Friday Music + Meditation | Garth Stevenson Interview
I understand you mostly do your yoga and music collaborations with Elena Brower, is there anyone else that you want to collaborate with on that level?
I've been collaborating with Elena at Virayoga once or twice a week for nearly two years. We had an instant almost telepathic connection when we started and now, 2000 hours later, it's even deeper. It's comparable to the connection I've forged with a handful of musicians where nothing needs to be said or communicated visually. It's all about trust, timing, and sensitivity. I've worked with other yoga teachers including: John Friend, Schuyler Grant, Stephanie Sandleben, Stacey Rosenberg, Kelly Blaser, Kate Greer, Richmond Dickson, Sianna Sherman, Kenny Graham, Tara Glazier, Kevin Courtney and Samantha Shakti Brown. Again, just like my favorite musicians, all of these teachers are amazing and my connection to each of them is unique.
Since you play at a lot of music and yoga retreats, whats the most compromising place you have performed?
I've taken my bass where no bass has gone beforeâ€¦seriously. I've hoisted it into the red rock caves of the dessert, hiked miles through the woods in the dark, played in rivers, on the edge of cliffs, but by far the most compromising place was in Antarctica. I spent a month on an icebreaker acting and performing in a feature film that was shot on the Antarctic Peninsula. One day I was on an icy beach in a quiet bay with a cameraman and 250,000 penguins. We heard a thunderous boom and watched a huge chunk of ice fall into the water a mile away. We continued to shoot then out of the corner of my eye I saw a ten-foot wave racing towards the beach. We sprinted for higher ground and barely escaped the wave. Don't worry, the penguins were long gone before the wave came.
Phew, we wouldn't want even more penguins to be harmed. Your last release, a solo composition, won the International Society of Double Bassists Composition Competition. Any new releases coming out?
I have a new album coming out this Spring that I've been working on non-stop for the past year. The album has 14 tracks, most of which were composed in yoga classes then re-recorded in my studio. My goal was to make an album that would follow the curve of a yoga class but also work well as a stand alone record. At 78 minutes long, teachers should be able to hit play and not have to touch their ipod until they unplug it at the end of class. I can't wait to share this with the community. All I'm waiting on is the arrival of the handmade paper cases from Nepal.
Tell us a little about your style, for those not familiar.
I've always struggled with describing my music but here's what others have been saying lately. "I felt like I was flying." "I could have sworn that I was underwater surrounded by humpback whales." "I completely forgot where I was and who I was."
So much of my sound and musical vocabulary evolved from the thousands of hours I've spent playing alone in Nature. Scouting locations, getting lost in the woods, encountering animals, it's all such a journey before I even take my bass out of the case. It's that journey that I hope comes across in the music.
Technically speaking, I bow, pluck and percuss my 160-year-old double bass through a reverb and loop pedal, which allows me to create large soundscapes and orchestral textures.
How was it to give a class to 10,000 people (before the rain struck of course) with Elena in Central Park?
It was amazing while it lasted. We had a solid five minutes before a serious storm hit and sent everyone scattering. I'm sure the organizers at Flavorpill will attempt take 2 or something even more epic this year.
Any music collaborations coming?
My main collaboration right now is scoring the film that was shot in Antarctica. It's been so rewarding working with a director that has endless amounts of creativity and such a strong vision. I also perform frequently with John Shannon, Sonya Kitchell, and I'm still very active in the New York improvised music and jazz scenes.
Ah we love Sonya Kitchell! Thank you for your time Garth, we are looking forward to seeing you at the fests! For some videos of Garth and his website, see below.
Garth Stevenson - Cave
Garth Stevenson - Ocean
Garth Stevenson - Alpine