Friday, September 23, 2011

Interview: Dave Nelson

Brooklyn-based trombonist and composer Dave Nelson has self-released his debut EP Logistic Minutia this week.  He fuses an intriguing mix of jazz and classical theories with electronics and indie rock on the four-song EP.  You might recognize Dave from playing alongside some of your favorite indie rock bands, like The National, Spoon, and Sufjan Stevens among others.
In this interview with Dave, you can get some insight into what it is like being a classically trained performer in the indie rock world and how both of those experiences helped shape the compositions on his excellent debut Logistic Minutia.  


Atlas and the Anchor: You have played as a trombonist with an impressive list of indie rock bands like The National, Spoon, Sufjan Stevens and Jónsi of Sigur Ros. How did those experiences influence you while composing the jazz-rock fusion on your debut EP Logistic Minutia?

Dave Nelson: I think the biggest influence was just having a front row seat in observing how great artists work. It gave me the confidence to move forward with my own ideas and to think bigger than just being a trombonist. I've always kept notebooks full of ideas and sketches "for the future" but never really got around to developing them. Seeing those guys actually doing something and going for it inspired me to give a shot at producing my own work.

AA: You have also played alongside legendary Jazz guitarist Stanley Clarke, that had to have been amazing! In a dream scenario, who would you like to collaborate with?

DN: That's easy, it would have to be Frank Zappa circa 1973. He's one of my biggest influences early on. I probably spent 7 or 8 years in high school and college obsessing over his albums to the point that I could sing along with every melody, counter melody, and instrumental solo. Of course, he's no longer with us, so this is indeed a dream scenario. Present day, maybe Trey Anastasio...

AA: Your background is in classical music and you have performed with New York City ensembles The Knight Orchestra and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) as well as on Broadway. What excites you the most about performing with indie rock bands and with classical ensembles? It seems like you have no limitations coming from both angles.

DN: Just being able to freely move between the two worlds is probably the most exciting thing. Lucky for me, I seem to have come to NYC at a time when the lines between the two genres are being blurred in a really appealing way. Great indie artists and "classical" composers are collaborating and drawing from each other so frequently which creates an ideal environment for a musician like me. Actually, my earliest background was in jazz and rock. Playing in so many bands down in Athens, GA created a great musical foundation so that later, when I delved into more of the classical worlds, I was able to keep a broader perspective on the music. So now, having the opportunity to work with indie rock artists is like coming full circle and perfectly encapsulates all my experiences so far.

AA: I love the depth of texture the synth provides in your compositions. How did you approach composing for the EP, did you think like a rock musician or classical, or was it a mix of both?

DN: Thanks! My original concept was to write little minimalist chamber pieces for a rock band setting. So, in that sense I was definitely approaching it like a composer. But, there were definitely times when I just hit record and started improvising too. Occasionally an idea would stick and be strong enough to add to or continue the composing process, and things would keep moving along in that way. So, it's probably a healthy mix of unfiltered inspiration and over thinking!

AA: The intergalactic funky groove of “Sequence”, the first track on Logistic Minutia is probably my favorite on the album. What is your favorite song or passage on the album and why?

DN: I have a strange attachment to the title track "Logistic Minutia", probably because I obsessed over the composition and rhythmic detail of that one in particular. Lot of ins, lots of outs, lots of what-have-you's in there - composition techniques and so forth. That doesn't necessarily make a song good though. "Sequence" has gotten a great response which is funny because it started out with me just playing around and improvising on the synth. After another song or two didn't materialize for the EP, I decided last minute, "Hey, maybe this sequence thing could work..." So I filled out the arrangement and rolled with it, and it turned out to be a lot of fun to produce. I think there's a compositional lesson there that hopefully I'll absorb one of these days.

AA: Your debut EP was just released but are you currently writing for a full-length or are you working on any other new projects of note?

DN: I am working on a new project that's shaping up to be pretty quirky. There are at least 5 parts or movements based on a particular concept, and I'm considering expanding it to a full length as well. I've got some sessions planned with my drummer friend Marlon Patton down in his Atlanta studio, and I'm excited to see what happens there.

AA: What one older and current song do you wish you would have written yourself?

DN: Hmm... that's a tough one. Probably some classic from the Beatles like "Yesterday" for the older one. And "Sprawl II" by Arcade Fire would be the current song.

AA: What music are you currently listening to?

DN: Kaputt by Destroyer and Teen Dream by Beach House have been my soundtrack for the last month or so. The melodies are just so good. Just recently, I've been digging on St. Vincent's new album, Strange Mercy.


Download "Sequence" here:

For more info click here:


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home