Alarm Will Sound: "We've got a mission to make St. Louis our second home."
|Alarm Will Sound performs Zappa's Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat.|
RFT Music: Alarm Will Sound performs a variety of pieces. Can you walk us through the types of songs in the group's repertoire?
Gavin Chuck: With Aphex Twin, in this case, those are preexisting electronic songs. Steve Reich and Tyondai Braxton actually wrote original songs for us. Those pieces were written for us in the last year, specific for Alarm Will Sound. The Aphex Twin tunes and some other electronica tracks existed before. If you're a musician and you love a particular piece, you want to play it.
How did Alarm Will Sound begin arranging the works of Aphex Twin?
It was actually was a really long process, and we've been playing these songs since about 2004. We spent a solid two weeks over Christmas break in rural Pennsylvania, where we had a residency.
What's really interesting about these songs is that they were originally played electronically, and the question was: How do you recreate a sound that was electronically conceived and play it on an acoustic instrument? So we just holed up, listened intensely and made translations from electronic into acoustic. Sometimes we would even go to junk shops to pick up items to make sounds that were originally electronic. At the show you'll see us playing oven racks. We even went to Home Depot and got some tubing that we twirl around to make sounds, so you'll see stuff like that.
We really tried to re-create, as much as possible, the original sounds and those translations ended up being interesting. People who are familiar with the original songs will get to hear them in a new way. Of course the translations aren't perfect, but that's sort of the point. The music was originally made for machines, and humans are here playing it, so we're bridging that gap. Something really interesting happens, a sort of transformation.
How do you get permission to make new arrangements of existing pieces?
We always write people to let them know what we're doing. First of all, we do it out of love for their work, and we want them to know how much we are getting out of it. It's always been about the response. Aphex Twin was the first kind of work we did in this direction. We contacted Aphex Twin and his publisher, and we made an album out of it. That album introduced us to a whole new audience. An audience that listens to electronica, but might not have heard electronica played live. It was a new experience for them and a new audience for us.
What has been the response from the artists whose music you've performed?
I think it's been positive. We started out with Aphex Twin and we keep adding others to our repertoire. Other artists we've asked kept saying yes. I think they know that what we're doing is interesting and it gets their music out there in a different way.
Read on for more with Gavin Chuck of Alarm Will Sound