A collaboration between 33-year old former Battles leader Tyondai Braxton and 75-year old minimalist forefather Philip Glass takes place today at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. It hardly falls under the header of WTF. In fact, it likely would have only taken a few dozen monkeys with a few dozen festivals to curate to figure out the pairing. And, in fact, many of the acts that have graced ATP’s post-rock stages over the years–including Tortoise, the first show ATP founder Barry Hogan promoted–owe plenty to Glass. But that doesn’t make this year’s pairing any less intriguing. Braxton has mostly lain low since 2009’s mammoth Central Market, a rich mind bender with the Wordless Music Orchestra, give or take other commissions from Bang On A Can and Alarm Will Sound. Along with the New York debut of Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo Hanging Guitar piece, the Braxton/Glass collaboration holds down the experimental corner of this eclectic bill.
How did the collaboration with Philip Glass come about? And how much are you willing to spill about it?
It came about because of this remix record Beck and Philip’s producer, Hector Castillo, have been working on, and they reached out to me to do something last year. One thing led to another. It’s been amazing. We’ve had a few rehearsals. I won’t divulge too much about what we’re going to do, but I will say this: these kinds of collaborations can often usually be chalked up to novelty, people it might be interesting to combine, and you never know what to expect. But Philip has been amazing, we’ve been able to rehearse, and musically I’m really psyched about this show. I think he is, too. It’s just going to be the two of us. There’ll be enough definition and composition in the pieces so that people will recognize what’s going on, and I’m sure they’ll recognize pieces, but there’s room for extraction. It feels very organic.
When did you first hear Philip Glass’s music?
His music’s always been around, always orbiting my consciousness in one way or another. Growing up, I would hear his music a lot. My father was a musician and a composer, and he was always playing music around the house. I got to know Philip’s music from a young age. But, of course, I have a different relationship with it now, and even as I start to get older and start to understand more of the significance and his philosophy behind it, and how it fits into the larger musical community throughout the world. It’s like a great wine, it just ages as you grow up, you find new things to dig in with to enjoy it. I’ve always had some kind of relationship with his music, and it’s always been more and more fascinating as I’ve gotten older. I absolutely can’t claim to know every piece of his.
What have your ATP experiences been like over the years?
It’s an amazing, unique festival. It’s a whole bunch of people together in one spot that you’d never imagine you’d get a chance to talk to. I met Crispin Glover at the last one I was on with Battles that was curated by Explosions in the Sky. I talked to Crispin Glover, I talked to Kim Deal from the Breeders. It’s just a really surreal community that ATP fosters. It’s just really fun and positive. It’s a nice escape. Everybody leaves the major city they live in and goes to cabins and watches their favorite bands play. It’s a little different this time, but hopefully it’ll be a good one. Setting it in particular environments are important, and surreality of it is pretty integral I’m really psyched it’s in
New York and feel like that’s the best place for a festival like this.
What have you been up to lately?
I’ve been in the process of writing this new record. I took on a bunch of commissions for a year-and-a-half after doing the orchestra shows for Central Market last year. I’d focused on that. I’ve been doing scattered solo shows, working out what this next phase is going to be. I’ve been running. I’m playing with London Sinfonietta at Queen Elizabeth Hall in October. I’ve been trying to shut everything down and focus on this new project that will be coming out next year. I can’t really talk about it just yet.