Exclusive Interview: Jeff McIlwain (Lusine), Co-Composer of ‘Joe’ Film Score

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Words by Sara Jayne Crow

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

 


As a music journalist of nearly 15 years, this quote oddly resonates with me: it’s absurd to want to use one creative form to interpret another. Prose is a nebulous conjecture as it relates to describing rhythm; nonfiction is spare fact, and poetry feebly swaps dressed-up, impotent rhyme for melody. The statement is especially appropriate when writing about the music of Jeff McIlwain (Lusine), a prolific Seattle-based musician whose output bears such depth and breadth that words can’t near approximation. Music theory can’t approximate. Smoke signals or cuneiform might serve better.

At club King King in Hollywood last March, Jeff effortlessly orchestrated a live set, laboring intently behind the subdued glow of his laptop screen. He made subtle adjustments, fingers deftly flitting among the buttons and knobs of his spare setup: a laptop running Ableton, a DSI Tetra, Evolution UC-33, and Novation MIDI controller. The speaker stacks radiated the warmth of his layered, painstaking sonic engineering. Jeff didn’t have an affect of ego or showmanship despite the worshipful crowd jostling for front-row stance. His unassuming nature, effortless control and modesty made live performance look easy.

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Interview: Jason Orr Talks FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival

 

Jason Orr, founder of Atlanta’s highly revered FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival talks about how the festival got started, his most prized relationships as a result of the festival, and some exciting tidbits on what’s in store for this year’s event. 2013′s program launches this Friday, July 12 with a screening of the music documentary FunkJazz Kafé: Diary Of A Decade (The Story Of A Movement) and the festival itself takes place on Saturday, July 13. Watch the trailer after the jump.

Giant Step: When you first conceived FunkJazz Kafé, what was your mission? What inspired you to start the festival in the first place?

Jason Orr: The mission when I first conceived FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival was to create an arts festival environment with new and innovative music as the soundtrack. I was inspired by the multiple talents around me here in Atlanta, particularly the artist I was managing, Vinnie Bernard, drummer extraordinaire, Lil John Roberts, visual artist Maurice Evans and the various creators in fashion, theater, dance, music etc. around the city. Everything was vibrant and bubbling but needed one place to come together.

GS: What’s been your most memorable experience in the 19 years you’ve been holding FunkJazz Kafé?

JO: Out of all 46 festivals, I remember them all very well because they are like my children that have been growing up nicely. Sounds funny, but very true.

GS: A particularly odd or funny memory from FunkJazz Kafé over the years?

JO: A funny memory is when we were on tour in 1999 and we were going to Detroit and everything was going wrong… like the production truck couldn’t get up the hills in the Smokey mountains because it weighed too much, the tour bus threw a rod, and we had a racist skin head engineer who hated us for no reason and was sabotaging the sound. It was a great test of will, patience, and magic. The festival came together in the end and was one of the best on that tour after all.

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