Just recently, New Music Box shared three 20-minute composer video segments dating back to its May 19th live event. This event was a first for the composer-centric organization, which has already shared the insights of many composers in its archives in order to motivate aspiring artists and champion upcoming ones. The three artists featured in these live segments are Gabriel Kahane, Matana Roberts, and Joan Tower.
Living on a boat in the southern tip of Brooklyn has certainly afforded Matana Roberts lifestyle choices she may not have either had access to or the mindset to take advantage of. The mystical surroundings of the NYC waterways and the inhabitants therein have found a special place in Matana’s heart and creative force. Here, then, for our last interview segment we paddle out into the post-Sandy Rockaways and explore Matana’s solitary water life directive.
For the past eight years Matana Roberts has been at work on her Coin Coin series exploring themes of history, memory and ancestry through narrative, musical and visual compositions. The multi-chapter composition of self-described “panoramic sound quilting” exposes mystical roots and delves into the intuitive spirit traditions from several pockets of American pastoral past. In 2011, Constellation records began to put out the Coin Coin project, now up to it’s third release: Chapter 3 entitled River Run Thee. A set of solo compositions for electronics, multi-tracked voices and her staple saxophone, River Run Thee directly deals with the American waterways and what transpired through nautical transportation in the past interspersed with field recordings and spoken-word passages. From Sticks And Stones in the early aughts to her solo and ensemble work on Constellation and Central Control records, Matana has made a name for herself as an internationally renowned composer, bandleader, saxophonist, sound experimentalist and mixed-media artist. Late last month, Matana presented Coin Coin: The Remix, a redux of River Run Thee at The Kitchen. Joined by drummer and percussionist Tomas Fujiwara with video work conceived by Daniel Marcellus Givens, the performances offered two rare reworked stylings of Chapter 3 in relation to the first two: Coin Coin Chapter 1: Gens des Coleur Libre, and Coin Coin Chapter 2: Mississippi Moonchile. To wit, the two-night residency held the celebratory honor of the series five-year release anniversary. In this two part series we caught up with Matana to discuss The Kitchen performance, life living on a boat and what pop culture means to the Black Lives Matter movement.