We recently auditioned for Metro Theater’s “Wonderland” as a musician and actor(?) and although we felt extremely uncomfortable, choked on the guitar, and wished we did more audible sounds in our physical acting exercise, we’re excited to have been offered two speaking roles and to play music throughout the production.
Down the rabbit hole we go! More info as it comes!
Syna So Expanding!
We’re having a wonderful time utilizing Central Library’s Creative Experience! This will be our third workshop we’ve done in the last year, with two more slotted throughout the rest of 2018.
We decided to do this workshop as an answer to the many folks who’s asked us to give them looping lessons.
“Looping lessons“, we thought. “How would we do that?”
Understanding that some people want to master their equipment as quickly as possible, or they are having trouble figuring out the signal pathway, or visualizing the many ways loops can be utilized, we thought the easiest option was to do a free workshop on the subject.
The workshop was interactive, giving the participants intermittent times throughout the 2.5 hours a chance to execute what they learned. One they got a handle on a topic, we gave them more directives and advice to consider and dropping them back into the loops they were creating.
At the end of the workshop, we played everyone’s final loop they were tweaking, building, layering and mixing for all participants.
We had the honor and privilege to be apart of A Call to Conscience, Inc‘s production of Beah Richard’s “A Black Woman Speaks” poem. She was a political artist and activist with a long career on stage, screen and television. She is better remembered by her stage name Beah Richards and the 1967 Oscar-nominated role as Sidney Poitier’s mother in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, her Tony Award- nominated performance in James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner (1965), or even her role in the 1990’s as Dr. Benton’s mother on the long running television series ER for which she won two Emmy Awards. Her political commitments led her to make a career out of playing older women in a range of politically charged films and stage performances.
Watch Beah herself perform her poem below.
Our role in the production was to provide sound design, soundscapes and music to accompany the poem. Thomasina Clarke was the sole performer for the poem and sent chills down our spine all three nights at The Griot Museum of Black History.
Bob Wilcox and his crew had this to say about the production:
We were very pleased to work with Fannie Lebby, Linda Smith, Thomasina Clarke and Vivan Watt.
Last November was the month of collaborations! We did our first Gaslight Sessions with Lydia Caesar as well as a session inside of Nelly’s Ex’Treme Institute, and participated in St. Louis Ensemble with 17 other local musicians for John Weise’s Collaboration presented by New Music Circle.
Lydia Caesar is an ASCAP award winning artist who’s had her voice featured in commercials for international brands such as Vicks, Reese’s Pieces and BET Music Matters. After releasing her “Queen of Hearts” record in May of 2018, she do a live recording of her songs with a stripped down feel to showcase her vocal talents. Below is video of the Gaslight Sessions with us on guitar.
John Wiese is an artist and composer living in Los Angeles, California. He is a native of St. Louis, where as a young teenager he began experiments with home-recording on a cassette 4-track. He has since solidified his name as a tremendously prolific performer and recording artist, with expertise in composition, texture, and sonic experimentation. Wiese says he doesn’t really think of himself as a musician in the traditional sense, and instead of writing purely notated music he works with manipulating, cutting and arranging sounds electronically. The end product is more like a meticulous collage, built upon dense, nuanced sounds ranging from the minimal to the frenetic.
With a lengthy résumé of solo releases, Wiese’s projects as a collaborator have increased over the last decade to produce works with the likes of veteran jazz-improviser, Evan Parker, rock bands like No Age and Wolf Eyes, and metal groups such as Sunn O))). Recently, he has lead collaborative projects for large groups, developing a method of “text-based scores”. For his St. Louis performance he will debut a site-specific composition that includes over 20 local musicians, utilizing both traditional and non-traditional instrumentation.
Below is a video recorded and produced by Foveal Media, where you can see us contribute our vocals to the ensemble.
St. Louis Enemble
Darin Gray – upright bass
Danielle Taylor Williams – harp
Julio Prato – electronics
Coby Pear – modular synthesizer
Drew Gowran – percussion
Michael Williams – tapes / electronics
Chris Trull – Guitar
Fred Tompkins – flute
Sarah Vie – violin
Alex Cunningham – violin
JJ Hamon – pedal steel guitar / trombone
Necia Baxter – turntables
Dave Stone – Saxophone
Syrhea Conaway – vocals / electronics
Josh Kahl – Modular synthesizer
Alberto Patino – drums
Louis Wall – cymbals
We have been continuing the trend of teaching musical/audio workshops within the Central Library’s Creative Experience. We feel like this is our 2nd home for the latter half of 2017 after being within these walls for 10 consecutive weeks for Sonic Arts United‘s Loud and Clear STL Fall Program.
