Interview with MIKE WEXLER
Mike Wexler is Mike Wexler. He ain’t bothering you about your breakfast.
Where are you from:
c.f. “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey”
tho i’m not from passaic
Where are you now:
How long have you been at it:
longer than i can remember
What got you started:
i grew up in the deep suburbs. music was something of a cultural lifeline, listening to recordings of it. i was cut off from any immediate experience of it excepting friends who played & not all that well. so i thought that music was more real a world than the one in which i found myself. I wanted to figure out how to exist in this other space. later, when i got to new york, i found out that the meanings i had inferred from listening were pretty idiosyncratic.
What else do you do:
read a lot. watch films.
How do you keep it together:
one day at a time
What are you reading:
poison, shadow & farewell; a brief history of neoliberalism; if there were anywhere but desert; specters of marx; the time that remains; empathy; learning processes with a deadly outcome; seeing in the dark; codes appearing; aspects of the theory of syntax; the notion of obstacle.
What comedy and/or comedians are you into:
i was reading this book forces in motion about & comprised of interviews wth anthony braxton, & at some point he says that in the 80s he was reading a lot of his press, both good & bad (you will recall he was a controversial figure to the jazz establishment for his interest in “new” music & practices such as wearing tweed & smoking a pipe & playing chess, instead of, say, billiards & cigarettes & denim), and he began to realize that not only did he disagree wth the bad press, but the good press was good for all the wrong reasons, or for reasons that had little to do wth what in actuality he had musically intended. so the need arose to set the record straight. this is how i feel when i read most of what little anyone has bothered or cared to write about me.
i’ve never thought of what i do as “folk.” i went to college (tho not for music) & unfortunately i didn’t even drop out. lately, like in the last 30 or so years, it seems like music has been zeroing in on a whole microworld that has been invisible or inaudible previously. I’m thinking–a little bit wistfully or naively–about IRCAM, about sounds that can now be generated very precisely, composed, in a way that they couldn’t before. what does this mean to a quote unquote singer-songwriter (a term that i only use for lack of a term) in today’s music? for me it means that i’ve been looking for a microworld in songform, trying to make something where the movement is internal to a simple set of parameters. I’m bored of “changes.” How do you make a song that doesn’t go anywhere feel like it does? what can still be sung in the absence of a singing “self”? things that i’m working on now are an attempt to answer questions like these.
What are you listening to, lately:
the lovely music catalogue (esp: private parts; out of the blue; on the other ocean); spectralists; minas lp; cellphone interference; space minds, new worlds, survival of america; plastic ono band; fluxion; dilla; kyema, intermediate states; the glass world of anna lockwood
What art, if any, you seen worth talking about
the films of tsai ming liang, pedro costa, apichatpong weerasethakul, sharunas bartas, lisandro alonso, jia zhang ke are worth talking about
Worked any fucked-up jobs? Do tell:
i’ve been security guard, subsidiary rights assistant, hydrographic surveyor, art handler. right now i work in a second-hand bookstore, which is probably my vocation.
Played any fucked-up shows:
i fuck up at all of my shows
With whom, if anyone, do you roll:
friends & neighbors
Where are you headed:
in all seriousness i have no idea & wd prefer to keep it that way. element of surprise
Where is the rest of it headed:
see above. tho i think it likely that some sort of cyborg scenario is in the cards.
What can you do about it:
focus on the present
Are there any people you’d like to mention who’ve helped you work it out:
too many to enumerate. let’s start with matt marinelli, jordi wheeler, brian tamborello, charles burst, brent cordero, ryan sawyer, andy macleod, tianna kennedy, jesse peterson, corinne jones, maxime guitton, morgan lebus, matt harmon, brian gempp, robbie lee, shelley burgon, maria chavez, jane abernethy, aaron lovejoy aka hypnotits. sorry i missed you.
People to look for:
anyone with a well-worn copy of voices by antonio porchia
People to look out for, because they are bad news:
trust you’ll know them when you see them.
Anything you have in the works, on the ready, or on the horizon:
about to finish my next record. it’s called Dispossession. also about midway through writing the next one after that. no title as of yet.
Anything else you want to pass on:
thanks ryan for hipping me to the wisdom of kool keith: