One on One with Swarm Intelligence / by Nicole Baker

With our 2017 NYC Season coming up, I thought it would be a great idea to interview some of our INCREDIBLY talented collaborators. I wanted to get to know them more and share their stories with all of you.

First up is Swarm Intelligence, the musician who I commissioned to create the score for our newest work, Cycles. Cycles will have it's world premiere at the Martha Graham Studio Theater on October 13-15 - you do not want to miss this other worldly collaboration between ETD and Swarm Intelligence!

When did you begin composing? What are you currently working on?

To be entirely honest, I can’t even remember when all this began for me. My first Swarm Intelligence release was in 2006, but I started well before then.

When did you first collaborate with Eryc Taylor Dance? What was the project? 

Well, this is in fact our first collaboration. The piece is entitled “The Cycle”.

How has your experiences been working with a contemporary dance company? 

This is a first for me! I can’t say I’ve experienced anything like it. It’s curious to listen back to my first draft and see how far the piece has progressed through our collaboration. Eryc had a particular vision and encouraged me to go further and further into a deep and abstract sound. 

I am very excited to see the choreographed interpretation of the composition. Working via email and FaceTime has been somehow challenging, I had to compose imagining how it might fit their vision but never really knowing. I feel it somehow we made it work, which speaks volumes about the dance company more so than about me!

What are some other stand out dance, theater, music, or film companies have you worked with? 

Not to date. I have been very much focussed on my own releases and performances. The collaboration has been an eye opener and I would love to see what else could lie along this path.

What would be the ultimate project to compose?

I could imagine playing a more interactive role wth the dancers and audience would be really interesting – a live surround sound performance, with sounds being generated by the dancers’ movements. 

That said, I have a huge amount on my plate at the moment. I have been writing an album for the last two years that is finally coming to a settled point where I might be able to call it “done”. I have many other releases due out and a pretty regular performance schedule – all this alongside a day job!   

Describe your style of music and the artists that have impacted the most.

These are two questions that I always struggle to answer. I feel my music is constantly evolving and subconsciously inspired by all of the new artists that cycle through my record collection. I guess I’d prefer to let the listener describe my sound, anything less would be a bit conceited on my part.

As for the artists I admire – I’d suggest people come to see me DJ to find this out! 

What public figure has had the biggest influence on you and why?

There are several political figures around the world nowadays that seem to seek to do nothing more than divide and instil fear for their own gain. This has a huge influence on my life and there’s no doubt that I take these feelings into my music also.

I believe in equality, kindness and love – it seems like anything else is against the natural order of humanity. It’s frustrating to see us regress to the past, but I have hope it’s a temporary lapse and that we’ll all come to our senses!

Do you have a quote or mantra that you live by?

I believe in writing music that I enjoy, not music that people expect of me.

What's been the largest obstacle/struggle in your life to becoming a freelance artist? How did you overcome it? If you didn't become a musician, what job do you think would be working right now?

I didn’t! I was afraid that depending on music as my sole source of income would force me to make artistic compromises that I wasn’t prepared to make. I have a job working for a company called Ableton that builds software for musicians. It brings together my engineering qualifications and my love of music so I guess I landed on my feet there.

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