more than you could ever possibly want to know about katt hernandez
I am from Ann Arbor, Michigan- a bucholic, hippie infused town full of trees and university types in the midwest, about 45 minutes from Detroit. I started banging on the piano when I was four. We only had a toy one, but every year we would visit my grandmother and great grandmother in New Castle, PA(an exiting town full of boarded-up factories, empty store fronts, widows, and pizza joints). They has a baby grand, a player piano, and a giant nineteenth century music box with huge brass "records".
My grandmother's cool musical toys- on the left is my great-grandfather's "Music Box". It was entirely mechanical, and played huge, metal disks with notches punched into them. The player piano was my favorite- she had about fifty rolls, ranging from old classical parlour music to four handed versions of "The Candy Man" and "The Girl from Ipenema- even Libarace playing "The Godfather"!
I would slam my hands into pianos expecting to hear the sounds that the men I saw in tuxedos on TV made. I was sorely disappointed. My father, who was reclusive, violent, psychotic- but also a genius and into many very beautious things- was a frustrated pianist-come-computer programmer. His parents delivered his old Spinett to him from New York when I was about seven years old. He went out and bought a book of Scott Joplin rags, and I watched him play over his shoulder. Eventually I figured out how to play some of them by watching. The vocal music teacher at school let me play the first two parts of "The Maple Leaf Rag" in class, at which the other children laughed heartily. After class she taught me how to play a "boogie-woogie" bass-line, and had me play it with the class on a holiday concert.
My very first concert, playing boogie woogie bass lines with a square suburban kids chorus who really got alot of fun out of laughing at me.
When I was twelve my parents decided to get me piano lessons with the church organist. I discovered that if I watched and listened I could play hard music, and if I tried to read it, I couldn't. I also decided that from that moment on I would play ONLY Bach and Scott Joplin. Thus became my career as a Difficult Student.
Every summer I took a kids workshop called "Cultural Arts Daycamp". It was taught by an artist, a dancer, and a theater person. I was in love with it. There were three workshops each summer, each with a different theme(dreams, mystery, science fiction, dinosaurs, etc.). We would build sets, create a script(sometimes with music), and choreograph dances. Then we'd put on the show at the end for our parents. I am quite sure everyone who taught it was an idealistic young arts student of some kind. I was very sad when I turned twelve and was too old to go anymore.
Dressed up to be in a chorus line and sing "Take me out to the Ball Game" at Cultural Arts Daycamp.
I also took drawing classes at the area's Art and Natural History museums. The Natural History museum was full of taxidermies of all kinds of animals, most of which were fifty or a hundred years old. It was an old fashioned museum, with skeletons and dioramas, and huge marble and wood fixtures and a funny mothball smell. My teacher was up in her seventies, and had assembled the museum's geological samples in the ancient days of her youth. I loved it there. And I took dance classes. My best friend was my dance teacher Linda. I would go to her house and hang out with her when I was seven or eight. But then she moved away.
When I was about ten, my best friend Charlotte brought home a violin from school(she was a year older than me). I had originally planned on playing the flute, but because of this I play violin instead. The first thing I did with it was lay it across my lap and try to bow it like a saw. I played little odes to her cat on it. This was because i thought her cat was a god queen, and also my "real" mother.The violin teacher at school really didn't like me very much, so I was sure I was really bad at playing and would never amount to anything at it.
I spent my time worshiping hallucinitory gods, reading Greek myths and memorizing star charts, watching violent television shows with my psychotic father, playing the piano, practicing the violin, and wishing feverently that Doctor Who would show up in his space-time telephone booth and take me to the planet I believed I was from. I thought it was still medieval times in Scotland, and decided fixedly and pointedly on a career as a wandering troubadour there.
