Part of an ongoing series highlighting the amazing people in the creative community.
Rebecca Gates is a prolific musician, curator, artist and audio editor. She has released five albums, toured internationally and appeared as a vocalist on numerous records, and she has been featured as an artist all over the US. We got a chance to ask Rebecca a few questions about travel, collaboration, and her creative process.
See Anthony Georgis’ photos and the interview below.
How do you balance all your creative roles? Do you place your energy and attention on one of those more than the others?
I think of my work as united by sound, listening, and geographies. The geography might be landscape, architecture, communities, corporeal, or emotional. So, it’s not really a question of balance of separate practices, as much as where the focus of my inquiry or action lands at any point. It’s imperative for me to maintain an active intellectual practice as well as a more ambiguous sensory based one, and the threads of different creative roles allow that, informing each other and my process as a whole. I’ve worked to move beyond being solely identified as a musician, as I’ve found it can limit (because of other’s perspectives) my opportunities to participate in projects I find compelling. That said, without playing, singing or writing, I lose access to my core point of orientation. Once when I was fretting how to quantify my experience a designer friend of mine said, “You navigate the hyper-local to the global”. It’s all about breath!
As someone who’s involved in more than one creative discipline, how do you stay grounded and focused on projects while traveling also seems to be a big part of your artistry?
It is an exercise in presence and discipline. The beauty of a creative practice is the opportunity to embrace complexity. That said, I constantly work to calibrate my organizational, producer, scrutinizing inclinations with my muse-y, quiet, observational, thoughtful ways. Regarding travel, I love being completely present in a moment, amid the dynamics of a space or group of people, and I think well in motion, in liminal modes. Though travel might bring complications, it offers access to a personal creative space as well as a chance to learn from a wide range of experiences. I’ve toured off and on for many years. The life of a touring musician means we have to learn to be on the move for work, we just have long commutes.
What’s your dream project (and/or who's your dream project collaborator)?
What a terrific question! I am fortunate to have collaborated in a number of disciplines with great, talented people. Oh dear, that list is long. It ranges from vocalists I’d like to sing with to any number of designers, architects, policy-makers…. I’m currently thinking about the intersection of civics, infrastructure and sound based work, who wants in on that?
What is one thing you need in order to keep doing what you’re doing? (This might be something you already have or it may be something you are still looking for.)
Being careful I don’t support a one-sided share economy, a.k.a. money. That might seem flippant but isn’t meant to be.
A close second is the freedom to ask “Why?” and “How?” and “Why not do it better?” and “Why do it that way?”
What are your thoughts on time-travel?
The current moment and the moment where we can shift experience and opportunity are the most fascinating. I enjoy studying history but have no desire to go back, or forward. If someone will get on developing a sci-fi transporter and bring it to life, I’m all for it. As much as I adore the interlude and exposition that movement provides, there are times I’d jump at the chance to sparkle travel in seconds. So, maybe not a lot of thoughts on time-travel, but very clear desires for travel time.