Jherek Bischoff on Making Big Things Out of Very Little

Q2 Spaces Highlights the Creative Spaces of Today's Composers

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Musician and composer Jherek Bischoff in his Seattle apartment. Musician and composer Jherek Bischoff in his Seattle apartment. (Kim Nowacki/Q2 Music)

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The latest episode of Q2 Spaces takes us to Washington state’s Puget Sound and the small sailboat where musician, composer, collaborator and producer Jherek Bischoff was raised, and to his Seattle apartment where he surrounds himself with instruments and not much else.

"I've always worked with very little but didn't let that stop me from trying to make big things. A lot of that has to do with just not having the opportunity to have much stuff," said Bischoff, who lived with his parents and older brother on a sailboat just 12 feet at its widest and 37 feet from bow to stern.

There is a delightful juxtaposition between Bischoff's minimal upbringing and home life and his lush, orchestrated music, literally built one voice at a time — for his most recent album "Composed," he traveled to each musicians’ homes, recorded them individually and then put all the pieces together on his laptop.

"That's about as minimal as you can go," Bischoff said with a laugh.

Bischoff has worked with a wide-range of musicians and bands, including experimental pop band The Dead Science, the dark rock project Xiu Xiu, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer. In 2012, he and the Wordless Music Orchestra performed at a sold-out concert to open the Ecstatic Music Festival and this coming weekend, he'll perform at the Pacific Northwest's Sasquatch! Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheater.

"To get the chance to play chamber music in this environment is really exciting," said Bischoff, who'll be performing along with a string quartet, clarinet, bass and two percussionists (one is older brother, Korum Bischoff). "We will be playing a mixture of stuff from 'Composed' and some newer work, some of which I debuted at Lincoln Center with yMusic Ensemble late last year.

"One of my goals is to keep bringing chamber music to different venues. Coming from a rock background, I often forget that playing this kind of music in a rock club or rock festival is strange. I just feel like I am playing in a band whether I am with an orchestra or a rock band."

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