Part 2

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
My schedule is not fixed – I work a couple different part-time and on-call jobs so my schedule is always shifting. About three days out of the week I teach music at an after-school program at an elementary school, and I also do some remote work and event production work.

In general, I try to blend my down time into creative, generative time. On less busy weekdays, after a morning routine of breakfast and reading, I like to take a long walk if I have the time and listen to a podcast or music. My days also include yoga practice in either the morning or afternoon, often followed by some time with my tarot deck. I also like to be by water at some point in the day if I can, so I’ll often go to the bay shore and listen to something or read or write.

If it’s a much clearer weekday, or a weekend day, I like to carve out intentional time for recording, mixing, or experimenting with new sounds in the late afternoon or evening. Depending on if I’m working on a specific project, some days I’ll have scheduled meetings with collaborators, or get together to play or work through ideas. At night I’ll hang with a friend or wind down and watch tv or a movie.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
A breakthrough performance was my 2018 set at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival.

It felt big because it was going to be one the largest audiences I’d performed for, and also the debut of some of the newer techniques and work I had been spending a lot of time with. The work itself also felt more personal and intimate than ever before, and vulnerable because I was going to be performing with the feedback system that I hadn’t had a ton of experience yet performing with. It felt like one of the first times I was really given a chance to bring whatever I wanted to a larger stage and audience, and I took the opportunity to perform very fresh work.

I was proud of myself for using the opportunity in that way, I learned a lot by preparing for it. It was the first performance where I really worked out how to combine live spoken text with other elements, and also how to process my voice with the feedback while also controlling parameters of the feedback behavior with my voice.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
This state of mind for me is facilitated by practice letting ideas flow through and out. Regular generative practices help me with this, like writing a bit every day or just feeling like I’ve made something most days, even if it’s just putting together a handful of flowers I pick on a walk. I also encourage this state of mind by using tools for facilitating increased intuitive sensitivities – for me that’s drawing tarot cards and listening to what comes up, and engaging in body-based practices that help me feel at home like yoga or dancing.

And there is a lot of maintenance and energy tending, in order to feel like I am working from a place of alignment, or at least a felt understanding/stable foundation of where the misalignments are and how creative expression fits into that picture. It’s a tricky balance of being kind to myself and letting expression come when it comes, but also knowing when it could help to give myself a push. I find that this balance is easier to navigate when I am regularly involved in these self-care practices that center intuition and self-trust.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I definitely have experience with music being a site for healing. Songs and albums often act as cherished friends to me. Music also helps me keep track of emotional timelines and certain periods of time in my life. In this sense, it can be a locator of where I am within this nonlinear spiral time.

I think this is the real potential of music as a tool for healing: a place to go for respite, for a reminder of joy or any other kind of emotion. When there is so much to be overwhelmed and caught up with, music can offer a way to come back home to yourself. Music can also pull out and provide a framework for emotions that are difficult to be present with; it can soften or encourage those spaces. When people can access the places inside themselves that need attention, they can build the resiliency needed to move through this world.

From a place of strength and solidity (and of course, if they are also able to have their basic needs met) there is more potential for people to access their own unique gifts to offer the world.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
It’s a fine line, but I think it is appropriation when the artist takes without any further education and celebration of that culture, or without further integration/adaptation. So much cultural appropriation happens due to this lack of conscious understanding of what you’re even being influenced by. This inquiry is essential.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with learning and getting valuable information, inspiration, and influence from another culture. I think we can be pretty quick to call things appropriation. Meaningful, powerful work comes from cultural exchange and intermingling. Emergence occurs from people with different histories and experiences coming to understand each other; influence inevitably arises and produces music that is totally unique.

But there of course needs to be some kind of integration of whatever has been learned and internalized into that artist’s own histories and lineages. It is definitely appropriation when the artist claims those histories or influences as their own, or simply takes from a culture without meaningful acknowledgment and engagement.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
Sound has always been incredibly embodied for me. When music really reaches me, I feel it pull at my bones and muscles and the internal energies inside of me.

This link between sound and physical sensation inspires me because real healing can happen in the body. To feel like you are energized, or safe, or brought back to a place that is scary but important to visit, etc.: the power of something like music and our hearing sense to activate other areas of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual consciousness/health even more speaks to the power of music to affect change and heal people.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
My approach to art is connected to this power that art has of being able to enter and really influence someone to the point where they can find more solace and peace within themself, and then from that place influence what they do in the world. I think that we need music and art to serve this purpose: to inspire and activate, to soothe, to comfort.

Music can tremendously address and influence people’s mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Music and art can help in dark moments. And it can also access inner parts of people that need to be tended to, so that they can have the strength and sense of meaning and purpose to act in the world from a place of having the capacity to give.

I also think that art can require immense vulnerability, and witnessing other people’s vulnerability makes someone feel a lot less alone. We absolutely need to feel connected to each other and connect with authenticity, otherwise most things in this life start to feel irrelevant and bleak, including political projects.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
I think the ways music teaches us often takes place, again, in the body. Many life and death cycles are often felt first or only in the body; it can be incredibly hard to articulate these processes. But when sound enters our ears and a feeling is translated we feel it in our bones, in our muscles, emotions are felt physical sensations, and music has a particular way it tugs and finds familiar corners.

This process of expression, exchange, translation, and receiving often activates the emotions associated with life and death cycles — the mysterious grief we can’t name, or the feeling of total joy and wonder when life feels like it is truly giving, generating.

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