In past shows, I have often utilized very large ensembles. For this show, I wanted to showcase the incredible individuals that have been the absolute core to my music-making and have inspired me to be a composer. I have also recently been performing a lot more with chamber ensembles and it has excited me a great deal to see and hear the personalities of each player so well.
Instrumentation will be -
Paris Hurley – Violin
Alina To – Violin
Alex Guy – Viola
Maria Scherer Wilson – Cello
Scott Teske – Upright Bass
Beth Fleenor – Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
Korum Bischoff – Percussion
and I will be playing a variety of instruments as well.
When I got an email from David Harrington of Kronos Quartet, my heart leapt out of my chest. No kidding. I was grabbing a coffee early morning after what at the time was my biggest show and musical achievement yet and I was so high on adrenaline I could not sleep. That show was at Ecstatic Music Festival in NYC 2012. The email said that he had listened to the live stream of the show and he was interested in meeting with me. My adrenaline plus coffee plus this news turned into nearly having a panic attack because my body and mind was simply not used to this much incredible news and energy! I had been a fan for many years and as with a lot of people, Kronos was one of a small hand full of music makers that exposed me to classical music in the first place.
It took a while to finally get to be in the same room with David as both or our schedules were/are insane. We finally found time in Adelaide at Adelaide Music Festival where we were both performing. We went out for coffee and I was totally blown away by his energy. He was super humble and had the most amazing stories about hanging with Piazzolla and Bernstein… Crazy!
Eventually we were able to find an opportunity for me to write a piece for them that is named A Semiperfect Number. They are celebrating their 40th (!) anniversary this year and to kick it off they did a week of shows at Lincoln Center Out Of Doors. Lincoln Center commissioned the work and we played it at the festival back in July 2013.
Writing for Kronos is intimidating to say the least. To have the opportunity to write for a group that could pull off ANYTHING that you put in front of them is a confusing (to me anyways) proposition. My music to be frank is generally on the easier side of things and I also write more in pop song form than most composers as I come from a more rock background than anything else. It is very tempting to write something overly notey for Kronos Quartet… I made 2 conscious decisions. One was to simply write from the heart, not the brain. Two was to try to give each player an equal presence because they all are such expressive players, but seriously, it was very tempting to write something really far out and crazy with 10 billion notes.
Now we get to the “love letter” part of this. Rehearsing this piece for the first time with the quartet was one of the most inspiring musical moments of my life. Kronos Quartet has been an ensemble for 40 years and they blew me away with their focus, love, attention to detail and desire to make the best music they could. It is a truly collaborative effort. After becoming a household name (of cool households anyways!), being so successful and traveling the world performing so prolifically, it could be easy for an artist/band/performer to fall into a “phoning it in” mentality. Kronos was the exact opposite! They broke down my piece bar by bar and would continue to experiment with ways to play each part until we would find something that we all felt great about, and then we would try to take it one step even further! Sometimes that extra step was a big breakthrough, and many times we would all say, no… lets go back to the other way. It was always worth giving it a try and each member had great input. Seeing them take the time and really go for it full on AFTER 40 YEARS, is just amazing. It has inspired me to keep pushing forward and to continue to push my own boundaries. To not stop when things sound good without at least trying to make it sound even better. I hope that I have as much energy and presence in my music making 25 years from now, and if I do, Kronos will absolutely be to thank.
Thank you to the entire beautiful Kronos family. You are all amazing.
These photos depict the film shoot for the “Eyes” video, where I eventually got to meet one of the heroes who appeared on the album, David Byrne. The footage was put together with shots of a chamber orchestra from Seattle, you can see the awesome results in the video below.
I am embarking yet again on a series of tours with my friend Amanda Palmer. I will be playing bass in the The Grand Theft Orchestra and will also be opening nearly all of the shows. Excitingly & terrifyingly I am continuing to put myself far outside my comfort zone, meaning in this case for the most part I will be opening these shows completely solo on bass, uke and a touch of vocals. I feel like I have a really great set of old and new material that all were written for large ensemble, boiled down to the core. I don’t plan on doing this kind of set very often, so catch it while you can! You can find all of the dates on my live page.
First of all, “Composed” was chosen by Amazon US to be a part of the 100 for $5 program. So! For the next two weeks you can order “Composed” for only 5 one dollar bills! That’s like one double (vegan) mocha frappuccino with extra (vegan) whip cream for 9 songs with an entire orchestra and some of the best singers alive (in my opinion)!
Get it here.
In other news… I am currently writing a piece for Kronos Quartet!!! WHAT?!?! Yup. Lincoln Center commissioned me to write a new piece for Kronos Quartet to be played by them at Lincoln Center as part of their Out of Doors festival. The evening includes new music from Amon Tobin, Dan Deacon, Bryce Dessner and more. To top it all off, IT’S FREE! I am so insanely honored to be composing for Kronos. For a lil fella like myself, it is about as good as it gets. More details here.
For the next two weeks as this Amazon US sale is going, I am going to be posting 4 videos from my show at The Moore Theater on Dec. 1 of last year. So check back often and you can see what shenanigans we got up to.
Earlier today NPR’s Fresh Air program broadcast this 30 minute interview with me. Many of you might be discovering my music for the first time. If you like what you hear, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or go ahead and download this free track from my latest album:
2012 was rediculously amazing! I shared the stage with so many of my heroes and friends, traveled the world, met tons of absolutely wonderful folks. It was crazy. Check out my blog post below for a detailed look at everything I got up to in 2012, including videos and pictures!
