Mo' Music Interview: Jace Clayton
An interview with the creator of the Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner
By Rob Cohen,
5:45PM, Fri. Mar. 7, 2014
Jace Clayon, also known as DJ/rupture, had never heard of Julius Eastman, but quickly fell in love with his experimental, minimal music and confrontational, fiercely queer personality. Admiration turned into inspiration and now here we are at the first Southern performance of his tribute show.
Austin Chronicle: How were you introduced to Julius Eastman's music?
Jace Clayton: Through a friend of mine. She was in Cape Town, South Africa, and friends of her's just stumbled upon his music. His bio was really interesting, but his music just made me go, "Wow." I found it really experimental, progressive, and beautiful. I was surprised to have never heard of him before. The music scene in the late-Seventies and early-Eighties is so well documented.
AC: Even now there is not much information out there on him.
JC: His music was so good and compelling, yet so unknown. It's a shame but a lot of musicians follow his arc of having their moment then they're ground down and disappear and fall into obscurity. He wound up homeless, and a lot of his sheet music was lost, so that's part of it too.
AC: How has his personal life touched you? Do you relate to him?
JC: He was a very interesting iconoclast. I love the way he went against the ordinary boxes of time; either you do classical music or experimental music, the academic world, gay club life. He is sort of like a trickster figure moving between and finding connections between all these worlds. I like the way his music foregrounds all these issues. In that time period similar musicians were titling their works with obtuse titles while he was calling his works in your face stuff like Gay Guerilla and Evil Nigger and such. He was very much about this idea of being queer and very present.
AC: How did you conceptualize this piece and the accompanying album?
JC:From the very beginning I came up with the radio-play aspect to it. It's not a play, but there are short theatrical vignettes. Once I decided to stage a performance, I thought it should have an album counterpart.
AC: What happens in your show?
JC:That spirit of irreverence that he had is perfect for me. It inspired me not to just recreate his music perfectly but play with it. He's not someone you can have an easy homage to. I wanted to do something that had that friction that was essential to his work, so that's why I incorporated the live piano processing. The two pianists in the performance are playing his scores note for note, but my electronic manipulations are all improvised.
AC: Sounds like we'll be getting a unique performance.
JC: Yes, you will, and it is also the Texas and Southern debut of the show. We've played this show New York and north of there and have no other Southern shows planned.
Sound + Vision proudly presents Jace Clayton’s The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner to the McCullough Theatre tonight at 7:30pm. The show is free and open to the public. Click here for more info.