Ballroom Dancing

SXSW panels

Ballroom Dancing
Photo by Mary Sledd

SXSW Interview: Steve Reich/Thurston Moore

Austin Convention Center, Thursday, March 13

Thurston Moore has been the Where's Waldo? of SXSW 08 – label showcases, collaborations, booksignings. So putting him in a room with minimalist composer Steve Reich for an hour felt a little like looking in a petri dish. The pairing couldn't have been more appropriate, though. Moore and his band Sonic Youth have performed Reich compositions, and the elder statesman's musical vision has influenced countless other composers and musicians. For those unfamiliar with Reich's work, it wasn't all wanky tech talk; the interview was more a musical history lesson. Reich talked of growing up in a musical family; his approach to improv, academia, composition, repetition, and feedback; where he got the idea for his 1970s work Pendulum Music (covered by SY for 1999's Goodbye 20th Century); the influence of poet William Carlos Williams and the great John Coltrane. "When John Coltrane left this earth, I stopped listening to jazz," Reich said. He also mentioned the influence of Junior Walker and Motown in terms of repetition. Reich's college friendship with the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh led Moore to ask the inevitable. "Were you ever a hippie?" "No, no," Reich replied. "I was a beatnik. Well, a young beatnik or an elderly hippie."

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