The avant-cabaret specialist Amy X Neuburg, who I interviewed back in December to preview her gig at Roulette for her last NY appearance is back in NYC this week, this time at another popular spot in the city for new music, The Stone, on Wednesday, May 30th at 8 PM. Amy had time to have another chat to talk about this show!
CM: Can you talk about the new material in the program? You also have a new setup?
AXN: My new looping setup allows me to create multiple sets of layered voice, each on its own channel, so that I can treat each channel differently, mix or crossfade channels, give each its own set of rules, and place it anywhere in the stereo field. (In contrast my previous looper had one mono output, with one set of loops audible at a time. You could switch between different chunks of layered sound, but you could not play them simultaneously.) So my first new piece for this current setup was a sound-art piece in quad, in which each of four speakers had its own channel of loops that altered slowly over time. I’ve adapted this piece for stereo sound.
To clarify, by “loop” I mean one segment of time in which I can record and overdub infinitely. But that of course gets boringly repetitive — my songs are often constructed so that I build up a looped section (or “chunk” as I call it), then create contrasting chunks for other parts of the song, then switch around between them at specific times to construct the song.
Hence the “chunky” compositional style I have developed over the years using the older technology, in which things happen suddenly, and all sounds and looping commands are triggered by drum hits.
The new setup will likely continue to inspire a more fluid and sonically rich compositional style.
CM: How are you reworking the pre-existing pieces?
AXN: To some I’ve added extended sound-art sections. But for others that I’m trying to simply recreate with stereo enhancement it’s been an interesting challenge. If you want to, for instance, do the most obvious thing – create 2 layers that play in stereo — you must record the first layer, stop recording, switch to another channel of the software and record on that channel, and be sure they are set to synch up. So what took two commands in my old looper now takes five, with tons more advance programming. I’m having to re-program my drum pads in tricky brain-hurting ways so that one hit sends several commands at once, plus learn the new choreography (I think of each song as a sort of dance) of adding extra actions to the song.
I am deep in the middle of it as we speak, so that is why you got the long brain-hurting explanation.
Ultimately all of this is supposed to be transparent, and what comes across is just a good song — first and foremost I consider myself a songwriter! But the first few runs of anything new are always rife with interesting weirdness.
CM: How often have you played The Stone?
AXN: This is my first performance at The Stone. I hope people will come check out the interesting weirdness!
Click here for the calendar on The Stone website.
The Stone shows are cash only, $10 per set unless otherwise noted, students 13 to 19 are admitted at half price, children 12 and under are admitted free. There are no advance ticket sales. All admissions are at the door prior to each performance.
Amy X Neuburg
Wed, May 30th, 8 PM
the corner of
avenue C and 2nd street