“A Meditation, A Cleansing”: Michael J. Seidlinger on Writing “Dreams of Being”

Michael J. Seidlinger

Michael J. Seidlinger’s new novel Dreams of Being is simultaneously a haunting story of depression, an ode to delicious food, and one of the most unsettling takes on the creative process I’ve read in a long time. In telling the story of the bond between a novice filmmaker and an expert in sushi, Seidlinger has created a fantastic book on isolation and frustration; even better, it’s a memorably immersive read. I spoke with Seidlinger about the book’s genesis, its literary lineage, and more.

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Revisiting Steve Reich: Erik Hall on His New Recording of “Music for 18 Musicians”

Erik Hall

Erik Hall isn’t 18 musicians, but you could be forgiven for thinking that he is. He’s recorded music as a solo artist and with the group In Tall Buildings; before that, he also had stints in His Name Is Alive and NOMO. For his new album, he opted for a particularly ambitious maneuver: recording Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians. The ensuing record is both a loving version of a minimalist classic and a work that shows the impressive flexibility within Reich’s composition. I talked with Hall about the making of this album and his own musical journey over the years.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Kim Vodicka

kim vodicka

The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.

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Amy Berkowitz on the Rebirth of “Tender Points”

Amy Berkowitz

Sometime in February, Alexandra Naughton met up with Amy Berkowitz at a cafe in San Francisco to talk about the re-release of Berkowitz’s book Tender Points (an incredible and extremely readable lyric essay on the topic of trauma and chronic pain) by Nightboat Books. 

The pair sat at an outside picnic table in San Francisco, before the reality of the pandemic hit the United States, and discussed what’s changed since Tender Points was first published in 2015, zines, the roles of trauma and disability in literature, what Berkowitz and Naughton are working on these days, and the birds in their immediate surroundings.

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Vaporwave, Malls, and Reimagining Genre: An Interview With JD Scott

JD Scott cover

JD Scott‘s new collection Moonflower, Nightshade, All the Hours of the Day is a quietly devastating powerhouse of a book. Scott’s characters grapple with horrific traumas; they also encounter immortal chinchillas and globe-spanning malls. These are stories that occupy familiar spaces but also tie in with mythic resonances; the end result, then, is a book that feels both familiar and subtly groundbreaking. I talked with Scott via email about the genesis of their book and finding the balance of the quotidian and the revelatory.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Jason Teal

Jason Teal

The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.

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Stuart Hyatt on Turning Bat Sounds into Stunning Ambient Music

Recording bats

What would you say if I told you that one of the year’s best ambient/drone albums was made from field recordings of bats? That’s the story being Ultrasonic, the 8th album to be released under the Field Works name. Stuart Hyatt, the man behind the project, recorded the sounds made by bats in Indiana. From there, the recordings were used by a group of prodigiously talented musicians — including Kelly Moran, Noveller, Eluvium, and Christina Vantzou — to create a series of stunning ambient soundscapes. I talked with Hyatt via email about the project’s genesis and the permutations that this album underwent en route to its completion.

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Ted Hearne on Gentrification, Music, and Collaborating with Saul Williams on “Place”

Ted Hearne

The last time I spoke with Ted Hearne was in 2014; the subject was The Source, his collaboration with Mark Doten inspired by the work of whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Now, Hearne has returned with a new album, Placea collaboration with Saul Williams, in which Hearne addresses questions of gentrification in Brooklyn’s Ft. Greene neighborhood. It’s a work that involves countless vocalists, found audio, and a complex structure; it also involves moments of sublime beauty. I talked with Hearne about the genesis of Place and how he developed the themes contained within it.

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