Interview with MVI


The collective’s beautiful new album In The Rain Shadow takes inspiration from the natural world, and specifically your move to the high desert (California’s Owens Valley) in late 2020. After moving, how quickly did it become apparent that you were now living somewhere special, that prompted such a flourishing musical output?

I had backpacked this area for thirty years before moving here so I was very familiar with it. But having a house here was on another level in that the changes in the weather, the light, the conditions overall became much more of an immediate and constant presence. This became apparent almost immediately.

The release soars in its blend of progressive and neoclassical styles. Its soaring qualities remind me of something in film. Have you ever composed a score or written for a film or visual media?

Yes! I’ve done three film scores, all for unknown documentaries! I’ve also composed a number of pieces for modern dance including one full length ballet.

The project comprises various musicians, each accomplished with varying instruments and stylistic pursuits. Is there a style/genre the collective has yet to tackle that you’d like to explore in the future?

I’m interested in exploring more free improvisation with this group. We’ve done this in live performance and it worked really well. It’s exciting to just rely upon our collective ears on the fly. And these are master improvisers!

What’s your favorite venue to perform at?

I don’t have a favorite venue. I love any venue that gives us great sound and an attentive audience (some good food is nice too!).

Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music?

It usually starts with either something I come across while improvising on guitar, or a melodic or rhythmic idea (which frequently comes up either while driving or hiking). These ideas all get recorded on my phone. Once I have an idea that I think is worthy of developing into a composition, the idea gets recorded in Logic and then developed using the compositional tools of the trade I’ve learned over the years.

Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment?

Nickel Creek, Hawktail, Punch Brothers, Sarah Jarosz, the Vision String Quartet – that genre of progressive acoustic music is incredibly appealing to me right now. Also Jacob Collier.

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

J.S. Bach. But I’d be terrified!

What do you find is the most satisfying part of being an artist?

Creating new compositions is incredibly satisfying and fulfilling, even when it’s frustrating! I am honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to have so close a relationship with music over the years. I get to work with virtuoso musicians who enjoy recording and performing music I’ve written. I don’t take any of it for granted.

What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry?

The industry itself is the biggest challenge. Years ago, discovering and nurturing new talent was considered part of the music industry ethos. It has changed over the years such that now artists are expected to create music and then do whatever is needed to become profitable before anyone in the industry will take the artist seriously.

What’s upcoming for the project?

Performing and working on new material for the next album.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

Send your music to [email protected].

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