When I was a teenager, I found out there are no more troubadours in Scotland. I started out in a normal, all-american Junior High, where I was miserable. One of my amusements was to see how many days I could go without talking before anybody noticed. I went a whole week once. Also amusing was watching my autistic brother commit fantastic crimes against every possible social taboo in public. My favorite was when he sauntered up to big, tough men in the supermarket to ask if they had vaginas. It was also fun when he took his pants off in the library. I went to All State music competitions every year and played marginally difficult classical music. For this I got little Blue ribbon metals. I played in various school and youth orchestras as well. My school music teacher was not supportive- she found me unfocused, badly mannered, and didn't think I was diligent enough. But then I got into the Youth Symphony at the University of Michigan. It was here that I found out about improvisation.
as an alienated teenager
There was a doctoral student named Greg Koyle who started a "Free improvisation" group with the kids in the youth orchestra. He didn't play us records. He didn't call it "jazz" or "aleotoric music" or any of that. We would just play, then decide if we liked it or not, and why. By the time I was about fifteen, a bunch of kids in town started getting together at each other's houses to do this on a regular basis. It was a weird combination of Greg Koyle's class and the Dead Poet Society. . .we would gather somewhere and read poetry, play through music, improvise, and look at Art books- lots of us, ten, twenty kids at a time. A subset of this group became my first band- the Blue Sun Quintet. We were all girls, and all string players. . .and we started playing at various venues in town. Frank Pahl had us play on one of his albums, and in return(or rather, as a really kind favor) recorded our first album.
at All State Competition
Summers I got to go to Interlochen for two weeks. This is an intense, competitive summer camp for aspiring classical musicians. I went on the University's budget program, which was alot harder and even more intense than the standard program offered for a longer stretch of time. I loved it. Completely lived for it. Back in Ann Arbor, I ran around the neighborhood with my friends, pulling pranks at the local strip mall, and was in baroque and medieval music groups with other kids from the area, arranged by a local viola teacher.
I was lucky as shit to be born in ann arbor. because in ann arbor we had community high school. imagine a high school started by abby hoffman, howard zinn, dorothy parker, and rodolfe salis, and you'd have my high school. kids went there because they were too smart, too slow, too odd, too rich, too poor, or just plain old too bizarre to be able to cope with "normal" high school- everyone from a kid who pulled a knife on somebody to a kid who went to harvard two years early. . .all together. it was utopic. it was even public, and thus free. the only music program was run by a jazz musician- Mike Grace-so it was all jazz bands, and whatever other project you wanted to bring to him for coaching. i did orchestra over at the "normal" high school for a while, but it was clear that the conductor did not like me in the slightest, so i stopped. instead, I started learning standards, and playing out with various kids in the jazz bands. I also got a piano/composition teacher and a new violin teacher in high school. they were amazing, and i learned all kinds of things from them- Karin Swanson and Elaine Sargus.
my family's lovely house
i read alot, mostly sociology, history, and random fantasy books. i practiced and composed music, hung out with my boyfriend, and did everything short of running away from home. When I was sixteen, my brother attacked me and injured my hand, and I really stopped being around. I told my mother it was just tendonitous, and it took a year for it to get better. This made me extremely sad and despondent, because I couldn't play any music. So I spent the year getting fantastically well-acquainted with the city's Arboretum, in sun, rain, and snow. I also explored all over the university buildings, and read lots of books at the graduate library. i started having visions of ghosts and impressions of human spirits, and would follow them about town, talking to them, at night.
Senior year I started sitting in on composition classes at the University of Michigan, as well as the Creative Arts Orchestra- a sort of student model of the Vienna Art Orchestra, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Mahavishnu Orhestra- when my hand started getting better. i was already practicing at the music school every day because my brother was violent and insane, along with my father, and I thought it safer. I even kept my violin in a friend's locker there. I tromped around the town's cafes and bookstores, in addition to my time in the woods. I took fencing classes at the Y, and hung out in coffee houses with chess-playing, poet bachelors, and in the liberal arts dorm where by boyfriend lived. I only slept at home half the time, and refused to use the plumbing there, finding the Y to be more sanitary. This gave me ample opportunity to go to the Music School and practice.I wrote, practiced, and played every day, all the time, in the Blue Sun Quintet, and orchestra, and jazz band, and little chamber groups, and alone. I slept in my boyfriend's dorm half the week, and if I didn't feel like seeing him, I'd sleep in libraries and near heating grates and the like. In the afternoons I would "bottle and can" (finding and returning used soda and beer cans for deposit money in order to buy food) with various members of the city's drunk, smack-addicted, homeless lost hippie collection. This way I could stretch out my "lunch" money to cover dinner, so i would not have to be at any family meals. Evenings I would go to the Music School, pretend I was a student, and practice. Then I'd go back downtown and crash out in a University building or cooperative house. Sometimes I would go back home late at night, and leave again early in the morning.
