On Authentic Sound: In Dialogue with Barry Paul Clark (adoptahighway)

Composer and classical bassist, Barry Paul Clark / adoptahighway, discusses the the use of text in his music, the importance of authenticity, and the crises of inspiration and creation in his new record, “A Fault”.
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photo credit: Adam Carr

Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein: Let’s start by describing what this creature is in your eyes. What are we listening to.

 

Barry Paul Clark: “A Fault” is about the existential dilemmas and emotional crises that come with trying to obtain or find inspiration, whether or not inspiration can be cultivated or found (and if not, if there is a fault or blame to be placed on a person, action, or behavior), what it means to express something true and honest in the overall scope of your existence, and the crippling self doubt and resulting depression that often accompanies said expressions.

 

AMG: These are certainly dilemmas that exist in the poetry world as well. I think anyone who creates is curious about the way other people approach their own creating. Talk to me about your process. Do you begin with thematic ideas you’re interested in exploring, or does it reveal itself through your compositions?

 

BPC: I didn’t sit down one day and think of these themes and try to write music expressing them, quite literally the opposite, wherein I was struggling with all these emotions and doubts, and creating the music that directly confronted the feelings almost acted as a therapy. When I realized I was writing several pieces confronting these ideas that’s when I decided to try to assemble that cohesive expression into a record.

 

AMG: Although adoptahighway is primarily instrumental, the first track of “A Fault” immediately introduces text. How do you view text or lyrics as tools of expression in your compositions, and can you tell me a little about this particular sample?

 

BPC: I chose to incorporate a 2003 Jenny Asarnow piece – “Julie the Amtrak God” – into the opening of the record. Asarnow records herself speaking with Julie (the automated service for Amtrak reservations), with passive statements like, “I’d like to go from where I am now to somewhere else – can you help me?” It presented itself, in the context of “To Anywhere Else”, to be an obvious starting point for the record.

 

I chose to incorporate it into the opening of the record for several reasons. For starters, I just love her piece. I love how she is creating a very human, emotional, and seemingly desperate interaction with an entity that isn’t supposed to interact in that fashion. I connected with it immediately through what I perceived as an eager but hurt tone. She wants so badly to be somewhere else, physically, and I imagine mentally as well, and that juxtaposition of being excited at the possibilities as well as in pain from your immediate reality was something I could relate to very personally.

 

AMG: Along with the music in digital form, there’s also a vinyl record that’s basically the most beautiful record I own, haha. 150g, the record itself lavender colored, all sheathed in this haunting album art by Kyle Dingman. And you’re also releasing a set of videos with the record, one of which – “To Anywhere Else” – SOUND is premiering with this interview. What was your vision for those?

 

album artwork by Kyle Dingman

BPC: The video projects that accompany the record are a collaboration between myself as the composer; Wes Tank directing, shooting, and editing the video; and photographer, blogger, and Milwaukee guide Adam Carr providing locations and environment suggestions.

We wanted to create a series of videos that not only go with each of their respective tracks, but can also be viewed in one stretch, start to finish, and reveal a connective thread of the journey of all of these themes that present themselves within the music, much like I hope the record achieves aurally on its own. Our goal is to release the videos in a mirrored order, working in a convex fashion towards the middle point of the record – the title track, “A Fault”.


AMG:
Therapy, compulsion, obsession we have to express or explain, these are all named as reasons we write or compose. What has the affect been of giving yourself over to “A Fault”‘s creation and letting people hear it? Has it changed how you think of the music being created?

BPC: It helped me, but it didn’t heal, and I still have to confront the doubts and dilemmas in many of my creative endeavors.

It did teach me that the honesty of your expression is most important above all else. Creating something that is true to your identity and honest in its intentions will connect, I feel, much more with those who hear it. That goes for all mediums of art. Expressions that attempt to cater to others sound dated and inauthentic, and my intention is to create something with a longevity, a body of work that can be visited at any time and not have a time or place attached, just ideas and concepts that connect.

 

Purchase “A Fault” in digital, vinyl, or both at adoptahighway’s online store. Visit him on SoundcloudTwitter, and Facebook.

 

Featured Image by Cengiz Yar Jr.

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Barry
 Paul Clark (BM 2009, Mannes College of Music) is a classically trained double bassist and composer actively involved in the creative arts community in Milwaukee, WI. He currently performs in the bass sections of Festival City Symphony (Milwaukee, WI), Kenosha Symphony Orchestra (Kenosha, WI), and Kettle Moraine Symphony (West Bend, WI). He, along with percussionist Devin Drobka and saxophonist Steve Gallam, host Unrehearsed MKE, a monthly, improvised music series. Barry co-founded the Tontine Ensemble in the spring of 2014, a new music string quartet with a focus on contemporary performance, group improvisation and championing the works of composers within their community. Barry also performs and releases experimental electronic music under the moniker adoptahighway. As of the summer of 2015, Barry was invited by friend and musical collaborator Christopher Porterfield to play bass for his folk project Field Report (Partisan Records).

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