David Supine (II)

David Goad (Kali Ra) Interview & Gallery, Pt. 1

The Interview, Pt. 1

David Goad (Kali Ra) Interview, Pt. 1

David Goad, front­man for Kali Ra and var­i­ous other musi­cal and per­for­mance projects, recently sat down with us to answer some ques­tions. His lovely wife, Alicia, was on hand to call his bullsh*t sup­ple­ment his answers and fact-check. She also told us 10 Things You Didn’t Know about David Goad, which you can read in Part 2 of the inter­view.

Mercury Photo BureauI under­stand you’re a grad­u­ate of ACM. When did you graduate?

David Goad[Looks at watch] Let’s see … I grad­u­ated in 2011.

MPBWere you a com­po­si­tion major?

DavidI was a gui­tar per­for­mance major. [I took com­po­si­tion classes at] ACM and OCCC […]

Mercury Photo BureauWere you involved in musi­cal theatre?

DavidNo, [my area of study] was musi­cal ped­a­gogy; I mostly stud­ied clas­si­cal gui­tar, clas­si­cal voice and com­po­si­tion theory.

Enter David
Enter David — Kali Ra, HiLo Club, Oklahoma City

MPBYou’ve had a cou­ple of your com­po­si­tions used in the­atre and television.

DavidI had a piece used on [nation­ally syn­di­cated PBS show] Two Wheel Oklahoma, and I’ve also writ­ten a [30 minute] score for a [90 minute] the­atre piece called Fubar[, pro­duced at UCO in 2011].

For the PBS show, the pro­duc­ers wanted music that was [both] dri­ving and ambi­ent; I can do both of those things. The piece is called called Aphasia and it’s a med­i­ta­tion on a pen­ta­tonic scale [Sidenote: A musi­cal scale with 5 notes per octave. Scales in mod­ern Western music typ­i­cally employ a hep­ta­tonic (7 note) scale.]  — for the 1st half of the piece — and then you have a lot of ‘roboto’ rhythm, and there are bridges with a lot of sharp punc­tu­a­tions. The instru­men­ta­tion is a lot of tym­pani and a lot of per­cus­sion like vibra­phone and marimba. But I wrote the melody for gui­tar with a “sus­tainer” pickup [Sidenote: Sustainers con­sist of a device to gen­er­ate a mag­netic field that causes the strings to vibrate, cou­pled with a pickup to “pick up” and amplify the sound, thus cre­at­ing near-infi­nite sus­tain.] , allow­ing the per­former to play with­out pick­ing notes [with the right hand]; you hold the strings to the frets [with your left hand] […] [so you can play the gui­tar like a violin].

It’s a densely har­monic piece; in the 2nd part, it’s a 12/​8 rhythm; it’s bouncier with a funky bass line that’s sta­tic through the whole thing. Then it becomes nat­ural minor and car­ries it all the way to the end, where it ends on the tonic, [on a major chord].

[The music for] Fubar was a lot less con­so­nant. It was mostly inci­den­tal music. I used a lot of 12-tone and atonal tech­niques, with a lot of minor 2nds. I was try­ing to develop a sonic ambiance based on sym­pa­thetic vibra­tion, rather than a cohe­sive har­mony or melody, vibra­tions that would stretch or pul­sate rapidly.

[The the­atri­cal piece] Fubar was exper­i­men­tal, like Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty. [Sidenote: Artaud the­o­rized the sur­re­al­ist the­atri­cal form “Théâtre de la Cruauté” in his essay col­lec­tion The Theatre and its Double, pub­lished 1938.] So, obvi­ously, I wanted to com­pose some­thing ‘decon­struc­tion­ist,’ tak­ing a very non-musi­cal approach to music. [Conversely,] I would ‘give the audi­ence a bone’ here and there. I cre­ated some very ‘robotic’ dance pieces dri­ven by dis­torted bass and drums. It’s sort of […] Brian Eno meets Trent Reznor meets John Cage […].

Mercury Photo BureauTell us about your pre-Kali Ra projects, and also your cur­rent side projects.

DavidBefore Kali Ra, I was in Of the Tower. I don’t want to say we were […] a cliché Goth band, but we were more Goth than Kali Ra.

Of the Tower con­sisted of Todd Plunkett, Nathan Stein Steinman and me. In the ’90s and the early ’00s, [Todd and Nathan] were part of the Oklahoma rock scene. Nathan was in The Venditos and Todd was in Kite Flying Robot and Ghosts of Monkshood, and he was also in Shiny Toy Guns for a bit. He was everywhere.

We were try­ing to approach the band as an art col­lec­tive, and we had very high aspi­ra­tions for it, but it just never hap­pened […]. Musically, we all had sim­i­lar influ­ences, and we wanted to cram them together to make deli­cious jam out of it. We were all fans of Bauhaus and The Doors and David Bowie and Joy Division and Philip Glass. We wanted to do this min­i­mal­ist post-punk thing that was dark and Goth-y.

I took my gui­tar approach and my singing from Daniel Ash and Peter Murphy, and Todd did a lot of Joy Division-New Order stuff, and like, [John] Densmore from The Doors; very expres­sive, angu­lar drum­ming; it was almost jazzy. Nathan was heav­ily into world music: klezmer and Gypsy music and Philip Glass. You’d think a mix­ture of all 3 of them [would work]. It was much more dif­fi­cult in real­ity to effec­tively meld them together […].

