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David Russell Stempowski by Christopher Auerbach-Brown   05.05.14

SPACES asked Christopher Auerbach-Brown, our visiting The Vault curator, to pose a few questions to the sound artists participating in Apopheny Epiphany: What is Random?, opening on May 30th. Here, David Russell Stempowski talks about how he got started making sound art, the larger context of the Cleveland music scene, and what he is contributing to The Vault.

CAB: How did you first get started as a sound artist/experimental musician? What is it that attracts you to the wonderful world of sound?
DRS: I grew up playing drums and percussion after my grandfather, Russell Ingrassia, gave me a snare drum at age ten. After about twelve years of playing rather traditionally I began to take an interest in creating experimental music. Throughout my life I've always been attracted to the textural moments in-between chords or at the end of songs, I found a lot of textural passages in industrial music and jazz. Sometime around 1999 a friend simultaneously turned me on to Ornette Coleman, "Free Jazz and Merzbow Pulse Demon." I don't think I ever listened to anything the same way afterwards. My early excursions into experimental music often involved four track tape manipulation of various percussive and dissonant sounds.

CAB: How does Cleveland's experimental music scene inspire your work?
DRS: It offers a lush mixture of noise, synthesizer and academic experimental music filled with outsiders searching for new techniques and sounds. Over the past decade the thoughtfulness and creativity I have witnessed has driven me to be a more innovative and productive artist. Cleveland is lucky to be situated between Chicago and New York as a stop for many touring musicians. Through the years I have had opportunities to see and share the stage with many extremely inspiring and challenging acts.

CAB: Give us a hint as to what your work for the Vault exhibition will be like, without divulging too many details. Think of this as an enticing peek at your piece and your working process.
DRS: For The Vault I've been recording long passages in opposing directions, frenetic short loops and pensive tonal sketches. I've been cutting those recordings into precise phrases and loops and weaving them together into a longer composition that changes focus every thirty to sixty seconds. This is my typical style when I record / perform under my Collapsed Arc moniker. For this work in particular I've been keeping in mind what you mentioned to me about frequencies and random juxtapositions. If time allows I may layer in some field recordings from SPACES.

CAB: How does the work you're making for The Vault connect with your future projects (or not)?
DRS: As an experimental musician I'm currently dividing my time between my solo work as Collapsed Arc and my experimental music / performance art duo with Josh Novak called Stopped Clock. My loop-based work with these two projects connects directly to the work I'm making for The Vault. I'm also perform in a gothic hard rock band called MURDERMAN where, in addition to singing, I engage in theatrics using lights, mirrors and other props. MURDEREDMAN is working on a new batch of songs while preparing to do some summer touring. Josh and I are busy recording and preparing performance routines, we play out in Cleveland fairly often. I'm also finishing up my first solo LP for release later this year. Beyond that I run a small record label, Polar Envy, and I do freelance graphic design in addition to my day job making prototypes at American Greetings.


Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Category: Exhibitions

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