Interview with Nick Fraser – MIMIC
PEOPLE OF DJD//
There are many people that make up the community at the DJD Dance Centre. From artists, administrators, volunteers and beyond, these walls are pulsing with personality.
Musical Director, Composer and Musician
1. WHAT IS YOUR HISTORY WITH DJD?
The first show that I did with DJD was New Universe, in May of 2016. I was a last-minute replacement for a drummer who had to leave the production. It was a real treat to work with Kim and with musical director William Parker. After that experience, Kim asked me to be the musical director for Juliet and Romeo (January 2017) and now Mimic.
2. THE SCORE FOR MIMIC IS ALL PERCUSSION, DID THAT CHANGE HOW YOU THOUGHT ABOUT COMPOSING THIS SCORE?
It changed it a lot! Mostly to do with the specificity of musical events. For example, in the score to Juliet & Romeo, I wrote a lot of melody, bass parts, etc, leaving the percussion part (my part) to be largely improvised (that is, unspecific). In this score, I don’t have that luxury, as the specific, repeatable musical events have to come from the percussion. And frankly, I’m still working on it! Of course, I’m lucky to have some great collaborators: Michael Davidson on vibraphone and percussion, and Evan Cartwright on drums and percussion.
3. HOW IS IT DIFFERENT TO SCORE A DANCE SHOW VS. MAKE AN ALBUM? OR TO PLAY A CONCERT WITH ONLY MUSICIANS?
It’s different in many ways, but the main difference is that the music is not the main focus. It’s in service of the choreography. Also, there are more elements than in a purely musical experience. If something goes wrong in the timing when recording an album (or performing a concert), it can be recovered fairly easily, and pass virtually unnoticed, as there are only 3-5 people involved. If something goes wrong in a dance performance with a live band and 9 dancers, it can be disastrous! So, it requires a different level of attention than we’re used to. Not a greater level of attention, just different.
4. WHAT MUSIC HAS INSPIRED YOU FOR THIS SHOW?
I got a lot of direct musical inspiration from traditional music of Kenya, Mali and Senegal. Also from minimalist composer Steve Reich. More indirectly, there’s some stuff drawn from Edgar Varese, Steve Coleman, older Disney films, disco music, and Ahmad Jamal.
5. WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT TO TELL US ABOUT THIS EXPERIENCE?
Well, one thing that I haven’t mentioned is the addition of a third element, which is the puppetry/object theatre of Peter Balkwill. He’s been working with the dancers for several months on the manipulation of some very unique and strange objects that make up part of the choreography. When Kim and I did Juliet and Romeo with text and narration by Corey Bowles, I remember referring to it as a “three-headed monster” (i.e. the dance, the text and the music). This one has that same challenge of balancing three elements, although they will be integrated in a different way as there isn’t an auditory component to the third element as there was with the narration of J&R.
I think it’s going to be a great show… funny, dark, strange… all those good things!