mw: It seems like on Introducing, your work with Bobby Conn and Jim O'Rourke seems to be a big influence, not so much musically, but as far as thinking about content, thinking about what certain musical gestures mean. For example, you establish the opening with a minute or so of clicking noises, leading the listener to expect an entirely rhythm-based percussive album, but immediately challenge that by fading in a very melodic section. Later in the album, you take a very Steve Reich-influenced vibraphone line and juxtapose it with a drum fill reminiscent of the incidental music for NYPD Blue. There seem to be numerous subtleties along those lines. To what degree does this thought process go into your work? With the title Introducing, how do you feel you're represented on this album?
gk: Introducing was recorded over a very long time -- not the record so much as the music on it. Over the last several years, I've recorded sporadically -- when I had something written that I liked, I would record it with no particular goal or project in mind, other than to document what I was doing at that time. When I finally had a reason to make a record (something to explore and say) these various recordings are what I used as the content for that record. The actual record was assembled in a week -- with only a few things recorded specifically for it. What I was interested in exploring was coincidental rhythm. By this, I mean sometimes complex rhythms or layers of rhythms that more or less result from chance. Almost all of the traditional melody on the record is from vibraphone or crotales -- both keyboard percussion instruments -- that offer a great deal of sustain to the point that the sustain creates vibrations and pulses and therefore rhythms of themselves (besides the actual rhythms being played on the instrument). The melodies are on the record for the rhythms that they create, not for their actual melodic content, so it actually is an entirely rhythm-based percussive album.
mw: The opening of the record, "Cheju", begins with me playing random rhythms on a Sudafed bubble pack. After this is established, heavily sustained vibes with the oscillator on enter. This just kind of sets the stage for the record by juxtaposing two different sets of random rhythms of two completely different sounds. The sounds start far apart like this and will eventually get much closer -- blending and then fluctuating throughout the record. Because some of the sounds are melodic in nature and some strictly percussive, songs sprout up. I generally had an idea of where and how I wanted these coincidental events to occur, but I left most of the specifics up to chance. Pacing and timing are one of the things that Jim O’rourke is a master of, and I'm sure his music influences me whether I intend it or not. Also, Jeff Tweedy came by the studio when Jeremy Lemos and I were mixing "Cheju" and offered some really great insights. I guess the title Introducing basically means introducing the listener to my little percussion-obsessed world. I think this record is a valid introduction.
gk: I think I mis-communicated what I meant by Introducing being a "rhythm-based percussion album". There seems to be an equally important emphasis on studio techniques to create either smooth or abrupt transitions in the music, and occasionally, it seems, to modify the actual sounds of the percussion itself. I think you've explained very articulately what on the album is in fact strictly percussive, but what about all the elements that aren't?
I tried to approach the non-percussive elements in a rhythmic way also. At certain points I was layering similar sounds and then using the mutes or pan knobs on the mixing console as if they were percussive, trying to play random rhythms that would then interact with the other rhythms on tape -- coincidentally.
I also tried to shift the perspective of the music. A few times on the record a voice will be introduced rather quietly and then it will leap out dynamically. This was an attempt to have moments where the music would be just as much the record, as the sounds of the listener's environment. When the perspective is then shifted and the voice leaps out, then its rhythmic elements are more obvious.
mw: Being that you place a lot of emphasis on implanting coincidental rhythm on Introducing, I'm curious as to what your relationship to the idea is. What about it, as a device, resonates with you?
gk: I think it is an outgrowth of two things. Initially I wanted to expand on some drumming ideas I was using frequently. Specifically, coming up with parts that would imply more than one feel or pulse. Basically treating the drum kit as a quartet or something, where each limb does it's own thing. Sometimes all four playing the same pulse, or sometimes one limb playing half time and another doing a cross rhythm and the two other playing with the primary feel of the song, for example. After a while I just wanted to try it where everything didn't always work out or line up -- letting randomness and chance take the music somewhere else. The second was just noticing the incredible rhythms I would hear on various "field" recordings that I made. I make a lot of recordings of sounds that are interesting to me, typically when I'm on tour or traveling. Just set up a mic and capture it. Some of the rhythms were so much more inspiring than traditional drummer-type polyrhythms. It was much more interesting to me.