Matana Roberts is a composer/alto sax player from New York by way of Chicago. She’s got a lot of great things going on. I mentioned her new Chicago Project album here. In addition to that, she has a fascinating experiment called the COIN COIN Project that deals with her family roots as far back as she can trace them. A big fan of zines and independent media, she has her own video blog/vlog (whatever the kids are calling it) here. She’s a great new voice in creative music that continues to work hard to take music to new places. Find out more at her website.
1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?
I grew up on that type of music, my dad is a huge Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, David Murray, Cecil Taylor, Alice Coltrane etc etc etc fan. The idea of experimentation, and the way I have been able to expand it as an individual statement is what really keeps me there I think. I feel like a lot of music (my chosen corner included) regardless of label or genre nonsense has kind of lost that spirit.
2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?
Sorry there are so many and I have no idea how to explain some of them. They are just all so interesting to me…..
Cannonball Adderley’s Know What I Mean with Bill Evans, PJ Harvey’s DRY, A Silver Mt Zion’s This is Our Punk Rock, Town and Country’s C’mon, Chicago Underground Duo’s Synestisa, JDilla’s Slum Village, Wayne Shorter’s Ju Ju, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Joanna Newsomes’ The Milk Eyed Mender, John Cale’s Church of Anthrax, album recording of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, Original Soundtrack to the Muppet Show, David Axelrod’s 1st release, Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, Ani Difranco’s Up Up Up and Bikini Kills’ Pussy Whipped and the list goes on and on…..
3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?
In very big ways. I am a visual person by nature and I also have a love affair with the arrangement of words and so I try to turn a lot those disciplines around to fit my idea of what I want the sounds of my saxophone to be like, which doesn’t always work but its fun to try….
4: Favorite Film(s)?
Louie Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows, The Kingdom by Lars Von Trier, anything by Scorcese, Spike Lee’s Crooklyn and Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, As Tears Go By Wong Kar-Wai.
5: Favorite Film Score(s)?
This changes often but right now its Elevator to the the Gallows. Laura and Superfly are also vying for #1 right now.
6: Favorite Fiction Reading?
Anything by Jeffrey Eugenides, Paul Auster and Octavia Butler
7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?
Mostly zines and graphic novels– Aaron Cometbus, Doris, The Match, Burn Collector, anything by Joe Sacco and Octavia Butler (sometimes her science fiction feels pretty fucking real, which is scary on a whole other level).
8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?
Edith Piaf, early 90’s neo soul, Diamanda Galas, and 60’s psychedelic folk.
9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?
Bill Dixon, Amina Claudine Meyers, Steve Lacy and Frank Lowe
10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?
Nicole Mitchell, Josh Abrams, Rob Mazurek, Jessica Pavone and Mary Halvorson, Matt Bauder, Frankie Sparo, Azita, Apollo Heights, Tomeka Reid, Andrew D’angelo, Tyshawn Sorey, Jonah Fortune, Vijay Iyer, Jeff Parker, Frank Rosaly, Forbes Graham, Cooper-Moore, Mazz Swift, Liberty Ellman… this list is crazy endless.