tromping about town
i entered music school officially at the end of high school, even though I had really already started my studies there. I was the first person to graduate with a BFA in Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation from the University of Michigan. This is because my last name begins with an "H", and there were no others with early letters in their names. i was once again lucky as shit, because as colleges went, it wasn't too outlandishly expensive, and my mother and grandmother paid for it. I lived in a communal house called "The Chicken Coop" with the Blue Sun Quintet women and some other Ann Arbor folks. We put on performance parties every month or so featuring music, dance, film, skits and performance art in our living room. I particularly remember doing a rendition of "Sunshine Day" from the Brady Bunch where I played the middle male Brady, followed by one of the cellists interpretive dancing in a sun mask to Peter Maxwell Davies "Eight Songs for a mad King". We also made vegan cakes, home-made ice cream, and other food. Lots and lots of people came. By the end of the year there were twenty two people living in the chicken coop, even though it was a five bedroom house. It was the first in a long string of problematic but exiting cooperative living situations in my life.
busking at the summer art fair
At school, I started out being a composition major. But my first teacher, George B. Wilson- who was awesome and helped me out in every conceivable way- retired after my freshman year. My second teacher-who shall go un-named- was a complete asshole. Then my father died of mysterious causes, and I became blocked and eventually went insane, so I dropped out of school around the end of my second year. I spent the summer looking for an imaginary place that I called "the summer country" in my mind. I walked all over town, looking and looking for it. Finally, at the end of the summer, I was sitting near the pond at the Music School, and looked out at the Arboretum . . .and somehow the whole world was transformed, and it was the summer country, and I was in it. After that, everything got easier. (Yes, it did happen. No it didn't happen to you. So there. )
creative arts orchestra
Then I transfered into the Jazz Department, which my teacher Ed Sarath, who rocked, was in the process of starting. I became very involved with the Creative Arts Orchestra- . . . I loved it, and followed it. I also did some work in the electronic music studios with Evan Chambers, who also rocks. I had a semi free-jazz, semi funk band called the Nu Front Line which played at the Ann Arbor Brewing company every week. Our most requested song, as I recall, was called "Lots of Crack in the CIA", written by our drummer, Eric Roth. I practiced, composed, went to class, or rehearsed pretty much non-stop my last year of school. And before leaving town I put on a recital with my band, a duo with guitarist Jeff Enderton, a quadrophonic electronic piece I'd written, the piano piece I had written for my father, and a performance of The Lark Ascending.
The Real World- Boston
I got married to my college steady as my first mistake in adult life. After that, having realized that staying in the same town as my psychotic family was probably not a good idea, I made for Boston. There was no particular reason. I just headed East. I spent much of my first few years in Boston broke and wandering, insane and full of energy. I didn't know a soul. I arrived exhilerated and terrified. I immediately got involved in housing and anti-gentrification activism. And I played with various people- mostly a drummer named Marilyn at first, who has since gone to New York. I made my living subbing in the Bangor, Portland, and Boston Philharmonic Symphonies, as well as in the awe-inspiringly dull ensemble of Tim Janis. I met one really cool violinist who I still work with sometimes, named Rick Slevira, but on the whole these things made me want to hoof it off a bridge, so I stopped doing them.
then I started getting involved with better things. I played english and then sephardic folk music with David Farewell, and then I met Fred Stubbs, who is a phenomenal Ney player, and learned a little but about Turkish Mevlevi Sufi music from him and the other people invovled with the Eurasia ensemble. Then I met another fellow, Turgay Erturk, who taught me a little about Turkish folk and urban dancing music. I became involved in the Zeitgeist Gallery scene playing in the multi-genre jam performances on Rob Chalfen's "subconcious cafe"series. He knew a ton of musicians, and would combine me and Fred Stubbs with David Maxwell and Sergio Brandau, Jerry Leake, and all manner of other beautious and bizarre combinations. I was also there almost every week for the now-defunct Playground New Music Series, which showcased all kinds of Boston free improvisers, often with guest artists from all over the world.
