I started the group knowing what it would sound like or having any really strong expectations, I feel the whole process would be more about fulfilling that expectation rather than allowing for growth and evolution. So far it’s going great. It’s felt very trusting, very open, very vulnerable, and I’ve been surprised so many times with the music that we make. I think that’s because I freed myself from expectations.

DJ: Why did you choose the instrumentation for Atlantic Extraction?

ND: Well, some parts were functional, and other parts of it actually didn’t have to do with the instruments, at first. For functional reasons, I knew I wanted to do drums[Stephen Boegehold] and guitar [Tal Yahalom]—there are lack of pianos in New York—and really I’m very happy with letting that dictate some of my forms. I met Louna Dekker-Vargas who plays flute and Ledah Finck, a violinist and violist, a couple of years ago at the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival. I was there as a composer, and they were there for another project. I knew that I wanted to play music with them in some kind of capacity and  Atlantic Extraction made sense because they don’t play rhythm section instruments, in the conventional sense. That was the only functional requirement that I was looking for to fill rest the band. I’d always been interested in classical music and chamber music which is where I heard these instruments first, so I think that elevated the idea that it was kind of an unconventional instrumentation. It didn’t really register to me as that at first, but now that I look back on it it makes sense where it came from.

DJ: It’s a cool front line—flute and violin—it’s really cool. Essentially, as you said, you have this conventional rhythm section that we’ve seen before, but then this front line that is really unique.

ND: Yeah, I know a ton of saxophonists who double on flute and who play really good flute, but it’s not the same. It’s also interesting writing something where flute is the only possible option. It gives me puzzles to work on.

DJ: I can hear that in the music. The fact that you are saying, “I have to write for flute; I have to write for violin,” seems to be influencing the whole compositional process.

ND: Very much so. I really like puzzles and so in some ways it’s a balance of being really strategic and a game-maker. But another part of me is really into the idea of giving myself a slab of work and then working my way through it and treating everything like puzzle.

DJ: What’s the compositional approach to the ensemble?

ND: There isn’t any single approach, but as of recently, a bit for this ensemble and for another new group,I’m dealing with some timer stuff—stopwatch stuff—and gestural stuff. I’m experimenting with this notational approach where I’ll have between one to three simple themes. I’ll have those kind of off to the side – theme one, theme two, theme three. The rest of the notation is gestural – giving just information that is needed to execute the general realm of what I’m hearing while making room for the improvisers. It’ll look like, bass one and bass two play theme one and then there will be another part that says go down then they’ll go on. Then it’ll say sax one play long tones against this and I’ll be as specific as that. It’s this unfolding of people doing really basic tasks, but they to commit it and as they hear what’s going on against it they’ll naturally gravitate towards playing together.

DJ: How much do your personal aesthetics inform your decisions at this point in your career?

ND: I’m finding that it seems like my decisions are informing my aesthetics. I’m recently finding that I’m more into quirky, fucked-up stuff than I thought I was, but I only came across that by composing what felt right. I don’t really feel like my aesthetics, when it comes to composition, is predetermined. It feels more like I compose and then I’m like oh, okay.

DJ: Do you feel like the things you are aesthetically attracted in your work are being reflected in your choices and in the decisions that you’re making at this point?

ND: In terms of my life around music, yes. Over the past year I’ve been particularly introspective and doing weekly therapy sessions to kind of figure out myself and work through stuff that I haven’t really worked through in my life. I’m finding that by putting my work at the center of my life and focusing on that, everything else falls into place around it, particularly as it relates to my direct community and really investing in those relationships with people whether it relates to music or not. I’m working on finding a marriage between my personal life and musical life. Recently I have been placing a lot of importance on  my relationships with people and that approach has heightened my understanding of who they are as musicians and I think has refined and increased my own awareness of who I am as a musician, whether it be as a composer, as a leader, or as side person.

DJ: What are a few things that influence your work besides music?

ND: I really like movement-based activities. That could be dance but even stuff that is found more in everyday life, like looking at the way people walk. My mom would always tell me to make sure I sway my arms when I walk. When she saw me walking with my arms straight down, she would always say, “walk with your arms in movement.” She was always nagging me about that, and my posture, and generally the way I present myself. She was teaching me about body awareness and now, body alignment is always on my mind. I’m fascinated by it. Whether it be in dance, the way people walk, the people’s posture, or body language really interests me.

DJ: Do you have a code that you live by?

ND: I never thought of it in that specific word, code, but I would say that yes—always believing in myself with one hundred percent conviction and commitment and really doing things on my own terms. I’m still learning about other traditions and other systems, but ultimately not letting any hierarchies or ways of making music dictate my work or who I am as a person. I’m creating my own standards and my own terms, and how I present myself as a person.

DJ: Now that we’ve reached the end, are there any questions you wished I would have asked?

