photo courtesy of Tanea Hynes
One of the strangest and hippest phenomena that I am still working on wrapping my head around is the marriage of vaporwave aesthetics with modern strains of art music. This isn’t a wholly new trend—record labels like slashsound have built their brand around this union of styles, while artists like Rohan Chander have tread mid-waist through those same waters to create a wholly unique vision of music.
This chain of experimentation leads us to Andrew Noseworthy’s “Pull Up,” my favorite track on People|Places|Records upcoming record, Consortium Works: Solo Saxophone. The collection of works is a fairly stately affair, with the exception of Noseworthy’s track and Shelley Washington’s “BLACK MARY” bringing the energy that pushes this release to the next level.
While the compilation should definitely be checked out, the power of this release rests in Noseworthy’s contribution, the consortium that spawned it and the community that benefits from the album profits.
“The idea to do the consortium project came from two influences, my longtime friendship with Samantha [Etchegary] and also seeing the great work that Tyler Kline was doing with his commissioning consortium,” Noseworthy said.
“The consortium model made lots of sense to me as a composer, since nearly all of my work focuses on projects with community building goals, as well as writing for instruments/ensembles that are looking to expand their rep.”
Noseworthy’s relationship with Etchegary stretches back to their undergrad days together at Memorial University of Newfoundland and this long-standing bond help spawned the consortium.
“Much of my pieces from that time that involved the saxophone featured her incredible playing,” Noseworthy continued. “When we both headed off to grad school…we kept in regular touch and talked about me writing a piece specifically for her. In 2017, when I moved to London (Ontario) for PhD studies and Sam was performing regularly in Toronto, this idea evolved into the consortium project and creating a whole new set of solo sax works for her to perform.”
Both Noseworthy and Etchegary worked together to find the right composers and artists for the project.
“Samantha essentially picked the composers for the project!” Noseworthy said. “I sent her a list of composers that I had worked with previously and who I knew would be interested and available. They all represented different areas, styles and backgrounds, and together we picked the group. Besides the mix of styles and backgrounds, we also wanted to pick a group that balanced Canadian and American-based composers, as well as those with a strong presence in their respective communities. The result ended up being all composer-performers, with the three American composers (Shelley Washington, Anna Meadors and Andrew Koss) being accomplished saxophonists in their own right.”
The same partnership between the two organizers helped inspire Noseworthy’s contribution to the album.
“My piece is really inspired by my close friendship with Samantha,” Noseworthy continued.
“On the surface [the track] is sonically influenced by vaporwave and sampledelia styles, but its source material dives deep into our mutual tastes in music. The piece is conceptually about how meanings in vernacular language evolve. The music questions how much meanings within language can become divorced from their original sources, which is in line with the vaporwave aesthetic as well.”
“Pull Up,” performed by Greg Bruce on the album, took on a new life through the music video concocted by musician and artist Theo Woodward.
“Since I had written the piece, I had always thought that visual elements would augment its glitchy nature and electronic elements,” Noseworthy said. “I came across Theo’s music and video work during an NYU alumni event last February, and not long after that I asked if he’d be interested in creating a music video for the piece. I commissioned him then to put the visuals together, and besides a couple notes about cuts here and there, I just let him do his thing and he totally nailed it. I knew his surreal, glitchy, and vaporwave-inspired style would already compliment the music, so working with Theo on this piece was pretty straightforward!”
In addition to connecting the North American saxophone/new music communities together, the album has taken on new significance in the greater world of art activism.
“Besides being an album that features music from another community-building initiative, this will also be the first under our new release setup,” Noseworthy continued. “ [Label co-founder] Aeryn [Santillan] and I started the label as a means to build and support our surrounding DIY communities, and from the beginning this consisted of a transparent artist-first setup with each release, along with a sort of fluidity for the roles of those involved between each release. Each release from this point on will have an initial release period where proceeds will go towards a different benefit/cause, while all the music sales that follow will go directly to the artists involved.”
"Aeryn and I... had planned to release this record in late May early June," Noseworthy continued. "Following the public/online focus on Black Lives Matter protests and then the 'Blackout Tuesday' social media trend, we had to take some time to think about our place among it all, as a label and also personally. With some exceptions, I think that following the posting of black squares by different organizations and artists, this was then followed up by one of two next moves... They switched their programming/commissioning to focus on especially/exclusively black voices, much of which they had largely ignored or even dismissed until now or... the next day it was business as usual."
"Representation is important, 100%, but as two artists and a label already involved in promoting work that intersects both BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, we had to think about what this meant for us to now release music as neither of the above options made sense for us."
"Aeryn and I had been talking since last summer about how to make the label more committed to the community-first model, and now seemed like the time to do that the best way we know how. That’s why moving forward, all our releases will donate to grassroots and transparent activist or benefit organizations during the pre-order and release day period, and following that the entire proceeds of the music will go to the artists involved. In a way, we do hope that us taking the initiative sets an example for the DIY/fringe new music community, but it’s also what we feel is the next step in furthering our mission as a community-first label and as artists individually."
All proceeds from pre-orders and first day sales of the album will go to the Okra Project.
You can explore more of Noseworthy’s work here, check out more of Woodward’s art here, check out the record here and watch the music video below.
Erich is a musician and writer living between Montreal and New York whose work appears on Best Life, Eat This, Not That!, MSN, and more and has represented artists for years as a PR rep. He likes weird music. If you want to find his music, it's over here.