playing with Jonathan Vincent and Jeff Arnal
One night, very soon after I got to town, I went to a concert of Joe Maneri and Matt Maneri, and was blown completely away. I attended Joe's seminar in microtones for three years after that. It was here that I met a fellow named Jonathan Vincent who played piano and accordion. I had heard of him before, from his roomate who I had happened to meet at marylin's studio. And he must have heard of me as well, because as I was talking to the cellist to my left- Dan Levin, whom I played a show with two hours ago as I write- Jonathan pointed at me from the right, and said "You're Katt!". We played amazing together, and worked on it pretty constantly for three years. These two men- Joe Maneri and Jonathan Vincent- opened up my ears and my conciousness to more possibilities, dimensions, and universes than anyone else I had ever yet known. We played in Joe Maneri's microtonal class at NEC at first, then at the Zeitgeist, and other places around town. . . We worked with dancers in the outside art collective and put on a show at Mobius involving accordion, violin, pots, pans, and a trash can full of water. We participated in a number of things some performance artsists from mass art were doing, including a several miles long noise parade through a mortified boston, and a terrifying portrayal of the pastoral american tableu involving beer, porn, television, and vanilla icing. We played with Zack Fuller, who is a dancer who doesn't dance like anyone else I have ever seen, and Margarita who is a kind of slowed down bacarachian caberet singer, except she sings in spanish. We played with Jeff Arnal, who's a drummer, and Dave Gross, and Judith Berkson, and Adam Wilson, and oh, a whole host of people from all over. We played all kinds of stuff with all kinds of people, almost every week.
We were also trying to start an artists' collective called Brainville. Eventually- with many painful convulsions- it blew apart with sparks and fire, killing itself, and along with it my marriage(which was going down the tubes anyway) and more than a couple of my close friendships. I did not work with Jonathan for three years. However, we have since made up and become good friends and sometime collaborators again!
playing in a haloween installation built with post- massart students
After that happened I fled our crumbling co-op and moved in with my new boyfriend, Hans Rickheit. Hans is a surrealist cartoonist. He was living- as he had for five years- in the unheated, unplumbed basement of the old zeitgeist gallery. I still miss living there like crazy. I started helping out with publicity and shows and stuff, and found myself deeply involved there. someday i'll write all kinds of things about that place and the people involved with it, because its really a pretty unbelievable story. anyway, the landlord caught us living down there, and we had to leave. Right around then I was floundering around looking for a new set of people to work with. I did a trio with harmonic canon(adam wilson) and flute(arto artinian), and a duo with a bass player(john voigt), and another duo with a table top-come-blues guitarist(marc bisson). I started doing trio work with Gordon Beeferman and Jeff Arnal in new york on occasion. I also started working with Walter Wright, a video artist, mitch ahern, who builds all kinds of insane instruments from washing machines and vacuum cleaners, and a drummer will buchanen.
playing Hans'art opening at the old Zeitgeist with Marc Bisson
playing with John Voigt at Mama Gaia's
After a brief stint in Al Nidle's attic, we moved first to new hamshipe, then to maine, then to michigan, then back to new hampshire, then to vermont. I had inherited some money and, having no idea what to do with money, bought a bizzarre, circular house with it. But when I realized we lived on a tertiary dirt road and the winter was coming, I paniced, and we hoofed it back to cambridge. fast as fast can go.Maybe when I am older I will go back up there and try starting a cooperative again.
I got settled, and started working a little with Dan DeChellis and the Chamber Music ensemble again. That may-2002- the zeitgeist gallery burned down, and I was subsumed in rescheduling forty five shows, helping get the new space ready, and helping to run it.
In 2001, while still in Vermont, I got invited to go and play at the High Zero festival for the first time.
playing under a bridge at High Zero
This had a profound effect on me- that is, I was so happy about it, and all the musicians I found down there, that I almost decided to move there as soon as I could. I still might sometime. Everyone should go visit there, at any rate, and see what amazing things are transpiring.
The next year I broke my arm, so I couldn't play in high zero again, even though i'd been invited to. i went down to listen, though. again, i was blown away by the music i heard, and also by how well organized everything seemed to be down there. when i got back, i decided i had to do some of my upcoming shows, broken arm or no. This gave me the opportunity to beat an autoharp with mallets and toy microphones in public for a few months. When my arm got better, I started playing on a Stroh violin. After a stint on lovely, lovely Winter Hill(a neighborhood in Somerville that would make Archie Bunker proud), hans and i moved into a one bedroom apartment back in Cambridge that had inadequate heat and cost too much money. I got heavily involved with Food not Bombs, an organization that collects all the vegan food that was going to be thrown away by markets and bakeries, and feeds it to homeless people in the form of hot meals. i got really angry at Bush and the facism which came with him, and started going to protests, and writing letters to city, state, and federal officials who pissed me off. I hope to get a field recording of me playing my stroh violin at an anti-FTAA protest on the music page at some point.
