Hermitofthewoods: Questions and Answers
Norman Adams, AD of suddenlyLISTEN asked Hermitofthewoods (aka Michael McGuire) a few probing questions this week, and here's what he answered:
1. What will you be doing for Arrythmia? Improvising? Telling stories? Reading poetry?
I think, for the most part, that I will be improvising. Letting the music suggest moods and ideas and following it down the rabbithole. I may bring some written material, as well, but I think I'll avoid any kind of "straight reads" and pick out bits and pieces that I can play with on a musical level. I may tell a story or two, as well.
2. What do you like best about improvising with other musicians?
I like that each player will bring their own sensibilities to the performance. You get to know the people you are playing with through the kinds of choices they make. It can be as revealing as any conversation. That keeps it interesting, as well. You have to stay on your toes and respond to what others are putting out, contributing to the musical conversation by offering up your own thoughts and opinions. Most importantly, though, it's fun. Everyone has a different skill set, so it's fun to mix them all up and see what happens.
3. Do you consider yourself a sound artist or a rapper or a poet or what?
To be honest, I cringe any time I have to put a label on what I do. I am a musician, a rapper, a spoken word poet, a composer and arranger, a beatmaker, a freestyler, a singer, and a whole lot of other things, as well. I don't know if any one of those things is an accurate description, because I've always tried to blur the lines a bit, and feel that pushing those boundaries is vital. Everyone has an idea in their head of what a rapper is - What they do, what they look like, what kinds of things they are concerned with... I probably don't fit very well into those expectations and assumptions, but I can rap my ass off. The same goes for poetry. I'm probably not anyone's idea of a stereotypical poet, but I put everything I have into it and if it comes out looking like poetry, then cool. To break it right down, I'm an artist and words are the medium I prefer to work in. But, even then, I'm hesitant to use the word 'artist' with a straight face.
4. Do you know what the music will sound like in Halifax? What do you imagine?
I have no idea and I like that. I'm familiar with some of SuddenlyListen's prior works, but I've tried to avoid listening to too many recordings because I don't want to create a lot of expectations in my own mind about how things will go. I know enough that I have a sense of the tools that will be in play, but I prefer to approach the whole thing with an open mind so that I'm not thrown for a loop when things take interesting and spontaneous turns. For my own part, what I bring to the performance will be coloured by a lot of things... moods, current events, the sound and feel of the music itself, even the audience. That's the spirit of improvisation - to filter the world through your heart and soul, creating in the moment. I imagine nearly limitless possibilities.
5. Anything else you’d like to add?
I'm really excited to be playing with such fantastic musicians. I've performed alongside hip hoppers and jazz musicians, punk and metal bands, European electro-wizards and First Nations vocalists. I've rapped on street corners with beatboxers and sung at black tie galas. This will be a beautiful experiment and a one-of-a-kind experience.