ND: I mean I still have, you know, tons of anxiety about the way I declare myself as an artist and the person getting solidified. I thought you would ask more questions, but I’m glad you didn’t, haha.

DJ: No no, it’s because—well, how old are you?

ND: Twenty-two.

DJ: Yeah, man, I didn’t know what the hell I was trying do at twenty-two. I had an idea, for sure, but you know—at forty thinking about the kid at twenty-two, man. It’s light years. I would say, you are in a very different place than I was, but it’s great that you’re letting it flow, and I think that’s the right way to be at twenty-two.

ND: Yeah, I’m trying to work hard and be kind to myself and follow my interests.

DJ: One question I would like to ask you end it—there seems to be a large group of young, really interested, really talented players with vast perspectives on making work coming up right now. I mean you guys are kind the early twenties crew of cats that are in the interesting position of not being bogged down to any type of style or path. It seems you can do whatever really truly interests you. How do you feel about that?

ND: It’s exciting, but more so, a huge responsibility. I think it’s partially because of the huge open lines of communication and, arguably, lack of privacy. There’s just so much communication, such fast communication—and tons of people in the generation or two above us who are generous with their time and their thoughts, like yourself. We have so many resources, so it’s exciting to see what people are doing with these things, but it’s also a huge responsibility because it’s like, Okay you have all this stuff. We’re laying out all these ideas and influences here for you—here you go. Get to work. What are you going to do with them?

DJ: Exactly. Get to work. I like that.


CONTRIBUTOR: Darius Jones

Darius Jones is a critically acclaimed alto saxophonist and composer. In 2008, Jones was awarded the Van Lier Fellowship by Roulette, which he used to launch his chamber ensemble, the Elizabeth-Caroline Unit, a project dedicated to new works for voice. Roulette continued their support for Jones’s work through a Jerome Foundation Commission, awarding Jones an Artist-in-Residence opportunity for the Elizabeth-Caroline Unit to premiere his vocal composition, The Oversoul Manual, in spring 2014. Following that performance, Jones made his compositional debut at Carnegie Hall with The Oversoul Manual in October 2014. Jones has collaborated with Gerald Cleaver’s Black Host, Oliver Lake Big Band, Eric Revis Quartet, Nasheet Waits Quartet, Trevor Dunn’s Proof Readers, Matthew Shipp, Branford Marsalis, Jason Moran, and more.

Argento New Music Project: The Voices of Erin Gee

Friday, February 8, 2019
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: One composer, 10 works, myriad voices: witness the evolution of an essential voice within the current landscape of experimental concert music in Argento New Music Project’s portrait of Erin Gee.
When: Friday, February 8, 2019
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/the-voices-of-erin-gee/

Brooklyn, NY – Roulette is pleased to present Argento New Music Project’s composer portrait of vocalist Erin Gee. Named among the most influential composer-vocalists of the 21st century by The New Yorker, Erin Gee is quickly emerging as a singular compositional voice of her generation. Argento New Music Project presents selections of Gee’s vocal works spanning from 2000 to 2016, performed by the composer herself alongside the stellar musicians of Argento’s ensemble—including the NYC premiere of Mouthpiece 29 and Mouthpiece 25—creating an opportunity for audiences to engage with her fascinating sonic tapestry and witness the evolution of an essential voice within the current landscape of experimental concert music.

In the Mouthpieces—a series consisting of intricate and detailed works for voice and ensemble—the voice is used as an instrument of sound production rather than as a vehicle of identity. In the works, the articulatory possibilities of the mouth are often mapped onto the instruments, mirroring and expanding the vocal sounds to form a kind of “super-mouth” that can move beyond the physical limitations of a single vocal tract. Merging the voice with both the instruments and with breath, and repeatedly returning to formlessness This has been the main idea behind the entire Mouthpiece series, which began in 1999 and consists of about 30 works for solo voice, voice and ensemble, choir, voice and orchestra, string quartet, opera, and other combinations.

Erin Gee, voice
Carol McGonnell, clarinet
Oren Fader, electric guitar
Michael Haas, cello
Tristan Kasten-Krause, bass
Margaret Lancaster, bass flute
Elissa Cassini, violin
Stephanie Griffin, viola
Sean Statser, percussion
Michel Galante, conductor

Argento New Music Project is New York City’s premiere virtuoso chamber ensemble dedicated to innovative musical performance and the discovery of daring artistic paths. Championing contemporary cutting-edge composers and framing classical repertoire in new contexts, Argento inspires musical inquiry through artistic collaboration and education. Argento has built an international reputation since its founding in 2000. With a firm commitment to intellectually rigorous interpretations, the nine-member ensemble regularly expands to thirty musicians to deliver technically demanding performances. The ensemble collaborates with leading and emerging composers, produces internationally acclaimed recordings, and brings pressing concerns of contemporary music to the forefront.

