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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cooking in Alien Kitchens: Six Questions for Grey Mcmurray

Guitarist and songwriter Grey Mcmurray joins So Percussion for its upcoming show Where (we) Live, an exploration of home and creative community, playing at BAM from December 19—22. 

Photo: Grey Mcmurray, by Nathan West
On the Where (we) Live track “Strangers All Along,” you sing: “Who is this and is it time? What is this and is it mine?” Have you ever found yourself saying that on a gig or in the context of any other artistic experience?

I promise this gets to your question. Where (we) Live has a different guest performer / improviser / person-doing-what-they-do at every performance. Most of the time they are crafting their craft while we are ours, independently of one another, alongside one another. The resulting togetherness through not-togetherness gives an audience a picture of two actions—one group and one singular—happening together. Hopefully, if we gain the audience's trust and commit completely, a true inclusive moment could happen for everybody in the room.

At an early rehearsal we had a guest writer, and during an early version of one of her songs, she put those words in front of me. The rest of that track's words grew out of those lines. Those questions ["Who is this and is it time? What is this and is it mine?"], in different words, haunt every insecure interaction I have. I imagine that's a little true for everyone part of the time. So, yes, I feel that at every gig. And the amount of time I spend thinking about those questions is most of the time inversely proportional to how well things go.

Can you think of any favorite albums that feature artists really getting out of their comfort zones and opening up to one another musically? 

Graceland is pretty damn good.

I read somewhere that you started playing guitar after seeing B.B. King on The Cosby Show. Cliff Huxtable invited B.B. into his house, and I’m guessing you’d invite him into yours. What record would you most want to listen to together?  

I did. The Cosby Show was the best my life got at one point. I would just want to hear him talk about anything.

What’s the most vulnerable you've ever felt as a musician in a collaborative context?

Chances are if I don't [feel vulnerable], something is astray. Every collaboration holds some new way to feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. If I can figure out what that is, that's the best chance I have of feeling confident being vulnerable. I pay more attention cooking in alien kitchens.

Between your groups Knights on Earth, itsnotyouitsme, the current Where (we) Live, and all your other projects, how would you describe your musical home right now? Modern townhouse filled with slick mid-century furniture? IKEA-meets-craigslist free-for-all? 

I'm trying to build a swaying paper house that stays warm in the winter with a window for a roof.

What’s an album or a song that you feel you can always go home to?

The second movement of Schubert's Piano Sonata in Bb Major D.960.

For more from Grey check out...

...his band Knights on Earth (start with "bishops and beefeaters" from move slow, life ends) 

...his duo itsnotyouitsme with violinist Caleb Burhans

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