Click here to [close]

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Nate Wooley - Sunday Interview

(Photo: Martin Morissette)

1. What is your greatest joy in improvised music? 

The intimate knowledge that I will never master it.
2. What quality do you most admire in the musicians you perform with?

I like people who feel limitless, giving a feeling that we can go anywhere without the barrier of ideology or skill getting in the way. 
3. Which historical musician/composer do you admire the most? 
At this point, I’m not really sure. I think I’ve had a tendency toward hero worship, and I realized wasn’t that useful. So, I try not to look at anyone that way. Admiration, at least in the way that I’ve dealt with it in the past, usually leads to mimicry, and I think the best way to honor the people that came before you—if that is important to you—is to be as rigorous and brave in making your own music as they were in making theirs.
4. If you could resurrect a musician to perform with, who would it be?
No one. Let the memory rest and open up space for young people and fresh ideas.
5. What would you still like to achieve musically in your life? 
I just want to stay interested; I want to be strong enough to fight boredom and laziness up to the end. That sounds a bit glib, but I mean it. I think boredom and torpor are the enemies of life. I don’t have any control over accolades or achievements; I can work as hard as possible to get some tangible thing—an acknowledgment, some money, a musical breakthrough—and it is still so dependent on fate and other forces beyond my control. So, I just want to keep it simple and try and stay engaged in making music and writing and thinking for as long as possible. As I get older, I realize this is a monumental task on its own.
6. Are you interested in popular music and - if yes - what music/artist do you particularly like? 
I grew up on jazz, and when I branched out, it was to classical and experimental music, so I think I maybe missed the window when I could have made a real attachment to popular music. I listen to whatever pop music my wife has on, mostly, but I do connect to Low quite a bit. I have most of their records and go out of my way to listen to that, but I’m not sure if that’s the kind of popular music you mean.
7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I have a fairly limiting social anxiety that keeps me from most group situations that don’t involve playing music. It’s not debilitating, and I don’t bring it up to equate my discomfort with anyone that whose anxiety affects their ability to live, but I still wish I could get over it, because I am sure I’m missing out on a lot of great conversations and new people from the desire to avoid that feeling of panic.
8. Which of your albums are you most proud of? 
A lot of times when making a record, there’s a period of elation, followed by a complete collapse in my confidence in the music on it. I think this happens for a lot of people, but I rarely get out of that second phase. I did listen to Seven Storey Mountain 6 as I was working on something the other day, and I felt like that was better than I thought it was when I was finishing it. Maybe I’d feel that way about other things if I could convince myself to go back and listen, but I am usually either obsessed with what I’m working on at the moment, or I’m spread too thin to think too much about it.
7. Once an album of yours is released, do you still listen to it? And how often?
I guess my above answer kind of covers this.
8. Which album (from any musician) have you listened to the most in your life? 
It’d be hard to say. If I ran the numbers, it would probably be something ridiculous, but the record I know the best—every note of every part—is Ron Miles’s Witness.
9. What are you listening to at the moment? 
At this very moment, I’m listening to the second Vanguard record that Joe Henderson made. That’s an anomaly, though. I don’t listen to a ton of jazz any more for whatever reason; a friend had just picked this one up and was hearing it for the first time, so I dug it out and am listening again. 
10. What artist outside music inspires you? 
Mostly I’m attracted to writers, and I like people who have retained some sort of integrity and intimate voice in their work over and/or against what they know would bring them success: Wendell Berry, N. Scott Momaday, Anne Carson. Not that those writers are toiling away in obscurity, but they have made decisions based on some sort of intuitive formation of how writing should go, what it should say, and what is true to them. I find that intimidating as a writer, but I find it inspirational as a musician.

Recent reviews on Nate Wooley (till 2017 ... but many more before this year)