Contact: argentoproduction@gmail.com

Stephan Crump’s Elemental

Thursday, February 7, 2019
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: Roulette presents Elemental, a quintet organized by Grammy-nominated bassist Stephen Crump featuring Ches Smith, Eric McPherson, Ryan Ferreira, and Michaël Attias.
When: Thursday, February 7, 2019
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/stephan-crumps-elemental/

Brooklyn, NY – Elemental, a quintet of musical visionaries organized by Grammy-nominated and Echo Award-winning bassist Stephan Crump and featuring renowned percussionist Ches Smith convenes at Roulette for a unique deep-focus journey. Join Elemental as they inhabit a magnified realm where communion grows in fields of texture.

Ches Smith, bowed percussion, tympani
Eric McPherson, drums
Ryan Ferreira, electric guitar
Michaël Attias, alto saxophone
Stephan Crump, acoustic bass

Memphis-bred, Grammy-nominated, Echo Award-winning bassist/composer Stephan Crump has lived in Brooklyn since 1994. An active bandleader, he has released twelve critically-acclaimed albums in addition to numerous film scoring contributions. Known for transforming his instrument into a speaking entity of magnetic pull, his focus on creative instrumental music has led to collaborations with many of the leading lights of his generation, most notably Vijay Iyer, in whose trio and sextet Crump plays a dynamic, founding role. He can also be heard as long-standing member of Jen Chapin Trio, Ches Smith Trio, Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, Liberty Ellman Sextet, Secret Keeper (duo with Mary Halvorson), his own Rosetta Trio (with Jamie Fox, Liberty Ellman), his Rhombal quartet (with Ellery Eskelin, Adam O’Farrill, Tyshawn Sorey), as well as co-led ensembles with Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock, Cory Smythe, Eric McPherson, Mat Maneri, and Okkyung Lee.

Anaïs Maviel: who is this ritual for and from?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Performance 8pm / Doors 7pm

What: who is this ritual for and from? is a performance ritual seeking to explore time and relation by vocalist and composer Anaïs Maviel in collaboration with choreographer Daria Faïn and pianist Sam Yulsman.
When: Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $18 presale, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/anais-maviel-who-is-this-ritual-for-and-from/

Brooklyn, NY – In collaboration with choreographer Daria Faïn, composer and 2019 Van Lier Fellow Anaïs Maviel will offer a solo performance incorporating material that has nurtured her practice thus far. Designed as a performative ritual establishing a throughline between loneliness and relation, body, time and space, self and tools and machines, the night will transition into a duo set with pianist Sam Yulsman. Maviel and Yulsman’s collaborative work explores cyber poetics, performance roles, and magic. Alone together, in relation to the void, in relation to particles, conscious and subconscious, they will present a cyclic exploration of timescales and the possibilities of relation – ancient to future, physical to virtual, sacred to cyborg.

Anaïs Maviel, voice, percussion, n’goni
Sam Yulsman, keys, electronics
Daria Faïn,  movement

Anaïs Maviel is a vocalist, percussionist, composer, music director, and community facilitator. Her work focuses on the function of music as essential to settling common grounds, addressing Relation, and creating a utopian future. Inspired by Edouard Glissant’s reflections on Creolization, she has associated her practice with the inextricable currents that move spaces and people between times and lands. The contemporary context of re-formulation of self, reality, and social structures led her to question the use of language and to explore its vibratory essence in music. Involved at the crossroads of mediums—music, visual art, dance, theater, and performance art—she has been an in-demand creative force for artists such as William Parker, Steffani Jemison, Daria Faïn, Larkin Grimm, Shelley Hirsch, Mara Rosenbloom, Melanie Maar, and La Bomba de Tiempo. As a leader, she is dedicated to substantial creations from solo to large ensembles, music direction for cross-disciplinary works, and to expanding the power of music as a healing & transformative act. Her solo debut hOULe, out on Gold Bolus Recordings, received international acclaim and she recently released an eponymous album with carnivalesque duo DIASPORA. With a Masters Degree in Aesthetics from Paris VII Diderot University, Maviel focused her scholarly works on Afrocentric paradigms of creative music as utopian alternative politics. Recent achievements also include: Co-Music Director for NOISE, a new musical by César Alvarez (Public Theater, 2018), a full-length work Metadire premiered by Cross Times (Roulette, 2018) DIáSPORA eponymous album release on São Paulo based label Hérnia de Discos as the culmination of a South, Central, and North America tour in partnership with Chiquita Magic, composer, music director, and performer for mayday heyday parfait in collaboration with the Commons Choir, Daria Faïn, Robert Kocik & Darius Jones (BRIC, 2017) Lectures and Master Classes at University for International Integration of the Afro-Brazilian Lusophony (Redenção, BR), Museum of Modern Art Aloísio Magalhães (Recife, BR, 2017) and  Espacio Fundación Telefónica (Lima, PER, 2018) composer, music director, and performer for Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute Undoing Racism final performance, Kumble Theater, NYC, 2016.