protesting election fraud- we sang the battle hymn of the republic and wound up helping out at a bread and puppet show
Then I heard that a new art space had opened in Andrew Square, in south boston. Hans and I exitedly packed up all our stuff and moved in. It was two giant warehouses, rough and spacious, housing space (well! depending on what you define as "housing") for ten artists to work. It was run by a maniacally awsome drummer with a graphic design firm named flandrew fleisenberg. i also rented out a closet at the redtail loft in fort point channel, as it was available with charm for a most tiny amount. burners, inventers, dancers and musicians had the space for making and doing, and i was there alot playing with joe burgio and walter wright, among others. I was tremendously exited and happy to be there, since i needed a change from the zeitgeist gallery, and was looking forward to doing shows and events and building community and making music in these places. However, the andrew square space was full of dangerous mold, which made some of the inhabitants go mad, and all of us get tossed out. So that was the disasterous end of that. I still dreamed of art spaces and living in them, daily, nightly, and all the time.
maverick genius, outpost 186 proprieter and record collector Rob Chalfen and me at Zeitgeist
During this time I was playing lots of bizzarre old americana with matt samolis (myself and Amelia Earhardt, him as Uncle Shoe), and also doing early music with Ensemble Suave. And I was playing countless improvised music concerts- well! There's a pretty complete list of all the concerts I've ever played on this site. I remember going with flandrew fleisenberg and ann adachi to an abandoned industrial area one afternoon and playing there all day for the crane, workmen, oilskids and pigeons.
Next we moved into an apartment house near the highway in Allston. It was crowded and buzzing with creativity and insanity, as many places we'd dwelt in were. But Jack Younger lived in the basement. Jack is an analog recording engineer extraordinaire, and his studio was full of wonderous things- 1" tape decks, tube amps, melatrons, and an edison wax cylander recorder! It was with Jack that I finally recorded a solo album- traipsing down every so often and playing into the beautious 50s cole ribbon mics he'd procured from one of his any interesting comrades in the Boston music scene. By the end of the year I had plenty of material to make a record from. we also had a massive "bad art" party there, and the apartment was full of strange detritus for months afterwards. it was near Pan 9, where we often hung out. we even pretended we lived at Pan 9 once. WZBH was doing a special on it, and half the house was too hung over to participate! So Hans put out some of his art, alongside scott roi's journals and george's ceramics, and i played shreiking noises in duo with one of empire snafu's louder creations.
some of my friends and collaborators from boston
By 2006, i was on my 63rd day job since my arrival in Boston. I was still playing out- often for little or no money of course- pretty much every week, come hell or high water. there were still a few people in town I really wanted to play with because i really loved their music but was little too shy or too busy to ask quite yet- but i was playing with alot of people i really loved playing with all the same. john berndt, nicole bindler, david maxwell, todd brunel, fred stubbs, vic rawlings, matt samolis, jonathan vincent and leah callahan, and joe maneri, and marc bisson, and walter wright, joe burgio, and jaimie Mclaughlin, and alan nidle(cause he's a secret drummer). I recorded with beat science and eddy dyer that last year. I had also started playing Calgia and rembetika music with tev stevig(who still has groups doing that all aroudn New England). i studied for a short time with ran blake, and continued trying to figure out how to create music and community without access affordable space, and continue to dream of starting a free university.
But in early Spring of 2006, Gil Aharon(the EVIL ex-landlord of Zeitgeist) kicked Zeitgeist out on our asses and opened up his own jazz club there(Called the Lilypad - apparently because "lil" rhymes with "gil"). My last concert there was a solo set opening for pandelys karyorgis and Ken Vandermark. The loss was horrid and torturously unjust- and suddenly there was a place in town I could No Longer Be. It absolutely obliterated large parts of the community I fought and loved so fiercely for. Two of our housemates had gone insane, and the future looked rather bleak. As I walked down prospect street one night, I noticed something. There had been a window picturing a magical-lookng wise old woman, sitting beside a Lion and a Falcon. I always felt right with the world walking by it, all the years I lived there. And now it had been ripped out to make way for new yuppie condominiums! Somehow this was the signal to me that Boston was gentrified beyond all hope, and it was time to Go.
