Noe Venable

Where else can we dance?

Posted by on May 25, 2015

Where else can we dance?

Work continues on my new album, as yet unnamed.  It’s funny to work so intensely on it now, since there’s still so much I want and need to do with Cascadia, my last release.  Remaining Kickstarter rewards are foremost amongst those things.  We have two music videos we’re nearly done with, and the new songbook is about half completed.

But with our cross country move less than a month away, this is my last chance for a while to work with the incredible New York musicians I’ve got to know here.  So I’ve had to seize the moment.

Today we started laying down percussion tracks with Mathias Kunzli.  Jeff Hill is engineering.  It’s always amazing to see / hear Mathias in his percussion playground. Percussion is going to play a significant role in this album, more so than on anything I’ve released prior.  There are a few reasons for this new direction.  First, there’s all the south and west African music I’ve been listening to these last couple of years.  I discovered South African music in a choral workshop with Village Harmony, and fell completely in love with it– the syncopation, the warmth of those big open harmonies, and the laid back feel.  It’s a feel that’s completely in the body and soul.  There’s no way for our music notation to accurately capture it.  Most of the time, when you play a South African song exactly as written, it sounds completely inaccurate to how a true South African chorus would sing it. This is so different from the feel of much American music, which is often right on the beat, or else pushing forward a bit.

Mathias laying down a frame drum at The Stable.

Mathias laying down a frame drum at The Stable.

A second inspiration for this new album has been Mathias himself.  When I first heard him play, it opened my ears to how much fun rhythm could be.  I often wonder what it must be like to BE that groovy…  I tend to hear melodies everywhere, sparks of songs, shy little poems, wanting to be written.  I wonder what it would be like to be that way with rhythm.  The city is so full of rhythm, once you start to listen for it.  Birdcalls, machinery, the screech of the subway.

Becoming a mother is the third thing that’s helped me find my groove.  Maybe because sitting down is a thing of the past for a while, once you have a baby.  Little ones are happiest when they get to keep moving.   In the early days, sometimes the only thing that seemed to soothe our little one was bouncing on a yoga ball, often for hours.   In these times, nursing wouldn’t even work.  Eventually I figured out how to nurse and move at the same time, and that was what really did the trick.

Thank goodness I soon figured out how to just wear him through almost everything I needed to do, and to keep moving while I was doing it.  The funny thing was, it turned out movement was just as good for me as it was for him.  Maybe it’s not just little ones who heal and thrive through movement.  I think I do too.

I remember something Mathias was saying today– how for a shaker part to groove, his whole body has to be moving. I think I don’t dance enough. Intention for this week– more dancing. Possible locations– playgrounds, doing dishes, gardening, doing laundry, teaching…

Let’s see, where and how else can we dance?

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