Although TIGUE is a trio of percussionists on paper, their work truly defies categorization. A Brooklyn-based group formed by way of Ohio, they have collaborated with bands, composers, dancers, artists, and beyond. Most recently, they recorded PEAKS, an album of original tunes, coming out on New Amsterdam Records today. I had a chance to catch up with members Carson Moody, Amy Garapic, and Matt Evans to discuss the record and their process.
TIGUE straddles the line between a classical ensemble and a band. Did TIGUE begin as one or the other?
Amy Garapic: The three of us met while completing undergraduate studies focused primarily in classical percussion. From there we all ventured off to The Eastman School for conservatory graduate studies. Clearly classical percussion has been a large part of our pedigree and our time performing in those respective percussion ensembles undoubtedly inspired us to create TIGUE. That said, even from the very beginnings of TIGUE we have always deliberately chosen to steer clear of labels that may imply one thing or another. Our goal even from the beginning was to push the envelope of music and sound and to make great work together. Sometimes that work fits best in a concert hall, sometimes a club, and other times an art gallery. While percussion is our main vehicle to create work, our interests and inspirations for what we create and present are coming from many varied sources both within and outside of the greater musical realm. We fully embrace the very fluid nature of the ensemble and the varied ways that people may choose to view or label us.
How did your debut album PEAKS come about?
Matt Evans: It started out of a kind of desperation for repertoire. The three of us had been playing music together for years and wanted to continue working together and building our own pieces was a way to do that. We would book performances with very little rep and write new pieces for each show. At the time we would hardly repeat anything, always writing something new for each show. We played a handful of shows at the New Amsterdam warehouse space in 2014 and at a certain point we amassed an entire hour of music. At that point, with some coercion from John Colpitts, we got in the studio and tracked it. We started to realize how much this project was going to cost and had been kicking around the idea of a doing kickstarter for a while and decided to go for it. We were met with an overwhelming and humbling amount of support from our friends and families and after surpassing our goal, we realized it was going to happen. Following the success of our kickstarter we approached New Amsterdam about releasing it and even with maybe 11 albums on deck for release in 2015 they agreed. Now here we are a year and a half later and we can finally share this music far and wide.
How is composing as a group different from your collaborative work with other composers?
Amy Garapic: Composing as a group is both a huge love and hate for me. I tend to get frustrated if things aren’t flowing well when trying to come up with ideas, but when it clicks and we find that meeting point between the three of us its incredible. We each have very different musical personalities, performance strengths, and compositional ideas, but I think that is what makes our music so rich and uniquely ours. We know each other so well and are practically siblings which I think is a huge bonus. We trust each others ideas implicitly and are very supportive, but are also very direct and honest with each other in the process. Collaborating with composers can be very different as it is sometimes challenging for them to capture each of us as individuals. There is something exciting about handing things over to a stranger to see which sounds they find interesting and how they might choose to present them, and that is a huge asset to working with a composer outside of the group who isn’t constantly living in our musical space. That said, right now we are really excited about incorporating composer performers in performance so that they can really become a part of us and be a part of the entire process.
What was your artistic vision for PEAKS?
Carson Moody: Peaks is purely musical at its core and isn’t really generated from any outside forces other than rhythms, patterns, number games, and unique sounds that resonate with us as performers. There isn’t a narrative, the song titles do not necessarily represent anything we were thinking of in the writing process. I think our artistic vision with Peaks was to represent a musical energy that best represents our abilities, but more importantly, our ears, our personalities as individuals and as performers, as well as the sense of community and communication that we’ve built as friends performing together for years. In it’s presentation, we wanted a whole object. We wanted the audience to walk away with a very clear representation of our work, not just a set list. Performed in it’s entirety, Peaks is an abstract cinematic experience, or even an installation of sorts.
What’s next for TIGUE after PEAKS drops?
Matt Evans: Well, we’re taking the record on the road as much as we can this fall and next spring. Part of the idea from the beginning was to share this music with as many people as possible and the live experience is just as important (if not more important?) than the recording. We have some new tracks we’ve been playing live for the past few months so we’re hoping to record those in early 2016. We also have a performance at the 2016 Avant Media Festival in February where we’ll be playing a new piece by Adrian Knight and some new material of our own that is almost nothing like Peaks… We also have a show at Roulette in May that’s in the early stages of planning, so we’re pretty psyched to share some new ideas.