in jaimie's apartment above zeitgeist, with her dove katsuo, in front of the pirate radio station
The Real World- Philadelphia
Hans, David, Alan, Karen and I originally moved to Philly all together, into a huge west Philly House. Philly was rougher and more mainstream amerikan than Boston. But I made friends with lots of people living near us. There was Millie, a really amazing older woman across the street who told stories of olden farms in the south, animals, herbs and history. There was a man who grew the most heart-stoppingly beautiful flower garden all through and around his house. and an amazing little girl next door who was smart and like a firebrand, and her older cousin A, who was an aspiring hiphop artist with whom I had long porch conversations about life and music and divinity. After a time Alan and Karen went back to New England. But Hans and David and I all stayed, and several Philly folks moved through the house during the time we were there. We had a grand piano, and sometimes had concerts in the living room.
our house in Philly
The most beautiful thing i found first in Phily was Isiah Zagar's Magic Gardens- I went there on and off and played in the basement for whomever happened by. Here is me playing there for my friends Steve and Leah's Firemuseum festival in 2007.
playing in Isiah Zagar's impossible Magic Garden
I also played lots with my friend erik ruin, who make shadow-shows of cut paper and detritus. And with lots of other folks- there was a sudden upsurge in the improvised music scene there at the time. bowerbird was in the middle of putting on a hundred concerts in a single year, after founder dustin hurt was so struck by discovering improvised music he had the energy to do such a thing! gene coleman was running soundfield, and there were al manner of little house and gallery and bookstore shows besides! i also played in West Philly Orchestra, which did sort of faux balkan dance band music at clubs and on the streets, and in various psyche-folk bands who did things through Fire Museum and Language of Stone- probably owing to my having toured with vashti bunyan in 2006 and 2007. i went to new york and baltimore all the time, too, playing and playing and playing!
improvising with Carlos Santiago to the gleeful horror of the ghosts in a colonial house
playing with paper cut and print artist erik ruin and dancer joe burgio in a house-turned-artspace in providence
playing in west philly orchestra- the other fiddler is my dear friend Janos Perge, and thats Elliot Levin in blue
psychotic quartet at the Stone
But things went disasterously wrong there in the end. There were a horrible crowd of anarchist girls there who decided hans' artwork somehow magically made him a rapist. And there I was- employed by the food coop (Mariposa) where they all hung out! The coop was also one of the most intense experiences of rascism I've ever had (everybody's token "latina"). After a show where Hans projected his comics, using a rather ingenious handcrank device, they all stormed up to him with all sorts of crazy accusations. we found ourselves absolutely ostrascized by that rather sizable portion of our new west philly home, and i was hounded out of my job so one of the worst of them could take my place. Hans was traumatized, and after that he withdrew and withdrew- until we were no longer together. He stoppped contact with many former friends, along with me, and moved to the far off woods, where he is presumabley still drawing his disasterously exquisite artwork. I remain aggreived by the loss of my friend and perhaps more importantly fantastic collaborator- but disasterous interaction is sometimes the walk of people who create. As posters emblazed about Cambridge by some possible Zeitgeist human once stated: "Eat Shit and Die Mother Fucker- Art can Hurt You".
diarama box Hans Rickheit and i built together for several years, now dismantled
Then- my life took a most amazing and phantasmagorical turn to an unexpected new universe of wonderments!
The New World- Stockholm
In 2008, I met a man named Bure Holmbäck whilst playing at Hagenfesten, in Dala-Floda, Sweden. He was living in a Magic Tent in the forest outside Stockholm, and making many explorations into electroacoustic music and sound-text art at the Electronic Music Studio. We fell madly in love, and began a year and a half of travel and correspondence. we went to nimis and arx, and coppenhagen. we visited intentional communities, artists and such in the southeast u.s.a., and new york and baltimore and philly and boston, where i showed him everything i could that i thought was wonderful. we went to STEIM, where I recorded with my friend audrey chen for a week. We went to weimar, where i learned about klezmer and lautari music, and we visited an insane collective of activists and artists in a massive CASTLE in the countryside. We WWOOF-ed on a farm in scotland and on an old intentional community in oxford, and tromped about Stockholm, Glasgow, London and Berlin, dancing and playing in the streets.
