Sam Wilkes - One Theme & Subsequent Improvisation

Leaving Records

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Release Date
June 17, 2022
Electronic Jazz
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For his sophomore full-length album, LA-based Bassist/Producer/Composer Sam Wilkes is prompted with ten questions from Leaving Records community mentor & facilitator Carlos Niño. 1. Carlos: Prior to gathering and setting up in the Studio for the Recording Sessions that this record is sculpted from, how much did you talk with any of your collaborators? What did you talk about? What kind of direction, inspiration, example, or association did you give, if any? Wilkes: i told Christian Euman “I want to make a double drum record with you” The thought had occurred to me after seeing a few shows in New Orleans in 2019. I asked “If you could record it with any other drummer who would it be?” he responded quite instantly: “Greg Webster” (AKA GREG PAUL) together in one 4 hour session we recorded 3 different improvisational pieces … and a chart of mine this album is entirely the 2nd of those 3 improvisations I spent a lot of time living with that 40 minute musical block of granite, getting to know it, wondering prodding how to connect the frame-able moments after 5 to 6 months Jacob Mann and Chris Fishman record over the piece separately. I offered very little instruction to them, then I read an interview of Gerhard Richter & Hans Ulbrich Obrist “Lives of the Artists, Lives of the Architects” excellent use of Helvetica on the cover. They discuss Richter’s process destroying his own work to find something new in it. I had an epiphany. the possibility of improvised sonics(?) with the intent of creating contingency through destroying the audio of specific sections of this 40 minute piece to discover new music(s) in the process. I contacted Ethan Braun: “What other musicians and artists Besides Stockhausen and Cage, got into a similar kind of process?” He sent me: Pierre Schaefer, Kazuo Shiraga, and Butch Morris. I combined with my past research on Phillip Guston, and Richter. I organized and prepared for my process in collaboration with Chris Sorem to see it through - 2. Carlos: What went into your choice to have 2 Trap Drummers on this record? Had Christian and Greg ever met? Had they ever played together before? Wilkes: New Orleans April 2019 with Jacob Mann. Small bar Fried chicken wings being sold outside. delicious. Brass band performing “for the love of you” by the Isley brothers what an arrangement I am ecstatic Band had 2 drummers playing marching snare drums One drummer on kick and cymbal. I knew. 2 drummers. Christian and Greg had not played together formally but had always wanted to… It was special to witness . all of our first time playing with others Since, you know. The situation and concept of the session, To do one tune and spend the rest of the time just playing Was a release.. listening back in the control room Delirious - 3. Carlos: How did you come to choose the Studios that you worked in for this record? The Musicians and Instruments? Wilkes: i’ve always respected loyalty. It feels like a hug. I frequent Nest Recorders and I frequent Lucy’s Meat Market. I knew Jacob Mann would know what to do After hearing his take I realized this additional opportunity: Chris Fishman on an ARP-2600 - 4. Carlos: Please tell us how you feel about, Richter: "Surprises always emerge," Wilkes: how lucky i am to discover for myself that this is true. - 5. Carlos: In what ways did the Improvisations that you and your group played, (that You Produced & Arranged this record from,) begin? A look, a word, a gesture? Something else? Wilkes: i hit play on a maestro rhythm king. I got lucky with the tempo. I played a chord progression a cell that I had written a few years ago to say to christian and greg: go Jacob said yes pressed record reacted Chris Fishman and I together with Pete Min at Lucy’s meat market Chris playing his heart out. after, we’d drive around my neighborhood 2-3 o’clock in the morning listening to this music discussing the arrangements where to cut the fat, where to chew. Chris Fishman was so important in this album’s completion. Chris Sorem and me At nest recorders Playing with tape Recklessly Laughing Fighting exhaustion. So much gear set up Only half of it used. Destroying and discovering No time to waste to hear something new - 6.Carlos: What does "One Theme" mean to You? Wilkes: 8 bar harmonic and melodic passage that repeats. - 7. Carlos: How does this new record make You feel? Wilkes: i see orange! - 8. Carlos: Was everyone set up in the same room, or in multiple rooms within each Studio? Wilkes: yes & no Nest Recorders: SW, CE, GP Jacob Mann’s Apartment in Alhambra: JM Lucy’s Meat Market: CF, SW - 9. Carlos: How has your sound, concept, approach been changing, evolving, metamorphosing, from your perspective? Wilkes: for me to know And you to find out. I practice everyday still sometimes, I write just as much Sometimes I don’t Sometimes im sculpting chipping away at music Hoping to find something Sometimes I forget Sometimes im tired. Sometimes im watching or reading the lord of the rings Hopefully I’m improving Hopefully I can be present and Grow. I want to be compassionate and not so hard on myself. - 10. Carlos: Please tell us something special, to You, about the making of this record. Wilkes: The album title is exactly what the album is. & i am unbelievably thankful for the people who made this record with me. lucky to collaborate with them. lucky to know them: Christian Euman Greg Paul Jacob Mann Chris Fishman Chris Sorem Pete Min Mark Chalecki I love you all, thank you : )