By Karla Brom
At Liquid Music we think and talk a lot about the audience for new music. Our patrons inspire us creatively and in many ways shape our course. With this new blog series, we decided to go directly to the source and ask our audience members what draws them to new music, and especially to Liquid Music. Our questions were always the same: How did you hear about Liquid Music? What are some of your favorite recent performances? What kinds of music do you listen to at home? Are you a fan of classical?
But the conversations went all over the place...
David Dybiec AND ALBERTO FIERRO, Liquid Music subscribers
Tell us something about yourselves: Alberto: I am a Mexican citizen and have been a diplomat for 23 years. My responsibilities have always been promoting cultural awareness and cultural affairs and now I am the Consul of Mexico in Minnesota (there are 200,000 Mexicans living here). I became a cultural promoter because I love the arts but I’m not an artist myself.
David: I lived in Minnesota from the age of 6-18 and this is the first time I am living here since then. I’m an arts educator (mainly for primary school students), painter and sculptor. We moved to Minnesota almost 3 years ago, during Liquid Music’s first season.
When and how did you first hear about Liquid Music? David: When Alberto accepted the post in Minnesota, we were very excited. Our last posting was in Orlando and the cultural scene there was not as diverse as we knew the Twin Cities would be. We started googling everything about culture in the Twin Cities and found Liquid Music that way.
What appealed to you about the series? Alberto: We have pretty adventurous musical appetites and have been exposed to new music before – we attended a new music festival in Ottawa, which was our first exposure. Mexico also has an interesting new music festival. We are music lovers, but not experts or academics, we like to be surprised.
How many performances have you attended? David: We’ve been to at least 80% of the performances – the only reason we’ve missed any is because we were out of town when they happened!
What are some of your favorite recent Liquid Music performances and why? Alberto: They’ve all been wonderful in different ways. The series feels like a laboratory – music in the making. Our expectation is that we’ll see something performed for the first and maybe the only time. Some favorites are Glenn Kotche and Third Coast Percussion – we were delighted that something that outlandish could happen – here we were literally watching music being made [Wild Sound included Third Coast Percussion constructing their own instruments]. We don’t imagine hearing or seeing it again.
David: We liked the Timo Andres program, the way it was structured with his work at the end. Ethel: Documerica for the imagery – the vocabulary of visual and musical overlap. Julia Holter because of her ethereal voice.
Alberto: We don’t do research on the artists before seeing a show, usually have no clue about them unless they are famous. So we don’t know what to expect, but we trust the Liquid Music brand. We love the intimacy of many of the venues and the diversity of the audience. This isn’t music you can hum along with, like you can with classical music (and that’s a good thing!) – you have to listen from within – it is all about letting yourself be taken.
What kind of music do you listen to at home? David: We are happy to have such great public radio available in the Twin Cities – we’re often tuned in to 99.5 (classical) or 88.5 (jazz). Otherwise the music we listen to depends on the mood. If it’s a party it is going to be something like Tito Puente!
Do you also attend SPCO concerts? Are you a classical music fan? Yes and yes. We are so lucky to have two great orchestras in the Twin Cities, and we go to the SPCO frequently. Classical music is a totally different experience – you know what to expect, you usually know the music already.
What other arts activities do you take advantage of in the Twin Cities? A little bit of everything. We live close to the Walker so we go there for performing arts. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Soap Factory, Minneapolis Film Society, Schubert Club, contemporary dance. We love TU Dance!
Kaitlin Frick, Liquid Music patron and volunteer
Tell us something about yourself: I am an arts administrator currently working at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Uptown, Minneapolis. I love working with artists and creative types, and spend most of my free time checking out new music – recorded and live music. I hit a personal landmark last year by attending 100 shows over the course of the year! I’m always on a quest for newness – I do a lot of reading and listening.
How did you hear about Liquid Music? What appealed to you about the series? I was working at the SPCO in 2012, when Kate Nordstrum started there. I had followed her work at the Southern Theater and was immediately intrigued by her desire to present innovative music programming.
I play violin – I was trained classically from a young age, and had spent a lot of time with classical music throughout my teens and in college – so much time that I kind of burned out on the traditional classical music experience. The work that Kate was doing blew my mind – the fact that concerts were being programmed in non-traditional venues and blurring the lines defining musical genres. To hear work performed by artists who are drawing from all sorts of inspirations and backgrounds in classical, folk, electronic, spoken word, rock, etc. was inspiring to me and sort of refreshed my interest in classical music – allowing me to listen with new ears. I’ve probably been to 2/3 of the Liquid Music shows.