I decided to join him in Sweden, and moved back to Boston for 6 months to get ready. There I played with many old friends, and some new ones! And finally, in May of 2010, I moved here- to Stockholm.
playing with Joel Grip in France and Germany
playing a solo in Mimer, at Norberg festival
Well, it didn't work out in the end with Bure. He was psychotic and it got the better of him. But in consolation and continuing affirmation of life, it did not take long to return to my world of art spaces and near constant playing. I worked for four years as an assistant producer at Fylkingen- a decades-old venue for experimental music, dance and such. And played with a goodly array of Stockholm improvisers- playing all kinds of electronic music, jazz, free improvisation, new compositions- all sorts of things! There seemed to be so many wonderful human beings here, who were very kind and welcoming to me at first. It made me extraordinarily happy. After all those years, I took up doing electroacoustic composition again at the Electronic Music Studio, studying, making work, trying to find the lost ghosts of the universally dissappearing urban worlds I love. After 17 years of waiting for and giving up on the opportunity to be able to study again, I went to the Kungliga Musik Högskolan, where i graduated with a masters in EAM composition in 2014. No matter what further disasters may ensue, I will remain always happy and grateful for the two years I had there.
But it was not to last. In 2013, I got raped by someone in a position of power at both Fylkingen and EMS. He then went on to attack me several times on the premises at EMS, and a group of his friends started harassing and haranguing me in both organizations. Worse, he had whispered in my ear the night he assaulted me that he was actually out to assault a much younger girl named Maria W. Horn. She left Fylkingen before I did that night (it was her graduation party) – so he got me instead. This mean I knew I had to do something! But when I went to the Powers that Be in these organizations, they either chickened out in the face of dealing with that situation, or accused me lying and being crazy, and took the rapist guy's side. This story develops after some years ...
After that I was sick for a year with diskbråk- a truely un-fun and mightily painful affliction of the spine and legs requiring things like surgery. During that time one of my landlords developed a jealousy complex because I met a nice man and threw me, limping, into the street. I lived in 5 different houses in a year, and it was the first time a small few of the people in the marvelous community I have lived in really treated me badly. Ah but they are human- and no re-birth lasts forever. I played and produced all the way through it, limping fiercely to every place I might take solace in the creation of sonic wonderments in kind.
I began a Phd program at Lund university in Music in autumn of 2015, where I have set myself a marvelously impossible and grand project to do involving synthesizers, hurdy-gurdies, organs, speaker arrays and field recordings- and the making of music for the ever spinning city, to save its ghosts and hope for better times, past and future alike. Since the school has been firing people I admire and cutting funds, and because I fall in love with cities almost more easily than I fall in love with my fellow humans, I still live most of the time in Stockholm.
Over the last several years, my life in Stockholm has taken a violently bad turn, however. The assault in 2013 grew and grew into a nasty, ever growing bullying situation, which has wiped out many of the friendships I had for the first several years I was here, and seen me kicked out of almost every place I once called an artistic home in Stockholm. The details are many, and one day I will recount them here in full. For now, it is enough to say that I am everything from estranged to banned from EMS, Fylkingen, FRIM, the Nutidamusik magazine, the Edition festival, Audiorama and probably more, in an on-going situation of insane social violence and ostracization, in the face of the earlier sexual and physical violence I got put through. These organizations were my musical home in Stockholm, and the anguish and rage I suffer as a result of this terrible situation cannot be understated. What is more, a large number of the people I used to consider friends with or play music with here have pushed me, sometimes quite brutally, away.
This leads me to believe that the institutions I was so enamoured of when I arrived are, in fact, not a place where I belong. I hope to defend my PhD in 2023. And both during and after that, I will be doing many, many more projects, striking out from the tired, nepotistic scene of rape apologists and misogynistic people I thought were my friends and colleagues to find the good people who will really be. I have turned back to the activism I left behind when I left the U.S., as well as to smaller, grassroots artspaces, as I seek to find a new path. Stockholm is full of its own secrets and magics and I continue to make music as often as humanly possible. No matter how dark things are, more objects of ecstacy, splendidness and adventure are coming up all the time. . . .one has only to Listen, Look, be Fierce and try to Do the Right Thing ....
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and thats all.