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Haale Gafori and Matt Kilmer are a modern day Renaissance couple. In addition to their post-dubstep duo the Mast, they function as writers, directors, poets, and visual artists. Gafori, who is lithe and gorgeous in a post-hippie sort of way, was invited to read her poetry in Assisi, Italy at a Global Conference this September. Kilmer helps to write and coordinate the music for the universally acclaimed television series Louie.
The Mast play tonight at Glassland Gallery with Dragons of Zenith, Ava Luna, and Viva Chocolatina Ruiz
The pair met back in 2007, on a pier over the Hudson River. “He gave me his card,” Gafori laughs. When she needed a drummer for an upcoming gig, the card was laying on her desk. Their first album, Wild Poppies, is from what they call their “pre-gadget” period, filled with traditional instrumentation. Now they play futuristic-electro pop inspired by early-IDM and experimental beat music–James Blake on mescaline. (If he isn’t already.)
The Mast, like all bands trying to break through to a contemporary audience, recognize the fact that the days of musician-hood being an insulated affair are over. Music being shared and discovered via the Internet allows for a huge amount of creative freedom, but it also forces musicians to wear many hats, some of them previously unfamiliar. Now many indie bands have to act as their own social media coordinator, publicist, art director, etc. Gafori says that she likes the idea of an artist being adaptable, but that some of the roles, like updating social media, can distract from creativity.
But Gafori has found a way to channel the chameleon-like skill required of musicians these days. She directed, designed, and edited the music video for their single “UpUpUp.” It’s no student film; rather an exhilarating piece of high art with choreography reminiscent of Kahlil Joseph’s Sundance-accepted adaptation of Flying Lotus’ Until the Quiet Comes. And it’s got almost half a million views on YouTube, around the same amount, to continue the FlyLo comparison, as Captain Murphy videos. “It all comes from the same spring,” Gafori says of integrating different facets of art. “A creative place.”
One of the artistic hats Kilmer wears is that of television score composer, as the music coordinator for Louis CK’s hit show Louie. “Reggie Watts is a friend of ours and Louie originally called him to do the music but he was working with Conan [O’Brien] at the time,” says Kilmer. “Reggie handed it off to me. He introduced me to Louis and that was that.”
“Louis knows exactly what he wants,” continues Kilmer. “It’s nice to work with someone who knows exactly what he wants. He’ll kind of show us some of the scenes and reference tracks and I’ll have my team in there and we’ll play something. If he likes it we go with it.” The show’s mixes iconic New York jazz with salsa and reggae elements in episodes shot out of the city.
And, like his partner, Kilmer is cognizant of the need to switch back into a singularly creative mindset for the Mast. “They are separate things,” he says. “When I’m doing music for Louie, it’s tailor made for a specific purpose.” Seeing that crucial line, allows him to wear everyone’s favorite hat with confidence–the artist’s.