Archive for charlottesville

GFX Answers by Making a Purposeful Racket

C-ville Feedback writer Andrew Cedermark interviewed me and Carey on the cover story about women in rock. We sat down with Andrew individually with the attempt to answer this age-old question within the context of Charlottesvile music: Why aren’t there more women in rock? We bring up structural issues related to culture and gender ideology.

Gendered norms in rock music-culture:

There is also the question of buying gear. Haughty gearheads, piles of tiny, useless stuff, bowling shirts that faintly smell of weed—it’s no secret that music stores can be uncomfortable places to visit. Double the discomfort for many women. Carey Sargent plays drums in the local bands Dzian! and the Pinko Communoids, and is a sociologist who has published on the topic of local music stores. “For others with different experiences,” Sargent wrote in a 2006 paper, “such as playing privately, knowing more about hip-hop than rock, or having classical training on the guitar rather than immersion in the rock music practice, the experience can be a struggle to comprehend the language and interactions of the environment. Finding themselves in this position, these musicians may defer to others to perform, speak and choose in their place.”

Larger societal norms oriented by gender ideology:

“Obviously,” Hsu says, “it’s occurred throughout history, where women are not associated with being in public spaces, where women are associated with passivity and quietness. All of these larger cultural values come into play when were talking about rock music.”

One transformative moment, she says, in that history is when “rock and roll”—a form for excited teens in dance halls—became simply “rock.” That happened when these teens grew up, and wanted something more art-related. “It became rock, which was oppositional to pop music. Pop music was more commercialized, more superficial, and more associated with women.” The sheen of pop and the rigidity of classical music took on feminine associations, and none of them fit the rock bill.

Read the original article.

As GFX, we addressed the issue at stake by recording a C-ville Feedback video session, making a statement in the expression of sound, gestures, and embodiment in our unique ways.


GFX + Caustic Castle @ Charlottesville Experimental Music Showcase, Pt II

Grapefruit Experiment did a two-part improvisational set with our friends (colleagues of HzCollective) at the Charlottesville Experimental Music Showcase at The Bridge PAI on 3/19/10. This performance is the part II of an ongoing series organized by Jacob Wolf of Holy Smokes and co-presented by HzCollective.

This time, we first played with Kenneth Yates (AKA Caustic Castle) developing on a concept emerged from our FFMUP performance at Princeton. Then Erik DeLuca joined us for a quartet. Everyone seemed thrilled by the harsh-noise-electronics and no-wave-inspired thrashy guitar and drums. The color shifts in the background came from the a live video projection by Ultra Aesthetics Committee.

Video by David Eklund

Playing Snow and Ending Things in Snowpocalypse

When the Snowpocalypse hit central Virginia, our plans for an 8-piece improv ensemble representing the HzCollective fell through at the Center of the Study of the End of Things‘ Symposium Opening. The storm left no drivable conditions for our HzCollective mates – including Kenny Yates, Jennida Chase and Hassan Pitts of Pilotone – to join us for the performance from Richmond. Grapefruit Experiment and our friend Erik DeLuca decided to go ahead with the gig as a trio. To echo the apocalyptic theme of the “the end of things,” we carried minimal gear in our backpacks and trekked in the snow maxing out our creative and physical ends.

Carey sounded her ever-sustained bells that she bought in China. I played amplified snow using Erik’s hydrophone while playing back samples of snow collected on our walk to the space. Erik played back and processed sounds of snow and vibes that he recorded throughout the day. We played a 28-minute improvised set. Then our set was joined by an impromptu reading (of his elegy to Lydia Gasman) by Steven Margulies.

After a short break, we went into a second set starting with Carey’s bells, live and captured on Erik’s tape recorder. Erik and I then joined Carey with electronic sounds. I used a bit reduction pedal to noisify the sound of snow-crushing. Erik played back and manipulated sounds of Carey’s bells. Then the projected sound started to cut in and out sweeping in as low-frequencies, as Erik gestured the smell of something burning. Thus we ENDED our set. Not only that, we put an END to the speaker, a decrepit JBL dust-collector donated by UVa’s VCCM [Virginia Center for Computer Music].

Organizer Wes Milholen said that they will honor the end of the speaker by shining a spotlight on it. Maybe they will even suspend it mid air.

The End.

Playing bikes, plants, dirt, water, and combs with Erik DeLuca

Grapefruit Experiment did a two-part improvisational set with our friend Erik DeLuca at the Charlottesville Experimental Music Showcase at The Bridge PAI on 12/16/09. The first part features Wendy and Carey on amplified bikes; the second part features Carey on an amplified cactus, Wendy on mic’ed pine cones and combs, and Erik on an amplified small leafy, easy-to-care-for plant with some dirt and water.

Video by David Eklund.

GFX @ Silence and Coincidence

Carey and I participated in a HzCollective improvised music event called Silence and Coincidence at The Bridge PAI in Charlottesville last night. The show was curated by our friend Jonathan Zorn. In addition to us, the participants included: Jonathan Zorn, Bob Holub, Lanier Sammons, Sarah O’Halloran, Megan England, Matt Lerner, and Erik DeLuca. The event lasted 60 minutes and our objective was to limit each of our playing time to be 30 minutes throughout the session. I performed on my new instrument – an amplified bike. Carey used a combination of Lander (built by Zach Mason) and her snare drum.

Audio documentation of the entire set [~60 min]


In-House Collab with Soft Pieces

Our friend Zach Mason (Soft Pieces) drove down to our home in Charlottesville from Rockville, MD to jam and record with us today. We made a big meal of DIY vegan burritos to welcome him.

Zach gave us a noise-making toy that he constructed from a pill bottle, rubber bands, and a contact mic. We named it “Lander”.


We did a free improv jam. We tried various ways to set constraints such as  “playing with Lander and letting it guide us.” We also used Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies that Zach brought during our last take. During this take, I was to experiment with the concept of humanization (“free of error”), Carey with frame and edges, and Zach with fakery.

We had a blast! It felt really good to do some serious experimentation.

It looks like we will be playing with Zach sometime in the near future. We’re concocting a performance possibly for the Femfest at Maya Gallery later this fall in Greensboro, NC.


Brainstorming Song Titles

With Pinkos, we were never good with naming tracks. Maybe this has something to do with the abstract sounds and anti-conventional methods of sound-making that Pinkos strive for. But the process of naming happens with much ease with GX. Yesterday after practice, Carey and I looked at our materials and began discoursing (briefly) about the meanings of these songs to us.

With the piece featuring feedback as a sound-making method and an aesthetic, we cited the Belgian feminist literary critic Lucy Irigaray. With the title of “Irigaray”, we deploy feedback centralizing its quality of non-distinguishable dynamics between two or more sources. We borrow from Écriture féminine to use feedback to create a kind of non-singular subjectivity against the masculinist subjectivity written into the history of text (in the western hemisphere). Emphasizing the body, this piece outputs sound from bodily-engaged gestures.

With the “disco noise” piece, we’re calling it “n+1 to the Floor.” This titles brings us back to the mid-1970s disco era, referencing the persistant pulse of club music articulated by the bass drum, also know as “four to the floor.” Implementing this idea while inserting math-y (rock) rhythmic elements and randomizing noisy timbres (via bit reduction) into the system, we bring forth a kind of semi-rationalized aesthetics highlighting the tension between structure and freedom. We call it “n+1”. The guitar part of the piece also uses “chicken scratch”, a disco technique used by rhythm guitarists who mute the sound by pressing against the strings with the palm.


Ideas are ideas. Practice makes perfect.