Short Interview & New Track Featured on Powerstripcircus.com
Here's a short feature on me by once-fellow (so sad!) NY artists on their new site, Powerstripcircus.com. I answered a few questions asked by my friend KRTS, and gave them a brand new track for you to hear entitled "Sugar Cane Girlfriend": a simple song I felt I had to do last spring after spending months listening to hundreds of samples of the word "yo."
We recently got back in touch with our old friend Caural, who, if you’ve been around the beat scene long enough, you’ve heard of more than once. Caural’s work is beautifully layered, richly textured, and masterfully executed… which has provided him with more than enough reach to work with the many accomplished names he’s shared stages with, including James Lavelle, Prefuse 73, King Britt, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Nightmares on Wax, Dntel, Edition Terranova, Daedelus & John Tejada. He will be contributing his track ‘Sugar Cane Girlfriend’ to the first edition of the Powerstrip Circus Mixtape. So stay tuned. Kurtis Hairston (KRTS) conducted our interview this weekend.
KRTS: Where did you get the name, Caural from?
Caural: When I first grew excited about making sample-based music versus playing live (which I had done for over ten years by that point), I was really interested in what sampling really meant for both the artist appropriating the sounds, and the musician who recorded them initially. The act of re contextualizing anything - whether it be a sound, an image, or words - implies “feeding off” of your source but, in reality, you are also providing it a new “home” of sorts for the listener. So, with that in mind, I wanted to think of a naturally occurring event or organism to analogize that idea, and my mom came up with a coral reef. A coral reef does exactly that: It exists in a symbiotic relationship with the organisms who live within it while receiving nourishment from them. So, from “coral,” I included “aural” to imply sound.
A second meaning has to do with sound (or anything, really) transcending a single sense perception. I studied with Anthony Braxton, and he got me thinking about dimensions in music. He would notate shapes on the staff - sometimes targeting a couple notes within it - and ask us to “play” that shape. Or, he would “title” his composition with an image, visually representing the overall structure of the piece. As a visual artist and writer myself, I have always viewed art as existing outside the confines of a single medium. Like, what does a certain painting sound like? What does a word sound like, aside from being spoken? I then looked at Caural as [C] [Aural], or ["See"] [Sound]. And no, no one is supposed to get that from looking at it!
KRTS: Your music is lush, vibrant, deep, thickly layered, experimental, and influenced heavily (in my opinion) by Jazz. Do you feel the reason for this is plainly a love for sound or do you feel it’s somewhat a representation of what’s going inside your head? In other words, are you perhaps more complex inside than you show normally but, express it more through music?
Caural: As a person and as a musician, I have been very influenced by jazz, though I am not sure how “jazzy” my music really is. A lot of people hear a saxophone, upright bass, piano, or a swung drum break and think, “oh - that’s jazz!” Well, that’s not what jazz is. Jazz is very “alive” music in that the point of it is the interplay between the musicians and listening more than playing. Every time a piece is played, it’s different. And that’s the same thing with life: every experience is new. Every day, you’re reborn.
But yes, it is my love for sound which forces me to make music. I flesh out each of these little universes by juxtaposing all kinds of divergent sources, and try to keep things interesting without going out of my way to be “experimental” per se.
I guess part three is, I think it’s impossible to really gauge how “complex” someone is inside, myself included. More importantly, I don’t believe that artists truly create their art; rather, they are conduits for it. So, while artists may ponder all these complex concepts - is this even what you mean? - when they make music, hopefully, they aren’t really thinking much at all, and are just listening to what’s coming through. We aren’t our minds, we’re just ruled by them. Art is one activity that helps shut the self off and opens our connections to everything which is beyond/deeper within us.
KRTS: If you could describe your music as a breakfast, how would each layer you create make a muthafuckin’ good meal?
Caural: My music as breakfast… Hmmm… I love pancakes with lots of butter and syrup, crisp hash browns with tabasco sauce, juicy bacon, whole milk, spicy eggs with sautéed vegetables and cheese, and coffee. If you ate a bite of each, chewed everything up without crushing each taste into an indistinguishable mass, then stuck a microphone in your mouth, I guess that’s what I sound like.