In this FREE 2 1/2 hour workshop, we lead participants in on the creation of instrumental music with focuses on combining rhythm, melody, harmony, song structure, and mixing (volume and panning). We played various instrumental tracks we’ve been working on while guiding participants to listen with a producer’s ear.
Intro Excerpt below!
Definitely enjoy this type of work and we’re looking forward to more opportunities in 2018!
Loud and Clear STL, a Sonic Arts United initiative and Allied Media Projects sponsored project, is a 10-week program designed to support girls, and young women who have an interest in the sonic arts, by providing them with a safe space, and the technology to learn, create and share ideas.
Starting off with the physics of sound and signals, our girls learn how to define and demonstrate all that goes into sound creation. We will explore electricity by using the printed circuit board (PCB) of the Werkstatt by Moog as our guide. In the following weeks, participants are introduced to subtracted synthesis, sound design, midi, how to work with analog and digital tools by pairing the Werkstatt with the Ableton Push, and Live 9 software, investigate sonic branding, and development of their very own podcast episode.
The desired outcomes are to raise the self-esteem of participants, create bonds that foster mutual respect, and provide the necessary tools, training, and mentorship that shows girls and young women a career in the sonic arts, is an achievable career path for them to follow.
Fall session starts September 9th through November 18th and we are pleased to be instructing a couple sessions with Loren D!
We had the honor of collaborating with our dear friend, Kahlil Irving in his final exhibition at Washington University’s Mildred Kemper Gallery. Kahlil is a talented multimedia artist (designer, writer, curator) more famously known for his pottery work.
In this exhibition, his work is about black nationalism and the fight that Black Americans have to continue to endure while walking in this life. The hopes and experiences within the piece, intended to share with the viewers attending the exhibition, is that we are here, we are healthy, and we are fighting for our liberation beyond the metaphorical and physical chains they have put on us.
Because of the setting and political social climate of the current United States, we chose to re-arrange James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” for 4 part female harmonies. Below is a recording of our performance, with local vocalist/musicians, Alexis Coleman, Adria Nicole, and Loren Davis-Stroud (left to right).
Listen closely to hear Kahlil silently singing along with our performance.
This past Monday, we participated in Super Heroines Etc.’s Artivism 101 panel discussion with six other women. The discussion was held at the St. Louis Library Carpenter Branch. Among us, the panelists were as follows:
Kristian Blackmon, Artist and Organizer with Missouri Jobs with Justice
Emerging Leader Award
Shelly Goebl-Parker, Program Director, Art Therapy Counseling, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Emma Riley, Digital Storyteller & Communication Designer
Displaced & Erased
Joan Suarez, Bread & Roses Missouri Founder
Missouri History Museum
Andrea Standby, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of PRIME
Elizabeth Vega, Artist and Activist
Cut & Paste
Moderated by Jasmine J. Mahmoud, Postdoctoral Fellow, American Culture Studies, Washington University in St. Louis
The discussion explored navigation of producing activist work, what is artivism to us and how do we consider ourselves and artiviest, and the challenges we face in St. Louis. There was a Q&A session and the end of the discussion as well. We intended on documenting the discussion for later viewing but realized we never hit the record button on our device. Pretty amateur mistake for us in all that we do!
Will keep you posted if Super Heroines Etc., or any other organization will publish a blog about their event. Please check out all of the amazing women who participated in the panel discussion.
Syna So Excited to announce that we will be providing a live sound design of a Peabody Award Winning Public Radio Show, To the Best of Our Knowledge. They have partnered up with St. Louis Public Radio for a live taping at the Sheldon on the 25th of May. We will be providing music for the opening and closing of the show, as well as breaks, and the chance to perform two of our songs in it’s entirety along with a short interview. More information to come but tickets are $15 and can be purchased here!
We are pleased to announce that we will be facilitating a 2 and a half hour workshop to teachers and educators on a course we are tentatively calling “Around the Clock” as a part of COCAedu’s Summer Institute. This workshop will explore the basic conversions of time delay and decay through interactive round and echo exercises.
The Summer Institute will take place over the course of 4 days in July of 2017. More details will come as they arise but registration is open until 03.31.17.