Sō Percussion’s Eric Beach on Kickstarting Where (we) Live

The great band Sō Percussion let me borrow Eric Beach for a few minutes to talk about their upcoming album and live show Where (we) Live, and they need support from you, the people! They are using (you guessed it) Kickstarter to raise funds for both the making of the CD and the production of the live show. The CD is scheduled to drop on September 25th, and around that same time, the concerts will be in limited engagements in major cities in the US, and it will commence in December at the BAM 30th Annual Next Wave Festival. You can donate by clicking here or on the link at the bottom.

Eric explains the story behind the project. “The group got started playing other people’s music all the time–A lot of John Cage, Steve Reich, commissioning pieces, that kind of thing, but it’s really been in the last 5 years or so that we’ve gotten into writing our own music. And it started with this project of Jason [Treuting]’s called Amid The Noise, followed by Music For Trains. Imaginary City was the last big one that went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music and a bunch of other spots”.

“We definitely see this as continuing the lineage of these original music projects. The crazy thing about this one is that we set out to blast open the doors and make ourselves do something we wouldn’t normally do otherwise. We kind of looked to the group of collaborators to help us get outside of our box, and Grey McMurray is a huge part of that. As soon as you have somebody playing guitar and singing along with whatever you have, it doesn’t necessarily change the sound palette that’s there. Grey’s actually an incredible improviser, and he’s really tasty at knowing when to let the music develop and where to put the vocals and stuff. In terms of writing a project from the ground up with a guitar player and a singer in the room, it’s been completely different. At the same time, Josh [Quillen] has been getting into writing his own texts that he delivers as spoken texts, so the project has ended up having a lot of language in it, which is really interesting because Jason’s music is all based on words, and interpreting letters, and changing those into rhythmic values and pitches. This project had a big background and foundation in text, whether it was text being read or interpreted into music or being sung. It was like a loose story that has developed within the project”.

Along with the collaboration with McMurray, Eric explains that there will be other artists as well as other forms of art within the show. “Another element of the project is that every night on stage with us when we perform it live, there will be a guest artist from the city where the show is being played, and often that person is a visual artist or a crafts-person (We’ve done it with painters and poets; We did it with an amazing potter from Vermont), and the addition of these people changes the live dynamic of the show.
Martin Schmidt from Matmos, who we also worked with before–He is also a video artist, and we are collaborating with him as a video artist for the first time, and this is interesting because he still brings his musical sensibility into the visual art that he creates. He likes to take the video of things that have their own sounds or that have sonic elements to them, like the flame from a stove-top burner that happens in the show, and you hear it clicking to turn on. There’s all kinds of different things like this that happen during the show.
We are also working with Emily Johnson, an amazing choreographer (pictured right; photo coutresy of Alec Soth)–Kind of what we have is a bunch of written pieces, but then when they get played live, you don’t hear them exactly as they are written, you hear them change through the filter of what that person is doing on stage with us, and Emily’s role in the show is writing these notes, having her assistant deliver them to us, and the notes tell us to change what we are doing one way or another”.

What separates the album from the live show? “The album is the pure form of the music–That is just the music, if you have heard us play the music live at a concert. We could just go on stage and play the complete work start to finish, and it would sound like the album. But the live show exists in a way that it never sounds like the album exactly. There’s enough moments that you hear from the album that you remember ‘Oh yeah, I remember that lyric’ or ‘I remember where that instrument comes in’, and we talk about those as ‘tent-poles’ because you can recognize something or remember it if you had heard it before on the album, or if you hear the album after having seen the show. It’s not like we’re trying to play the album on stage, we’re trying to create a completely different theatrical space on stage”.

Eric agrees that a project of this size definitely looked like it needed an outside hand. “Obviously, a project like this has a million different moving parts. We want to be respectful to all these collaborators we’re bringing into the mix–we want to pay them well for their time, and what they deserve as artists. Having such a big group of collaborators means there’s a lot of expenses that go to every step of the process. With the Kickstarter campaign that we started, it’s actually a joint campaign with us and Cantaloupe Music, and what we are doing is splitting the money we raise with the Kickstarter campaign, and Cantaloupe is taking part of it to help with producing the record, and we’re taking part of it to help with producing the live show, which is a bit of a complicated thing to try to explain. We were both gearing up to do our own fundraisers for it, and then we realized that we both know a lot of the same people, we’re going to be going to a lot of the same people to ask for funds, both for the live show and the recording–Why not just do it all together as one big project, and then we’ll pool all of our resources.
So we are doing our first-ever Kickstarter campaign. It seems like the Kickstarter model has worked for a lot of folks, so it’s an experiment to see if it can work for us.”

Sō Percussion ~ Amid the Noise (Jason Treuting)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The campaign for Where (we) Live has met success, but there’s still time left, and if you contribute to the Kickstarter, you can have your name added to the credits for the CD!

Click here to donate to Sō’s Where (we) Live Kickstarter campaign

SŌ Percussion


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