David (I)
David (I) — Kali Ra, HiLo Club, Oklahoma City

Alicia GoadI really don’t think that [how they col­lab­o­rated] was what broke [Of the Tower] up. I think it was more [a mat­ter] of them not com­ing to prac­tice and not want­ing to move on and tour. It wasn’t because of cre­ative differences.

DavidI will admit, I was being diplo­matic. It was my aspi­ra­tion to tour and pro­duce albums […] and now that Of the Tower was dis­banded, I had tab­ula rasa to be able to hone in on the song­writ­ing craft, to not be stick­ing to a pas­tiche and [to] write the best songs that I could. [Being] in a band for so many years, that had almost been cred­i­ble, you know, it was a good learn­ing [expe­ri­ence]. So now I had this abil­ity to write baroque, pop-rock-elec­tro-glam-indus­trial infused songs. Kali Ra is the next step, cre­atively, and is also my flag­ship project.

I now have [many excel­lent musi­cians at my dis­posal]. Justin Hogan won the 2002 Best Guitarist Oklahoma Rock Award […]. Joel Price, another friend and col­league, is an excel­lent pro­ducer; his pro­duc­tion style is like Brian Eno’s. [He thinks in terms of] sound­scapes, to cre­ate music as a painting […].

MPBLet me side­track you with a ques­tion I recently asked Peelander Yellow. Brian Eno once wrote an essay in which he posited that recent advances in record­ing tech­nol­ogy rob music mak­ing of inti­macy and imme­di­acy, replac­ing what were once 1-to-1 cor­re­spon­dences between action and result (‘ana­logue’) with multi-step abstrac­tions that require the assis­tance of a soft­ware engi­neer for even the sim­plest task (‘dig­i­tal’). What tech­nol­ogy do you employ when record­ing, and has this been a prob­lem for you?

DavidRight now, we’re using the wash­ing machine, the CD rack, and, um, rooms; we’re very heavy into using rooms, along with all the dig­i­tal stuff. [laugh­ter]

My point is, we try to meld the 2 together and try not to rely too heav­ily [on either ana­log or dig­i­tal]. That’s where Joel excels; he and I do a lot of exper­i­men­ta­tion with tim­bre, pitch, and sonic depth, things that were com­mon­place in indus­trial and elec­tronic music at its incep­tion, but are now passé [as musi­cians increas­ingly rely on VST plu­g­ins]. [Sidenote: Virtual Studio Technology is an inter­face for inte­grat­ing soft­ware audio syn­the­sizer & effect plu­g­ins with audio edi­tors & hard-disk record­ing sys­tems, often used to emu­late ana­logue and spa­tial effects. It is anal­o­gous to “Photoshop actions” or “Lightroom fil­ters” in dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy.] By the way, Joel is also Kali Ra’s other gui­tarist; his style is sim­i­lar to Robert Fripp’s or The Edge’s.

[We] who have an artis­tic approach [to music] still cling to imme­di­acy, [like the Actionist man­i­festo]; [Sidenote: Viennese Actionism (circa 1960 – 1971) rejected object-based or oth­er­wise com­mod­i­fi­able art prac­tices by stag­ing pre­cisely scored “Actions” in con­trolled envi­ron­ments or before audi­ences. Some art his­to­ri­ans see it as the fore­run­ner to per­for­mance art.] you are try­ing to cre­ate an event, and I think that is what a record­ing is: you are try­ing to [cap­ture that event].

David (II)
David (II) — Kali Ra, HiLo Club, Oklahoma City

Mercury Photo BureauSomething that really hap­pened, not some­thing that only occurred in the dig­i­tal domain.

DavidRight. You could spend a year record­ing and mix­ing an EP that is dig­i­tally per­fect, but it wouldn’t have the love, the care, the atten­tion, or the raw­ness of the exper­i­men­tal stuff from the ’70s and the early ’80s. You have Einstürzende Neubauten, you have David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy; that was a time when peo­ple were still dis­cov­er­ing how to do these things.

These tools shouldn’t be used as a crutch. We have to be inven­tive beyond them; we’ve got to define new stan­dards. [Sidenote: At this point, David speaks at length about process. For brevity, we’ve omit­ted his dis­course.]

Mercury Photo BureauThose are all valid con­cerns, but I’m hear­ing a lot about process and almost no men­tion of music. Are you a musi­cian, or are you an artist who may include music in his art, but that’s only part of what you do?

DavidYes [, the lat­ter]. But the entire thing is a process from end to end. You’re a par­ent: you con­ceive the child, that is, the music, you com­pose and go through sev­eral drafts, you’ve birthed the child, you’re rehears­ing the music, and then there’re still some tweaks needed before you finally release it into the wild.

He’s Irish

David’s ances­tors are Irish, with the atten­dant ‘gift of the gab.’ As he had no short­age of words, I’m break­ing this inter­view into 2 parts. Part 2 includes stream­ing audio for his song, Electric Living. Also in part 2 are 10 Things You Didn’t Know about David Goad, as told by Alicia Goad.


Gallery: Kali Ra at the HiLo Club

About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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