Pradžia / Garsas / Sound

Interview with Devin Gray: “My music is about improvisation, and honest expression”

Album RelativE ResonancE (Skirl Records, 2015, DVD-Size Digipak, recorded May 25, 2014 at Tedesco Studios in Paramus, NJ) by American jazz drummer Devin Gray is a perfect piece of a contemporary/free/avant-garde jazz. “The New York Times” wrote about it such words: “Relative Resonance” is the second album by the drummer and composer Devin Gray, one of many younger experimentalists who have taken Mr. Threadgill’s example to heart. Due out on Skirl on Tuesday, it’s a batch of original tunes custom-made for a band with Chris Speed on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Kris Davis on piano and Chris Tordini on bass. Mr. Gray has a knack for making his formal convolutions feel blunt and inevitable, and his partners let the music breathe. They impart a hint of thrash-punk to a piece called “Notester,” and it’s no less credible than the flicker of Cecil Taylor in one called “Transatlantic Transitions.” (The group appears on Saturday at Greenwich House Music School.)” And here’s my interview with this terrific composer, drummer and thinker.

Mindaugas Peleckis
2015 m. Spalio 10 d., 12:43
Skaityta: 63 k.
Interview with Devin Gray: “My music is about improvisation, and honest expression”

It’s Your second solo album. What collaborations did You have?

When I look back over the past 12 years I see a wide arrangement of working experiences. Having a broad range of musical diversity is important because it has presented me with many different paths to take within music.

Any time I am able to play with musicians who are more experienced with music and life, I am always very interested. For me playing music and living life is about growing and learning. If you aren’t doing those two then you are nowhere. So when I get the chance to make music with great musicians who are ahead of me like David Liebman, Ellery Eskelin, Dave Burrell, Sam Rivers/etc., these have all been very special moments in my life. These musicians  respect of the history of music and humanity and are much more knowledgeable than me, so I really try to soak up the experiences and see how these musicians feel life. I am lucky to be a part of the lineage of this music.

What are the main ideas are behind Your music?

My music is about improvisation, and honest expression. After that I might use words like innovation, creativity, layers and colors to loosely define some conceptual sides of it. I don’t really have favorites because often times it’s hard to use a recording date as a bases of “final answer” mentalities. I have compositions of mine that I feel are more successful on recording date, and less “successful” on live concerts. That being said, I am happy at how “City nothing City, In the Cut, and Notester” are presented on the new RelativE ResoancE CD, and on my Dirigo Rataplan CD, I’d say I was very happy with “Quadraphonically, Otaku, and Prospect Park in the Dark.”

What is Sound to You?

Sound is energy, and there is always energy in the world. You can change the way your mind perceives sound to make it music. Living in a city like New York there is constantly sound in your ears; some of it are nice sounds, some are really bad sounds. So as a musician I like to think of it like I’m really working with sounds. I feed off of all of the sonic energy and turn it into musical output. New York City’s sounds can be quite intense a lot of the time with many layers of sounds crossing each other quite commonly hectic. I feel that this new album is a nice reflection of how people are living in this very modern, high paced, and at times confusingly sonic city.

Is all Sound an Art?

I think all sound is art but it comes down to how sound is used. When there is thought, integrity, passion, and intent applied to sound, then it is something I am interested in.

What do You think about relations between the old art and computer art? Are they compatible?

Art is expression, I don’t really care how it’s made, all I want is to feel something. I don't think people should dwell on the past and try to compare what someone in say the 1960s, and compare that to what is going on now. Yes, it's very important to be aware, and is always a really nice to have references, but why so much public judgement of art?

What do You think about thousands of neofolk/industrial/ambient/tribal/electroacoustic/avangarde etc. bands/projects? Is it a kind of trend, o just a tendency forwards better music?

I don’t like to separate the way people like to live and what people like or don’t like. I am here to make offerings for what I believe in, and by doing it in the most honest humanly way possible. People like different music, and I think this is good. The only thing I ask people for is to always be open to differences and to pay more attention to quality. Differences are what create the world as we know it and I am very thankful for this.

What do You know about Lithuania?

I have never been to Lithuania. I would love to come visit your country though and feel what your people feel. This is one of my favorite parts of being a musician. I get to travel and have new experiences with the people of the world. I think this continues to be a very important influence in my music.

The one Lithuanian musician I know is Kęstutis Vaiginis and I believe he is based in Vilnius still. He is a friend of mine from NYC from many years ago. I’ve actually recorded on his first CD “Unexpected Choices” ( in New York in 2008.

I value all musicians where creativity, improvisation, history, integrity, sprit, and good food are high on their life lists!:)

What inspires You most?

Travelling to new places, passion, and innovation.

Thank You.


Photo by Liz Kosack. 

Photo by Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET.