A Conversation with Experimental Bassist Darin Gray: Playing Art Hill, Radiolab Live and More
Darin Gray and Tyler Damon Duo
In your eyes, how has the dynamic of the St. Louis experimental music scene shifted over the years?
I played my first St. Louis area show in 1981. Very few of those people I started out with as a kid are still doing music and still doing this. I feel lucky to be here still. I work really hard, but I'm not unique in being a hard worker. I have sort of an insider-outsider perspective and from what I can tell, there are more cool things going on in St. Louis than probably ever. There's an energy I haven't seen or heard in years. There are so many great young people making great music and just are really energized doing lots of things. They don't seem to be so worried about any kind of success. That to me is fantastic.
What other projects and collaborations can we look forward to from you over the next year?
I have a lot of things coming out next year, all these albums in the works. I should have an album out with Robert Beatty from Hair Police and probably two cassettes coming out with Raw Thug from Louisville -- I love this guy. On Fillmore will have a new album next year and we'll be in Brazil in December for two weeks to work on a big chunk of it. I have a session with Bill Horist from Seattle recorded with Ryan Wasoba done and in the can. It's in this weird world where we're trying to find someone to put it out, a strange and humbling position to be in. It's an exciting moment to get a record done and difficult to keep the excitement going as you're sort of knee-deep in the trenches. I'm probably forgetting something!
Another thing sort of in the fire is a Chikamorachi record out next year, a double LP that'll be coming out on Family Vineyard with Akira Sakata, Jim O'Rourke and Merzbow on mobile recording truck. Jim O'Rourke mixed it. It was one of those rare moments -- anytime you record a live thing and you want it to work, it never does and is always somehow disappointing. It was one of those rare moments where it actually got recorded and captured at the end of a tour after the group had time to gel.
About a year ago, I made a conscious effort to branch out. People that see me play or that know me closely probably find it hard to understand that I'm shy and that it's difficult for me to meet new people. I'd like to start playing with people I haven't worked with before and I want a context of all these young people making great music. Indirectly, the show Friday came up because of me reaching out to Tyler Damon and Mars Williams. Chris Corsano and I played with Mars in Chicago about a year and a half ago, and he's a huge hero of mine. I could go on for hours about how totally inspiring he is to me. He's played with Peter Brötzmann but was also in the Waitresses. He played in the Psychedelic Furs and can also do acid jazz, and does all of this really well, all with integrity, which is something I really admire. We all need elders. I know and you know that it doesn't end and it doesn't have to end. Keep growing and ultimately if you push yourself, you'll get better and better. I also wanted to do something that would represent three different generations -- my son is Tyler's age. Mars is certainly our elder but will bury us both at this concert.