“In This World” has an almost Baroque opening. And there’s a woodwind run toward the end of the record, too. How did you source the non-Buchla stuff that we’re hearing, and how do you plan to keep yourself engaged with those instruments live?
Everything was recorded specifically for the record, no samples. Like on EARS, I really like to confuse what’s electronic or not. So in the beginning of the album, it’s probably electronic, and toward the end it’s definitely actual flute. I wrote parts for this ensemble called Stargaze. They played with Mica Levi for a while and some others. They were very nice. I sent them the parts, they recorded them and sent them back to me. Then I just tweaked the heck out of ’em. [Laughs]
They’ve done a lot of cross-disciplinary collaboration too, a lot of audio-visual stuff. It’s not getting any easier to get donors to take a chance on ambitious projects such as these, though. We’re still reliant on institutions. And classical music is still very much an “old money” game.
That’s why it would be so cool if brands got involved to make it all about collaboration— “What’s a good combo of people? Let’s see what they do.”
What happens at the end of this record? Do we arrive at a state of pure being? Where does the story wind up for you?
Well, it’s inspired by a cyclical life-cycle philosophy. I’m not saying that’s what I believe, but that’s what it’s inspired by. That’s why it ends with being all about grief. But the song’s bittersweet, because it’s also really positive. You’re going back to the reset of the cycle, returning to the source of your cycle. [Laughs] I’m trying to be really careful about the words that I use because it doesn’t come from a religious place at all.
Well, how deep is your love of Alan Watts? He’s cited in the press notes for this album, and as someone who dabbled in many religions during his life as a “journey, not destination” dude, his life’s work is a perfect parallel.
Yeah, that’s exactly it. And that’s what the kid energy is, too. Learning, or remembering, to be in love with the process, and not the landmark.
What’s next? What’s your ideal vision for seeing these songs live in a physical space?
Well, I wrote a whole treatment. It’s a whole 360-degree performance of this, with an ensemble, spatial visualizations and sound, dancers, and interactive aspects to make the audience a part of it. Performance-wise, I’m influenced by people like John Cage with the Rainforest performance [with David Tudor] , La Monte Young with Dream House.
Both major figures in the foundation of the Fluxus movement, working in New York traditions that we don’t necessarily see that much anymore.
How do your synesthesia and ASMR guide or hinder you in realizing your capabilities with multimedia performance? Does your extrasensory relationship to these sensations make you a trusted source for how these things talk to each other? Is it hard to stay focused?
No, it depends. Because I’m really sensitive, sometimes things will affect me too much, and I’ll get in a space where doesn’t feel good.
Can you let that guide you?
Yeah, exactly! What cue’s wrong, what texture’s wrong, and how do you fix it?
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith performs at Good Room in Greenpoint Nov. 2 at 8pm; ticketfly.com