“Sound artist” M.J. Stevens shredding his “noise apparatus”
“Within a seated arrangement, the audience witnessed these works in pitch dark.” Larry Caveney is describing audio events he’s produced in his Alabama Street garage in North Park. Caveney launched “the Garage” events in 2009.
Collagist/musician M.J. Stevens explains: “When I told Larry about the ‘noise apparatus,’ he suggested a live performance. He asked me to curate a live, all-day event.”
M.J., would characterize your performances as “experimental?”
“I wouldn’t — I haven’t figured it out yet. I try to be as intuitive and spontaneous as possible without insulting or boring whoever might be paying attention. ‘Experimental’ means something that hasn’t been tested yet. You can’t have a show of things that are ‘experimental.’ However, as a marketing term, everyone seems to know what it means, so it works for that.
“For a long time, I played guitar, improvising with Sam Lopez and with a group called hING. I started attaching a contact microphone to different objects. Sam then donated a drum cymbal to me, which I put on a light stand from my photography days. I attached a variety of objects to it. I called it my ‘noise apparatus’ and began using it as an instrument. Some have described it as ‘electronic,’ but there’s nothing electronic about it. It’s just a bunch of junk with a contact mic and a delay pedal.”
How did you choose the other ‘sound art’ performers?
“I posted a ‘call for artists’ at Thirsty Moon Records and Bluestocking Books, hoping to attract strays — odd, creative types who might respond to an oddball flyer. This ploy drew no responses. So, I started asking anyone who created anything that could be construed as ‘sound art.’ The people who are performing get it. They need a place to present — they’re sound artists. To me they’re almost superheroes.
“The line-up is the Ailment (me, Josh Quon, and a possible third), Hirsch, Art’s 8-Track Mix, Randy Chiurazzi, Vabianna Santos, Monochromacy, Sean Francis Conway — who’ll use an instrument he created recently — and Wes Chester.
“Getting people to hang out for nine hours might be hard, but all the performers will be interesting. My desire is to arrange everything as I would a mix-tape...trying to place everything in an order to stimulate the strongest emotional response...”
The next Sound Art at the Garage event is August 13, starting at 12:30 in the afternoon.