claire rousay could charm the pants off a 52-year-old father of two. The young trans woman is a long-time percussionist who has turned her attention to improvisational avant-garde music. She is an iconoclast in the making. Her thoughtful approach to the music, and much else, makes rousay one to watch.
rousay and I talked about her new recording trt, her killer Twitter feed and how the two make the world feel a little bit more friendly.
The only thing that I’m personally reaching for within the music I’m creating is a sense of extending a hand to connect with other people. Showing that I can be vulnerable, that I can attempt to have an intimate relationship with the people around me. And maybe that while the whole world is burning, we can at least experience it together and understand that there are other people that are looking out for you.
I didn’t fully appreciate that about your work until I followed you on Twitter. When I started to follow you, the picture became so much clearer to me. About what was motivating you, your sense of humour – which is completely engaging – and the way that it connects. Feeling a need to be open to others, to be that vulnerable person you’re describing. It’s very refreshing. Do you see the two connected?
I use Twitter as a news information source sometimes. Mostly, it’s just for pleasure. To make funny jokes, connect with other people. But I try to use that the same way that I use creating music or art or anything like that. The ultimate goal is not to create this finely curated product that I can market. Art and music are completely beyond that at this point.
I really feel like I don’t have any other choice but to genuinely use the things I have access to, to communicate with other people and let them know that I’m aware things are fucked up. Things are okay in my world, but obviously there are a lot of other people that don’t think that. As a white person in America, I have a much greater chance of surviving than most other people right now. Even if I can only feel okay fifty per cent of the time, I can use these tools to reach out and maybe connect with other people who maybe need a little bit more help.
I’m using all these tools to achieve the same thing – to connect with other people. Because I think that’s more important than separating music or art from everyday life. It’s much more interesting to lean into it and then your whole existence is more or less a public spectacle.
I’m going to share a couple of my favourite tweets.
Twitter is a weird place where you encounter a lot of people with a lot of opinions. Sometimes it enlightens you and sometimes it upsets you: whatever is going on that day in somebody else’s head. There was something going on with a certain person tweeting about how certain record labels and certain people who are distributing music have a kind of control over avant-garde/experimental music. And that they’re unwilling to give that up. So I was thinking if I just create the same work and then take it outside the context of music, is my career or whatever I want to call it going to be less fucked than everyone else’s? Can I just find a different audience? Probably not true.
It’s a really bad situation. Doesn’t matter if you won an award.
That’s art, right? Really intellectual shit going on there. You can achieve the same sounds as a washing machine after spending like a week in MaxMSP. It’s going to sound the same. Maybe the context surrounding it is more important at some point.
The Moderns, vols. 1 and 2, by Kevin Press are available exclusively from Amazon.