What are some of your favorite recent Liquid Music performances and why? The Dawn of Midi/ Nils Frahm show was a wonderful pairing. I had been a fan of Nils Frahm for a while and was so pleased to see he was coming to town in a venue so intimate as the Amsterdam! It was incredible to see him at the helm of his multi-keyboard setup. But Dawn of Midi I had not heard of and was really quite floored by what they do – an acoustic trio that sounded like minimalist electronic music! It was like they were physically looping their sound. When I closed my eyes, I couldn’t always tell which instrument (piano, drums, bass) was making which sound.
The Helado Negro Island Universe Story show was also a highlight for me. I had seen Roberto play for something like 20 people, opening for Sinkane the previous fall at the Turf Club. So I was so thrilled to see that his Liquid Music show could catapult him onto the national music scene the way it did when he sold out the Ordway Concert Hall last spring. This show exemplified for me one of Liquid Music’s strengths: the ability of the series to allow for unbridled collaborations, which serves audiences and the musicians – as the artists are able to take their work into new territories, audiences are able to discover new music. For example, after this show, I started listening to Stereolab and Laetitia Sadier, started listening to Wilco with new ears, and I was turned onto the techno stylings of Oliver Chapoy aka Certain Creatures!
I also very much appreciated the collaboration of Son Lux, Serengeti and Sufjan Stevens as Sisyphus. The talk at the Walker with these guys and the artist Jim Hodges was fascinating. We were working on a print with Jim at Highpoint at that time, so it was really cool to hear him talk about the role music plays in his artistic process.
What kind of music do you listen to at home? What other kind of music do you go to hear live? I listen to lots of different kinds of music, as well. In terms of rock music, I really love post-punk – Protomartyr is one of my favorite newer bands, and the band Shopping was also a favorite discovery from last year. I also, not surprisingly, love music that crosses genres, like The Soft Moon, which is a post-punk band which is post-punk but also darkwave and electropunk. Liquid Music alum Noveller opened for them last year at the Entry. I’m also very into electronic music, my favorite album of the year was by a local group called Beat Detectives. Super fresh sounding innovative art-house/ outsider house group.
I see a bit of everything, I mostly stick with small venues in town for intimacy and also affordability, so I usually end up seeing lots of shows at the (7th Street) Entry – also some underground venues like house basements and I’ve been exploring the underground techno scene as well. I’ve been to Pitchfork twice and also made it to Decibel last year. I’m more an urban festival goer than someone who is going to camp out for the weekend to listen to music.
Billy Elliot, Liquid Music subscriber
Tell us something about yourself: I’m a huge music fan and save all of the stubs from performances I’ve been seeing since 1976. I have about 1700 ticket stubs which is something like 43 shows a year. Also, I had my name about 40 years before the movie came out!
How did you hear about Liquid Music? I used to go to the Southern Theater all of the time and that is how I heard about Liquid Music. I’ve been going since the first season and try to go to all of the shows if I can. I like that it is quirky and eclectic, that it is not part of the mainstream, that it is off the wall. Also, each venue has a different feel and different acoustics and that adds to the performance. I never look up artists to listen before the performance – I like to be surprised when I get there.
What are some of your favorite recent performances? Nils Frahm – I loved the way he played multiple pianos. Nadia Sirota swept me away. Ethel: Documerica – I liked the way they transformed some old rock and roll songs. Miranda Cuckson was amazing.
What kind of music do you listen to at home? I like progressive rock and roll, jazz. I’m a big Tangerine Dream Fan.
Are you a classical music fan? Yes – Stravinsky’s Firebird Suites or Mussorgsky for example. I like string quartets and the viola.
What other kinds of arts activities do you take advantage of in the Twin Cities? I’m a member at the Walker; go to a lot of theater – Theater in the Round, Guthrie, Mixed Blood, Gremlin Theater. I probably see one modern dance performance a year.
Thanks to David, Alberto, Kaitlin, and Billy for sharing their stories with us. Tell us about your Liquid Music experience(s) in the comments section and be sure to follow us for updates and announcements and Liquid Music artists' happenings: