Tuesday, January 6, 2015

6 QUESTIONS: INCOMING! - Darian Dauchan

The Mighty Third Rail | Darian Dauchan (center) | Photo by Eddy Rivera

Hip-hop poetry trio The Mighty Third Rail, and the innovative PUBLIQuartet, join forces in a mash­up of strings, verses, and beat­boxing, entitled CHANGING NIGHT, as part of the Under the Radar Festival's INCOMING! Series, in the First Floor Theatre at La MaMa, January 8: 4pm and 8:30pm, 2015. 

We asked Darian Dauchan, of The Mighty Third Rail, about collaborating and innovating, from combining Classical and Hip Hop, to merging biblical narratives with sci-fi.

1. How did The Mighty Third Rail's collaboration with PUBLIQuartet come about?

Two words. Curtis Stewart. Curtis is the violinist for MTR and also 1/4th of PUBLIQuartet, so he's the bridge. He had a good relationship with Symphony Space and Laura Kaminsky, who was artistic director at the time, had given us a night as a part of the Music of the Now series, to not only present our work as a Hip Hop Jazz Trio and string quartet, but to also combine forces in developing a new musical piece - thus: Changing Night. Andrew Kircher from Under the Radar came to the show and then invited us to perform it in the festival, so we're looking forward to presenting the piece again, not only to music lovers, but theatre goers as well.

2. In CHANGING NIGHT, and in general, what do hip hop and classical music traditions offer each other? What kind of new moments occur when the two come together?

Honestly, a fresh and innovative sound. When done well, it can be an amazing blend that feels both familiar and new to the listener. When the Mighty Third Rail first formed, I knew going into it, just on instrumentation alone, a bass, a violin, and looped beat-boxing, that we were going to have a truly unique sound. Aesthetically, I've always loved a well crafted mashup of strings and Hip Hop - from Jay Z's The Prelude, to Saul Williams' Twice The First Time, to Lupe Fiasco's He Say She Say. It's testament to the fact that Hip Hop can also be something different, something unexpected, and vice versa for Classical music.

3. As an actor, writer, poet and music-maker, you span many artistic disciplines. Growing up, which creative practice was your 'first love'? Which came into your life most recently?

Acting is still hands down my first love. I've been acting since I was a kid. Ten years ago if you told me I'd be doing music I don't know if I would have believed you. I was always a huge music lover, but never thought I'd be doing it, in the same way that, though I was a huge lover of performance poetry, I never thought I'd eventually be a part of the NYC spoken word community, but I am. And now I love making music. I think even working with PUBLIQuartet has broadened my appreciation for classical music in ways I hadn't imagined. At the end of the day, whether I'm acting, kicking a poem, or making music, it's all performing, which is ultimately what I love to do. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing too much, but then I just think of Sammy Davis Jr. and go "nah, I think I'm fine."

4. Which artists in the UTR festival are you most excited to see -or- Can you tell us about a recent performance you saw that inspired you creatively?

I had a chance to checkout an excerpt of Aaron/Marie a few weeks ago, so I'm looking forward to seeing the whole piece. The Incoming Series has had a few meetings with all the ensembles so a lot of us have built a rapport with one another. I think Changing Night shares a little of the same style James and Jerome have in their piece: Good music and good verbal storytelling. I remember thinking, when I saw the excerpt, that this could be a good double billing with ours, like a theatrical double feature if you will. I also definitely want to check out Toshi Reagan's piece, since it's also combining sci-fi with music. Plus, I'm an Octavia Butler fan.

5. What inspired The Mighty Third Rail to reimagine the Garden of Eden within a sci-fi narrative?

The piece is inspired by the music of composer György Ligeti who Curtis is a fan of, so we were aiming to match a tone that fit some of his pieces which very much has a cinematic, sci-fi, twilight zone kind of vibe to it. Curtis was also interested in telling a narrative that pitted nature against technology. Our bass player, Ian Baggette, happened to suggest the Garden of Eden story, and from there we just let our imaginations run wild with a futuristic re-telling. It was actually PUBLIQuartet's management at CAG (Concert Artists Guild) that told me much later, after we created the piece, that Ligeti's music was featured in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, so I guess that means we weren't too far off.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?

Ever since I was a drama student at NYU, La MaMa, and The Public Theater, have always, and continue to be, definitive hubs for cutting edge, innovative theatre, and we're proud to be a part of that tradition. We hope it won't be the last and to continue a fruitful relationship with both institutions who serve as pillars for the downtown New York theatre scene.

(Interview by: Sam Alper)

La MaMa presents:


January 8, 2015 | 4pm & 8:30pm

Co-presented by Under the Radar Festival and La MaMa

First Floor Theatre @ La MaMa
74a East 4th Street
(Between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003
Tickets: $18 Adults; $13 Students/Seniors.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE