Artist Statement

Most of our everyday experiences we would consider normal. When we are eating breakfast, dressing, walking in the street, driving cars, working, meeting friends, and going to sleep, we often have a sensation that life is normal. In moments of reflection, however, we may start to think, as the Talking Heads sing in «Once in a Lifetime,» «How did I get here?» If you answer this question honestly, that your parents somehow met and procreated, that their two sets of parents somehow did the same, and the generation before, and the generation before, and that if any one of those grandparents had died early, or had never met their counterpart, that you would not have been born, and would not be here, you realize the strangeness of life. Though we seem to walk in wide, grassy fields, or at least city streets that are wide enough, we really walk on a tightrope dangling over a vast unknown–the subconscious, death, the vast, expanding universe. Suddenly the normal has a feeling of the miraculous. Suddenly some of the burden of waking, eating, working, and sleeping is lifted. The strictures of society loosen. This is the feeling I try to give others.

How do I do it? I work in the realm of musical performance and theater, preferring to seem as though I am doing something normal–getting up on stage to sing songs–when I am not. I smile, I act in a welcoming manner, but the things that I say and the things that I sing about are not what people expect. I sing about absurd things, false things, funny things, disgusting things, and I sing things that cut to the core of life’s anxieties. Usually these happen in combination. What is most important is the intellect plays almost no role in composition. Associations are made by intuition, childlike, and dreamlike thought. I use prepared soundscapes and music to create an atmosphere conducive to the unfolding of these feelings.

I love art, music, and performance that is unpretentious and seems to be implanted deep in the bones: things we know so deeply that we know them even if we don’t realize that we do. I’m thinking about Stephen Foster songs, about Disney, and the assumptions of performances. I like to present myself in the tradition of Frank Sinatra, Jacques Brel, Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand. Lyrically, I follow Ivor Cutler, Alfred Jarry, Charles Baudelaire, John Berger, John Ashbery, John Lennon, and Arthur Rimbaud.

I want to help you laugh, to help you cry, to make you feel entertained, to make you question whether you were really in a dream.