Do It Together: Aaron Stovall Talks About This Weekend's SLAP Conference and Current -- Preview the Mixtape Here
This weekend, the St. Louis Arts Project will hold its second annual conference. Its aim is to reach the far-flung corners of the art world, regional or not, for an exchange of ideas and expression. There is a suggested $10 donation for entry -- check in starts tonight at 6 p.m. at the Contemporary Art Museum. From there, you can attend a wide variety of talks, panels, discussions and events; a full schedule is below.
A highlight of last year's inaugural outing was the Current performance, where several different artists in the same room improvised a collaborative work. Current returns this year with an expanded lineup and scope -- this year's performers include Eric Hall, Syna So Pro, Black James, Lamar Harris, Thelonius Kryptonite, Ra Cailum, 18andCounting, Loose Screwz and members of So Many Dynamos. You can watch their experiment at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
We spoke with So Many Dynamos' Aaron Stovall, who will be participating. He talked about the increasing importance of collaboration and the value of living in the city of St. Louis. We also have a mix tape, assembled by SLAP, featuring all this year's Current artists. Listen below.
Kiernan Maletsky: How is Current different this year?
Aaron Stovall: First and foremost, the location has changed. Last year, the Current informational session and performance both took place inside one of the big rooms at Regional Arts Commission. This year, we'll all be performing outside in the courtyard of the Contemporary Arts Museum. We try to keep the lineup as diverse as possible, and with that we've brought in Black James, Ra Cailum, Thelonious Kryptonite and Lamar Harris as additions to this year's line-up.
What is the value of collaboration?
When you're just getting to know someone, which is usually the case within the groups of performers involved in Current, playing music together is the perfect alternative to using words as communication. It forces you to listen. It forces you to choose what's right for the song and situation and not just for yourself. It's a great way to step outside of your own expectations and limitations as a performer. It's all about seeing how far you're able to push one another, while at the same time, furthering your individual growth.
What is the best way to develop the St. Louis music scene?
I read a phrase the other day that kind of blew my mind, and I feel like I've been trying to share and discuss it with everyone. D.I.T. (Do It Together) is the new D.I.Y. It's such a simple concept, but can be related to music and culture in a bajillion different ways. As one example, the other day I saw where the bands Yeasayer and Fang Island were both "exclusively premiering" a different song from another band, Delicate Steve, via their own social media outlets. More often, bands are constantly pressured to come up with creative ways to retain relevance in a world where music is consumed faster than ever before.
So, why not help each other out? It seems like the idea of petty competition and who gets more popular than the other is fading more and more. No longer does it seem like band vs. band. It's more like band vs. the Internet. Outside of the Internet, collaboration - and not just playing, but sharing and talking about personal musical interests - is extremely beneficial in hearing things in a different light. Also, as I previously mentioned, it provides artists to meet and to get to know one another. Lastly, it may not be the most economical solution these days, but I believe touring and seeing how other music communities can thrive, stay stagnant or even fail provide bands with a ton of perspective on what it is they're trying to accomplish.
What have you gained as a musician since moving to the city?
Up until three years ago, I lived on the Illinois side of the Metropolitan area my entire life. I always knew it was a little inconvenient to be 25 to 30 minutes away from the city, but I didn't realize exactly how much I had been missing out on until moving. As a musician, I feel I've gained the convenience of proximity to venues and event spaces and have had the opportunity to go to any show on any given night. It's allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and explore all of the different bands and groups of people that live here. There's so much happening right now and I feel like it's directly under our noses. Through my experience, a little bit of research and a lot of conversation goes a long way in finding something here that pertains to your interests and is totally awesome and often inspiring. The momentum of our music and arts community seems stronger than ever, and I get more and more excited as others continue to realize the potential we all share.
To view a full schedule (the mix tape is there as well), go to the next page.