It feels as though the foundation I have been working so hard to build my whole life is finally done and its time to start building! 2013 will certainly be that. There are tons of things I am so close to announcing, but not able to just yet. BIG STUFF. Still pinching myself kind of stuff. So check back often! One of my new years resolutions is to stay more current with this stuff!
Here are a few announcements!
New videos -
From my live broadcast on KEXP. This is super well documented and with some of the players from my record!
And another nice video from The Ecstatic Music Festival.
I was also just commissioned by The Liasons Project to write an arrangement for solo piano of a Stephen Sondheim tune!
Some Shows -
I have a handful of shows confirmed in the US at the end of February supporting the incredible Efterklang… check out my Live Page for more info
I am also performing at Adelaide Festival on March 6th. I am performing with an orchestra at this one playing music from Composed with some special guest singers. The show will also have a couple of my favorite bands on the bill, Deerhoof and Buke and Gase. It will be a real great one!
Finally, I just wanted to remind you all about my newest release called “Scores”, available on CD or digitally. It is instrumental versions of the songs from “Composed”. When I was recording “Composed”, I was at a point where all the music was done and no vocals had been added. I almost kept the record instrumental because I loved the space and feeling the music had and was scared to loose this. As soon as I heard the vocalists add their stuff, my concerns went away, but the instrumentals give you a chance to perhaps discover some details overlooked in “Composed”. “Scores” also comes with option of… YOU GUESSED IT! Scores for the entire record! All of the parts for all of the instruments for your own playing pleasure! I am excited about this because usually scores are hard to come by or expensive. These are neither of those things! Enjoy!
Alright! Happy New Year everyone and be sure to check out my ’2012 round up’ blog below.
I wanted to put together a little Year in Pictures and Video timeline of 2012 kind of thing… So here you go!
Feb 4th @ Ecstatic Music Festival NYC
The evening was pure magic. Shared the stage with David Byrne, Carla Bozulich, Craig Wedren, Mirah Zeitlyn, Zac Pennington, Sam Mickens, Charlie Looker, Steven Reker, Jen Goma, Greg Saunier and The Wordless Music Orchestra. Here is a new video of Blossom!
I then joined Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra and we headed of to Melbourne to record Theater is Evil. Here is a tune that I wrote and arranged for the group!
While in Oz we my pals in the GTO and I made some buddies and made this video for Young & Lovely!
We also shot this -
I then flew straight from OZ to New York and had the insane privilege to work with The Degenerate Art Ensemble on a re interpretation of Robert Wilson & Philip Glass’s Einstein On The Beach with Robert Wilson himself directing! The show was really great and was at Baryshnikov Theater.
Then my record came out!!
Went home briefly and then back off to NY for a show in th BAM opera house for the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Festival curated by the Dessner brothers of The National. I performed with yMusic and Greg Saunier. I had some crazy guests once again, David Byrne, Amanda Palmer, Charlie Looker and Jen Goma.
Then I won an award called the Amy Award from my hometown of Bainbridge Island. Really lovely and honored!
You guessed it.. Back to NY again! This time to celebrate Amanda Palmers Kickstarter! We celebrated pretty hard!
Then we headed off to Berlin, London to play and do press. We shot this video while there -
Straight from there to L.A. and S.F
More shows and press.
Boston & NY. More shows, more press.
We insanely got David Byrne to come hang and sing Burning Down The House with us as his backing band.. To collaborate with him was totally insane, but to play a song that I grew up listening to and hearing being right there next to him as he belted it, was totally overwhelming.
Then we went to Oklahoma City and filmed the Do It With A Rockstar video with Wayne Coyne -
That was fun!
Came back home and recorded a couple records including Parenthetical Girls, Led To Sea and Princess Siesmagraph.
AFP & GTO headed off to BARD College for a residency and rehearsed here…
Then we headed off for the loveliest and hardest and craziest tour I have ever been on! So fun. Such a great crew. I opened all the shows as did my good buds The Simple Pleasure. We had a string quartet in almost every city. Met a billion amazing and talented people. Did the U.S., E.U. and U.K.
The second night of tour was my birthday in NY. Epic.
Special shout out to Jessie England from The Simple Pleasure, who played viola with me every night on tour and really made things easier when things were hard and more fun when things were awesome.
Tour stuff -
A highlight was playing Time Warp with Richard O’Brien (Creator of Rocky Horror)
After 10 days at home after about 3 months of touring, I started rehearsals for my show at The Moore Theater. Rehearsals were held at Frye Art Museum in Seattle as part of their current exhibition Mw [Moment Magnitude]. I collaborated with Robb Kunz who is a fantastic instillation artist. He used some of my ambient music for a sound sculpture. The Frye then invited me to hold open to the public rehearsals inside the museum. It was great!
Also in preparation for the show, I brought some of my best buds into KEXP for a live broadcast.
My show at The Moore Theater on Dec. 1 was a truly wonderful evening. So many friends and collaborators coming together and kicking serious ass together. It got me all cryin and stuff… Beautiful. I had fantastic guests including Mirah, Nika Danilova (Zola Jesus), Soko, Tomo Nakayama, Zac Pennington and Jason Webley!
There will be some great documentation of this very soon!
10 days later, you guessed it, I was back in NYC. Lincoln Center commissioned me to write new music for a performance at Lincoln Center with yMusic, Greg Saunier and Jen Goma. It was such an honor to get to play with this ensemble again. They are truly astounding musicians and the coolest people on the planet.
Few days break for the holidays, then this happened…
Then this happened……
and then perhaps the most fun thing I did all year was trying to sing my favorite Prince song. I know, I know… I am not prince, but god it felt good. Actually it kind of hurt. But the good kind of hurt.
Happy New Year everyone! I am going to go to sleep now! What a year!