SXSW Music Interview: Max Richter

Contemporary classical polymath performs an eight-hour composition for an audience in bed


Photo by Mike Terry

In his debut SXSW performance, contemporary classical polymath and Englishman Max Richter, 51, performs Sleep, an eight-hour orchestral composition played overnight to an audience laying in actual beds.

Austin Chronicle: What’s a film score that would be a good entry point for your music?

Max Richter: Probably The Leftovers. It’s an amazing show. Aside from that, my first score, Waltz With Bashir, an animated documentary from Israel.

AC: You seem like a busy guy. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

MR: I’m lucky, I sleep really well. That was one of the starting points for this project. We’re chronically sleep-deprived as a culture. We’re constantly on. I wanted to create a piece that functions like a psychological holiday from the 24/7 data blizzard, like a big pause button.

AC: What size bed do you have?

MR: A really big bed! Whatever the super king-size is.

AC: Sleep isn’t as drone-y as some people might expect. How did you conceive the piece?

MR: There’s different ways to approach music for sleeping. Things like white noise are functional, like a lullaby. This is more like an inquiry, a question about how music and sleep fit together.

AC: How have people responded?

MR: You get hardcore folks who turn up at midnight, go to sleep, and wake up at dawn. Or they sit there all night listening. Most people do both, they walk around, wake up, snore. It’s a bit egalitarian. I think of it as an invitation to go on a journey, to reflect and think about the big stuff, which we don’t get a chance to do much these days. We’re so busy and everyone is so saturated with information, it’s incredibly satisfying to stop and listen.


See extended interview online at austinchronicle.com/music/daily.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
A smaller SXSW Music week still satisfies

Kevin Curtin, March 23, 2018

SXSW Music Review: Keith Urban
Live Shot: Keith Urban
Country superstar’s “Wasted Time”

Doug Freeman, March 17, 2018

More by Dan Gentile
Top 10 Box Sets of 2018
Brian Eno
Music for Installations (Record Review)

Dec. 7, 2018

I, Fieri
I, Fieri
The FieriCon pub crawl made me realize I’m not such a Normal Guy after all

Oct. 25, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Max Richter, SXSW Music 2018

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle